Love ghost stories?
Strathcona County & Fort Saskatchewan have plenty of creepy spots to explore & investigate, if you are into spooky adventures. The area has its own collection of odd and unnerving ghost stories, and even some spine-chilling sightings of long-dead murderers that were executed at the old Fort Saskatchewan Jail. Does the “Mob Princess” really wander the Courthouse in Fort Saskatchewan? Go! Explore and decide for yourself.
Ghostly tales always tend to be more plentiful around historic places, of course, and Fort Saskatchewan offers no shortage of those. Fort Saskatchewan was established in 1875 as a North West Mounted Police Outpost. In 1912, it was turned over to the provincial government for a jail. Before Canada abolished the death penalty, 29 people were executed in that jail. The jail was eventually decommissioned in 1988 and demolished in 1994.
The Fort Heritage Precinct is an open-air museum and Fort replica built immediately beside the site of the original fort and jail that followed. The grounds of the original fort & jail are reportedly, quite haunted. Understandably so, given its history. In the adjacent Historical Village, several buildings are also featured in local ghost tales.
The Fort Saskatchewan Courthouse (built in 1909) has been the subject of a couple of paranormal investigations, including a feature on an episode of Creepy Canada, about “The Mob Princess” that supposedly wanders the halls. “The Mob Princess”, Florence Lassandro, was hanged in 1923 for her role in the murder of a police officer in the fall of 1922. She maintained her innocence right up to her death and has the unfortunate recognition of being the first and last woman ever executed in Alberta.
The first execution is a horrifying tale of murder and cannibalism, demonic possession if you believe the story of Swift Runner (see links below). He was the first prisoner hanged at Fort Saskatchewan in 1879, after being convicted of murdering and cannibalizing his wife, six children, mother and brother.
One self-proclaimed clairvoyant declared that she found the Carpenter’s Shop at the museum to be especially unsettling and she refuses to step foot in it. The Doctor Henry House is another popular place for other-worldly experiences. Other visitors have had sightings of a small girl wandering through the site. Throughout the museum, visitors have reported seeing lights turning on and off, along with photographing mysterious orbs, hearing whispers and footsteps.
Fort Saskatchewan Goal Cemetery
This humble cemetery, moved from its original site, is now located on the edge of a residential subdivision called Sherridon. There is no website, but Google Maps will get you to the neighborhood...you'll have to get out and walk behind the houses to check it out. It contains 19 unmarked crosses, supposedly the graves of prisoners who died or were executed at the old Fort Saskatchewan jail.
Apparently, the original cemetery was located south of the bridge crossing the North Saskatchewan River on Highway 15. It was moved to its new location just before the bridge was built in 1957. One commentator on a YouTube video produced by local paranormal investigators, alleges that the inmates from the other side of the bridge were simply dug up and dumped into a hole, the markers are simply facades. The paranormal investigators in the video claim that some convicted felons, William Hawryluk (convicted of killing his wife & lighting her remains on fire in 1935), Charles Bullock (convicted of murder and executed in the Carpenter's Shop (?) in 1902) and Kazimiercz Gorczak (convicted of killing his wife & executed in 1952) all name themselves to the investigators in the video.
Strathcona County Museum and Archives is located in the first fire hall of the County, erected in 1959. The RCMP moved in eight years later and the Fire Department and RCMP shared the building until 1975 when the building was turned over to the County for storage of its archives and artifacts.
The museum and exhibits opened in 1997, and by 2001 there were reported sightings of a 'friendly', but prankster ghost. Wafts of pipe tobacco, lit matchsticks and licorice reportedly come out of nowhere, artifacts are moved, and electronics are turned on during the night. Staff report that the ghosts seem friendly enough and the consensus is that it is the spirit of a former RCMP guard and a prisoner that linger from beyond.
The museum employees are happy to tell you about their experiences with the ghosts, if you're interested in learning more.
Editor's Note: We enjoyed the history and spirit of this quaint little museum very much, at no point did it ever feel "creepy" when we toured it. Examining our photos in more detail, however, we came across a strangeness in our pictures of the RCMP exhibit (below). There seems to be someone in the cell in the first two pictures that wasn't there in the other pictures! It clearly doesn't look like a ghost, more like a cardboard cut out, but we thought it was strange. The first two pictures were taken in immediate succession, then we popped into the exhibit next door literally for a minute (we checked the time stamps on the photos) and came back and snapped pictures 3 & 4.
We originally toured the museum and took those photos in May, 2018. I didn't even notice the difference in the pictures until October. I returned to the museum to see if the staff could shed some light on my pictures and they confirmed that they do have a cardboard cut out that they sometimes place in the cell. Is the angle just throwing a shadow so we no longer see the cutout in pictures 3 & 4? Or was the resident ghost playing a little trick on us? You decide.
The Village is an open-air museum and historic site that recreates the life of early Ukrainian pioneers that settled the area from 1892 – 1930. It contains more than 30 historic structures, relocated from other sites. Featured on Creepy Canada, one of the most famous ghost stories from the Ukrainian Village is of a wagon master who rides through town pulling a wagon looking for workers. Visitors have also reported phantom cries from an empty cradle in one of the residences, shadowy faces in windows, whispers, disembodied voices, mysterious lights, footsteps and translucent figures wandering through the site at night.
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