Guest Post: Haunting Legends of Fairmont’s Banff Springs Hotel In Canada

Back in October of 2017, we sent out a post called “A Spooky Call To Action: Share Your Experiences With Us.

One person answered our call. That’s ok, we remained hopeful. The person was our our good friend of the blog, Joseph D. Kubal.  He’s the co-creator of the sensational Curious Traveler Route 66 blog.

Today, we have another guest post. Once again, Joseph D. Kubal has answered the call. So while he may be the only one who has, it is a start. And we are grateful to Joe (his friends can call him that, and you can call me anything you want if you’ll contribute a post) and excited to share his story.

(At the bottom of this post their is instructions on how to share a Spooky Post with us.)

Room 873

By Joseph D. Kubal

I recently had the good fortune to visit the astounding Canadian Rockies and the town of Banff.  The village is nestled in a U-shaped valley carved by an ancient glacier and is surrounded by a magnificent array of mountains.  The town of Banff sits on the edge of Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park established in 1885 and was developed after miners discovered natural hot springs in the area.

On the outskirts of the diminutive metropolis is the Fairmont’s Banff Springs Hotel.  This impressive inn, also dubbed the “Castle of the Rockies” is well known to Canadians as one of the most haunted places in their country.  The hotel is noted for several different purported hauntings.  Although I did not get the opportunity to see specific spectre locations (let alone any actual apparitions), I did get the opportunity to walk the grounds and hear about the property’s history and eerie stories about the location related to me by an informative Road Scholar guide.

First, a little about the hotel.  It was William Cornelius Van Horne that turned the phrase, “Since we can’t export the scenery, we will have to import the tourists.”  The hotel was the brainchild of Van Horne, appointed general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He wanted folks to see the beautiful Canadian Rockies while at the same time profiting his railway and resort.  The original Banff Springs Hotel, constructed of wood, was designed by Bruce Price and opened in 1888.  The original facility burned down in 1926 and was rebuilt in 1928.

The present buildings were constructed in an amalgam of styles but is considered to be Canadian Chateauesque with elements of Scottish baronial architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Many Americans probably are more familiar with another notable “railway” hotel – Hotel Frontenac in Quebec, also built in this distinctive Canadian architectural style.  “Chateauesque features on the building include its steep pitched roofs, pointed dormers, and corner turrets” (Wikipedia, 2018).  The 764-room facility sitting about 4,600 feet above sea level is clad in Rundle Limestone and many renovations have been done to the buildings over the years.

Currently, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is owned and operated by AccorHotels since 2016 as one of a chain of luxury accommodations under the name Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (FH&R). FH&R was formed in 2001 as a result of a merger between Fairmont Hotels and Canadian Pacific Hotels.

In 1988, the hotel became a National Historic Site of Canada and is now considered to be an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Such notables as Queen Elizabeth II, King George VI, Helen Keller, Marilyn Monroe and others have all stayed at this property.  But enough history for now, let’s get to the meat of our story and the reason why you visit this site.

There are several recurring paranormal events generally associated with this hotel:

Banff_IMG_1934

Copyright 2018 by Joseph D. Kubal; all rights reserved).

 

  1. The Secret Room

Our first tale deals with a so-called “secret room.”  Upon constructing the pre-fire building, a room inadvertently was built without any windows or doors and subsequently was sealed up.  No adverse events occurred in this space but visitors report hearing unexplained noises and paranormal activity in the immediate area.  “When the original wood building burned down due to the fire, this mysterious room was discovered” (Haunted Places to Go, 2018). There are no apparent reasons for the inexplicable apparitions and activity.  However, some research indicates that this room, when rebuilt, has been combined with another to create a large suite.

  1. The Helpful Bellman
Ghost And Friends 2015

Disclaimer: Not the purported Bellman 

 

Another recurring tale from the hotel is that of Sam McCauley (or McAuley), the friendly obliging ghost.  “To say Sam loved working at the hotel would be an understatement. Retiring from his job on numerous occasions he was always drawn back to the role he enjoyed so much. At one point the ageing Sam informed his friends and colleagues that when he died he would return to haunt the Banff Springs Hotel.

It seems that Sam was true to his word as he has been witnessed all over the hotel, but particularly on the ninth floor” (Crouch, 2016).  Sam died in 1976.  Ever since, “incidents involving mysterious phantom lights, elevator doors opening and closing at random, and guests being helped by an elderly Scottish bellman in an antiquated uniform have been attributed to Sam’s ghost” (Peters, n.d.).  This good-natured spectre is one of much more recent times.  Many reported paranormal activities usually have been associated with events, usually tragic, from the more distant past. The next legend is one of those.

