Haunted houses, spooky set-ups, and eerie encounters are generally the themes of modern day Halloween. Guys dress up in attempts to be funny, girls dress up in attempts to be sexy, and ghost sightings are at an all time high.
Although the original holiday was intended as a Catholic day for the observance of saints, today it is seen as an opportunity to frighten or be frightened--that and to consume an ridiculous amount of booze.
However, the truth remains that Halloween or not, human beings have always been fascinated with the existence of paranormal activity. Even within Calgary's limits, chilling ghost tales have been identified particularly with Heritage Park, the Deane House and the Rose and Crown Pub.
The following guide to Calgary's top three haunted houses will leave you geared up and pants-crappin' scared just in time for Halloween. Or at the very least, you'll get a kick out of the tales.
The Deane House
History: The house was built in 1906 as the official residence for the Superintendent of the Royal North West Mounted Police, Richard Burton Deane. It was originally located on the corner of 9 Ave. and 6 Street S.E. In 1929, the Deane house was moved to its present location and became a boarding house for decades to follow.
During its time as a boarding lodge, the house became the site of a number of unusual deaths. Among them were a man falling down the staircase, a young woman jumping to her death from the second-story window and a man being gunned down on the porch. However, there were only two documented and proven deaths. These are the murder/suicide deaths of Irma and Roderick Umperville in 1971. Mrs. Umperville was repeatedly stabbed and strangled by her husband who later committed suicide. Their children found their bodies.
In 1973, the house became host to a gallery and a studio for local artists and finally, in 1978, was designated a "Registered Provincial Historic Site." Today, it remains a part of Fort Calgary as well as a restaurant.
Tales of Terror: The properties long existence and mix of prior residents lends itself to some pretty interesting ghost tales. The Calgary Association of Paranormal Investigations deems the Deane House as definitively haunted, due to a series of random and unexplainable events, sounds, and occurrences.
Many of the serving staff claim to have experienced some form of paranormal activity during their time at the Deane House.
Some recall hearing laughter in the front foyer, however upon checking, seeing no one there.
In the area of the house re-made to look like Mr. Deane's study, individuals have seen an image of a man sitting in the chair, smoking a tobacco pipe. Additionally, tobacco can be smelt although the entire house is non-smoking.
Also in the study area is an antique phone that has been heard spontaneously ringing, although not plugged in. Certain servers have become accustomed to this and state they simply go about their work, as they are aware the phone is "not for them."
Server Alez Jackci remembers working late one night and seeing an image of a man floating down the hallway, with the bottom portion of his limbs missing. Jackci stated the man didn't seem to notice him, and walked down the stairs and out the door.
Instances of loud, banging footsteps have been heard from the top floor, as well as a variety of paranormal activities occurring in the attic.
Legend has it there is a bloodstain in the attic that changes in size, and reappears regardless of the number of times it has been washed.
The reddish brown stain does in fact exist in a closet in the attic and staff members have said the closet containing this stain is always open, as the door will not remain locked even after continuous attempts.
Individuals have also seen children playing in the attic, and a tall black chair being moved. As well, the rocking chair has been seen rocking randomly throughout a given day.
One evening, during a Murder Mystery Dinner theatre held at the Deane house, a woman ventured into the basement to look for clues as to who was the alleged "murderer" of the play. She complained of an encounter with an old Native man, who informed her that she was on sacred ground and did not belong there. Upon returning upstairs, the women told the staff, who, in turn, went to the basement and found no one.
These are just a few tales of the alleged Deane House ghosts.
Heritage Park, located in southwest Calgary, contains a number of haunted houses. Two of the most well known ones are the Canmore Opera House and the Prince House.
The Canmore Opera House
History: The Opera house was built in the late 1800s in Canmore, Alberta. It was initially used as a concert hall, however, in the late 1800s/early 1900s, there was an accident at the Canmore mine and approximately 700 miners were killed. As the opera house could hold the most amount of people, it was used as the morgue for the tragic event. Years later it became a movie theatre and in the mid-1960s was donated to Heritage Park and moved to its current location.
Tales of Terror: A number of individuals, including members of Alberta Theatre Projects, managers of Heritage Park, and members of the cleaning staff have reported seeing an old gentleman wandering about in the Opera House. During rehearsals, he would sit in the third seat of the third row, dressed in old-fashioned clothing, and simply watch. Additionally, after rehearsals, objects have been found repeatedly misplaced.
The ghost became known as "Sam" after Sam Livingston. Heritage Park was built over Livingston's farm, and the Glenmore Reservoir now covers the location of his prior farmhouse. It is said that "Sam" is simply wandering around the grounds trying to find his way home, while others claim it is the ghosts of the deceased miners that haunt the Opera House.
