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!

New Year’s Resolutions – Did You Make Them Realistic?

Travel Quote

Gulliver traveled. Look where it got him: lashed to the land by little people. Columbus, big traveler, right? Underestimated the circumference of the Earth and died thinking he’d found India. Sure, you can come up with justifications for never leaving the splendid safety of your office chair. Truth is, travel makes us better in many ways: better employees, better family members, and better friends.

Every year, the month of January makes us say things like: Out with the old; in with the new. It may be cliché, but every year, we say it. That may be because there’s something about the beginning of a new year that automatically sparks a desire to make a change or start something fresh. But instead of making a new year’s resolution that is unattainable, why not find something you will be able to achieve and enjoy at the same time.

iphone 5 cameraHow about learning how to actually use your camera? (Remember that there is a camera on your phone, so this applies to all smart phone users as well.) Our resident social media guru put together these five simple tips to help kick start your camera knowledge.

Number 1: Get to know your camera/phone functions. You don’t want to be fumbling with controls and missing moments.

Number 2: Turn your flash off for nightscapes. Flash can only travel a few feet, so there is no way it’s going to help you with that Vegas-by-night shot. Find a stable place to sit the camera, like a portable tripod or even a curbside newspaper box.

Number 3: Use flash in the sun. Try turning on the flash when you’re taking portraits of each other in harsh sunlight. It sounds odd, but flash will actually fill in the heavy shadows caused by the sun, giving you more even light and color.

Number 4: The landscape mode on your camera is designed to give you sharp pictures from a distance, along with rich blue skies and lush earth tones. Flip to this mode when you need it, and let the camera do all the work.

Number 5: Don’t always rely on zoom lenses to get you close to the action. Walk right up to your subject, interact with them, and get details that fly-by tourists would miss in their haste.

photo collageNow that you know how to use your camera, let’s put your new knowledge to use. And there’s no better way to test your camera skills than to go on a trip. Think about the amazing adventures, delicious food, and the beautiful photos you will take. Exciting!

There’s only one thing left to do. Plan the trip.

Why? Because the pleasure of pre-trip anticipation is invigorating. It’s why puppies are more joyful than dogs.

Pros to planning now: A vacation begins the second you start to plan it. Travelers’ moods improve as soon as the planning begins, even before the actual vacation starts.

Cons: Running out of toner the second you try to print your boarding pass. Trying to remember where you put the digital luggage scale. Rushing out to buy batteries for that digital luggage scale.

Canadian TravelSo where will your new adventure take you? If you’re looking to travel within Canada, your choices are endless.

Canada’s cities are energetic, multi-cultural, and most importantly, distinctive.  You don’t drive from one to the other expecting the same.  Vancouver and Victoria’s lifestyles are always relaxed, and while it may be wet, it doesn’t stop people from enjoying the natural surroundings of each city.  Booming Calgary and Edmonton reap the benefits of our natural resources.  Regina and Saskatoon proudly bring vibrancy to the prairies.  Winnipeg is a definite cultural centre at the heart of the country. Toronto and Ottawa are the corridors of business and politics.  Montreal enjoys a reputation as the coolest city in the country, if not the continent, while the streets of old Quebec City feel like they’ve teleported from Europe.  The history is everywhere in Halifax and Charlottetown, and the charm thick in Fredericton. In Newfoundland, St John’s witnesses the first sunrise of the continent, and its brightly painted houses as animated as its people.  Let’s not forget Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit, our vibrant outposts of the Great White North.

Whatever your new year’s resolution might be, whether it be travelling or learning how to use your camera, Sandman looks forward to spending time with you in 2014!