There are many spooky stories and unsettling tales that surround some of the buildings on the historic Exhibition Place grounds, but one of the lesser-known spots for paranormal activity is the General Services Building at Manitoba Dr. and Strachan Ave.
The General Services Building is home to the Operations Division of Exhibition Place, the Exhibition Place Archives and the Security Department. Security personnel are in the building 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many years ago, one guard took his service commitment all the way to his grave…and back.
A night watchman who died of natural causes while on duty in the General Services Building still makes his rounds, checking to see that doors are locked and investigating new or suspicious people in the building.
The film archivist in the Exhibition Place Archives is the latest employee to see this apparition. Working on the light table in the heart of the Archives, she was going through old films when she saw something in her peripheral vision. She looked up, and there before her was a white figure, undeniably male. The man looked at her and after their eyes met he turned and disappeared down the aisle. The film archivist, who had only recently joined the Archives Deparment, was understandably spooked. When she asked her manager if the Archives was haunted, she received the answer she already expected: “yes.”
On numerous occasions, the Archivist would arrive at the Archives office on the top floor of the General Services Building only to hear what sounded like a party going on behind closed doors. She would hear men and women laughing and glasses clinking. As she moved down the hall toward the office door of the Archives, the sound would dissipate and eventually disappear. As this usually happened at night during the Canadian National Exhibition, she assumed there was a party going on outside or elsewhere in the building. It was only when another employee on the same floor heard the exact same sounds around midnight during the CNE one year, that the Archivist became suspicious. After that, whenever the Archivist heard the sounds of the party, she investigated the surrounding area. Nothing was ever found.
The sound of footsteps in the hallway of the General Services Building is so common that most staff working in the building are no longer surprised or alarmed by the noise, even when they know there is no one in the hallway. Sometimes the footsteps are accompanied by the sound of crashing and banging, but when one checks the hallway; nothing has been disturbed or moved. Is it the perpetual night watchman or some otherworldly inhabitant of the building? If the sound of footsteps is heard late at night by security officers stationed in the building, they must investigate to ensure against an intruder. Many a time, they have followed the sound of footsteps, only to come up empty-handed.
New employees can still be unnerved by such sounds and have been known to flee the building, but old-timers barely notice anymore.