Do you believe in ghosts? If you’re a non-believer, Calgary Ghost Tours just might change your mind.
Around for eight years, the company started organizing tours around the historic communities of Inglewood and Kensington – as well as downtown and even Banff – in the search for signs of the dearly departed. Guests also get to learn more about the city’s history along the way. Johanna Lane of Calgary Ghost Tours took some time out of her day to chat with CREB®Now about her favourite stop on the tour and what films make her check the closet before heading to bed.
CREB®Now: What is a Calgary Ghost Tour?
Lane: Calgary Ghost Tours are tours that combine historical information with ghost stories. We tell you the history of places and then who we think is still “hanging” around.
CREB®Now: How did Calgary Ghost tours come to be?
Lane: I’ve been lucky enough to take tours around the world and wanted to take one here. I was told nobody wanted to take tours in Calgary and that got me thinking. So I combined the two – history and ghost stories – to come up with a tour that my friends and family could appreciate. And then I started doing it for strangers, eight seasons ago.
CREB®Now: Do you have to believe in ghosts to do a ghost tour?
Lane: Absolutely not! I myself am an open-minded skeptic. We’ve made the tours approachable for people who love ghost stories and also those who love history.
CREB®Now: Has anything eerie ever happened on a tour?
Lane: One of our stops includes a church with no church bells (St. Vincent Liem Church in Inglewood) and groups have heard the bells as they approach. Little Donnie (Goss) under the Zoo bridge has made his presence known to a few people, and the woman in white at the Deane House has shown up a few times… I could go on for a while about other stories.
CREB®Now: What’s your favourite stop on the tours?
Lane: I would have to say the Zoo bridge – just because the victim, [Donnie Goss], was six-years-old and I always feel so sad that he is still trying to find someone to play with.
CREB®Now: Do you have a favourite ghost?
Lane: It would have to be Donnie under the bridge or Melanie at the Suitor House. Her husband was a railroader who was killed at the Grand Trunk Yard, (now the Fort) and my late husband was a railroader.
CREB®Now: How important are the tours to shedding light on Calgary’s historical past?
Lane: I think it’s really important not to forget where we’ve been. And I love the fact that we share historical stories as well. Lots of our school teachers who have brought groups share that their students retain a lot of the historical info after a tour.
CREB®Now: What’s the best way to spend a day off in Calgary?
Lane: I’m biased as I live in Inglewood, but I love checking out the river and lurking around the haunted places, trying to catch a glimpse into the past. Plus, the shopping and food aren’t bad either. And Stephen Avenue is always awesome for people (dead and undead) watching.
During the off-season, I’ve started a not-for-profit called The Food Lovers Suburban Market. We help others through art, music and food. It’s a great way to see up-and-coming food vendors and feed hungry people at the same time.
CREB®Now: What’s your favourite scary film, and why?
Lane: Anything by Alfred Hitchcock, or The Shining, or anything that is more psychological than gory. There are nights when I still check my closet and under my bed before retiring.