SACPA offers up ghost stories in the spirit of Halloween

·3 min read

Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald

Who doesn’t love a good spooky story?

With Halloween right around the corner, Lethbridge ghost stories and all things that go bump in the night was the topic of the Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs online session Thursday morning.

A noted storyteller, tour guide and author who researches and shares Lethbridge’s history and stories, Belinda Crowson led the session with some spine-tingling tales involving local sites including the Fritz Sick Pool, Yates Theatre, Old LCI/Hamilton Junior High, St. Michael’s Hospital — complete with its kind ghosts, one named “Sister” who would provide comfort to patients — Ghost Train, the old YWCA, Fleetwood School, Standoff and Big Ben Posts, and Granum.

“People might be interested to know that I have no interest in ghosts at all,” said Crowson, who is president of the Lethbridge Historical Society and also a member of Lethbridge city council. “What I love are ghost stories. Ghost stories are folk tales. They’re the stories of our community. I could share stories of different communities and you could probably guess which southern Alberta community it is if you know their history because our ghost stories we tell are very reflective of our community.”

Crowson shared a story of the Old Galt Hospital (now home to the Galt Museum and Archives) and the unfortunate fate of George Bailey, a 60- year-old farmer who perished there.

“When the Galt hospital was originally built in 1910 there were no elevators. People had to be carried up the stairs to the operating room or down the stairs to the morgue,” said Crowson.

In between 1929 and 1930 city council spent money to expand the building and an elevator was added.

In February 1933 Bailey came to the Galt Hospital for exploratory surgery. He was put onto a gurney on the main floor, pushed down the hallway and onto the elevator.

“That’s when everything went horribly wrong,” said Crowson. “When the bed was halfway on and the doors of the elevator were wide open, the floor of the elevator started to rise. Soon George and the bed were caught and dangled above the elevator shaft. He spilled through and landed on his head on the floor below. When they got down to him he was still alive, but shuffling around the room downstairs. He died later that night.”

But some people say George has never left the building.

“Somebody whose office is in the basement reported hearing shuffling feet come up to his door, but when he went to the door there was no one there,” said Crowson. “Other people have reported seeing blue lights floating down the hallway and strange shadows watching them work.”

A woman who came into the hospital to have a baby not long after Bailey had passed away actually recalled meeting him, said Crowson. “Her room where she had the baby was on the top floor of the hospital and she came down to the main floor to the room called the Sun Room so she could have a break. When she went to go back upstairs she pushed for the elevator to go upstairs, but instead it took her downstairs. When the doors opened she looked outside the elevator and realized she could see a man standing there. She didn’t think much about it until she realized she could see right through the man.”

The woman hurriedly pushed the button to get back up the elevator and when she got to the top floor she rushed over to the nurses’ station to tell the nurses what she had seen.

“The nurse calmly replied ‘Oh, that’s just George. When he gets lonely he brings people downstairs,’” said Crowson. “So your hope is George never gets lonely when you visit the Galt.”

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Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald