Hometown Haunted

The number of reported hauntings in Winnipeg proves there’s no place like home, even after death

Winnipeggers ain’t afraid of no ghosts. 

Or, at least we shouldn’t be. The list of reported hauntings in the ‘Peg is long enough to make Slimer blush.  

From the notorious room 202 at the Fort Garry Hotel to invisible applauders at the Walker Theatre, Winnipeggers are all too familiar with the paranormal, but for some reason we’re not running away. In fact, we seem to relish in it. 

Mainstream media definitely accentuates the horror world, but Winnipeg in particular likes to dwell on its past. 

“I think Winnipeg is so haunted because of how old our city is and how rich the history is, starting with the Natives who were here long before roads and buildings, living all around the Red River that envelopes the city,” says Bettie Rage, a Winnipeg paranormal enthusiast. 

Yes, the ‘Peg is packed full of culture and some of it is very grim. 

“Did you know there’s a mass, unmarked grave near Argyle? Did you know that behind the courthouse on Vaughan is where our gallows were?” asks Rage. 

Winnipeg’s old architecture certainly can’t be overlooked when exploring our paranormal goings-on. 

“So many of our buildings stand in the same condition they have been for hundreds of years and this gives Winnipeg a strong nostalgia, and I think that helps to feed into the public’s fascination with hauntings,” she says. “I can’t say for sure why Winnipeg is so obsessed with its spiritual occupants. Maybe it’s because we respect history and keep many old buildings intact. Maybe it’s because we have organizations like Muddy Waters that like to get into character and take us on historical tours, or maybe it all boils down to the sacred ancient land that Winnipeg is built on.  

“Whatever the reason, I find that pretty much anyone I bring the subject up to has an open mind or a story about ghosts… So maybe it’s the history, maybe it’s the land or maybe Winnipeg is such a great city that nobody really wants to leave.” 

Yes, it would seem this city has a hold on its citizens, as many people have said how hard it is leave Winnipeg for good. But whatever the reason for our plethora of paranormal, it seems that the majority of our city’s spirits are harmless. They might be mischievous and cause a little mayhem, but they don’t tend to hurt anyone. Still, though, we’re petrified. 

We’re not scared of being attacked mind you, we’re scared of the invasion - and not just an invasion of space, but the invasion of physics entirely. 

Our curiosity, however, definitely triumphs over any fear.

Many popular ghost stories describe apparitions as though they are from the early 1900s. Many of the following Winnipeg buildings were constructed around the same time and they appear to have retained a little more than just history.

There are plenty of haunted locations around Winnipeg and it’s hard to choose the “most haunted” ones, but here are a few people like to talk about.

Fort Garry Hotel

Room 202 at Fort Garry Hotel.

The Fort Garry Hotel is probably the most obvious haunted Winnipeg location. Legend has it that a woman hung herself in room 202 after hearing that her husband was killed in a car accident. The room is open for business if you want to spend the night. Warning: Your sleep might be disrupted by red-tainted walls, shattering windows and bloody footprints on the bed.

Masonic Temple

Masonic Temple.

Several businesses have come and gone in this old historic building at 335 Donald St, from Mother Tucker’s Food Experience to Chris Walby’s Hog City Bar. The ghost inhabiting this location reportedly loves to create a mess. Management and staff say it didn’t cause any harm, but it would move objects and knock things over quite regularly. Staff were often frightened by the lights that continuously flickered on and off - and there’s that one chair on the third floor that no one is supposed to sit on.

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.

The hauntings at MTC began within its original location in the long-since demolished Dominion Theatre. A young boy named George, son of the original theatre’s caretaker and confined to a wheelchair, became trapped. When the theatre moved, it took him a couple of years to follow, but George, the friendly ghost, still roams MTC today. He often causes harmless pranks but occasionally lets the staff know when he is unsatisfied with an actor or show. Not quite Casper nice, but nice nonetheless.

Roslyn Court Apartments

Roslyn Court Apartments.

Like many buildings in Winnipeg, the Roslyn Court Apartments are very old, dating back to 1908.

“I know it’s haunted,” says Casimir Gruwel, a previous tenant of the apartment. “I was doing dishes and no one was home. The layout of the apartment was like the hallways of hotels, one long hallway, my room at the end of the hallway and the kitchen just past my room. Coming from the far end there was a loud stomping and I saw this massive black figure storm past the doorway toward my room. I got freaked out, but figured it was just one of my roommates or my eyes playing tricks on me, but no one was home. This happened to all of my roommates and the figure was six to seven feet tall. My other friends who lived in the building were chased by this figure to the laundry room.”

Creepy.

Everyone knows someone who has lived in the Roslyn Court Apartments, and it’s no surprise to hear of the ominous activities that occur within its walls. Rumor has it the architect was absolutely nuts, which is evident by the building’s odd layout.

Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery.

The spirit of a young boy named Joseph, who died before the age of three in 1912, is said to play in the Elmwood Cemetery. Legend has it that strange fog often crawls through the open space.

Hamilton House

Hamilton House.

In the early 1900s, Dr. Thomas Hamilton indulged plenty in paranormal activities and his house at 185 Henderson Hwy. was home to many freaky séances.

“The guy was a pioneer in paranormal exploration and his family is buried in the beautiful, very old cemetery almost directly across the street from Hamilton House,” Bettie Rage says.

Manitoba Legislative Building

Manitoba Legislative Building.

Many different wandering ghosts have been reportedly spotted in the Legislative Building. They appear to be dressed in 1900s attire and cause no harm. Some sing, some read and some have political debates.

Published in Volume 68, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 23, 2013)

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