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5 haunted hotel experiences in Canada perfect for spooky season stays

For those in search of things that go bump in the night.
There's a haunted room at the Merrill House Hotel you can stay in during October.

There's a bite in the air as we leave our houses in the morning, lumpy gourds have appeared in front of grocery stores, and leaves are starting to brown around the edges. It can only mean one thing: the spooky season is upon us.

For some, October isn't another month, it's a state of mind. Wannabe witches and Halloween enthusiasts wait all year for the veil to thin so they can experience some well and truly terrifying spooks.

And around about this time, historic hotels in Canada lean into their haunted side to accommodate (literally). Whether it's because the space has a fraught past or that guests passed away and never moved on, these hotels are all home to reported spectres and spirits.

Here are five haunted hotels you can stay at in Canada.

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver has no shortage of haunted places and the Hotel Vancouver is one of the most famous locales. It's relatively young when compared to other haunted places in B.C. and even other entrants on this list having opened in 1939. However, the reputation of the infamous Lady in Red proceeds her enough that the hotel earned its spot on this list.

The Lady in Red is often spotted on the 14th floor and hotel staff are well acquainted with her presence. She is rumoured to be the ghost of socialite Jennie Pearl Cox who frequented the hotel's parties and died in the 1940s. There are also ghosts of bellhops and disembodied footsteps known to emanate down the halls.

Merrill House hotel, Prince Edward County, Ontario

For a very limited run, the 1878 boutique Merrill House hotel in Prince Edward County, Ontario is going all out with a haunted house and haunted room package. The Haunted Room is inside the old servant's quarters and has been decked out with creepy decor like faded photographs of Victorian children, a spirit board, and Zimbabwean voodoo dolls. The room has a history of ghost sightings and over the summer the cast of Chucky performed a séance to call upon a phantom. The Marchioness of Lorne Suite is also said to be haunted by its namesake who died in 1914 and staff have spotted ghost children in the hotel as well. 

All bookings for rooms in the hotel can add the Haunted House package from October 21 to 31, which includes a themed welcome cocktail, a haunted tour of the Town of Picton, an audio tour of the hauntings of Merrill House, a virtual reality haunted house experience, and a trick-or-treat gift bag.

The Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by-the-Sea, St. Andrews, New Brunswick

This resort is a contemporized relic of the old world. Of a time when fresh sea air in the rugged beauty of the Maritimes was enough to heal tuberculosis.

The property was built in 1889 and has been through a fire, a war, and multiple owners (it's now owned by Marriott). They're not shy about their ghostly residents, using the tagline "some guests simply refuse to leave" to promote their world-class hospitality. 

There's an entire cast of ghostly characters that supposedly live at the hotel. One story goes that a jilted bride is seen wandering the halls dressed all in white, weeping for lost love. There's also a bellhop who shows guests to their rooms and disappears before he can accept his tip, an old woman rearranges the restaurant place settings and a little boy who chases a ball.

There are even photos of the ghosts taken over the years on display in the hotel. And around Halloween each year the Algonquin hosts activities and events in celebration. The staff even dress up, some in honour of their resident apparitions.

Saintlo Ottawa Jail, Ottawa, Ontario

Perhaps the most creepy hotel in Canada, this accommodation is a youth hostel in an old converted prison. Guests can sleep in an actual 150-year-old cell block with brick walls and iron doors. The single cell rooms are narrow with a single bed wedged between the walls with no space on either side.

The location is convenient for people there to see Ottawa. The parliament buildings, Byward Market and the Rideau Canal are within walking distance and the hostel provides free breakfast and organizes activities including the prison tour. The history and hauntings of the place are well documented though the website says they prefer to leave their guests the "pleasure of finding out for yourself."

Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

On top of having an amazing spa, the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg is also a great place to visit for fans of the supernatural. The hotel isn't exactly forthcoming about its ghostly tenants but there are podcasts, articles, and blog posts dedicated to its hauntings. Some even go so far as to say it's one of the most haunted places in Canada.

Back in 2000, Liberal MP Brenda Chamberlain told the Globe and Mail that she doesn't believe in ghosts but she encountered something at the hotel. She isn't the only one. Fort Garry first opened in 1913 and similar to the Algonquin it also experienced a fire and is home to a ghost bride but one of the most common stories includes people feeling a presence in their bed.

While the hotel doesn't go for theatrics or play up the fact that people think it's haunted, they do have some reading material that they'll hand over without comment if you ask (or at least they will according to this journalist who investigated in 2017). In a hotel as haunted as this one, it's hard to go wrong but room 202 and the lounge have the most reported sightings.