One gentleman also reported an incident during auditions held in the Opera House. While in the hallway, he heard a woman with a breath-taking voice singing in the main stage area. Upon entering the area, there was not a soul to be found, and witnesses did not see anyone entering or leaving the area.
The Prince House
History: The house was built in 1894 and owned by Peter Anthony Prince, a local, wealthy entrepreneur. The house originally stood at 4 Ave. and 2 Street, in the Eau Claire District. Prince was married four times, three of his wives predeceasing him. The first died of diabetes, the second of tuberculosis, and the third of cancer. Prince died in 1925 and the house was donated to Heritage Park in 1966.
Tales of Terror: There have been many questionable occurrences on the third floor of the house that is closed off to the public. One evening, a security guard noticed that all the lights on the third floor were on, although there was no electricity up there. The lights were extremely bright, while the first and second stories remained dark. He decided to investigate it in the morning but, the next day everything had returned back to normal without anybody entering the home.
Another evening a security guard was performing his nightly check and noticed the balcony window on the third level was swinging open and closed. He decided to go into the house with his guard dog. Upon coming back down the stairs, the dog froze in his tracks, his hair stood straight up, his ears went down and his tail went between his legs. He strained to run out of the house as if something or someone had spooked him. When he got outside, he returned to normal as if nothing had happened.
Other staff members have heard extremely loud stomping on the second level, and have noticed various misplaced objects.
Individuals have also reported seeing a woman dressed in a flowing white dress, playing with a baby in the nursery of the house, only to look again and see no one.
Certain members of the staff are now unwilling to enter the home alone.
The Rose and Crown Pub
History: The house was built in 1920 as a funeral home. In 1986, the house was turned into the Rose and Crown pub as seen today. The house consists of three levels and a basement. Although the entire home was renovated into a pub, the attic remains in its original state with the wallpaper, vanity mirrors and some old furniture still in place.
Tales of Terror: Dennis Madden, who has been a manager of the Rose and Crown for two years, recalls attending a funeral at the house in 1982. He remembers where the coffin was placed, where the viewing room was, where the chapel was and where the offices were.
Today, Madden reports reoccurring events that have him convinced the place is haunted.
Often, he would be closing up at night and would turn off the lights. Then as he walked to his car, he would see a light on in one of the attic windows and sometimes, a silhouette in the window. Upon returning to work the next morning, the light would be off. Across the street from the pub is a hair salon and some of the staff also attest to occasionally seeing this light.
Madden also recalls staying late to paint for several days last year. He remembers feeling an unbelievably strong presence in the room, as if someone was watching him during all three of those days.
The legend states there was a little boy who died in the house, and is now believed to haunt it.
Staff of the Rose and Crown have reported entering the basement and seeing a little boy hiding behind a furnace on more than one occasion.
A member of the staff nicknamed "Big Al" has been bartending at the pub for 15 years. He remembers working one evening in December when the pub was hosting a group party. There was about 15 balloons scattered in one area of the pub. Around this area, there was a hallway leading to the men's bathroom and a hallway leading to the second bar.
Big Al remembers seeing one balloon float slowly into the bar, down the hallway and into the kitchen. He grabbed the balloon and placed it back, however the balloon proceeded to float along the same path three more times. Whenever the balloon reached a doorway, it would jerk down a half of meter before it, float through the doorway and then bounce back up, as if being held by someone.
So the question remains, is there any truth to these alleged haunted houses? Does paranormal activity really exist?
Researcher and Psychology Professor at the University of Calgary, Dr. Greg Fouts has spent over 25 years investigating claims of paranormal activity, extrasensory perception or anything that's on the fringes of psychology.
"I'm not so much interested in showing that such phenomena exists or proving it," says Fouts. "My bit is to try to figure out why people believe that there is such phenomenon and to help them explain it or get rid of it."
He says there's generally a logical explanation for these and other paranormal experiences.
Dr. Fouts explains that many errors in judgement are due to a person undergoing stress in their lives, for example a death in the family, sleep disorders, sleep walkers and the relationship between people who believe such things and the way they interpret unusual events.
He has conducted almost 500 investigations in his spare time ranging from claims of poltergeists to ghost sightings to alien abductions. However, Dr. Fouts remains sceptical.
"Of the 500 investigations, there's only been about half a dozen that we can't explain," he says.
"I'm not willing to jump to any conclusions but the reason I'm still doing this is in case there is something out there. I mean I'd love to see a ghost."
With that said, whether or not these stories are fact or fiction, will just have to be for you to find out... Happy Halloween.