HAUNTED HOTEL PROJECT EARNS TRIP TO HERITAGE FAIR
Will McGauchie, a grade six student at Sun Peaks Elementary, and his project featuring Winnipeg’s haunted Fort Garry Hotel attended the provincial heritage fair at the University of British Columbia from July 4 to 8.
It began as a class project for social studies. He was one of a handful of students from his class who advanced to the regional heritage fair at the Henry Grube Education Centre in Kamloops in May, where judges selected McGauchie as one of two students to represent the district in Vancouver.
“I was just surfing the internet (for) cool ideas and I thought haunted things could be interesting to do. So I searched up haunted places in Canada and in the top five was this Fort Garry Hotel and some of the rooms were super haunted so I thought that was cool,” the 12-year-old said.
One of the first students to attend Sun Peaks Elementary, McGauchie became the first student to represent the school at the provincial heritage fair.
“I was super excited. I was running and jumping around,” he said of when he learned he was selected to go to provincials. “It’s really cool for me because I’ve never done anything like it before.”
“(Social studies) is one of my favourite subjects. I also love big projects like this, it really interests me.”
As part of his project, he researched the history and facts of the hotel, wrote a journal and created two models, one of the hotel and one of a carriage related to the hotel’s infamous haunted room.
“There was a newlywed couple who stayed there and she got a headache so the husband went across the street to get medicine, and he got ran over by a horse and cart. They say she’s haunting the room 202,” McGauchie said.
According to folklore she then hung herself in the room’s closet after hearing news of her husband’s death, where her spirit remains.
“There’s also been reports from maids of blood dripping from the walls, bloody footprints on the beds and shattering windows,” McGauchie said.
During his presentation, McGauchie portrayed Charles Melville Hays, the president of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad, who commissioned the Fort Garry Hotel and the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. He died aboard the Titanic before either hotel opened and his spirit is said to haunt them both.
“When I present I dress up as him. I was looking up some facts and he was in a lot of them so I thought I could be him,” McGauchie said.