Canada’s 10 Most Haunted Places

ghostWith Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to revel in Canada’s urban legends.

Spooks, specters and spirits abound, Canada is rich with ghost stories and tales of the supernatural. We’ve rounded up the most skin-crawling locations Canada has to offer, so you can find out whether there really is something to all these spooky tales (that is, if you think you can handle it). Read on to discover where you’re most likely to find things that go bump in the night…

Keg Mansion1. Keg Mansion, Toronto, ON

Today, it’s one of many locations of the Keg steakhouse franchise, but the Keg Mansion was once the private residence of industrialist Hart Massey and his family. As legend has it, in 1915, after the death of Massey’s beloved only daughter, Lillian, one of the maids was so stricken by grief that she hung herself. Another version of the story involves the maid killing herself for fears her rumoured affair with a Massey man would be revealed. Either way, the ghostly image of a maid hanging by her neck has been seen by more than one Keg visitor over the years.

banff springs2. Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, AB

Thought the Bates Motel in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho or Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining were scary accommodations, the Banff Springs Hotel is one of Canada’s most picturesque hotels, but it’s also rumoured to be one of the country’s most haunted. Built in 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this hotel is the site of numerous terrifying ghost sightings, including a murdered family in room 873, a bride who died falling down the hotel’s marble staircase, and a retired bellhop named Sam Macauley who continues to haunt the hotel dressed in full uniform.

chateau laurier3. Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, ON

Business Tycoon Charles Melville Hays commissioned the Fairmount Château Laurier, but died tragically aboard the Titanic just days before the hotel’s grand opening in 1912. Hays’ spirit has since been rumoured to be seen roaming throughout the property. Had we invested our time and money into crafting the lavish Château, only to die mere days before its completion, we’d likely be inclined to return as well.

Ghosts-Old-Spaghetti-Factory-Gastown-Vancouver4. The Old Spaghetti Factory, Vancouver, B.C.

It’s been said that the ghost of a train conductor still haunts this popular eatery built atop an old underground railway track. Inexplicable cold drafts and mysteriously rearranged table settings are the calling card of the deceased conductor. Making matters truly skin tingling is a photograph of the 1950s-era, decommissioned electric trolley now featured in the restaurant’s dinning room. The photo depicts hints of “a ghostly figure”, believed to be the train conductor, standing on the steps of the trolley.

hocky hall of fame5. Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto, ON

Prior to serving as Canada’s hockey shrine, this building was once a Bank of Montreal. Legend has it that a lonely bank teller named Dorothy took her own life after her romantic advances were rejected by the bank’s manager. Dorothy’s ghost is now believed to occupy the Hockey Hall of Fame, with some visitors reporting they heard inexplicable sounds of a woman crying throughout the building.

craigdarrock castle6. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, B.C.

Built in the 1890s for coal miner Robert Dunsmuir and his family, this Victorian-era mansion has since become an eerie Canadian tourist attraction. Rumours of a piano that plays by itself, and sightings of a ghastly woman in white have frequently been reported. Many attribute the castle’s supernatural proclivity to Dunsmuir’’s untimely demise just a year before the building was completed.

plains of Abraham7. Plains of Abraham, Quebec City, QC

In 1759, Major General James Wolfe and British soldiers staged a three-month siege of Quebec City against the French army, culminating in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Being the location of one of the most famous battles in Canadian history, it’s no wonder there have been numerous sightings of ghostly soldiers appearing throughout the Plains’ fields and tunnels. Both Wolfe and French Major General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm died in the battle – and we can’t help but wonder whether their spirits are still battling it out to this day.

maritime museum8. Maritime Museum of B.C., Victoria, B.C.

Located in Victoria’s well-known Bastion Square is the Maritime Museum, which was once the site of the city’s jail and gallows. Some say that if you look through the windows at the Museum’s entrance, a shadowy, slender, Van Dyke-bearded figure can be spotted gliding down the main staircase. The mysterious apparition is thought to be the ghost of Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, Victoria’s infamous “Hanging Judge”.

government house, sask9. Government House, Regina, SK

This building, completed in 1891, has been the site of several reported hauntings over the years. Strange occurrences such as doors opening and closing on their own, the shuffling of footsteps, and eerie faces appearing in the reflections of mirrors have all been reported.

westpoint610. West Point Lighthouse, O’Leary, P.E.I.

The sight of a lighthouse, bathed in pitch black darkness, conjures up all sorts of frightful possibilities. Rumours have long swirled that the first keeper of the lighthouse, Willie, haunts the West Point Lighthouse Inn located next door. Talk about a turndown service you’d never want to get!

