* In this three-part series, CREBNow takes a look at the sinister and spooky side of Calgary’s haunted housing history
Ghost walk reveals historic Calgary neighbourhoods’ most haunted residents
It’s chilly. Toque weather – a tad dreary, with not a star in the sky.
The perfect night, really, for a ghost walk in the historic Calgary community of Inglewood.
Closely situated to Fort Calgary, Inglewood was once home to the city’s first main street in 1875. Originally known as East Calgary, or Brewery Flats, the name Inglewood was bestowed upon the community in 1911 by Col. James Walker.
What brought CREB®Now out to the community on this chilly Saturday night was the popular Calgary Ghost Tours, which offers seasonal guided walks of downtown, Kensington, Beltline, Inglewood and even Banff.
Gathering at the corner of Ninth Avenue and 11th Street S.E., our guide, Manfred – resplendent in black top hat and cloak, lantern in hand – led us to our first stop at the Ironwood Stage and Grill. Today a popular live music venue, Ironwood’s first incarnation was as the Garry Theatre in 1936.
“It was the cream of the crop,” said Manfred, noting the theatre had “luxurious” amenities such as mahogany woodwork and air conditioning.
Yet the theatre also had a director at the time named Michael, who was known for his disdain of actors and would regularly hang out in the basement. There are rumours he’s still there, locking people in awkward places and even haunting the ladies’ washroom.
We leave Michael and his bathroom haunts for the St. George’s Zoo Bridge on 12th Street S.E. Here, Manfred tells us of the days St. George’s Island was known as Pleasure Island for its plethora of brothels.
At the site of the current Calgary Zoo security building, on the southeast corner of the island, there was once a playground where six-year-old Donnie Goss was playing in 1946. Donnie was approached by a man who offered him toys before leading him under the bridge and stabbing the youngster several times. Donald Staley, who was also responsible for the murder of a young boy in Vancouver, would later be convicted and hanged for his crime, along with four German prisoners of war in what is known as the largest public hanging in Canadian history.
Today, people who walk along the river pathways at night have been known to hear a small child crying for help. Manfred said Emergency Services are called to the area two to three times a year, responding to a child in distress. According to Manfred, a boy on one of his past tours told his mother a little boy named Donnie wanted him to come and play.
Feeling thoroughly spooked, we make our way to St. Vincent Liem Church, once known as St. Andrews Presbyterian. Manfred tells us the tale of a young woman who, in 1914, was attending Calgary’s McDougall School to become a teacher. The school didn’t allow drinking, smoking or men. Yet, as is the way of things, the young woman fell in love with a young soldier of the Princess Patricia’s who was called to war where he was killed in action in France.
The young woman was left behind with a young one on the way. Shunned by her family and kicked out of her school, she climbed the stairs of the church and threw herself off the spire. These days, residents who live near the church still hear the bells ringing at all hours – despite the fact they were removed in the 1970s.