Despite having no ghostly encounters of her own, an Okotoks historian loves sharing others’ stories of scary occurrences during the full moon every summer.
Nagille Walsh-Besso is one of three historians with the Okotoks and District Historical Society offering guided ghost walks through the streets of downtown while sharing chilling stories of the past on Aug. 15.
The hour-long tours begin at 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and are led by historians Walsh-Besso, Kathy Coutts and Karen Peters in partnership with the Okotoks Museum and Archives.
Walsh-Besso, a host of this tour for four years, said her favourite story is that of the ghost haunting the Okotoks Art Gallery, formerly Okotoks’ train station.
“People have had many experiences at the station where they have either felt the presence of the ghost or it has actually moved something,” she said.
Although no deaths have been reported at the station, Walsh-Besso said a woman died on a train in 1922 and her body was brought into the station and placed in a casket by an undertaker before being taken to her family in Blairmore.
Having worked alone in the Okotoks Art Gallery on occasion, Walsh-Besso had plenty of opportunities to encounter the ghost but admits it’s yet to happen.
“I believe that people have different sensitivities so maybe I’m not one of those people who she will talk to,” she said. “I believe there’s a spiritual world, you just have to have a sensitivity to that.”
The former train station is one of about a dozen stops the historians make while sharing stories and people’s experiences as they stroll downtown.
One of the spookiest stories to Walsh-Besso is that of Tucker Peach, who was murdered for his land and horses just outside of Okotoks in 1910. The man’s head and body were discovered in different seasons.
“He was a reclusive man so when he went missing it wasn’t unusual,” she said. “People weren’t overly concerned right away.”
In addition to sharing ghost stories, and a little bit of history, the guides also invite those in attendance to share their own encounters, said Walsh-Besso.
“It’s interesting to talk to people and hear their experiences and it’s a fun evening out to walk around and share a little bit of history and some ghost stories,” she said. “I’ve added a few stories just from people who have told me stories as participants. Before then I didn’t know anyone who had any ghostly experiences.”
The ghost walk typically sells out each year and is held again in October near Halloween by the same historians.
“The three of us share the same stories, but each person tells the story a little bit differently,” she said. “It’s a nice evening and usually the weather is good. It’s a full moon so it’s a little bit creepy.”
Tickets to attend the full moon ghost walk cost $5 and must be purchased in advance by calling 403-938-3204. The recommended age to attend is 13 years.