With a building dating back to the establishment of Maple Creek in the 1880s, it’s no surprise that it has a few ghost stories.
But for some employees and guests of the Commercial Hotel, the experiences they’ve had are real enough to make them wonder if there isn’t some truth to the tales. It’s not uncommon for the hotel partners, employees and customers to have odd encounters, says Noy Lim, one of the hotel’s owners and the head chef.
One of the most bizarre reports they received was from hotel guests who said they could hear loud footsteps coming from the hotel room above theirs.
“They just called the front desk and said, ‘Can you ask the people on the third floor to walk more quietly, because they’re disturbing us from our sleep,'” Lim recalled. “We told them there’s nobody on the third floor.”
The partner explained an encounter another patron shared when he was in the bar. He was sharing his peanuts with a man sitting next to him only to discover later there was no one there at all.
One of the more common sights reported is a white figure seen around the kitchen. Previous staff still talk about their experience with it from over 20 years ago.
“When I was working in the dining room, we were sitting having coffee one night… and we said, ‘Who’s in the kitchen?’ Because you could see this white thing go across the door,” the former employee recalled. “So we went out there and there was no one there. That happened quite a few times after that.”
There were also times, she said, when she would spot someone entering the dining room. Grabbing the coffee pot, she would follow them inside.
“You’d just go to pour them a coffee and no one would be there,” she chuckled. She added she would also occasionally hear cutlery moving and ladies laughing when the dining room was empty.
“They’re things you never ever talked about, because no one would believe you,” she said with a laugh.
Some have reported seeing the figure of a woman walking down the stairs into the lobby, while the apparition of a man has been reported wandering the main floor.
Kitchen staff have heard voices in the dining room while doing prep work early in the morning, Lim said. They would investigate only to find they’re the only ones there.
Housekeeping staff have recalled cleaning rooms on the second floor when the TV would mysteriously turn on, the alarm clock would suddenly sound and the radio would turn on.
In the bar, staff have said they could feel someone gently grabbing them by the waist or touching their hair. Customers have even said they felt someone poking them, only to look and see no one around, Lim said.
“It’s simple incidents that are sometimes spooky for them – especially if they’re working alone,” he said with a chuckle, noting some of the incidents seem playful.
After closing up for the night, bar staff have said they can sometimes hear footsteps crunching the peanut shells on the floor.
Even before the hotel was up and running, the owners said they experienced strange events while completing renovations.
“Some of the partners saw someone passing from one door to another really fast,” Lim said. When they investigated, they found no one in the room and the only other person they were with at the time was standing behind them.
Local folklore has created speculation as to who exactly the “ghosts of the hotel” could be, but the most common belief is it’s that of ‘Tin Shack Lizzie,’ who was a well-known character in the town from decades past. Little is known about her, but any information residents have is welcome.
The owners and employees have heard many interesting tales from patrons about the hotel.
“Of course, we have the stories from the older people who said somebody died in the place,” Lim said, noting with a nearly 130-year-old hotel it is possible.
But whether it’s night staff seeing eerie events or guests hearing abnormal sounds, Lim agreed the haunting stories keep things at the hotel interesting.
Is that the ghost of ‘Tin Shack Lizzie’ on the stairs at the Commercial Hotel? Many people have reported seeing ghostly apparitions at the historic hotel, but by all accounts they seem to be friendly. Photo by ghostbuster Marcia Love