From lost ghost children to lovesick nurses, campus historian Ellen Schoeck came across a number of supernatural stories while researching for her book, I Was There: A Century of Alumni stories about the University of Alberta, 1906-2006. Here are four of her spookiest stories of the haunts that roam U of A’s halls.
The story of this wandering ghost, who was a little boy wearing a plaid shirt and wool pants, takes us back to the construction of this building that started in 1910. The boy’s family lived by the North Saskatchewan River, as they were a part of the work camp that was building Athabasca Hall. As we all know, playing by the river can be dangerous, but the young boy didn’t care. After a day of fun, he returned home only to find out he left his jacket by the river. He went back to the river to retrieve it, and his family later found his
body in the morning, frozen with blue lips. It was assumed that the father of the child buried his son near the river before fleeing Edmonton with his wife.
In 2001, an anonymous woman told The Gateway that her husband saw the “boy with the blue lips” wandering Athabasca Hall in the late 1940s. She recalled a boy “of about eight” with blue lips and frosty eyelashes, shivering and sobbing while looking around the ground as if he had lost something. The woman said that every year at the end of autumn, the ghost appears near Pembina Hall before running into the river valley.
Ghosts disturbed the employees at the Graduate Students’ Association back in 2004, when their offices were in the Power Plant. President of the association back then, Alexis Pépin, recalls mysterious dropping of objects in rooms. She insists the rooms were empty, because all the doors were locked. Other than that, Pépin also recalled hearing someone’s scurrying footsteps around the building and faulty lights. If you know a real person didn’t do all these creepy things, then it must have been a ghost, right?
Ring House 1
Emma Read Newton was the wife of Robert Newton, President of the U of A from 1941 to 1950 and they resided in Ring House 1 (a red brick building located on the northwest corner of the University of Alberta campus). Shoeck says the building’s staff recall hearing Emma’s footsteps climbing the stairs and her fondness of propping doors open and closed. The staff also know she exists when they smell cigarettes in the house, where smoking is not allowed. Emma wants your attention.
As a building that served as temporary lodging for the military during World War I and a hospital during flu epidemic, it isn’t hard to believe that Pembina Hall has cooked up a number of ghost stories. This brings us to the ghosts of a pair of star-crossed lovers. It is rumoured that the ghost of a nurse resides in Pembina Hall, searching all these years for her lover who died during the flu pandemic.