Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Spooky Saskatoon: ghost stories from Nutana

There’s no better time than Halloween to share spooky stories.

Whether you believe or not, there’s no shortage of tales in Saskatoon.

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Local historian Dianne Wilson has collected many supernatural stories over the years and is known for regaling people during her walking ghost tours in the city’s historic Nutana neighbourhood.

The Hose and Hydrant is now a popular bar, but the building dates back to 1911 when it served as Fire Hall No. 3.

Staff have shared many eerie encounters.

“They’ve heard heavy footsteps up there clomping around after the place has been shut down and nobody’s up there,” Wilson said. “They even went as far as to name whoever was up there, “Boots.”

On one occasion she was told about a glass that was sitting on the bar and flew 20 feet across the room by itself and crashed at the feet of a staff member.

Stories have also included seeing figures in the window.

“At 3 a.m. after they shut the place down, the staff were leaving and noticed one of the upstairs windows had a light glowing in it and there was a figure standing there looking down,” Wilson said.

A few other businesses on Broadway have noted abnormal activity.

In 1980, the current owners of McQuarries Tea and Coffee bought the property and lived in the apartments upstairs.

Wilson said there was a sense the previous owner, Hugo, was still there.

“Lights would turn on and off, the thermostat would be lowered things would go missing and then turn up in unexpected places,” she said.

Across the street on the Smith block, the 1912 building was the home of the first east side branch of the Saskatoon Public Library. Legend has it the chief librarian, James Stewart Wood, still lingers.

“A few years ago one of the residents in those upstairs apartments thought he was still there,” Wilson said. “Just a feeling of somebody being in the room – one of those uncomfortable feelings.”

Just off Broadway at the Refinery, previously home to the Saskatoon School of Dance, people said they’ve heard footsteps on the stairs going up to the second floor and the sound of singing children in the courtyard.

“One dance student was doing some stretches after her lesson and something or someone tapped her on the shoulder and there was nobody there,” Wilson said.

While the Farnham block is gone, there are still a few tales to tell about the old 1912 building.

“One female staffer was cashing out one night when the contents of the till just erupted in her face,” she said. “Money flying everywhere.”

“It’ll be interesting to see if any specters of spirits come back to the new building,” she added.

Whether the spirits still linger or not, Wilson offers the historical context.

She leaves it to her audience to make up their minds about paranormal phenomena.

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