Article by Ashley Martin
Telling ghost stories has been a favourite pastime for generations. People find fun in scaring themselves and others, especially around Halloween. While it may be entertaining to scare, we have to wonder about the origins of the stories. Some may be purely fictional, but most are based on truth to some degree.
People have no idea what happens after death. The afterlife is a debated subject in all age groups. Is death simply the end of it all, or is there something more?
Many people claim to have experienced unnatural phenomena. Some firmly believe that a supernatural presence haunts their house or workplace.
In Regina there are many aged buildings that are rumoured to be haunted. Some of the people affiliated with these places openly admit to being haunted, but others disagree with their colleagues and totally deny the rumour.
Five Regina and area businesses that admit to their supernaturalism are Danbry’s Contemporary Cuisine, the Moose Head Inn in Kenosee, Bartleby’s/Bart’s on Broad, Government House and 1800 College Avenue (formerly Magellan’s Global Coffee House).
“Many, many, many, many years ago women weren’t allowed in the building at all,” says Tara Morgan, general manager of Danbry’s Contemporary Cuisine.
Danbry’s is located at 1925 Victoria Avenue, and the Assiniboia Club is in the same building. Years ago, the Assiniboia Club was a private gentlemen’s club and women were prohibited from entering.
“They say that in those days, many a business deal was sealed with a handshake and an offering of a female companion for the evening,” Morgan says.
Many of the rooms in the Club were bedrooms, because after travelling a long distance it was more convenient for men to stay there rather than get a hotel room. The men would sneak prostitutes in through a side door so they could spend their evenings being “entertained.”
“They say that this one prostitute got a little too attached to one of the members and became a liability. So they brought someone in to murder her . . . she was murdered with an axe, up on the third floor of the building, and she still wanders around today.”
Though Morgan has never experienced the ghost herself, many people on staff have. They’ve seen things like pool balls moving around on the pool table, lights coming on without reason on the third floor and movement on the security panel on the third floor when no one’s around. But the most memorable ghostly experience at Danbry’s occurred about six years ago.
“One of our servers was polishing cutlery in a back room, and she looked up and saw vases hovering in the middle of the room,” Morgan explains. “When I walked into the room, she was behind the bar, she hadn’t moved, and these vases were rolling around in the middle of the floor.”
The vases, which are still part of Danbry’s décor, are a foot and a half tall. Morgan remembers exactly where they were placed on the shelf, and there is no way that they could have rolled off the shelf.
“And they didn’t break,” Morgan adds, “so that’s just a little bit crazy.”
Bartleby’s/Bart’s on Broad
“When I first took over Bart’s, my routine was to unplug the jukebox and I check the doors. [One time] when I went to check the side door, the jukebox, all of a sudden went on. I just ran out the front door.”
Mike Maroudis and the staff have had many such experiences at 1920 Broad Street. Maroudis says the ghost is really nice and hasn’t done anything bad. He does little things, like move objects from their places to other places.
“He moves glasses around when the waitresses go to pick them up,” Maroudis says, and adds, “He likes sitting under the archway, because that’s over a hundred years old. The bar itself is over a hundred years old, and he came with the bar.”
Maroudis believes that the ghost they call “Buddy” is the spirit of Kid Letowsky, a man who was killed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Butte, Montana. The bar itself is from Butte; the bullet hole that was used to kill Letowsky is still in the bar.
Though there is clear evidence of a ghost, only one man has seen the ghost before.
“One of my bartenders has seen him,” Maroudis says. “He thought it was me.”
At the time, Maroudis was in his office and observed the bartender on camera. He turned “white as a ghost” and ran out of the building. The ghost was not captured on camera.
Parapsychologists in town for conventions have refused to enter Bart’s on Broad because they felt a “bad vibe.”
Moose Head Inn
Dale Orsted purchased Kenosee’s Moose Head Inn in 1990, located about two hours southeast of Regina. Soon after, curious things began to happen.
Things would go missing and then reappear days later. Loud banging would occur for no reason. Doors would fly open and shut without warning. Appliances would turn on and off by themselves. Objects like mop pails, and even a heavy steel desk, would levitate and slam down violently.
“A lot of [the staff] has seen doors flying open,” says Jerilin McArthur, a waitress at the Inn. “[One night] after we’d closed up, I heard pots and pans clattering and making a bunch of noise. I didn’t think anything of it; I thought maybe it was one of the cooks. But the cook would have gone home at ten, and this was around midnight.”
McArthur has also closed the building at night having made sure that everything was shut off, and then upon returning to the building, found everything turned on again.
In 1997 a séance was held at the Moose Head Inn, whereupon they learned that a cleaning lady, a young drowning victim and an old man haunted the building. During the séance, the psychic convinced two of the ghosts to leave, but the third would not. As it turned out, the third ghost was that of Archibald Grandison, the former owner of the Moose Head Inn. Since the death of Mrs. Grandison in 1999 there have been no strange occurrences in the Inn. However, most people still feel a presence there.
“Government House is haunted. There’s no doubt in my mind,” says Lloyd Begley, curator of Government House Museum.
The ghost, who is affectionately known as Howie, is thought to be Cheun, the Chinese cook of Lieutenant-Governor McNab.
“Ever since his death, there have been strange happenings,” says Begley. “For example, he wore a distinctive pair of slippers when he was alive, and people began to hear him walking throughout the house. In the wee hours they’d hear it in the kitchen. They’d hear his footsteps all the time.”
There are other strange occurrences as well. Things get moved to where “Howie” likes them to be. Doors open and close repeatedly, without human assistance. Footsteps are heard when there are only a couple of people in the house.
Several people have even claimed to see a face in the mirror beside their own reflection. One staff member saw a man with a checked shirt vanish from his seat in the new kitchen.
