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Halloween weekend offers up Calgary ghost stories and ghoulish delights

Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, but that doesn’t mean Calgarians can’t take in some frightfully fun activities this weekend.

From a Ghoul’s Night Out at Heritage Park featuring a real ghost train, to a zombie walk through Downtown Calgary, there is something for everyone.

For those Calgarians who haven’t got their pumpkins ready for trick-or-treaters, there are some opportunities to get one with a dash of spooky story.

Nicole Schon, General Manager for Crossroads Market, said that before she became the manager for the market, she herself had a ghostly encounter with a bovine phantom in the basement halls of the former cattle slaughterhouse.

“Crossroads has got a lot of different businesses inside the space, and certainly, it’s had its fair share of ghost stories,” Schon said.

She said that while working as a seamstress for Pink Pepper Pie, a business that made gymnastic outfits for girls, she laid out fabric and patterns on a heavy solid wooden table located in those same basement halls.

“We went upstairs for a coffee, and we came back downstairs after and the table had literally physically been flipped. First of all, there was probably close to 200 pounds of material on top of the table, and the table itself was easily 200 pounds. No human would have been able to take that table and flip it.”

“Yet here it was lying on its side on the floor in the basement and I was like OK, this is weird. Somebody’s punking us.”

No-bovine excrement in this story said Schon

She said that she went to the management of Crossroads to complain, telling them that their gates had been locked and yet their table had been flipped upside down.

“They just kind of like looked at each other and didn’t say anything and I thought ‘oh well that’s weird, like they must know something.’ So the girls and I picked everything off the floor and brushed it all off, and flipped the table back up and laid everything back out again.”

A process that Schon said took hours to complete.

“At the time I was a smoker—not proud to say it—but when I came back the table was flipped again. So I went to the office and this time I was furious because we weren’t going to be able to recoup the time. We were on a timeline, there was a competition that was coming, the reason why we had to get this stuff done in a timely fashion, and now we were way behind the eight ball,” she said.

“They didn’t say anything. It’s like they knew something but they didn’t want to tell us.”

She said that she knew it had to be a bovine ghost from when the market had a very different purpose.

Ghastly history long-forgotten

Today, said Schon, the basement has been renovated but some of the weird past of the building remains.

In one part of the underground corridors, there is a storage room that has been taken to being called the interrogation room because it has one-way mirrors.

The truth of what that room was used for has been lost to history as the original owners of the building are no longer around, but visiting it still feels a little creepy.

“Clearly we’re making speculations on what it was. But it also has a soundproof door. It’s insane,” Schon said.

She said another long-forgotten dark secret of the market was the tunnel that led from the basement to the middle of what is now the parking lot, where cows were brought into the slaughterhouse.

“This is a story I heard firsthand. They used to get gentleman from cash corner to do this grunt labour of cleaning up and doing whatever. Basically, they would pick five guys up and if they made $5 a day then [the foreman], they would have $25 to hand out at the end of the day. If the foreman’s handing out the money and he’s like $5, $10 $15, $20, and then the last guy doesn’t show up for his pay, it’s just like ‘cool five extra dollars for me in the top pocket there,'” Schon said.

“It wouldn’t be until like a day or two later that they’d actually find the fifth guy. So when the the Crossroads family picked up this space, they actually found a stack of unused body bags in the basement.”

Halloween activities for families and adults

  • Oct. 27 through Oct 29. at Heritage Park: Ghoul’s Night Out at Heritage Park, featuring among other family friendly activities pirates versus Star Wars’ Sith, spooktacular storytelling at the Canmore Opera House, and the mad science of Dr. Frankenstein. Tickets at heritagepark.ca/ghouls-night-out.
  • Oct. 27 through Oct. 31 at GMC Stadium on Stampede Park: Screamfest is Calgary’s scariest Halloween experience with multiple outdoor fright houses with themes like the slaughterhouse, clown town, and the Bates Motel. Tickets available at screamfest.ca.
  • Oct. 27 through Oct. 31 at nvrland: Experience a haunted house with no jump scares or actors, but plenty of frightful scenes at Spooky Studio. Details and tickets available at www.patrickartproduction.com.
  • Oct. 27 through Oct. 31 at the Plaza Theatre: Take in the classic horror-comedy The Rocky Horror Picture Show and do the time warp again! Tickets and showtimes at www.theplaza.ca/films?id=ST00000216.
  • Oct. 28 and 29 at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo: ZooBOO is back with family friendly zoo activities that encourages families to dress up, enjoy some of the zoo’s culinary treats around at treat stations around the park, and take in performances by the Wilder Bunch. ZooBOO activities free with admission to the zoo.
  • Oct. 28 at North Glenmore Park: The Dash of Doom from Run YYC awards top costumes, not finishing times in this fun 5k and 10k race. Proceeds from the race go to support Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society. Sign up at www.runyyc.ca/events/dash-of-doom.