July 17th, 2024

Spooky stories haunt city buildings

By Lethbridge Herald on October 30, 2023.

A number of downtown buildings, including the old Paramount Theatre and the Post Office, are said to have a spooky history. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

For those looking for a way to get spooked tonight, or any other night for that matter, Lethbridge has plenty of stories that can get the heart racing according to local historian and storyteller Belinda Crowson. 

Crowson sat down with the Herald recently and shared some of her favourite spooky stories, not only for their scaring potential but for their historical significance and connection to places people visit on a regular basis. 

“There is a whole bunch of buildings downtown that have ghost stories, I mean all across Lethbridge but there is a lot down here. My approach to ghost stories is that I don’t know, nor do I really care if ghosts exist. For me it’s all about the stories and what they tell us about the buildings and about people,” said Crowson. 

One of those places with a spooky story is somewhere many find themselves making memories over a cup of coffee in the heart of downtown. Even though the story is over 30 years old, it is still something some might get spooked about.

“This goes back to when they were actually converting this into the Penny and to B Macabee’s Booksellers. When they were doing this, the owner had strange feeling come over him quite often. He couldn’t explain what was happening so he would just put the experience out of his mind, but one day he came in and he was making cinnamon buns, and the baking pans from the top of the double door refrigerator just came off and landed on the floor, and he had it a few times, when he would come and either watch the pans fall or see them on the floor,” said Crowson. 

She said next door in the bookstore the people operating that business would often find books on the floor – they would hear thumping sounds and they would go and find books, but not just close to the shelves as it would happen thanks to gravity, but they would find them feet away from the bookshelf, as if someone had pushed them off the shelves. 

“And one of the people working in the B Macabee’s there used to be in an office downstairs, and she remembers sitting down there Sunday afternoon doing the books by herself, and the door to the office slowly opened so she was like ‘oh somebody’s come to visit’ and she’s watching the door to see who comes in, but nobody comes in and then the door just slowly closes,” said Crowson. 

The Paramount, back when it was a theatre was said to be haunted, and Crowson said theatres are notoriously haunted. 

“When it was a theatre, the staff spent time, they cleaned it up at the end of the night, and then one of the staff realized he left something behind, so he went back into the theatre to find it and he looked in the stage and realized there was a man standing on the stage, and he was just about to tell the gentleman ‘we’re closed, you have to leave,’ when the man just slowly disappeared right in front of his eyes and that story often is linked to one of the projectionists who worked in the building and it’s just never wanted to leave the building so he stays there and works at the theatre,” said Crowson. 

Another spooky story comes from the closure of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) office in 2012, after calling the Post Office building home for many years. Crowson said when they were closing the office, she was invited to document the historical event and while doing so, she learned of a possible haunting. 

“As we were talking, they were like ‘there’s a ghost up here, there’s a strange light we can’t explain’ and they said ‘we have tried shutting lights on and off, and close the windows, but we don’t know where this light is coming from,’ and my brain of course jumped in and ‘I wonder if Ernest Stanley is still here,’ I said,” said Crowson. 

She explained that she told them about the possibility of the apparition being Stanley, because when the building was being built one of the master stone masons slipped off and landed on his head, and later died in the Galt hospital a few days later. Therefore she wondered if he was still connected to the building even though he didn’t die there. 

“That’s where my brain goes, I know who died here. There’s no way of course of knowing if anything is connected, but it’s always interesting when a person had an accident there and to me it enhances the way we tell the stories of those buildings,” said Crowson. 

There are so many stories that they could fill a book, and that is exactly what is in the works for Crowson, who for now has been sharing ghost stories orally while also providing tours of places with a spooky background. 

Crowson said those wishing to share their stories, or to listen to stories while taking a tour can reach her at belindacrowson13@gmail.com

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