  1. The Phantom Bride
Banff_IMG_1933

Copyright 2018 by Joseph D. Kubal; all rights reserved).

 

This is a story of sadness taking place sometime during the early 1930s at a young couple’s nuptial. The tale is so iconic that Canada issued a postage stamp as part of the “Haunted Canada” stamp series and a collector coin in its remembrance.  The story typically goes as follows.  A young bride was either ascending or descending a staircase to meet her new spouse for their first dance as a couple.  In one version, the bride tripped on her train sending her tumbling down the staircase breaking her neck.  In another version, the poor bride’s dress catches fire from candles that are lining the staircase and she subsequently falls to her death during the ensuing commotion.  “Over the years, various hotel patrons and staff have reported seeing a phantasmal bride dancing alone in the Cascade Ballroom or ascending the marble staircase on which the tragic event is rumored to have taken place.  Others have heard strange noises emanating from the bridal suite when the room was not is use” (Peters, n.d.).

Still, “others have felt the woman’s presence in the bathroom at the top of the stairs where she is said to watch people. Those who descend the stairs she died on can sometimes feel a chill breeze even when there is no draft” (Crouch, 2016). “In addition to this, she has been seen in other areas of the hotel, still wearing her beautiful white wedding dress that she died in” (Haunted Places to Go, 2018).  No written records have been able to document or confirm this supposed tragedy.

  1. Room 873
Ghost

Further Disclaimer: Hey, not the purported apparitions, just a picture we found. 

 

The spirit of the mother and particularly that of a young girl, her spectral daughter, still seem to linger in the vicinity of this room. “Guests who stayed in the room after the subsequent investigation and cleanup reported being awoken in the night by violent shrieks, and chambermaids who routinely cleaned the room would report finding bloody fingerprints on the bathroom mirror that could not be washed off. In response to the disturbing reports, hotel management sealed off the room” (Peters, n.d.).  “Since the room has been sealed an impression of a small child sometimes appears on the wall where the door should be. The image has been successfully photographed by some guests” (Crouch, 2016).

  1. Other Legends

“Some other alleged hotel spectres include a ghostly bartender who encourages inebriated patrons to go to bed, and a headless man who, despite his obvious handicap, somehow manages to play the bagpipes” (Peters, n.d.).

Paranormal events such as floating orbs, noises, and ghostly images have been recorded by visitors, but I could not find any evidence of paranormal researchers documenting and corroborating these stories. Staff at the hotel routinely decline to discuss the paranormal activities supposedly taking place at the resort.  However, more recently, the hotel has embraced these “occurrences” and now offer regular guided ghost tours with a “haunted” Halloween ball occurring in the fall.

So, with that being said, have a safe and sane Halloween and don’t be ghoulish! [GROAN!]

(Once again, Joe provides a Bibliography below!  That’s just pretty intellectual and classy when you think about it. Thanks Joe! )

So if you’d like to submit something to us, don’t worry how long or short it is  email it to spookythingsonline@gmail.com

Please include a contact phone number should we have questions or need clarifications.  Can’t promise everything submitted will be posted, depends on relevance and quality but that said, there’s a very good chance it will be posted (I mean, have you read some of the stuff I’ve written?).  We love spooky content! Posts may be subjected to editing but the author will be credited. Copyright will be jointly owned by the author and SpookyThingsOnline.

Really looking forward to hearing from you,

Michael  Mink

Bibliography

AccorHotels. (2018). Then and Now – Banff Springs Hotel. Retrieved from Fairmont Banff Springs: https://www.fairmont.com/banff-springs/promotions/fairmont-banff-springs-history/

Crouch, C. (2016, February 9). The Banff Springs Hotel Ghosts. Retrieved from Real Paranormal Experiences: http://realparanormalexperiences.com/the-banff-springs-hotel-ghosts

Haunted Places To Go. (2018). The Haunted Banff Springs Hotel. Retrieved from Haunted Places To Go: https://www.haunted-places-to-go.com/banff-springs-hotel.html

Peters, H. (n.d.). Ghostly Tales in the Banff Springs Hotel in the Great White North. Retrieved from Hammerson Peters: A Resource for Curious Canucks: http://hammersonpeters.com/?p=964

Wikipedia. (2017, October 24). Canada’s Grand Railway Hotels. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada%27s_grand_railway_hotels

Wikipedia. (2018, July 20). Banff Springs Hotel. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banff_Springs_Hotel

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