From Grave Flats to Goblin Wall, Spirit Island to Shadow Lake, Alberta has no shortage of spookily named haunts within its borders.
While Halloween will look a lot different this year as we continue to follow physical-distancing protocols, October is still a great time to spirit yourself away on a quick road trip.
Here are a few “spooky” Alberta places that are worth a visit.
DEAD MAN’S FLATS
Dead Man’s Flats didn’t always go by this ghastly moniker. It was originally named Pigeon Mountain Service Centre, but after a gruesome 1904 murder, locals unofficially adopted the name. The story goes that Francois Marrett axed his brother Jean to death while he was sleeping, and then threw the body into a nearby river. On trial, Francois said he tossed the body in the river because he was afraid his brother’s ghost would haunt him. Francois was found guilty by reason of insanity and spent the rest of his life in a Calgary asylum. That said, it wasn’t until 1985 that the name Dead Man’s Flats was formally adopted to encourage tourism to the hamlet. In 2014, the community again wrestled with changing its name; councillors voted unanimously to leave it undisturbed.
Located about an hour northeast of Lethbridge, this hamlet may have originally been called Lost Lake. But once the Canadian Pacific Railway laid down tracks and settlers moved into the area, it was renamed Enchant to reflect the “enchantment” newcomers felt. When CPR abandoned its Suffield branch railway line, Enchant, like many of its neighbouring communities, struggled to survive and it’s once-booming population dwindled. According to the 2016 municipal statistics, about 259 people live in Enchant.
Located west of Cochrane, Ghost Lake is said to have been named by local indigenous people who claimed that a specter prowled the river valley collecting skulls. Another explanation is connected to the restless ghost of Reverend George McDougall: He died in a blizzard while on a buffalo hunt in the area, and it’s said that his ghost still haunts the shores of the lake. If, however, you notice a fleet of sailboats gliding along the surface of Ghost Lake, it’s decidedly not an apparition—it’s the Ghost Lake Ice Sailing Club. The lake is one of the top places in Alberta for ice sailing. You’ll see club members out on the water starting around the first weekend in December.
It’s one of the most recognizable places in Jasper National Park, but you might not want to visit Spirit Island at night. Legend has it that when the sun goes down, a restless ghost wanders the island on Maligne Lake, searching for his long lost love.
HOW TO SAVE
For Halloween fans who love a thrill, AMA’s Clique Mystery promotion is frighteningly good: book travel to Canmore anytime between now and May 13, 2021 and save up to 50 percent off the Clique hotel chain’s posted rates. The twist is that you won’t know which of Clique’s four luxury resorts in Canmore you’ll be staying at until 72 hours prior to departure. Rest assured the only thing scary about the latter is how much fun you’ll have there.
Save up to $10 on a Parks Canada Discovery Pass purchased at any AMA centre.