J. Cliff Pit 1.jpg
At the Westminster Hotel in Dawson, there are rumoured to be things other than guests roaming the hallways at night.
I've got the creeps, the willies, and the jim-jams. I've just heard ghost stories from Heidi Bliedungand Aaron Burnie from the love-worn, historic Westminster Hotel in Dawson City. I'm also relieved that Bliedung and Burnie, who both work at the Westminster, were willing to talk to me about ghosts.
Recently, another fellow told me he saw a ghost at the Snake Pit — the Westminster's legendary beer tavern. But he did not wish to be interviewed and go on record as believing in ghosts.
Having been to The Pit before, I can see how he got the spooks in there. I've seen unexplained shadows there. And it wasn't just the beer.
The Westminster Hotel was established in 1898 – imagine all the things that have happened in 115 years.
Bliedung has worked at Westminster for 15 years and does not believe in ghosts. However, she isn't always comfy-cozy all by herself in there.
"I get a creepy feeling sometimes when I'm locking up at night and the lights are all out," she says.
She's got some stories to tell.
"A woman was meeting her son in the morning, he worked here at night, cleaning," says Bliedung, "She went inside to look for him in the lounge. He wasn't there, but she heard something from the other room. She crossed through the back way, through a maze of boilers, and clearly heard voices and the sound of gambling chips. But when she arrived in the next room, no one was there."
All the senses come into play with ghost experiences.
It's said that a sudden change in temperature, or recurring temperature patches in a room can indicate a ghost.
"I've had some weird experiences," says Aaron Burnie, who has lived at the Westminster for 11 years. "One night, I got up to use the washroom. The hallway was substantially colder when I crossed through it again on the way back to my room. It gave me the creeps."
On another occasion, Burnie was washing his hands in the north side bathroom of the hotel's second floor. The door handles jiggled. He called out, "I'll just be a sec," and opened the door still holding the paper towel.
"It was only three seconds later, but no one was there," says Burnie.
Scents may also indicate ghosts. At the Westminster, guests have reported the scent of women's perfume appearing from nowhere.
Then there are some who have seen ghosts.
"Out of the periphery of my eye I've seen a man wearing a fedora walk by in the upstairs hallway," Burnie says. "Others have seen him too."
Burnie recently saw a cell phone at the lounge fly "a good eight feet from where it was sitting on top of the piano."At this point in our conversation, Bliedung chimed in, "I tested that out later and proved it to be caused by the phone vibrating and moving off the piano."
Still, some people's senses are telling us that things go bump in the night at the Westminster. But guests and residents need not be alarmed.
"They aren't up to trouble, but there is definitely something here," Burnie says.