Four of Calgary’s most haunted places you need to experience for yourself
By Sam Nar, Contributor
Like every metropolis, Calgary has had its fair share of dark moments. Spanning over 150 years, the city’s rich history has racked up plenty of sordid tales which have given birth to eerie legends and creepy sites that await courageous souls who dare enter their halls. Over time, the boundaries between reality and imagination have faded, spawning ghostly figures and stories that have taken a life of their own. If you’re like me and are too old to be out collecting candy without receiving strange looks from people, then you might want to consider venturing to these spine-chilling places to celebrate Halloween instead.
Built in 1906, the Deane House in Inglewood has been a long-time staple in Calgary’s haunted house scene. It was originally intended as the official residence for Richard Burton Deane, the superintendent for the Royal North-West Mounted Police, for which the building was named after. The Deane House was relocated in 1914 to make way for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway before being refurbished sometime in the 1930s to become a boarding lodge. While the house is purported to have experienced a series of grisly deaths around this time, including victims who have met their untimely demise via a mysterious force, guns or of their own volition, none of these events have ever been documented.
However, on March 26, 1971, the Deane House saw its first real murder-suicide case. A woman by the name of Irma Umperville had taken refuge in the building after an altercation with her abusive husband, Roderick, who tracked her down and stabbed her to death before taking his own life. Since then, reports of disembodied laughs in the front foyer and the smell of tobacco have been made, despite no one smoking in the house. Additionally, there are rumours about empty rocking chairs, unplugged phones that ring and sounds of footsteps across a vacant floor? But perhaps the most perplexing mystery of this haunted house is the pervasive stain in the unlockable attic closet that’s said to change shape and colour.
As one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, it’s not a surprise that the heart of Inglewood is home to another popular haunted house, the Cross House. The Cross House is previously known to be the residence of Alfred Ernest (A.E.) Cross, one of the Big Four who founded the Calgary Stampede in 1912. The building was established in 1899 before becoming a historical site in 1977.
By the mid-1980s, the Cross House had been transformed into the dine-and-wine that we know today as Rouge. While the eatery boasts delicious charcuterie with hand-made cured meats and Canadian cheeses, the restaurant staff and guests have expressed concerns regarding ghostly spirits and paranormal activities such as seeing a woman in white descend steep stairs, children laughing and playing and two chairs that oddly never stay where they were left. The apparitions are believed to be members of the Cross family — Cross’ wife, Helena, and their two young children who became infected with diphtheria and later died due to lack of available medication.
If worn, torn and rickety houses aren’t catching your fancy, you might want to turn your gaze to the Prince House. Rest assured, this architecturally pleasing building is every bit as haunted as the others. Owner, Peter Anthony Prince was a successful and ambitious entrepreneur, becoming one of the leading lumber and hydroelectric magnate at a young age. However, while lucky in careers, Prince was not so lucky in love; his first three wives predeceased him though no foul play is suspected. It’s rumoured that the ghost of Prince’s wives were resentful of his taking a new wife after their deaths.
41 years after Prince’s death in 1925, the house was donated to Heritage Park where staff began to observe weird happenings; the sporadic balcony windows on the third floor, loud stomping, misplaced items, a now-you-see-her-now-you-don’t woman in white playing with a baby and mysterious lights that turn on despite no electricity running through the building. The place exudes such strange vibes that even a guard dog brought in by a cautious security guard ended up with its hair raised, ears pointed down and tail between its legs, not letting up until they were out of the building.
There sits another foreboding estate in Inglewood, the Suitor House, a Queen Anne Revival masterpiece constructed in 1907 by carpenter and former city alderman, Robert Suitor for his family. While the home touts amazing architecture through its brick and sandstone towers and gables, the building itself harbours a murderous past.
The place was once an isolation hospital where diseased patients would wait to die, but that’s not the scary part. It was also a boarding lodge where railway staff would stay for weeks or months before they found a permanent residence. The home gained notoriety when a railway worker, jumping from railcar to railcar, slipped and was pulled under. Still alive despite the train running over his legs, the man desperately crawled his way towards a nearby general hospital (what we know today as the Stampede grounds). Unfortunately, he never made it and died grotesquely. It’s believed that his young wife, devastated by his death, refused to leave the boarding home and lived there until she died from heartbreak just a year later.
Today, Calgarians have claimed seeing an unfriendly young lady with dark, curly hair on the third-floor balcony, looking out to where the train tracks used to be. There have also been reported incidents of things on the third floor mysteriously moving despite absolute vacancy.