Spectres of Inglewood
October is here and it’s time to get spooky with Calgary Ghost Walks in Inglewood.
Organized by Johanna Lane, her interest in telling ghost stories started with a tragedy.
“My husband was killed in a motorcycle accident,” Lane said.
“Always a bummer in conversation isn’t it?”
After her husband died, enough people came to her with words that were meant to be consoling, but to Lane they came across as ominous and suggestive of the paranormal. This piqued her interest and she started learning more haunting stories.
“Everybody’s got a ghost story,” Lane said. She said if the ghost tours told every story she heard from the Inglewood area, the tours would last all night.
Lane said she and her small team try to multisource stories, look up the background of the building, and spend lots of time talking to expert sources like the library and the Glenbow Museum.
As well as searching for potential validity in ghost stories they hear, Lane said the stories that end up being told on the tours are stories that people will connect to.
“If there’s gruesomeness in it, that doesn’t hurt either.”
A personal favourite ghost story, due to its un-questionable tear-jerking element, is the tragic tale of Donnie under the bridge.
Donnie Goss was killed by Donald Sherman Staley who, the story goes, encountered Donnie alone in a playground near the old zoo bridge. He lured Donnie under the bridge and 24 hours later, police found his body abandoned.
Justice prevailed and Staley was captured, tried, and hanged on Dec. 18, 1946, alongside four German prisoners of war in the largest public hanging in Alberta’s history.
The spirit of Donnie still haunts the zoo bridge, where he is seen innocently playing with a ball.
Lane likes the sort of macabre optimism of that story. Even in death, “he’s still wandering around asking people to play.”
Despite the creepy flavour to the event, Lane insists that the root of the ghost tours is all about having fun and learning a little bit of local history along the way.
This is Lane’s 11th season organizing Ghost Walks, which are walking tours lasting about an hour with 10 or so stops along the way. The guide tells stories of hauntings from each locale.
Reservations can be made online, and the tours take place from May through November. Lane recommends making reservations early, as spaces fill up quickly, especially this time-of-year.
As far as the question of whether or not ghosts exist, Lane says she calls herself an, “open-minded skeptic.”
“I haven’t seen much that can’t be explained,” Lane said, but when it comes to the experiences of other people, she can’t dismiss them off-hand.
“Who am I to say they didn’t see it?”