The Scariest Place in Edmonton

When I mention to people I’m researching the Charles Camsell Hospital, many visibly shudder. “Ooh, that place is so creepy,” I’ve heard repeatedly. “You know it’s haunted, right?” Is another common one.

In fact, the hospital often makes those Top 10 lists of Edmonton’s most haunted places that reappear around Halloween each year in newspapers. Type in “Charles Camsell Hospital” in a Google search bar and you’ll mostly get blog posts and videos from people who have been seriously weirded out by sightings or have (illegally) broken in for paranormal activities – or for the thrill of it. There’s even a Facebook group called “I’m Obsessed with the Charles Camsell Hospital” with 702 members as of March 10, 2015. And it’s gone up by a couple of hundred people since I checked last year.

I love ghost stories too. In essence, most of the history work I find most engaging, most worthwhile, is chasing down ghosts from the past that still haunt us. The ones who have followed us into the present day and demand to be heard. Demand to be recognized. You won’t catch me trying to get a glimpse inside the old hospital building any time soon, but I’m sure I’ll spend my fair share of time over the next days, weeks, months and years in cemeteries, archives, libraries, and other places to find out why there is so much unfinished history around this place.

Other people I’ve talked with think what’s scariest of all is the potential for conflict and controversy around this site and its history . As a non-indigenous historian and writer, I struggle constantly with questions of what stories I look into and communicate – and why.  As John S. Milloy, author of A National Crime, the first major study on Canadian Indian Residential Schools writes, we can feel as if we are “trespassing upon Aboriginal experience.” He and many other scholars of various backgrounds – indigenous and newcomer – stress, however, that these stories are part of our collective past, and we all need to understand them better.  We also, of course, definitely need to be wary of what Thomas King calls in The Inconvenient Indian, “unexamined goodwill.” We should be vigilant and constantly interrogate ourselves.

Is this place and story scary? Maybe. Important? Definitely.

From Todd Babiak’s YouTube channel: “David “the oracle” Pilz is, among other things, a paranormal investigator. A few days before Halloween, he spent an hour in and around the Charles Camsell Hospital…. It is considered by people who consider these things to be quite haunted: to people who love ghost stories, this is fascinating business.”

12 thoughts on “The Scariest Place in Edmonton

  1. Allen Bouvier September 8, 2015 / 12:05 am

    I was there in the old CCH when I contracted polio in 1956 when I was only 2 yrs. old. I live in Fort Providence, NT. I’ve read about ghost stories of the CCH
    but I just think its all hype.

    Like

    • historiandmc September 8, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      Thanks so much for your note and I’m really happy to hear you were successfully treated for polio! It sounds like there was quite the outbreak in Edmonton around then.

      Like

      • Jo June 2, 2016 / 7:51 pm

        Hi. I was born there I think. Can u please contact me as I’ve got some pressing important questions.

        Like

      • historiandmc June 3, 2016 / 4:39 pm

        Hi, Thanks for reaching out. Yes, I’ll send you an email in a couple of seconds!

        Like

    • Gloria O'Donnell February 18, 2019 / 11:34 pm

      I purchased Moose Hair Tufting pictures from a person with a shop ?Snowshoe? In Ft Providence. This person had a sister that was my neighbour in Calgary 1975-1980, and that is how I knew about Ft Providence. Do you know of these crafts or this shop or the person who sold me these treasure pieces? I believe the artist was named Bella.

      Like

  2. Antonio September 23, 2015 / 5:13 pm

    I remember being there in the emergency waiting room area as a child. This was late 80s or early 90s. The room was dark, bright lights, but the walls were a dark stone. I think the part that creeped me out was the the path into the emergency area from the waiting room. I don’t remember it being a door/s. They were a plastic type of vertical blinds, heavy and a little transparent. When it was still it was like trying to look through ice. You could see things were happening but you just weren’t able to see a clear image. The room had weight. I had also spent time at the Royal Alex hospital around the same time. I remember that room being bright and light. If I had the option I would rather go to the Alex.

    Like

  3. malleatailoring September 23, 2015 / 5:14 pm

    I remember being there in the emergency waiting room area as a child. This was late 80s or early 90s. The room was dark, bright lights, but the walls were a dark stone. I think the part that creeped me out was the the path into the emergency area from the waiting room. I don’t remember it being a door/s. They were a plastic type of vertical blinds, heavy and a little transparent. When it was still it was like trying to look through ice. You could see things were happening but you just weren’t able to see a clear image. The room had weight. I had also spent time at the Royal Alex hospital around the same time. I remember that room being bright and light. If I had the option I would rather go to the Alex.

    Like

  4. Marielin April 13, 2016 / 3:53 am

    Hi i was in that hospital at about, age 3 and when i was about 12. the first time’ i was just about given away to a guy way up north . he tried to convenience the nurse i was his kid LOL the last time i became a great card shark.:P. just want to say .i know this didn’t happen at the hospital but there was some thing there. i was at St Albert Pound-makers. i heard children.and not the live ones. about 5 years ago. so they are still around. poor souls

    Like

  5. Rene April 28, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    I worked at the Camsell from 1968 to 1993 and never had a bad experience. When I started it was a smaller group and very friendly. The patients were also friendly and if we couldn’t talk to each, we used charades. Once it became a more active hospital, each dept became it’s own group.

    Like

    • Gloria OFonnell February 18, 2019 / 11:39 pm

      I worked there 1972-1973. I bought Pastel Portraits done on black velvety paper that were done by Heather B Chisholm HBC on the portrait. I saw them in either the Nursery or Pediatric Unit and fell in love with them so I ordered a pair for myself. Do you remember these?

      Like

  6. Rustler11 May 24, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    I was there in 1980. I had a kidney operation. I was 18. My Dr was Dr. Mix. He was a kidney specialist. He was 25.

    Like

  7. Sheila Wilson March 8, 2019 / 9:31 pm

    I knew that hospital was haunted from the moment I stepped my foot into the door ! I was a young mother in 1988 giving birth to my first son at seventeen. During those days you were treated very poorly and frowned upon being pregnant at such a young age
    I was never allowed anything for pain and was told
    by a big scary nurse to bear down and get over it. She shook me in my bed repeatedly. The picture that hung in the hallways had eyes in them ! Always felt
    like someone was watching. Had spent 5 days in hospital and couldn’t wait to leave !

    Like

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