When Fort Edmonton Park acquired a historic home in 1992, it was said to have come with a resident ghost. Dismissing the story as the work of an over-active imagination, park officials nestled the historic home on the busy 1905 Street in the heritage park and represented a reflection of the young, growing professional class in Edmonton.
Little was known about the original owners, The Firkins, who were originally from Illinois and had moved to Edmonton upon completion of the house in 1912. Park staff were more interested in showcasing the architecture and technology of the time instead of focusing in on previous occupants.
As the house was brought back to its former glory, workers said that they felt “strange” inside this particular house and noted that many of their tools would go misplaced, or moved on their own accord over night.
Park officials again, dismissed the occurrences and the feelings as nothing more than natural events and those of an over-active imagination.
As local folklore began to spread, as it often does, the historic home began to entertain different ideas about paranormal activity and that is when the Canadian production of Creepy Canada filmed a segment at The Firkin's House in its first season. Producers had little to go on so they fabricated a story that consisted of a conjuring from a book of magic, a haunted ventriloquist's doll and the ghost of a boy.
According to Park officials and historians the entire story is a work of fiction, but that didn't stop curiosity seekers, mediums and psychics from visiting the home to seek out the spirit of the little boy and to see the haunted doll and book of magic.
In fact, the urban legend of the house were not only exaggerated, but other stories were added which included: a haunted teen boy, a ghostly red ball, a demented father and a murdered son, a tuberculosis family, a ghostly woman in white and on and on.
The Edmonton Paranormal Society conducted an investigation into the home and played Civil War era music to “induce paranormal activity”. This type of nonsense produced all sorts of orbs and self-serving evps to fill web pages with “evidence”. Its baffling why this would be entertained as The Firkin's were born some 22 years after the Civil War had ended, and the house itself built in 1911 and 1912 in Edmonton, Alberta – a place we can, historically say, had no interest in the American Civil War and in an era where that type of music would have been forgotten.
Visitors continuously ask about the haunting and the artifacts associated with the haunting only to be disappointed with the interpreter's answers. Staff who work in the home, who represent Mr. & Mrs. Firkins and entertain guests, never have reported any odd occurrences and do not believe the house to be haunted at all. They avoid having ghost hunters and paranormal groups from entering the building.
But, what is curious is that, visitors report a strange feeling emanating from the house, and some have even said they have seen ghostly apparitions. Are they simply feeding into their own imaginations? Or are they manifesting their own haunting? Or are they genuinely noticing something strange about this house?
Katie Karpetz grew up in the Firkin's House before her parents had donated it to the Park and says that the story of the haunting is very inaccurate. According to Karpetz, the house is indeed haunted and her mother had experienced many occurrences within the home including the feeling of being hugged from behind, not only once, but twice, in as many days. She also says her mother witnessed a man sitting at their kitchen table who had suddenly vanished moments later.
What is interesting is that we have a history of a haunting, a fictionalized story, curiosity seekers, ghost hunters and then interpreters who spend more time in the house than anyone else all experiencing different activity, or lack thereof.
No one has reported being hugged or physically touched within the home or seeing a man, as reported in the original haunting that was not published in books or sensationalized on television.
The curiosity seekers and ghost hunters have all relayed on a fictionalized background story which has fed there own interpretation of the haunting. They report the ghost of a boy, a teen and a haunted doll. Are they manifesting their own haunting? Or are they merely fitting what they have heard into their own narrative?
The Park does not mind the attention during the Halloween Season, but have dismissed a lot of the stories and reported occurrences as a result of over-active imaginations.
As for the house, history tells us it had four owners, The original Firkin Family, Professor Newton of the University of Alberta, Dr. Strickland, another Professor at the University and finally the Karpetz Family. No one had died within the house leaving the Dead Person Hypothesis invalid in this case. The house is simply, a regular, old house.
But what did the Karpetz family experience and why did these occurrences not transfer over to the new location?
The answer may be, that the house was moved. It wasn't the house that was haunted, but rather the land.
The original house sat on a forested lot along Saskatchewan Drive overlooking the Saskatchewan River. Today, many houses line the street and perhaps, just one of them is experiencing a haunting.
Our thanks to author/researcher John Savoie, and Fort Edmonton Park staff.
Please visit the official Fort Edmonton Park website to plan your own visit and further information
Photos courtesy Fort Edmonton Park.