When Anne Morgan and her partner Jamie Toole first purchased the dilapidated Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon in 2006 they were sometimes reminded by townsfolk to turn off the third floor lights that illuminated the building.
Quite a trick, considering the fact that the building wasn’t yet connected to the local electric utility. Spooky? Definitely. But all part of a typical day for the owners of Yukon’s most haunted hotel.
A Yukon designated historic site, the original hotel was built in Bennett, B.C. in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. As gold fever cooled off, the hotel was floated down Lake Bennett to Carcross in 1901. In 1903, it was sold to Dawson Charlie, one of the original discoverers of gold in the region. He dubbed it the Caribou Hotel and operated it until his death in 1908. The hotel was next rented and operated by Edwin and Bessie Gideon. When the hotel burned down soon after they took over, the couple built the current building, which opened in 1910.
The hotel was run by a succession of owners until the last one was murdered in 2004, before the hotel was vacated.
“I really wanted to run a bed and breakfast,” says Morgan. “The historical significance is also really important to us, which is why we’re restoring it to its original 1910 appearance. But the hotel needed lots of structural work and certainly lots of work to create some sort of energy efficiency. The horizontal siding on the back of the building looked like a smiling happy face, it was sagging so much.”
That meant a new foundation and construction of a basement underneath the structure. Toole, who happens to be a building contractor and the proprietor of J. Toole Contracting Inc., is handling the renovations.
“We had no idea the hotel was supposed to be haunted when we bought it, but then we started to hear the stories of strange events in the hotel,” says Morgan.
Previous owners and employees have reported a woman sitting on their beds, departing and then disappearing. Clear bath water has suddenly transformed into bubble bath. A current employee reported a strong gust of wind — through a closed door — followed by ghostly footsteps.
“At first I didn’t know what to think, but now I believe there’s something going on out there,” says Gordon, matter-of-factly. “It doesn’t feel threatening. It’s more protective. I think the presence is Mrs. Gideon who is still looking after the hotel and its guests.”
In fact, passersby frequently report seeing someone who looks like Mrs. Gideon, along with her pet parrot Polly, framed by a third-storey window as they walk by the building under renovation.
Morgan and a friend have visited the hotel on the anniversary date of Bessie’s death and reported strange camera malfunctions. Efforts to take a selfie were disrupted by inexplicable screen static and strange particles on the screen, which appeared to coalesce into the form of a human figure.
Work continues on the property. Construction workers hammer by day, but never mind the noise. The hotel itself hammers back later at night. When completed, the Caribou Hotel will feature 11 rooms. The hotel saloon first opened in August and a restaurant is slated to open later this year. The building may be ready for bed and breakfast guests within a couple of years.
Toole, who has kept his nose to the grindstone on renovations over the past dozen years, has been a dyed-in the-wool skeptic of hauntings and all things supernatural, refusing to give credit to the idea that the hotel may be haunted.
But something has changed.
“This year, he’d just finished a beautiful job of drywalling the third floor, and was scoping out the work he needed to start on the second,” says Morgan.
“As he turned to go down the stairs to leave, he heard footsteps coming straight toward him up the stairs. He quickly left the hotel and phoned me and said, ‘Well, you know I just had this weird thing happen and there was nobody there but me…and somebody walked up that staircase beside me.’ It was kind of great because he’d been pooh-poohing everybody’s ghost stories — and now something’s finally happened to him.”