Sandman Hotels ‘Sweep’ Housekeeping Awards in Alberta

2014 Housekeeping AwardThere’s a lot to be said about cleanliness in the hotel industry. It can make or break a guest’s stay and is a basic foundation for creating a relaxing and welcoming accommodation environment. At Sandman, we make sure all of our hotels adhere to only the highest standards when it comes to housekeeping practices.

Sandman Hotel Red Deer

That’s why we’re proud to congratulate Sandman Hotel & Suites Calgary South and Sandman Hotel Red Deer for receiving the prestigious ‘Housekeeping Award’ issued by the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).

A member-driven organization that represents more than 850 hotels and motels across Alberta, the AHLA is among the foremost authorities in the tourism and hospitality industry.

FB - Corporate Suite

Sandman Hotel Suites Calgary South Corporate King Suite

Both hotels are beyond thrilled to receive the awards which, as the official award states, are given to ‘…a select group of properties that participate in the Approved Accommodation Program and have achieved excellence in cleanliness, comfort, and maintenance. It is a reflection of your staff and your property’s commitment to providing visitors with clean and comfortable accommodation.’

Now that’s pretty spotless news.

Romance. Love. Passion. Valentine’s Day is Back!

love_92877334“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” ~Judy Garland

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~Charles M. Schulz

“There’s a long life ahead of you and it’s going to be beautiful, as long as you keep loving and hugging each other.” ~Yoko Ono

“I love romance. I’m a sucker for it. I love it so much. It’s pathetic.” ~Drew Barrymore

“I like perfume and flowers.” ~Donatella Versace

february 14_93828682Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and whether you’re looking to spend quality time with your loved one, romance them, or both, Sandman Hotel Group has you covered. Give the perfect gift of a Sandman stay this February 14th.

A few of our hotels in British Columbia have embraced romance and assembled a variety of packages to suit every couple’s needs.

Sandman Suites Vancouver – Davie Street

Grab your loved one and spend Valentine’s in one of the amazing suites overlooking Vancouver.

Choose from one of two packages and create a night (or nights) to remember.

The Experience Package includes: a night’s accommodation in a one-bedroom suite, sparkling wine on ice in your room upon arrival, chocolate covered strawberries, rose petals scattered on your bed, breakfast for two at Moxie’s, and free parking.

The Valentine’s Indulgence Package includes: a night’s accommodation in a one-bedroom Jacuzzi suite on the penthouse floor, sparkling wine on ice in your room upon arrival, chocolate covered strawberries, an edible bouquet in a keepsake container, LUSH bath bomb and bubble bar, floating candles in your Jacuzzi tub, breakfast for two at Moxie’s, and free parking.

Sandman Hotel & Suites Kelowna

Treat your sweetheart to a Valentine’s weekend to remember. Indulge your passionate side with a night of decadence, sparkling wine and roses upon arrival, $100 Chop Steakhouse & Bar, and memories to last a lifetime.

Sandman Hotel & Suites Squamish

love_129289046Every day is Valentine’s Day in Squamish . With beautiful surroundings and an array of activities, all you have to do is add elegance and indulgence to your getaway. Spend a beautiful night in the mountains with a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolates, a rose on arrival, complimentary early check-in of 1pm and late check-out of 1pm, and complimentary upgrade to the next best room upon check-in (based on availability).

But BC is not the only province that knows how to spoil a loved one. Numerous Sandmans in Alberta have created beautiful packages sure to please your significant other.

Sandman Hotel & Suites Calgary West

The perfect getaway gift for you and your sweetheart awaits you. We’ll make sure you experience pure romance from start to finish! Treat your significant other to a romantic night away from home with our complete Romance Package, including a bottle of sparkling wine, a box of chocolates, and 2 – $10 Denny’s gift cards.

Sandman Hotel & Suites Calgary South

Treat your sweetheart to a romantic Valentine’s weekend away from home with our complete Valentine’s Packages. Simply book before February 7, 2014 and choose between our 3 offers:

chocolate_strawberry_93030673Package A: 1 Night Stay

  • 1 bottle of sparkling wine
  • chocolate covered strawberries
  • 1 $30 gift card to Denny’s

Package B: 2 Night Stay

  • Everything from Package A AND
  • 1 $75 gift card to Chinook Mall
  • 1 $30 gift card to Moxie’s Grill & Bar

Package C: 3 Night Stay

  • Everything from Package A & B AND
  • 25% off your 3rd night
  • 1 $30 gift card to Denny’s

No matter where you are or what you’re looking for, Sandman has the perfect amount of romance for you.

Rose Petals of Love

Rider Nation – Saskatchewan’s True Love and Identity

Saskatchewan fieldsWritten by June De La Paz – guest blogger

Whenever anyone finds out that I grew up in Saskatchewan, they inevitably ask if I lived on a farm. They imagine that I drove a combine in overalls with a wheat straw dangling from my lips. That, or if I know their cousin/uncle/friend, so-and-so because Saskatchewan is a tiny, small, flat place where everyone knows everyone.

