Sharing a Chapter of My Next Memoir

I am commiting to my New Year’s intentions of sharing more. To share more about my creative life, the struggles I face as a writer who works a more than full time job. I am working on my next Hotel Memoir about working for luxory hotels and resorts in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. My debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, is about my experiences in Lake Louise. My next memoir picks up where I left off at the Lake and then I move to Jasper to work for the companies sister property, Jasper Park Lodge, located in Jasper, Alberta. A small alpine town in the commerical centre of Jasper National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies. Like moving to Lake Louise from Nova Scotia, I didn’t know anythhing about Jasper. My boyfriend at the time asked me to move to Jasper with him because he accepted an offer at the Lodge as Chef de Partie, he was motivated to become a Exectuive Chef at an early age. I was driven by his passion towards his carrer and my longing to leave the Lake and the ex-boyfriend I couldn’t seem to let go of. It’s a messy story and I’m working on sharing it in this next memoir. I am still working on the titel of the next memoir, for now, let’s go with, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Winters, because I share experiences of what it is like to work for a luxory hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in the winter.

I am sharing this chapter about the brief history of Jasper Park Lodge, the ghost stories and my insights of losing myself in Jasper. I welcome feedback, please email me at marionann.berry@gmail.com or leave a comment below. Thank you.

Jasper Park Lodge

If you get the opportunity to visit Jasper, Alberta, I highly recommend you take a few days to enjoy your experiences.

Like many of the original Canadian Pacific hotels, Jasper Park Lodge has it’s unique history. First named Tent City in 1915 for the railway workers of Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. In 1920 it was managed under the Canadian National Hotels. In 1988 it was sold to Canadian Pacific Hotels, now under Fairmont Hotels. The property sits along the shores of Lac Beauvert, larger than Lake Louise but similar activities to enjoy, canoeing in the summer and skating in the winter. The lake also was a hinderance for the animals of Jasper. One winter I witnessed an Elk fall through the Lake when a heard was crossing the lake. It was amazing to walk one Elk plunge into the water while the others stood solid around the break in the ice. That summer the Elk had to be removed by Parks Canada.

            Sis: It was not a pretty sight.

            Marion Ann: Especially when the lake was unthawing and you could see the poor dead elk with its eyes wide open. Image what it was thinking as it fell through the ice.

            Sis: Help me!

The resort has many ghost stories. Some that I have witnessed, some that made me walk a little quicker past a particular cabin, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand tingle as I tried to quickly look into the window of the cabin where a room attendant died.

The Chambermaid of Point Cabin is one of the stories that have been told by generations of JPL employees. The woman, let’s call her Lily, was cleaning the card room (a small upper-level room from the living area) and for unknown reasons fell down the stairs to her death.

The lights in the card room turn on randomly from time to time. The Front desk receives phone calls from the cabin when there is no one checked into the cabin. The hairs on my arms are standing up. I would walk by the cabin and take a quick glance to see if I could see the light on or a shadow of the Lily.

My imagination would run wild as I walked by the cabin. Who was Lily? What brought her to the Lodge? Why take a job in the middle of the Canadian Rockies as a Chambermaid? 

A question many of us were asked by guests. Why work in a hotel far from home?

            Sis: Why not?

The other ghost story that the Lodge is know for is the lady in the photograph. The picture was placed near the dining room, The Moose’s Nook, and anytime I went past the picture I shivered from a random coldness, even in the middle of a hot day in the summer.

As the story goes, in 1920 a photographer took a photo just outside of the Moose’s Nook at JPL. The picture, meant to feature the empty dining room. The photographer swore he was alone and that the room was empty, but when the photo was developed there was what appears to be an elderly woman sitting at a table.

The story told behind the photograph is vague. Apparently, an elderly couple died at the Lodge and the man would be wandering around the Lodge while the woman waited in the dining room for her husband to join her. Vague or not, it is a romantic ghost story. Image waiting for you loved one not knowing they are dead. Now left with the grief and waiting for them to return night after night.

I wouldn’t go to the Mooses Nook if I didn’t need to. I wasn’t afraid but I didn’t want to interrupt the woman waiting for her lover. My boyfriend at the time and a few of our friends had dinner one night before it closed for the season and I was uncomfortable for most of the evening. That feeling of someone watching us loomed over me as I tried to enjoy the beautiful meal. However, I just felt like I should be looking for someone at the same time. Was the elderly woman sitting with us? Was she sharing her grief with me? I didn’t go back to the Nook unless I had to assist with setting up a function. I am not normally afraid of the spirt world, but I wanted to avoid the feeling of loss as much as possible. In hindsight I lost myself at the Lodge and felt the weight of grief for many years after having my heart broken by not only my ex-boyfriend, but by my self.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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