This weekend, I’m going to be telling you a few ghost stories in Saint-Boniface and Saint-Vital…
For my research, I used the book Haunted Winnipeg, Ghost Stories from the Heart of the Continent by Matthew Komus, the Heritage Winnipeg website, and the Haunted Places website.
At this point, we all know that Gabrielle Roy grew up in Saint-Boniface, at 375 Deschambault Street. The writer’s childhood home was separated into private apartments between the 1930s and 1980s, before being renovated and turned into a museum.
Lucienne Châteauneuf, former executive director of the Maison Gabrielle-Roy, tells several ghost stories in the book Haunted Winnipeg, including a pretty strange incident… A woman who once came to visit the museum, turned quite pale upon entering the building. She claims to have seen the ghosts of three children (the youngest a newborn and the oldest about ten years old), who told her they were expecting their mother.
What’s interesting about that story, is that Léon and Mélina Roy, Gabrielle’s parents, had a total of eleven children, three of whom died young. However, the ages reported by the woman who saw the ghosts, and the ages at which the Roy children died, do not coincide. Could these be children tied to the location, before the Roy’s house was built? We’ll never know.
Volunteers at the museum have reported over the years hearing footsteps of children on the stairs, the piano playing by itself, and even Lucienne Châteauneuf’s own grandson was caught by his grandmother, speaking to an invisible presence while alone in a room.
For some volunteers, the footsteps they heard on the staircase were quite heavier, so they attribute them to Leon himself.
Winnipeg’s oldest building, with its age its succession of roles, it is only fitting that several tragic stories have taken place within the grounds of the Grey Nuns Convent, now the Saint-Boniface Museum. The building has served over the centuries as a convent, hospital, orphanage, school, retirement home, and chapel.
Work began in 1845 but was not completed until 1851, after a measles epidemic, a fire, and a scaffolding accident. The tone was set, and several staff and volunteers spoke of their supernatural experiences in the building.
Some stories date back to the mid-1990s, before the renovations and transformation of the Museum’s reception area. Two employees were facing each other and chatting, one at the cash register and one at the reception desk. Suddenly, one of them saw a shadow, the size of an adult, pass in the hallway. They searched, but came to nothing.
Around the same time, an employee on a tour found a rocking chair in the Grey Nuns’ exhibit that was rocking by itself. The employee stabilized it until it stopped moving. Ten minutes later, walking by the same spot, the chair was moving again.
Another rather amusing story is once again linked to the Grey Nuns. The upstairs room was the venue for a tea party program. Cups would fall, cupboards opened, all of it for no reason. One morning, employees who had prepared the room the night before found the cups placed upside down on the tables. While talking to a Nun, they found out that the Grey Nuns used to place the cups this way. The tea program, which spoke of their daily life, referred to Sister Lagrave as fat and wicked, which might have triggered this revenge by the cups…
Footsteps have been heard, papers moved by themselves, a smell of smoke persisted at the top and bottom of the stairs, doors were getting stuck, and the presence of children are other elements that have been reported by some staff.
Louis Riel never lived in his mother’s house in Saint-Vital, but his coffin was stored there for some time. It was also in this house that his wife died. The house became a historical monument in 1958, and has been managed by Parks Canada since 1969. Some volunteers report that the beds, although still made, sometimes have marks on the bedspread, as if someone had been sitting or lying down on them. But although the room is visible to the public, the furniture is completely inaccessible to visitors…
The old St. Vital Hotel, now the Riverside Inn, is said to be haunted by a man who was killed right at the back door in a feud during the 1970s. Rumors also whisper of a female ghost and a brick tunnel…