Upon viewing this old hotel from the outside, it strikes you as both majestic and gothic in its charm. On the inside, however, it overwhelms you with its elegance and rich décor.
Hotel Fort Garry was built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1913 and was designed by architects Ross & MacDonald. It was built upon the outer north-west walls of the original Upper Fort Garry, which was torn down in 1882 to allow for the straightening of Winnipeg's Main Street.
The original fort was built in 1835 by Governor Alexander Christie and was the scene of some very important historical and political events. The famous renegade, Louis Riel seized the fort during his fight for provisional government in 1870 and held a number of people hostage. Riel quickly left the fort and abandoned his hostages upon hearing of the arrival of Wolseley's troops in the same year.
We spoke to Elliot, an employee of the hotel, who advised us that he, personally, had never encountered any ghosts or paranormal activity himself, however he had been told of the stories experienced by other employees and guests.
Two such employees, in 1989, were in the main kitchen of the hotel doing dishes and cleaning up for the night. One worker went into the back stairway and upon reaching the top of the stairs could hear sounds coming from the locked dining room at 4:00 a.m. He decided to go see who was in the dining room since it was supposedly locked and should have been empty. He walked through the swinging doors of the main kitchen into the dining room and observed a man sitting at one of the tables, fork in hand, eating dinner. The man did not give any sign of being aware that someone had entered. The workers quickly ran to the front desk and asked for someone to come quick. When the front desk staff and kitchen workers arrived back in the dining room, the man was nowhere to be found and upon checking the dining room door, discovered nothing had been disturbed and that the dining room door was still locked, from the inside.
A guest of the hotel, who was visiting Winnipeg from North-western Ontario approached the desk one evening and asked the clerk if she could have the same room that she had occupied on previous trips to the hotel. The clerk said "certainly, but that particular room doesn't really have an outside view", wherein the guest replied, "I prefer this room, the spirits visit me there. There is a lady in a white ball gown, who hovers at the foot of my bed and after that she moves out the window".
We will be going back to Winnipeg sometime in the coming year to take a tour with one of the staff, which will include the catacombs and dark recesses of the hotel. We will bring you our report upon its conclusion.