If you are visiting picturesque Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, you are not likely to miss the towering twelve story building that sits in the heart of the downtown area. The Fort Garry Hotel is a rich architectural landmark with a fascinating history, originally built to give railway passengers a luxurious place to stop overnight. Right next to the hotel are the remains of the gate to Upper Fort Garry, a former trading post that dates back to 1822.
The hotel itself was constructed in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. When the structure was completed, it was the tallest building at that time in Winnipeg. The attractive chateau design is similar to the earlier Ottowa Hotel and New York City’s Plaza Hotel. The convenient location made it an ideal place to stay during travel, and the hotel enjoyed many years of success in this fashion. The building was extremely self sufficient, making it convenient for staff who lived at the hotel. In its early years it housed a bakery, a butcher shop, and even a printing press.
Fort Garry has entertained many notable guests since its opening, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth when they did a tour of Canada. Other guests have been entertainer Liberace, actors Sir Lawrence Olivier and Harry Belafonte, and hockey great Gordie Howe.
It seems, according to legends, they have accumulated a few ‘ghosts’ over the years as well.
Some experiences reported there have been apparitions, generally appearing at the foot of one’s bed in several of the rooms. One in particular, Room 202, is supposed to be haunted by the spirit of a young woman who hung herself upon hearing of the death of her husband in an automobile accident. Apparitions, whispers, and even rumors of bloodstains seeping through the walls have been reported in this room.
Staff members have reported apparitions and voices as well in various parts of the hotel. In 1989, an employee reported seeing a phantom diner in one of the dining rooms long after the room had been locked for the night. When the employee went to get a fellow staffer to see, the man was gone, with no visible means of being able to leave.
Perhaps one of the ghosts isn’t a former guest at all. Charles Melville Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway was instrumental in getting the hotel designed and built along with architects Ross and McDonald of Montreal. However, he was unfortunately never a guest here, as he died more than a year and a half before the grand opening in December of 1913. Hays was one of the lives lost in the tragic sinking of the Titanic in April of 1912. Is his spirit one of the ones who possibly haunt this grand hotel, keeping watch over the building he couldn’t see completed in life?
Spirits or no, the hotel is an architectural masterpiece and continues in operation to this day. The Crystal Ballroom and the Concert Hall were turned into a casino for a few years in the 1990’s, which only lasted a few years. They have now been restored to their former glory and original use.
Does the hotel entertain guests that never checked out? Visit the Fort Garry Hotel and find out for yourself!