In 1909 multimillionaire Henry Ceperley built a mansion for his wife Grace. The mansion was affectionately dubbed Fairacres, and Grace reportedly loved it for its peaceful setting. When Grace passed away it was revealed in her last will and testament that should Henry sell her beloved mansion at any time he was to give the money to the City of Vancouver in order to build a park for local children. Fairacres was sold in 1922, but the money made from the sale was never given to the city, and no playground was ever built for the children as Grace had expressly wanted.
Some people believe that Grace is haunting the structure to this day because her last wishes were not respected.
Over the years Fairacres, changed hands a few times and had a variety of different owners. At one time it served as the tuberculosis ward of the Vancouver General Hospital, and then later as the home of a Benedictine order of monks.
After the monks left Fairacres, the mansion was bought by William Franklin Wolsey who was a wanted criminal in the United States. He turned the mansion into the headquarters of his cult, and it became the scene of much mental, and physical abuse, which included the ritual, and sexual abuse of young children. Many people suffered tremendously at the hands of the "Temple of the More Abundant Life" cult leader within the walls of Fairacres. And had the spirit of Grace, who in life had dearly love children, remained behind, she certainly would have been tormented by the horror committed within her mansion.
When the cult was exposed for its crimes Wolsey fled to the USA, and the mansion was converted into a dorm for students from Simon Fraser University. And that is how it remained until 1967 when the city began to do renovations on the old house in order to convert it into the art gallery.
The renovations of Fairacres seemed to stir the spirits within the home, and hauntings began to be experienced with great frequency by those who visited the site.
Both Henry and Grace Ceperley are rumoured to be haunting the building. Apparitions of a lady in white, and a man in old fashioned clothing have been seen throughout. The male is particularly prominent at the top of the stairs. Children’s forlorn faces have been seen looking out of the third floor windows where they are also heard crying on occasion by some of the staff of the art gallery.
There has been many incidents of poltergeist activity over the years including phantom footsteps, running, other odd seemingly misplaced sounds, furniture being moved by unseen hands, pictures being moved from their locations, and other assorted items disappearing only to reappear in a different place.
A PSICAN investigator adds the following:
"Before the security system was installed they use to have security guards, and one night one of the security guards saw what looked like a monk kneeling in the hallway. He reported that the monk looked so real that to get around him he had to get real close to the wall to get around him. he also said sorry if I disturbed you and preceded to leave the building. The reason the alarm system was installed was because they could not find anyone to watch it over night.
Also on one of my trips there I had a talk with one of the artists there and we started talking about strange occurrences. She told me about a day she had arrived there early and knocked on the door to see if anyone was there. She reported seeing a lady look out the window smile and wave at her so she waited at the front door expecting this lady to let her in, but that never happened. When the person came to open up the building she related her story and was told that there was no one else in the building at the time.
Also a young girl in a long white dress has be seen by the kitchen staff standing at the top of the stairs watching them."
On an interesting side note: The Burnaby Shadbolt Centre for the Performing Arts, which is located next door to the Art Gallery is also haunted by the apparition of a young female actress who reportedly drowned. Her spirit has been seen by staff members, and she is reported to open, and close doors, move about props, and play with the electrical systems.
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