News / Calgary

Calgary's only ghost tour haunted by copycats

Johanna Lane figured something was up when she got a call from the city about a cemetery seance she had nothing to do with - physically or spiritually.

Johanna Lane stands beneath the 12 Street Bridge, where 6-year-old Donny Goss was killed by Donald Stavely in 1946. Lane said emergency services are called to the bridge every month with reports of a little boy playing beneath it.

Jennifer Friesen/ for Metro

Johanna Lane stands beneath the 12 Street Bridge, where 6-year-old Donny Goss was killed by Donald Stavely in 1946. Lane said emergency services are called to the bridge every month with reports of a little boy playing beneath it.

There's nothing more petrifying than plagiarism.

With copycat ghost tours abounding on Halloween, the city's only guide has learned to keep tales close to the heart, with a close eye on haunted hotspots for those stealing stories of Calgary's ghastly tales.

It all started about five years ago on a dark and stormy night when Johanna Lane, owner of Calgary Ghost Tours, got a call from the city about her supposed seance in a local cemetery.

The only problem – it wasn't her tour's doing.

"We would never do that, because we'd actually had permission to do tours in the cemetery, but we weren't doing it at that time," Lane said. Eventually the rogue group, who claimed to be with Calgary Ghost Tours, was found out and slapped with a bylaw infraction.

"We became a little bit closer to the vest with our stories."

Most recently, as she was leaving her Inglewood home last year, Lane stumbled on a tour she didn't recognize. It was someone her guide had seen taking notes during a previous tour, now running a ghost walk of her own.

For Lane and her guides, a lot of work goes into gathering the tales they tell. Research and trips to the library help them establish which stories can be traced historically and which may lie more in the land of fables.

"We actually try and find out if we can find something that's happened," Lane said. "If we can't find something that's happened we don't use the story. If we were just doing ghost stories, we could have all of Calgary haunted."

So how do you know your tour is the real deal? Lane said they now have people sign online to take their tours, and as far as she knows they are the only company offering ghost walks in Calgary.

But Lane said there's no problem with new haunts entering the market – as long as they do their own research.

"If you just come out and you take a tour and you write down my stories and you go do it, that doesn't seem right," Lane said. "There's a couple things in the tours, I call them Easter eggs, and that's how we tell who's done the research and who hasn't."

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