'Haunted' historic gold rush-era Yukon hotel on track to reopen

The historic Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon is reopening after more than a decade. (Supplied/Anne Morgan)
The historic Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon is reopening after more than a decade. (Supplied/Anne Morgan)

A historic Yukon hotel that’s said to be haunted is on track to open after more than a decade of renovations.

The Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon has a long, storied history that involves several name changes, a move down stream from B.C. to the Yukon, a slew of colourful owners and one surly parrot.

Current owners Anne Morgan and Jamie Toole bought the building in 2006, after looking to invest in a property to convert into a bed and breakfast. Since Toole loved boating and Morgan was a fan of history, they settled on the Caribou Hotel, which had plenty of access to both.

“We ended up purchasing it and doing a massive renovation,” she tells Yahoo Canada .

Since the summers are so short in the Yukon, working on the hotel could only happen three months a year. But given the property’s long history, it’s been worth the wait.

Links to a Trump hotel

The structure of the hotel was originally built in Bennett, B.C. at the beginning of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. At the time it was called the Yukon Hotel and was within walking distances from a property owned by Friedrich Trump, grandfather of U.S. President Donald Trump.

At the end of the gold rush, the property was floated down Lake Bennett to its current location. In 1903, it was renamed the Anderson Hotel after being bought by Dawson Charlie, who co-discovered the Klondike Gold Rush. After he died in 1908, the hotel was run by Edwin and Bessie Gideon. Under their ownership, the hotel burned down in 1909 and eventually reopened in 1910.

The historic Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon is reopening after more than a decade. (Supplied/Anne Morgan)
The historic Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon is reopening after more than a decade. (Supplied/Anne Morgan)

A surly parrot

In 1918, the couple acquired a parrot named Polly. The male bird had been left by a miner, who died on the SS Princess Sophia, one of the worst maritime accidents in the region’s history.

Polly ended up outliving both the owners, who each passed in the hotel on the exact same day, five years apart. Their spirits are said to haunt the rooms and hallways, with strange sounds and ghostly figures looking out the window.

Morgan admits to experiencing strange energy while visiting the property last October, on the date of the Gideons’ deaths. Her and a friend tried taking photos in the building, but the camera wouldn’t work. When they attempted using a camera on a phone, something was odd.

“The screen was just white and fuzzy,” says Morgan. “We tried to take a picture down the hallway, and when I looked at the screen on the phone, it looked like dust or water spots floating across the screen of her phone. That’s when I grabbed her arm and said, ‘We gotta get outta here.’”

Morgan supplied Yahoo Canada with a video of the hallway’s light fixture, which is also prone to acting in spooky, unexpected ways.

Slated to open next year

The hotel went through several different owners during wartime, but Polly the parrot stayed on, becoming the unofficial mascot of the hotel and a huge attraction.

“They’d cover up his cage up at night to shut him up because he cursed and swore and bit people,” says Morgan. “People would try to feed him crackers soaked in booze.”

The bird ended up passing in 1972, and was even buried in the cemetery in Carcross.

His memory now lives on in the newest incarnation of the hotel, which has a saloon called The Surly Bird. The tavern will be the first part of the property to open to the public, as the building still need to undergo one final inspection. The restaurant will be the next section to open, slated for next year, while the hotel’s suites should be ready in 2021. It’s taking time since they want the details to be just as they once were, right down to the lighting.

“They’re ready to go but there’s still some work and furnishing that needs to be done,” Morgan says.

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