The rural hamlet of Rowley makes the most of its ghost town status (photo: Michael Wheatley/Alamy)

Fill Your Fall with Alberta Relics and Revelry

By Eamon McGrath and Craig Moy

Scare up some fun at haunted destinations and Halloween events throughout the province.

Rowley, Alberta stands frozen in time, as though its citizens dropped what they were doing and walked away. About an hour east of Olds, the hamlet was once a farming community of 500, but now counts fewer than 10 residents. The original buildings, boardwalk and signs, however, remain intact—though they all unavoidably show their age. Strolling Main Street makes for an eerie experience, but it can also be educational, providing a first-hand perspective of a time lost to history. For a bit of fun, roll into Sam’s Saloon on the last Saturday of every month. That’s when Rowley’s handful of locals hosts a pizza party with live music to raise funds for maintenance of the historic structures—and banish the ghost town vibe with an evening of good eats and camaraderie.

Check into these Alberta hotels with a history of hauntings—if you dare.

Fairmont Hotel MacDonald: This icon of Edmonton’s skyline boasts more than 100 years of ghost stories. Ask the hotel’s cordial staff members about unexplained hoof beats on the eighth floor or service calls from vacant rooms.

Fairmont Palliser: The labyrinthine design of this Calgary hotel is like something out of The Shining. Ghostly train conductors are said to wander the halls, while lavish parties are sometimes reported in quarters that are known to be empty.

Fairmont Banff Springs: Apparitions are so common here that they’ve been given names: The Bride and Sam the Bellman. Such spooky sightings—combined with jaw-dropping scenery and renowned service—make for a supernatural stay in the Rockies.

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Some Alberta locales that wear their supernatural monikers with pride.

• The Bow Valley hamlet of Dead Man’s Flats earned its name from the grisly 1904 murder of local dairy farmer Jean Marret by his brother, François.

• Founded a century ago northeast of Lethbridge, Enchant was so called for its prairie scenery that left newcomers spellbound.

• It’s said that Jasper National Park’s photogenic Spirit Island is inhabited by the spectre of an Indigenous man, who endlessly awaits the return of his long-lost love.

alberta relics pumpkin carving jack-o-lantern
illustrations: Jason Schneider

Find a fresh, firm gourd and follow these steps to create your next Halloween masterpiece.

1 Cut a hole in bottom of pumpkin. This helps it sit flatter and allows you to place it over a light source.

2 Scoop out seeds, pulp and enough flesh so the pumpkin’s wall is about an inch thick—to make carving less arduous.

3 Draw your design on pumpkin, or affix a paper template and trace with an awl or other pointy tool.

4 Carve with a serrated knife; use a small paring knife for details. Or try a linoleum cutter (used by printmakers) for intricate, etched designs.

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Events that inspire fear and awe this fall.

• In Mossleigh, Aspen Crossing’s adults-only Train of Terror is a nightmare-fueled journey through a sinister maze and haunted railway cars (Oct. 4–Nov. 2).

• Enjoy food and frightening tales while travelling on the Battle River Railway’s Haunted Train between Kelsey and Forestburg (Oct. 19).

• The night reveals less spooky secrets, too, as stargazers peer into the great beyond during the Jasper Dark Sky Festival (Oct. 18–27).