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!

The Maple Leafs turn red and yellow. And we’re not talking about the hockey team.

autumn“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face” – John Donne

Autumn is on the way. The world is starting to organize into a winter sleep. The trees strip off their leaves after a glorious display of colour. The days get shorter as evening descends on us earlier and earlier each day. And every once in a while, there is a hint of snow in the air.

There is no need to be upset about the end of summer. With the return of sweaters and hockey also comes the fall harvest that presents many delicious fruits and vegetables. And since Sandman has many hotels located in Western Canada, resulting in close proximity to farms and tasty produce, we’ve compiled the top 10 reasons to love autumn and the top 10 healthiest fall fruits and vegetables. Enjoy!

Ten reasons to love autumn:

  1. Breathable air – No more being stifled by the heaviness of humidity in the air. Autumn brings that crisp, cool air.
  2. Open windows – curtains blowing, hair whipping, papers flying!
  3. Hockey – It’s time to trash talk your best friends. No matter who you cheer for, everyone can agree they dislike the Leafs. Unless of course you’re from Toronto, and then you dislike everyone else.
  4. Warm blankets –There’s nothing like a soft, warm, fluffy blanket! Who doesn’t want to curl up with a blanket and their favourite book?
  5. Pumpkins – Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pudding, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin tarts, pumpkin carving…
  6. Hot Apple Cider – Warm and spicy and feel free to add a little nip of something extra, if you’d like.
  7. Halloween – It’s a magical time. Time to dress up in something silly or sit together at night and watch scary movies with the lights off.
  8. Spiced Wine – A lighter wine for the spring and summer is nice, but mulled wine and port in the evening help to take the chill off on those cold autumn nights.
  9. Fall colours – Fall has the most impressive colour palette out of all the seasons. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Eastern Canada during the fall, you really get to experience a true Canadian autumn.
  10. Thanksgiving – The eating holiday of all eating holidays! Turkey, gravy, apple pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and stuffing.

fall-veggies1If you’re still not convinced, maybe the talk of food will help. Even though the days of bright berries, crisp salads, and succulent summer fruit are behind us for another year, there are delicious replacements on the way to help you keep your healthy eating habits.

Autumn is a season of deep green, dark yellow, and brilliant orange, and these colours mean the fruits and vegetables are rich in disease-fighting nutrients. The more colourful the fruit, the better it is for your health.

Here are our top 10 picks for the most delicious and healthy autumn fruits and veggies.

parsnips1. Parsnips. These might look like white carrots, but they have a delicate, sweet flavour. While they don’t contain the same high amounts of vitamin A as carrots, parsnips are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Look for smooth and firm, small to medium sized parsnips for the best quality.

2. Turnips and swedes. A member of the mustard family, turnips – known as swedes in Scotland and Ireland – have a white flesh with a tough outer skin that ranges from yellow to purple, and a more bitter flavour than potatoes. They are a good source of vitamin C and offer 2-3 grams of dietary fibre per serving. Like their cousins, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, these cruciferous vegetables contain the potent phytochemical sulforaphane, which has been shown to protect against cancer, especially breast cancer.

Sweet Potato3. Sweet potatoes. Despite its name, the sweet potato is not related to the potato. Potatoes are classified as tubers, while the sweet potato is a storage root. Good-quality sweet potatoes will be firm, smooth-skinned and tan to light rose colour. They are high in vitamin C and provide three grams of fibre per serving. Sweet potatoes are an ideal choice for people with diabetes, since they are considered a low glycaemic food. This means that the carbohydrate in sweet potatoes is released slowly, which helps maintain steady blood sugar levels.

4. Pumpkins. These are more than just Halloween decorations. The pumpkin’s bright orange colour is a dead giveaway that it’s loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene, as well as being rich in vitamin C and folate. Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and protect against heart disease. Even the seeds are packed with nutritional value. In fact, they are only second to peanuts in protein content and a good source of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

winter squash5. Winter squash. While summer squash tends to be tender and moist with edible seeds and rind, winter squash develops hard rinds and the tough seeds and fibrous centre are inedible and must be scooped out. Winter squash is one of the few vegetables that do not lose quality after picking. In fact, during storage, the beta-carotene (vitamin A) content increases, and they contain more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. They are also a good source of heart-healthy nutrients, folate, and fibre.

6. Clementines. These are the baby cousins of the Florida or navel orange and are also known as mandarin oranges. They can be quite difficult to distinguish from tangerines, as they are both bitter orange hybrids, but the main difference is that clementines are often seedless.

7. Apples. Apples contain flavonoids, some of the most potent antioxidants around. Several studies have shown that people who eat a diet that’s rich in flavonoids have a lower risk of heart disease and heart attacks as well as several types of cancer.

pears8. Pears. Pears are a high-fibre food, with a medium pear providing four grams of fibre, which is equivalent to one and a half cups of brown rice. Most of the fibre is also of the soluble kind, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.

cranberries9. Cranberries. If you are looking for berries that ripen in the autumn, look no further than cranberries. Not only are they a healthy, low-calorie fruit, they also play a significant role in preventing urinary tract infections and reducing the risk of gum disease, ulcers, heart disease, and cancer. Cranberries contain anthocyanins, the heart-healthy antioxidants, which are also found in tea and red wine, and the compound that gives them their colour. Only about 10% of the commercial crop is sold fresh – mostly in September through to December. The rest can be found as juice, dried, or as cranberry sauce.

figs10. Figs. These often-overlooked fruits are full of flavour and their chewy texture makes them a tasty, nutritious addition to your diet. Figs are high in fibre (5 grams per 1½-ounce serving), which is more dietary fibre per serving than any other common dried or fresh fruit. They are also a good non-dairy source of calcium – the same amount of figs and milk provide equal amounts of calcium.

What are you making for dinner this autumn?

What’s Your Great Costume Idea This Halloween?

Thanksgiving and Christmas may be famed for bringing friends and family together over a big feast, but Halloween is arguably the most exciting holiday of the year because it allows both old and young to ignite their childhood fantasies and don outlandish clothing all in the name of good fun. Oh, and there’s the endless supply of candy too!

While many of our head office staff gear up for our annual Halloween costume contest, we thought for the sake of the season, we would ask our friends and fans what their great Halloween costume ideas are for 2012.

Last year’s popular costumes included the black swan ballerina from the movie of the same name, zombies and zombie-killing sheriffs à la ‘The Walking Dead’, Captain America, The Green Lantern, the Robot from LMFAO, and ‘TRON Legacy’ characters.

We’re not too sure what this year’s popular outfit will be, but judging by the popularity of PSY’s song Gangnam Style, there may be a quite a few baby blue suits on the horizon.

Send us your great Halloween costume ideas via facebook, twitter or wordpress or feel free to send us your pictures too!

Most importantly, however, from all of us at Sandman Hotel Group, have a happy, safe and fun Halloween.