Truth be told, I had a pretty idyllic upbringing. I grew up in an area where many people didn’t lock their doors during the day. I rode my bike everywhere, including downtown and to the river. I took the bus or walked to school from the age of 9. During the hot, sweltering summers, my parents didn’t even look for me until sometime around dinner, and without mountains, the sun seemed to take forever to set. Then, there were the winters. The bright morning sun belied how bitterly cold it was outside. It didn’t matter how many sweaters or thermal underwear you had on, the cold bore its way through all of those layers to remind you how tough those Saskatchewan winters truly were.

Living in Saskatchewan was a right of passage. The spikes in the weather alone were enough to challenge the hardiest souls and still are. We didn’t have the tropical or Chinook winds to warm us. We didn’t have the bounty of the ocean or border large US cities or have mega malls to spend our money.

What we do have is the most loyal, butt-kickingest and craziest fans you will ever meet. And the rowdiest in Canada (ranked by MSN Sports). Fans wear watermelons. On. Their. Heads.

Roughrider Fans1Even though the Roughriders play in the smallest market in the CFL and are the second smallest major league in North America, they have led in away games attendance every year in the last 10 years. During away games in Alberta, Rider Nation makes up about ½ of the fans in attendance. Because it doesn’t matter where you live – once you have rider pride, it is for life.

Roughrider merchandise sales rank third in Canada for all major league sports, which includes hockey. What makes this more surprising is that the team has only won 3 Grey Cups in the last 100 years. Belonging to Rider Nation isn’t just about winning. Rider pride is about being tough, giving it your all and supporting your team through the good and the bad. Whether we win or lose, or move to another city, once a Rider fan, always a Rider fan.

You’ll never be able to fully understand what surviving a Saskatchewan summer or winter is like unless you experience it. This is an unspoken bond that unites us. Like many who left in search of greener pastures during an economic downturn, I no longer live in Saskatchewan. However, when I do meet someone from Saskatchewan, there is an immediate ease between us – a mutual understanding and downright respect, because it is earned. That is Rider pride and that is the heart of Rider nation.

RiderPride (3)June De La Paz is a freelance Marketer, specializing in the technology sector with the breadth of her experience in start-ups. She is currently working on launching her own line of natural skin care products for kids and adults. She grew up in Saskatchewan where her parents still reside.  She currently lives with her husband (who grew up in SK too), three extraordinary daughters in beautiful BC, and they all stay at Sandmans whenever they travel around Canada. They all belong to Rider Nation and have Rider Pride.

Unusual Summer Activities in Canada

The sun is shining. Shorts have come out of the closet. Summer must be here! But what should you do on your weekends and during your vacation? We’ve compiled a list of exciting adventures, that are off the beaten path, for you to embark on no matter which Sandman location you are at.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

sea lion

*Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

Feed the sea lions

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vancouver Aquarium. Learn all about the sea lions and sea otters from staff, prepare some of their favourite treats, and get up close to the animals while working alongside their trainers.

Seek a sea serpent

Did you know that Canada has its own version of the Loch Ness monster? There have been plenty of sightings of Ogopogo, a snakelike creature said to be anywhere from six to 20 metres long, in Okanagan Lake in the B.C. Interior. Sightings have been reported throughout the length of the lake but the monster appears to favour an area just south of Kelowna in waters near Peachland. Try your luck.

kayakingPaddle into the setting sun

Victoria is almost completely surrounded by water and its location on Vancouver Island’s southern tip creates several great paddling locations. To the southwest is the Juan de Fuca Strait, which opens to the Pacific Ocean and is home to boat-access only Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park. To the southeast, Haro Strait leads to dozens of small islands and islets. Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the adjacent Gorge Waterway allow kayakers to begin saltwater adventures directly from downtown.

ALBERTA

Embark on a fossil safariDinosaur-Park-Canada

Dino teeth and bones are literally lying around Dinosaur Provincial Park north of Brooks, in the southeast of the province. Explore the badlands or participate in a fully authentic dinosaur dig and be amazed by the abundant fossils, unusual wildlife, and stunning landscapes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peer at the petroglyphs

Ancient rock carvings, paintings, and pictographs at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, about 100 km southeast of Lethbridge, vividly depict hunting, vision quests, and scenes of battle. The spectacular Milk River valley contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America.

