History buffs who like things a little spooky – and urban explorers who aren't afraid of the dark – ventured out into the storied streets of East Village on the night of October 29 for two Heritage Halloween tours. A fine time and goose bumps were had by all.
Fortified with steaming hot chocolate provided, by Hear’s My Soul café and led by a team of fearless EV ambassadors, the plucky adventurers braved some of the neighbourhood's most fascinating historical haunts. With All Soul's Night looming, nobody would have been too surprised to encounter some of the area's more spectral residents.
The brave souls were up for anything, though, even the late October chill. “I'm so excited for the heritage tour tonight. I will be bundled up,” Lexie tweeted. She arrived with earmuffs on, prepared for the elements and anything else that the group might encounter in the night.
During the one-hour stroll through East Village, ambassadors enthralled listeners with tales from the area's vivid past. Tour participants learned about the Simmons building's role in the war effort, supplying cots for the troops. They heard about the final (terribly botched) hanging to take place at Fort Calgary and the possible connection between the tortured soul who was put to death that day and the skeleton found decades later when construction crews dug footings for a new building. They visited the site of Doll's cottage on 8th Avenue and heard the tragic story of the eminent jeweller, Louis Doll, who never recovered from the death of his young daughter. And they revelled in the story of Pearl Miller, one of East Village's most infamous ladies of the night, who ran a very popular, but surprisingly tasteful, bawdy house.
“I completely recommend the East Village Heritage tour,” said Malory, after the tour group returned to the warmth and lights of the Experience Centre. “I learned lots, love the neighbourhood even more!” Morgan added, “It was fun rewinding time tonight.”
Even with two time slots offered for the inaugural East Village Heritage Halloween Tour, free tickets were snapped up so quickly that extra spots had to be added. And no wonder. With so many stories in the neighbourhood's history, and more than one skeleton in the closet, the cobblestone streets of East Village were wonderfully spooky places to prepare for Halloween.