The Fairmont Palliser’s Ghost Stories
The hotel is more than 100 years old and it has a storied past. Some of those stories are ghost stories.
The Palliser’s drawing room in 1914. Today, tales of a ghostly 1940s debutante making her way here have been reported to hotel staff.
Photos courtesy of the Fairmont Palliser
Both clients and staff have reported in the hotel include seeing the ghost of a man dressed in a conductor’s uniform. Raucous parties have been reported in certain rooms, with hotel staff finding them empty upon arrival. There are reports of a 1940s debutante heading down stairs towards what was once the hotel’s drawing room. Guests report being awoken by someone tapping on their arm. And, a haunted staff elevator sometimes seems to have a mind of its own (though staff admit that is most likely an electrical problem).
The Fairmont’s Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling tea, which will be served for Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Palliser on October 31 has its own ghost story. In 1864, a tea garden was planted 1830 metres above sea level in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal in India. Named Bara Ringtong, the garden’s heirloom China bushes offered a second flush leaf that made for an ideal morning tea. In 1927, the then owner, an Englishman named Bagdon, welcomed his daughter Margaret to the tea garden. Young Margaret instantly fell in love with the Bara Ringtong gardens, saying she’d never want to leave, and some say she stayed true to her word. During a naval voyage back to England with her mother, Margaret fell ill and died. Overcome by grief, Bagdon renamed the Garden’s Margaret’s hope as a way to honour her memory. To this day, people claim to have seen the ghost of this young woman in the estate’s bungalow, study, and of course, its garden.
Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Palliser.
This clipping from the Calgary Daily Herald in 1914 shows the story of the hotel’s opening surrounded by news relating to the RMS Empress of Ireland Crash.
A Dubious Beginning
Though not strictly a ghost story, this one is still unsettling. Few felt like celebrating when the Palliser first opened in June 1914. On May 29, 1914, three days before the hotel opened, the RMS Empress of Ireland crashed into a Norwegian Collier ship in the Saint Lawrence River. It was the biggest non-wartime naval disaster in the in Canadian history. More than 1,000 people perished in the crash. It dominated headlines across the country and made the opening of the hotel page three news. Calgary’s newest hotel opened “without pomp or ceremony,” according to the Calgary Daily Herald‘s report.
For more haunted hotel stories, check out the Spooky Tea and Talk on Saturday, October 31. The Halloween inspired Afternoon Tea menu will also be available on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1. For more information, visit fairmont.com