Showing off the spookier side of the University of Saskatchewan, the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, in partnership with the U of S Alumni Association, is running their third year of Ghost Walk tours on campus, which introduce students, faculty and the community to the school ghouls of some familiar “haunts.”
Since 2013, Ghost Walk tours have been a staple of Halloween at the U of S. Initially, the tours were primarily targeted towards U of S alumni in Saskatoon and the surrounding area. Now aimed also at the general public, Ghost Walk tours try to introduce a new perspective to campus while providing an opportunity to learn more about the history of the university.
Lisa Mercier, a history student in her final year at the U of S, is a guide for this year’s excursions and she explains that the Ghost Walk tours go above and beyond the regular tours the centre offers throughout the year.
“We talk a little bit about the history of the university in the ghost tours, but we give goers a little bit extra that would otherwise not be on a regular historical campus tour. The ghost tours also provide us here at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre an opportunity to go beyond the limits of our campus tours and kind of focus on something a little bit more fun and energetic, and we can be a little more malleable in terms of information,” Mercier said.
U of S students might not regularly have a chance to see campus in this light and while this year’s tours are sold out, there is much to look forward to in the future.
According to Mercier, participating in the tours can provide students with new dinner conversations and material for late-night campfire tales. This year, students were invited to submit their own on-campus ghost stories.
“We ran a ghost story contest, where students could submit their ghost story to the Alumni Association. We picked a winner which will be featured on this year’s ghost tours. A lot of stories were submitted, one about the Thorvaldsen janitor, and another pertained to the drama building,” Mercier said.
Teresa Ann DeMong, manager of the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, explains how the Ghost Walk concept stemmed from an ordinary yet unusually small tour involving only one attendee.
“I think it ended up just being our guide and the one individual and they started talking about what it would be like to do a spooky tour. We came up with a plan for it in a couple of nights. We thought we might do two or three tours and maybe have a few people come out, but we ended up doing four nights, two tours per night, and they were sold out in a week and a half,” DeMong said.
The success of the event has since grown exponentially and DeMong speaks to the concept’s increasing popularity.
“This year, I think it was two hours after the email went out, there was 100 people on the waiting list.”
Mercier mentions that past attendees have dressed up in costume and this year she plans to participate in the festivities by dressing up herself.
“A lot of [tour goers] just dress for the weather, last year I had a couple in ski pants; it was a little chilly last year,” Mercier said.
The Diefenbaker Centre offers much more than the Ghost Tours, according to Mercier, and she insists students need not worry if they miss out on the themed event.
“We do historic walking tours; you can book a tour, it’s $35 for an hour-and-a-half walking tour of the campus. Also, in the summer we have community campus tours that are every Sunday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. They’re free as well for the community.”
Graphic: Martin Tapia