'Haunted' Gold Rush-era hotel set to reopen in Yukon
Published Tuesday, July 30, 2019 1:25PM EDT
A fabled Yukon hotel dating back to the Klondike Gold Rush is set to reopen its doors after 15 years thanks to the hard work and dedication of its latest owners.
Anne Morgan and Jamie Toole took over ownership of the hotel in Carcross, Yukon in 2006 with the intention of restoring it to its former glory and refashioning it as a boutique hotel with a restaurant and bar.
“It’s got the most amazing history for the Yukon,” Morgan told CTV’s Your Morning from Whitehorse on Tuesday.
The historic Caribou Hotel was originally built in Bennett, B.C. in 1898, during the start of the famed gold rush. It operated for several years, a short distance from U.S. President Donald Trump’s grandfather’s restaurant and hotel, before it was floated down Lake Bennett to Carcross.
Over the next century, the three-storey, wood-framed building switched hands numerous times and became a historically significant structure for the region, even being deemed a Yukon Historic Site in 2008.
“It’s a really significant landmark here,” Morgan said. “It’s a pretty interesting place.”
Plenty of that interest lies in the building’s reputation as being haunted.
According to local legend, the spirit of one of the hotel’s former owners, Bessie Gideon, still roams the building’s storied halls.
The hotel’s website said Gideon has been known to enjoy “slamming doors and creaking floors; putting bubbles in bathtubs; knocking on floorboards and looking out windows.”
Morgan said Gideon died on Oct. 27, 1933, exactly five years, to the day, after her husband died.
“It’s said that Bessie’s spirit is the one that haunts the hotel,” she explained. “[There have been] lots of strange occurrences in the hallway and sort of near her old room, but [she’s a] pretty interesting character.”
Another famed resident of the hotel was a crabby talking parrot named Polly. Morgan said Polly’s owners used to leave their bird with the hotel in the winters when they travelled south and pick it up again in the spring.
In 1918, however, Polly’s owners died in a shipwreck and it became a permanent fixture at the hotel from then on.
“Polly came to live at the hotel, cursing and swearing and biting people, drinking whiskey,” Morgan said.
The parrot was known as a “surly bird” and Morgan and Toole decided to pay tribute to its memory by naming the hotel’s saloon The Surly Bird.
“Polly was a very much loved Yukon character and is now buried in the Carcross cemetery,” she said.
While it may be another couple of years before the hotel opens its doors to the public, Morgan said they’re hoping to have the restaurant up and running before the end of the year.