The park is a historical village located in Calgary, Alberta. It’s a primary tourist location in Calgary and has one of North America’s largest exhibits of historical buildings, with many of them dating back as far as 100 years.
The Prince House is the most famous haunted location in the park. Ellen Gasser, the public programming coordinator says that it “was built by Peter Prince who came to Calgary to start the Eau Claire Lumber Company. He built up the large house with 3,000 square foot home in 1894 on 4th Avenue, South West, and 2nd street.”
Once Calgary started tearing down historical buildings downtown, the house was donated to Heritage Park for preservation.
But the house doesn’t only have a history. It also supposedly comes with a supernatural presence.
Elaine Proulx, a long-term employee of Heritage Park, says her favourite story about Prince House involves the late second wife of Peter Prince, who is believed to be the ghost called the “lady in white.”
“Over the years people have seen a lady in white [who] seems to like young children and babies because she's been seen in the nursery taking care of a baby.
She's being seen standing on the balcony looking out at young mothers while they've looked after their children at the front of the house.”
Proulx says the “lady in white” is a friendly presence in the Prince House due to her “taking care of the house and the people in it because we often feel a nurturing presence in the house.”
But Prince House is not the only building in the park that has rumours of strange occurrences. Airdrie House is also rumoured to have high paranormal activity.
Originally built in Airdrie, Alberta by Samuel John Bushfield in 1906, Airdrie House was donated to Heritage Park in 1964. The house represented the layout of many houses made in Western Canada before the First World War.
Proulx says the house has a feeling that “something very disturbing happened here, and while they've researched it, they just have not found it.”
She describes her experience in the Airdrie House: “I felt profound, negative energy. I felt very depressed and I just know something very disturbing happened here.
Once I got to the door and I was about to leave, it was a feeling of a hand pushing my head down into a humbling bow. While I didn't hear the words in my head, the words were, you don't speak about us in that way, and when I stepped back outside, the feeling of depression left me.”
Proulx’s experience at Airdrie House and along with other paranormal stories believes that historical accuracy is important to “keep people focused on the history of the houses and the people in the history of the West. That's our big story. That's our main thing,” says Gasser.
But the park’s focus on education doesn’t stop them from embracing the public’s fascination with the paranormal rumours.
Heritage Park holds an event called “Ghosts and Gourmet.” The event invites people to enjoy a three-course meal followed by an hour and a half ghost tour.
During the tour, guests get to visit the historical buildings while listening to the historical and paranormal information offered by guides.
In order to maintain credibility, Proulx says Heritage Park “has selected stories carefully and then those stories have been researched.
Those stories have been written up in a script form. And it says right in the scripts, do not add anything to this
One of the ghost tour guides, Proulx says “I think you can have some artistic license that way in terms of you try to engage your audience by using a bit of drama in the sense of your voice tone.”
A former interpreter, along with Gasser, founded the “Ghosts and Gourmet” event in 2008 due to the public’s interest in the paranormal stories surrounding the park.
Since then, the tours have been selling out every year and that this year they sold out in two and a half weeks.
Gasser chalks this popularity up to being linked with not knowing “what happens after we die.
There are things that happen in life that are unexplainable. It was just an interest in things that we can't explain, and one of the big mysteries in life is what happens after you die.”
- By Jazmine Canfield & Marin Peake-MacAlister