Another staff member has seen a gentleman standing in the kitchen. People have heard children laughing in the empty house. Such experiences have been had by staff of the museum, cleaning staff and even former students who’d attended school at Government House.
With consideration to the inconsistent experiences people have had, Begley has to question the theory of “Howie.”
“Somehow the name ‘Howie’ has evolved over the years. It’s believed that Chuen is the ghost because Chuen is the only person to have died in the house.” Begley adds, “Howie has become synonymous with Government House over the years… but I don’t like to call him Howie all the time, because I think there’s more than one [ghost].”
Begley says that in his entire career as curator of Government House, almost eight years, he has never heard Chuen’s slippered footsteps. He has heard many ghost stories related to the nursery though, one of which he experienced himself.
“My first experience was in the nursery. I was doing some conservation work in the dining room [of the museum]. I heard the music box in the nursery right above me start to chime, and footsteps down the hallway about sixty feet that just came to an end. I was the only person in the museum [at that time].”
Some members of the staff have experienced extreme coldness in the nursery wing, a “two or three second blast of chill, like something walked past you, or through you,” Begley says.
He adds that he’s heard the four- second wail of a baby in the basement when the house was empty.
A cleaning lady who was employed on a casual basis at Government House reportedly heard footsteps walking from the morning room, through the bedroom to the far wall of the bedroom and then stopping. She found out afterward that behind the wall there was once a bathroom.
“The footsteps would stop at the wall where this bathroom used to be,” Begley says.
“Howie” tries to have a say in how the house is managed. One time, an old table had been donated to Government House and was placed in the library. Howie would flip up the corner of the tablecloth as if to say, “get rid of this.” He was relentless in this, until Begley moved the table to a different room. It hasn’t been touched since.
There is a lot of evidence pointing towards the ghostly phenomenon, and no logical explanation to counter it.
“I’ve been asked if it makes sense for myself to get a parapsychologist in and run some tests,” Begley says, “but then you have to ask yourself, do you really want to know? Do you really want to know if the place you go to every morning at eight o’clock is haunted? I don’t.”
1800 College Avenue
(formerly Magellan’s Global Coffee House)
This College Avenue house is perhaps the most talked-about may-be-haunted house in Regina. It was the home of Trevor Lien for three years, and then the home of his business, Magellan’s Global Coffee House, for three years. In a total of six years, Lien did not come into contact with the ghost.
“Sadly I have no first-hand experience with it,” Lien says.
Not only has Lien never had an experience with the ghost(s), but the previous owners of the house hadn’t either.
In its early days the house was home to the McKillops. Mr McKillop was the local judge of the time. The house was also a headquarters for the women’s suffrage movement. In 1923 the McKillops, who’d lived in the house since its construction in 1912, sold the house to the Sneath family.
“George Sneath died in the fifties and Alma Sneath went into a care home in 1983. I’ve met and talked to some of the kids, and they never had any ghost stories for me,” Lien affirms.
As if it’s not enough that Lien and the Sneaths–the people that had lived in the house the longest–hadn’t experienced ghosts, the three theories that people had come up with to explain the hauntings were all proven false. One theory was that someone had drowned in the cistern, but Lien has proven that there was never a cistern on the property. Another theory was that someone had died in a fire.
“We’ve determined that the only fire that was ever there was a trash-pail type of fire,” Lien replies.
The third theory was that the nanny that looked after the children committed suicide by jumping out of the third storey window. This has to be false, since the nanny was retired in Calgary about eight years ago when Lien looked into it.
Though Lien and the Sneath family had not experienced spiritual contact, some staff at the coffee shop did. One woman saw the ghost three times, and each time it was a woman wearing a wedding dress.
“The first time she saw this apparition she didn't think anything of it except, ‘Why is that person wearing a wedding dress?’ Then she realized that the person she saw walked past the window . . . and then she realized, ‘Wait a minute, I’m on the second floor.’ So obviously, no one could walk by the second floor window, unless they were something scary!”
Another staff member’s encounter with the ghost caused her to quit her job. Toward the end of her shift she was alone in the house except for one other person, who was working in the kitchen.
“She walked around the corner [from the kitchen to the main seating area], and someone walked through her. So she freaked out and panicked and quit right then and there,” Lien relates.
Another unnatural experience occurred early in the morning, when the baker would come in to prepare the day’s food. Alone in the kitchen the baker was working, and across the room the mixer turned itself on. She walked toward the mixer to turn it off, but as she got closer the mixer would advance to the next speed. The mixer was set to the tenth speed by the end of the occurrence.
In the 91 years the house has been in existence, there is no record of anyone dying there.
These are just a few of Regina’s locations that are rumoured to be haunted. Certain businesses refuse to accept that their buildings are inhabited by something otherworldly. Some don’t want their secret outed to the public.
Regina is home to many old edifices. In Regina’s hundred years people have been born, they’ve lived, experienced and learned, and they’ve died. After forming such strong attachments to the city and their lives in general, maybe some people can’t let go.
“There are different types of entities,” Begley says, “there are different purposes for them to be here. I’ve been told to just tell them to walk towards the light. ‘It’s okay, go.’ Some of them don’t know where to go. That’s the theory.”
Or maybe all the footsteps and misplacement of objects and inexplicable phenomena are simply figments of an overactive imagination.
“The stories are certainly strong,” Lien states. “Are they founded in the subconscious awareness of the truth, or are they the result of some underlying archetype that’s part of the human brain wiring?”
There are many people that would argue that there are no such things as ghosts. However, considering the perspectives of the owners and staff of Danbry’s, the Moose Head Inn, Bart’s on Broad, Government House and 1800 College Avenue, one would have to conclude that perhaps what we see isn’t always what we get.
Source: The Carillon