The Banff Springs Hotel: Ghost Stories
The guests who checked in but never checked out
by Jim Kerr
“A gentleman attending a conference in October of 2007 checked into [a room on the sixth floor]. He claimed that during the night he heard giggling in the hallway. Assuming it to be ladies returning from late night social activities he tried to ignore it and go back to sleep. The giggling seemed to get louder as though they were on the other side of the wall from his room. Then it sounded as though they were in the room. He didn’t see anyone. He tried again to block it out and go to sleep but began to feel a physical sensation as if someone was trying to push his mattress up and off the bed. He felt his body being pushed up by the mattress but saw nothing. Nothing further occurred that night.
“The next morning he contacted a colleague who was staying in another room and asked him to stop by to pick him up for breakfast. He welcomed his colleague on arrival then stepped into the washroom, asking his colleague to wait a minute before they left the room for breakfast. When the guest came out of the washroom his colleague was no longer in the room and the door was open. The guest went into the hallway and his colleague was standing out in the hallway under a picture. When the guest asked him what he was doing the colleague said he was waiting in the room when he felt someone take his hand and gently pull him toward the door. He followed the pulling sensation out to the picture where he suddenly stopped as though someone had wanted him to get out to the picture for some reason. After this the guest wasted no time in requesting a room change.”
- David Moberg, hotel historian, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
The stories don’t end there though; in fact, far from it.
Paranormal Studies & Investigations Canada says that when new wings were being added to the hotel in the early 1900s, the architects accidentally left space for a room with no doors or windows. Rather than fix their mistake though, legend has it they just revised the blueprints to cover it up and the room was eventually found after a major fire in 1926. It turns out that night watchmen had long been complaining about a “shadowy figure” floating up and down the hallways and strange noises in the area.
According to The Ghost Research & International Mystery Union, Room 873 of the hotel is another controversial area. It’s rumoured that a family was murdered inside and a child’s fingerprints kept appearing on the room’s mirror, even after it was cleaned off several times. The room was eventually bricked over and boarded up to match the rest of the hallway, and no one has been inside since.
Then there’s “The Doomed Bride,” a legend with a couple of different origins, says The G.R.I.M. Union. The first version of the story is that a bride dressed in her wedding gown tripped down a flight of stairs, landed head first and eventually died from her injuries. The second version tells of a woman whose wedding dress brushed some nearby candles and caught fire, causing her to fall to her death down the stairs. People have reported seeing a woman in a white wedding dress either walking down the stairs, or a woman with a dress that is on fire standing there and abruptly disappearing into thin air. There have also been reports of the woman being seen dancing alone in the ballroom in her gown, and of staff hearing noises from the bridal suite when it’s empty.
Before you run for the hills, not every Banff Springs Hotel ghost story is a scary one. In “Ghost Stories of Alberta,” Barbara Smith says the most accepted ghost story is that of Samuel McCauley. He arrived from Scotland in the 1930s and worked at the hotel for over 40 years, often assuring people that he’d be back to haunt the hotel once he died. Smith says guests would regularly mention seeing lights shining just above their windows well above ground level and in sections of the hotel with no ledges for someone to stand on. In one case, a couple insisted that an older man helped them with their bags, and even described the man to a hotel employee, who told them that none of the bellhops were over the age of 30.
Then there’s the resort’s Rob Roy lounge – Smith says numerous ghosts have been sighted there over the years, including “The Doomed Bride,” a headless bagpiper and a bartender who lets people know when they’ve had too much to drink.