When I first moved to Edmonton, I worked in the West End of the City and lived in Chinatown. To put that in perspective, it would take me about an hour and a half by bus to get to or from work each day. (It was about three-quarters of the way across the city.) The bus route that took me to work went through an area of town called Inglewood and past an old abandoned building each day. I wasn't sure what the building used to be, all I knew is whenever we went passed it, I got this creepy feeling that someone was peering out the windows and staring as the bus passed. I didn't think much of it, I figured it was my over active, still half asleep imagination. After I quit my job in the West End, for a job with better pay and closer to home, I almost completely forgot about the condemned building.
A few months ago, I got a book from the public library called Encyclopedia of Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger, as I was on a ghost story kick at the time. I noticed in the Table of Contents that there were three stories from Edmonton. Of course, I b-lined right for the local stories first, only to find an address that was familiar. It turned out that the building that used to make me a little rattled is, in fact, an abandoned "haunted" hospital, called the Charles Camsell Hospital. I googled the name shortly there after. I have found two accounts, other than the Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. Some facts seem to overlap, while others seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. I have summed up all three, you can decide which you believe.
|Charles Camsell Hospital|
As of October 17, 2010
The Encyclopedia of Haunted Places, after a Paranormal Investigation, gives history as:
In 1967, the Hospital was built only to close it's doors almost 30 years later, in 1996. A tuberculosis sanatorium, mainly taking care of aboriginal patients, was housed in the original part of the building in the 1950's. Some patients were forcibly brought to the hospital where some were also sterilized due to "defects". The sterilization was also done involuntarily, just as the hospitalization was.
|North and East side of the building|
The second floor was the surgical ward, according to the book, half the floor in one room is stained with blood. The fourth floor was the psychiatric wing, where it was said that shock treatments were forced upon patients, as well was isolation in special rooms. In 1982, a younger man fell to his death from the roof he was working to repair. The book states that the paranormal investigation performed yielded evidence of ghostly activity. An elevator in the morgue operates on it's own, voices and screams not belonging to anyone on the investigative team were recorded.
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inglewood,_Edmonton , the hospital's story looks like this:
In 1946, the hospital opened and was named after Charles Camsell, a geologist and map-maker who explored Canada's North. The Charles Camsell Hospital was originally a hospital dedicated to those suffering from Tuberculosis. In the years between 1945 & 1967, the hospital was used for Occupational Therapy for Aboriginal Peoples. The Royal Museum, also in Edmonton, received over 400 pieces of arts and crafts in the early 1990's as donated by the Charles Camsell Hospital. Those 400 plus pieces were created by the patients in the Therapy program.
|South Side of the Building|
In 1996, the building was abandoned and condemned, reportedly due in part by asbestos. Over the past 14 years, the building has changed hands with the idea of development on the property. 2004's movie "White Coats" was filmed at the Charles Camsell. (I don't remember ever hearing of the movie, but Dan Akroyd, Dave Thomas - as in the MacKenzie Brothers from SCTV- and Dave Foley - of Kids In The Hall fame - starred in it.)
The history provided by http://www.suite101.com/content/urban-decay-in-alberta-a181516, seems a little more complete, while denouncing any haunting as factual:
In 1913, a Jesuit College for boys was originally built on the site. By 1942, the college was used by the American Army as a center for personnel and engineers working on the construction of the Alaska Highway. After the completion of the highway in 1944, the property was sold to the (Canadian) Federal Government. The site became the Edmonton Military Hospital, more structures were added and were interconnected with the main building through a series of corridors.
In 1945, the main building was turned into a tuberculosis hospital dedicated to the First Nations and Inuit community of Alberta, Yukon and NWT. This site acknowledges the report of a mass grave of Aboriginal children, the grave was the result of the experiments that they were subjected to at the hospital in the 22 years between 1945 & 1967. (From what I gather off this site, an investigation has not formally taken place.)
|Further away, still on the South|
Side of the Building
This past weekend, I decided to check out the hospital as much as I could for myself. (Without getting in trouble, I guess there are hefty fines for those caught trespassing.) The day was bright and sunny, big blue sky with a few wispy white clouds, warm enough for just a sweatshirt. (So it wasn't dark and gloomy, cold and blustery by any means.) I didn't get the feeling like I was being watched like I had in the past, I just got the sad feeling that might be associated with the building. It could have been the fact that the place was boarded up and literally rusted and crumbling. Windows were broken - not sure if that was vandal's work like the graffiti or if it was due to past construction. (The broken window's were a few floors up, so it could go either way.) The old parking lot was dishevelled and over grown by weeds. There is a large, chain link fence around most of the decaying property. The fence looks like the kind construction crews rent when working on a site.
|The North view -|
The broken windows are a
little more visible
In it's seemingly short history, the Charles Camsell Hospital has a rumoured and tragic story to tell. Fourteen years after it closed it's doors, the hospital still stands alone and broken. I'm glad that I found out why the place seemed to stare at me those years ago - though I wish the abuse that reportedly happened there, hadn't happened at all. Which ever version of the Charles Camsell History you buy into, we'll never know for sure what really happened. It still is a decaying piece of history, no matter how you cut it.
It's not always about me... But I was creeped out for a while.......