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The Galt Museum

The Galt, 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            The Province of Alberta has a less established written history and because of this, it can be difficult to find any tales of hauntings and ghosts. From the Maritimes to Ontario and in British Columbia there are massive amounts of history, written history that is, that was recorded. Especially when colonization began, there tends to be a lot more stories of hauntings. The colonization of Alberta began a bit later than the East Coast and British Columbia and so we see that ghost stories don’t pop up until a bit later.

            This isn’t to say that Alberta lacks in any way. The culture and landscape of this prairie province is phenomenal. It is a beautiful place to visit. It is, however, just a bit more difficult to find well established and told ghost stories. There is one in particular that catches the eye and that is the story of the Galt Museum in Lethbridge.

            Lethbridge was a city built on the coal industry. Most people who live there worked for the Alberta Railway and the Coal Company. The Coal Company was founded and owned by the Galt family, who were also considered one of the founding members of the city itself. The Galts had an enormous role to play in the development of Lethbridge.

Galt Museum, June 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            Due to the coal industry and the influx of settlers on the land, there was a need for a hospital or a health centre of some kind. People, mainly workers, were being treated privately, which was costly on the individual’s part. So, Sir Alexander Galt invested in making the first public hospital in his city to treat his workers and others. In the 1890s a hospital was built and it was named the Sir Alexander Galt Hospital.

            The hospital had around sixty-five beds and it was quite small. In 1908-10 there became a greater need to expand as more and more regular citizens began seeking health care. An addition of a new wing was initiated by Sir Alexander Galt’s son, Elliot Torrance Galt, and it was opened by Sir Wilfrid Laurier on 1 September 1910. At this time the Galt School of Nursing was also opened to educate and supply more nurses. By 1930, another thirty-five beds were added to accommodate the growing population.

            However, in 1955 a brand new municipal hospital was opened in Lethbridge. The Galt Hospital became a long-term rehabilitation centre for the next ten years. Afterwards, a part of the building became known as the Galt Museum while the other part became the Lethbridge Health Unit. Now, the building is mostly the Galt Museum.

            The Galt Museum was established before it was moved to the old Galt Hospital. It was created in 1964 as the first civic museum of the area. It was curated by George McKillop and held in the former Bowmen Elementary School. Up until 1971 it was run by The Lethbridge and District Historical Society. It grew until it could no longer fit its space and the old hospital needed a new use. So, the museum was moved into the old Galt Hospital and was called the Galt Museum.

A Part of the Old Galt Hospital, 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            But, as with many old hospitals, the buildings of the Galt Hospital are considered haunted. As a place where lives often end and sorrow lingers, hospitals are considered hotspots for ghosts and hauntings. The old Galt Hospital is no exception.

            The first possible haunting is a ghost named George. It is believed that George was a sixty-year-old farmer from outside of Lethbridge in a town called Magrath. His full name was George Benjamin Bailey. He had come to the hospital to get his appendix removed in the 1930s and when he was wheeled into the elevator he had only gotten in halfway when the doors closed on the bed and the elevator began to rise. The wheels were caught on the outside and the nurse was not able to pull the bed fully into the elevator. George slid headfirst off the bed to the bottom of the elevator shaft. Surprisingly, he didn’t actually die immediately. He was up walking and laughing about what had happened that day. He did, however, die a few days later from head injuries.

            The second possible haunting is in the old children’s ward. There are two possible ghosts: Sarah and Alexander, who are also thought to be of native heritage. It is unsure who they are or why they are there but they like to wave at people walking outside from the upstairs window when the museum has long since closed. There are times when people hear the laughter and chatter of children while they are in the building.

            People have also reported lights turning off and on, footsteps in the hallways and hearing conversations coming from empty rooms. The most off putting is the reports of shadow people watching workers do their job.

            Is the Galt Museum haunted by old patients of the hospital? People are positive that George at least haunts it. Old hospitals can hold a lot of heavy energy and tragedy within it, so hospitals are known as prime locations for hauntings. The Galt Museum may hold more than artifacts from the past, it may also contain the people from the past too.

The Front of the Galt Museum June 8, 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

Bibliography

 “Galt Hospital Hauntings.” Galt Museum and Archives (October 31, 2009). Accessed April 12, 2019. www.galtmuseum.com/articles/2009/10/galt-hospital-hauntings.html

“Galt Hospital – 100 Years.” Galt Museum and Archives (September 11, 2010). www.galtmuseum.com/exhibit/galt-hospital-100-years

“Galt Museum and Archives.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 12, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galt_Museum_%26_Archives

Parks Canada. “Sir Alexander Galt Hospital.” Canada’s Historic Places. Accessed April 12, 2019. www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=11623

Richardson, Harriet. “Galt Hospital, Lethbridge, Alberta.” Historic Hospitals (March 3, 2018). Accessed April 12, 2019. historic-hospitals.com/2018/03/03/galt-hospital-lethbridge-alberta/

Sutherland, Joel A. “Ghosts on Display.” In Haunted Canada 7: Chilling True Tales, 600-642. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2017. Amazon Kindle ebook version.

Vonkeman, Anine and Growson, Belinda. “The Galt Museum & Archives in Lethbridge – Engaging Events, Archives, Artifacts, and… Ghosts?” Suncruiser Media (April 15, 2014). Accessed April 12, 2019. suncruisermedia.com/Home/rv-travel/the-galt-museum-/

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