It’s a perfectly gloomy afternoon to explore this quiet park crowded with old bones. The cemetery’s eerie silence is broken by the sudden caw of a shadowy crow watching you from the gnarled branches of the ancient tree. The branches remind you of knotted witch’s fingers as you hurry by to catch up with group, who has paused up the path to admire a faded old headstone. The cold quick wind carries the words “notorious”, “whiskey-trade” and “murder” and you break into a trot – this is the good stuff and you don’t want to miss a minute of this spooky history lesson.
If you are still in the mood for ghosts – it is almost Halloween after all – tour Red Deer’s downtown bronze ghost collection. Scattered through downtown, you’ll find ten life-size statues all created by Alberta artists and depicting some of the city’s most fascinating trailblazers.
You’ll learn more about Reverend Leonard Gaetz, an early settler and farmer, who in negotiating the first location for Calgary–Edmonton railway bridge (right next to his land as it so happens) – picked the place where the city has grown. You’ll also meet Francis Galbraith (Red Deer’s first Mayor and founder of the Advocate), Francis the pig, Keith Mann (music director and founder of the Red Deer College School of Music), Hazel Braithwaite (suffragette and political candidate) and the latest addition, Julietta Sorensen (who launched the city’s first transit service with her husband Gordon in 1957).
And now you can bring Red Deer’s downtown ghosts to life using your smartphone, tablet or Google Glass. With the Aurasma app, just scan the statue’s silhouette sticker or sign and watch the ghost come alive for a video history lesson. Or download the PDF ghost tour brochure and ghost-hunt from home.