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Thursday, 20 October 2011 08:08

Haunted mansion offers a frightening experience for visitors

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By Jamie Woodford
Noted by Canadian travel writers as “Canada’s best haunted house,” the Stirling Haunted Mansion has plenty of chills and thrills — including a real life, or rather death, ghost who wanders the halls — for those looking for a freak out this Halloween season.

What started out as a prank for local children quickly evolved into a full house of horrors that includes the Dungeon of Doom where Dr. Shivers conducts horrific human experiments and frightful pirates protect their loot.

Located about 20 minutes from Lethbridge in the village of Stirling, the Haunted Mansion features something new every year. This year it’s an outdoor “Mysterious Maze” made of “fences and obscurities,” described home owner Glory Reimer.

“People love it and come from all over,” she said, adding guests can even stay the night at the mansion’s bed and breakfast — if they dare.

“You don’t sleep much,” she said.

“You come in and you do a tour, and we do ghost stories, because the house has lots of fabulous ghost stories attached to it, then we have a photo shoot, so you can dress in period and do a nice formal period photo.

“Then you try and survive the rest of the night.”

Fright Nights are held every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as well as one on Halloween night from 6 to 10 p.m.

There are also static days — without live spooks — for the “chickens.”

In addition to terrifying tours, Reimer also rents costumes.

In its 12th year, the attraction has collected numerous ghost stories, but the hauntings have been rumoured since the 1950s, something the Reimer family wasn’t aware of until after it was purchased.

“We started doing the haunted dungeon thing before we were really sure there was a ghost, so they just happened to go hand-in-hand, coincidentally,” she said.

Reimer recalled a strange happening which occurred while she and her husband were renovating the guest room on the second floor and a radio was entertaining them from the floor below.

“The radio is blaring and we’re rocking out, working. Then, all of a sudden there’s no music,” she said.

Thinking the DJ messed up, or the connection was lost, they waited for the music to come back.

“My husband goes downstairs, and comes back, the radio now working again, and he’s like ‘it’s the weirdest thing, the radio was switched off, physically switched off.’”

Another strange occurrence started happening once the family moved in and Reimer began noticing the TV would shut off at exactly 11:07 every night.

“It happened four times. The third time, I was noticing it was at 11:07 a couple times now, and I’m like, ‘what the heck?’”

At first she thought it was her husband playing a trick on her with the TV timer, but when Reimer investigated nothing was altered.

The house has been quiet for a while now, but Reimer is sure ghosts are still about.

“I am certain that a ghost not only haunts the place, but it does follow me around, or people around, but they’re friendly. They’re relatively harmless — as far as I’ve encountered anyway,” she chuckled.

The house was built by William Ogden in the 1900s. He died after only living in the home for 12 years, and Remier is pretty sure it’s Ogden who’s hanging about.

It didn’t take much to identify him.

“We had a three-year-old kid give a complete description of one of them sitting upstairs,” Remier told. “She was freaked right out. She was staring at a spot on the railing as she’s walking past, and she comes into the room and she hides behind her mom’s shirt.”

When the mother asked what was wrong, the girl said she saw a man in the hallway.

Reimer questioned the girl for a physical description, and shortly after, during a Odgen family reunion held at the mansion as Remier told the story about the girl’s sighting, family members confirmed “that’s grandpa, no doubt about it,”  she said.

“Two years before he died, he lost a 16-year-old daughter somehow. I don’t know if she was in the house at the time, or what happened to her ... but she’s also here. We discovered that a while later.”

With many more ghost stories to share, Reimer said she could probably write a book, but in the meantime, the public is invited to check it out for themselves.

The last spook night is Oct. 31, but the house will remain open into the first week of November.


Haunted House home owner Glory Reimer sits with her children.

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