Bask in the spray of North America’s largest manmade waterfall

zipline COP

*Photo courtesy of WinSport

One of Edmonton’s most recognizable landmarks is the High Level Bridge, which carries 109 Street across the river near the Legislature building. It was built in 1913 for the Canadian Pacific Railway, but now is a beautiful drive from downtown to Old Strathcona. Every long weekend during the summer (Canada Day, Heritage Day, and Labour Day), the City turns on the waterfall. At 210 feet (64 metres) high, Edmonton’s Great Divide Waterfall is higher than Niagara Falls, and pumps out 50,000 litres of water a minute.

Go ziplining

Get big air as you soar from the top of Canada Olympic Park’s ski jump tower on North America’s fastest zipline! Riders fly down the unique cable system in a comfortable harness, reaching speeds between 120 and 140 km/h. As Calgary’s highest vantage point, the ski jump tower provides a zipline that is 500 metres long with a vertical drop of more than 100 metres.

SASKATCHEWAN

Take a Mountie crash course

Shaped like a prairie snowdrift, the new RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina celebrates all things Mountie. There’s an interactive forensics display for budding CSIs, an array of transport from dogsleds to planes, and tales of life on the frontier, when the RCMP befriended Sitting Bull, tamed Klondike prospectors, and organized manhunts.

Discover Moose Jaw’s Capone connectioncigars_83654866

Sleepy Moose Jaw earned the moniker “Little Chicago” in the 1920s, when American gangsters rode the rails north to beat the heat of Prohibition. Tour the underground tunnels — complete with animatronics — where Al Capone’s mob ran their bootleg operation.

 Act like a kid for the day

Something for everyone. Wilson’s Entertainment Park meets all your entertainment needs in Saskatoon. Get the feel of a real race car as you speed your way around the track at Velocity Raceway. Practice your golf swing on Wilson’s Driving Range or putt a round on Wilson’s Putting Course. Between the driving range, the putting course, the velocity raceway, and the jump n’slide, Wilson’s Entertainment Park is sure to amuse you for hours.

MANITOBA

skateboardingBust out a-town session

The skateboard park at the Plaza in Winnipeg’s vibrant Forks neighbourhood is distinctly gnarly. Covering an area of more than 44,000 square feet, it boasts a 30,000-square-foot plaza and 8,500-square-foot bowl complex with a 17-foot cradle.

Go snaky

Got a reptile-crazy kid? Tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes congregate in a writhing, wriggling (procreating) mass for several weeks at the snake dens of Narcisse, about two hours north of Winnipeg.

Climb a Massive Outdoor Ropes Course

Any ambitious folks out there want to go to Adrenaline Adventures in Winnipeg? Climb and zipline down a challenging ropes course that features two separate canvas covered towers connected with a 2 story High Teams skywalk challenge course. The design also offers 14 challenging elements, climbing walls with over 1,500 square feet of climbing surface, three zip lines, vertical playground, dynamically belayed high elements, a 10-person high team course, a high whale watch, giant ladder, and a multi-challenge cargo net.

ONTARIO

Sip a cocktail with the lights of Toronto strung out before you

Good bets include the Panorama (on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre); Canoe (atop the TD Tower), and the Roof Lounge on the 18th floor of the Park Hyatt.

Parade with the swans

Heralded by horns and trumpets and led by children and pipers, at 2 p.m. Stratford’s famous swans waddle from their winter quarters to the Avon River, ushering in the arrival of spring. Other special events: concerts and tours of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s costume warehouse.

Walk in the clouds

Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve’s suspended walkway through the canopy of a 200-year-old pine forest feels a bit like an ectomorphic trampoline. Take in breathtaking views and, if you’re really lucky, catch a glimpse of wolves, foxes, and moose.

QUEBEC

schwart's smoked meatEat and drink a la Mordecai

Follow in the footsteps of the Bard of Montreal: Mordecai Richler. Down a medium-fat smoked-meat sandwich at Schwartz’s (3895 St-Laurent Boulevard), a chewy-sweet sesame bagel at St-Viateur Bagel (253 St-Viateur W.), veal marrow hors d’oeuvre at French bistro L’Express (3927 St-Denis), and a rib steak at Moishe’s (3961 St-Laurent). Chase with a nice single malt.

Navigate a water labyrinth

Rev up your paddleboat and head off along the 6.5 km of canals that wind through the marshland near Wakefield. You will be equipped with a compass, radio, and field guide (to help you identify resident plants and creatures).

Jardin des Floralies – Île Notre-Dame

Filled with 5,000 or so rose bushes, over 100,000 annuals as well as perennials, and weeping willow trees, the Jardin des Floralies is 25 acres of horticultural history and one of two major Montreal gardens. Originally created by some of the world’s best landscape artists who participated in the 1980 International Floralies fair, the gardens became a permanent city fixture and are now maintained by Parc Jean-Drapeau.