The building that is now known as the Rouge Restaurant and was designated as a Municipal and Provincial Heritage Site in 1973 was originally built in 1891 by A.E. Cross in a Calgary neighborhood now known as Inglewood.
Originally from Montreal, Cross who became one of the West’s most prominent cattlemen, founded the Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. (the first brewing company in western Canada) in 1892.
Legend has it that two of Cross’s children died of diphtheria in 1904 just minutes before Cross had received the critical medicine required to bring them back to health. Paranormal investigators and psychics have visited the home, with several of them reporting the presence of at least two spirits. One, the spirit of a little girl, believed to be Nellie, one of the children who died so tragically. The other is believed to be an adult, and there are conflicting reports of whether it might be the ghost of A.E. Cross, who was a dedicated father, or of his wife Helen Cross, a similarly dedicated mother.
One of the stories, as reported on Creepy Canada, involved a waiter who was working upstairs and heard what he thought was the sound of a child’s laughter from one of the upstairs rooms. He went to peer in, finding the room empty, when the sound of laughter seemed to be coming from down the hall. He continued to follow the elusive laughter down the stairs to the main floor and then, further, to the basement.
When he arrived in the basement, he spotted, standing in the open doorway of a walk-in freezer a young girl, who immediately moved into the freezer. He walked across the room and stepped into the freezer to find that she had vanished. That was when the freezer door sung closed on its own.
Paul Rogalski, Chef and restaurant co-owner, says that when he first came to the house he would have described himself as “agnostic” towards the belief of ghost, but that after two years there, he found himself believing in ghosts, having seen and heard about enough strange and in-explainable incidents, such as frying pans traveling on their own across a set of burners in the kitchen and the ghostly image of a man seen sitting quietly at a table and then getting up and walking towards the door while flickering in and out of the visible spectrum.
When Liz and I arrived at the restaurant one summer afternoon, we were dressed in our typical “long walking day” attire. Running shoes, shorts and t-shirts; well below the standard dress for such a beautiful and elegant establishment. However, the hostess, learning of the reason for our visit, was gracious enough to give us a tour and point out the various locations where eerie and odd sightings had occurred, such as the mantle in the main dining room . . .
. . . the upstairs closet at the back of the hallway near the restrooms . . . (where staff have to reach into, behind the curtain, which was pulled back for this photo, to turn the lights on for this area of the second floor) . . .
. . . and the second floor front window where there have been reports of people seeing the spectral image of a woman looking forlornly out, who some believe is the ghost of Cross’s wife, Helen, as she might have been while waiting in pained silence for the medicine, which didn’t arrive in time.
We didn’t get a chance to enjoy the fine dining, nor the wonderfully extensive wine list of this elegant restaurant in a beautiful historic building, but we did get to sample the friendly, kind and generous spirit of the staff who work there.
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