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A spooky trip through downtown Winnipeg’s haunted history

The historic Burton Cummings Theatre is one of the stops on the Downtown Winnipeg Ghost Ride.
The historic Burton Cummings Theatre is one of the stops on the Downtown Winnipeg Ghost Ride. burtoncummingstheatre.ca

The COVID-19 pandemic means a number of traditional Halloween events have been postponed or cancelled this year, but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities for Winnipeggers to have some spooky fun.

The Downtown Winnipeg Ghost Ride is a self-guided tour for cyclists and pedestrians to take in some of the city’s dark history of murder and mayhem.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Susan Ainley told 680 CJOB the ghost ride offers people using active transportation the chance to explore some of the city’s spookiest spots, complete with written or audio versions of their horrible histories.

“We’re using active transportation trails throughout downtown to do the route, but you can walk, for sure, on the sidewalk,” said Ainley.

“This is something if you wanted to do on a skateboard or a scooter or bike, you could.”

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Ghost riders can download or print a map from the Downtown BIZ website, and when they visit each stop, there will be a link to a story — but the stories aren’t for the faint of heart.

Read more: Winnipeg haunted house to open — with COVID-19 protocols

“They’re kind of scary,” Ainley said.

“I did the ride during the day… You can even do it from home.

“It is recommended for people who are not easily spooked or grossed out, because there’s murder, unexplained events, different things that have happened, and we talk about that.”

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The collection of creepy tales includes notorious paranormal hot spots like the Fort Garry Hotel — recently named one of Canada’s five most haunted hotels — and Burton Cummings Theatre, as well as some lesser-known sites of Winnipeg’s sordid history.

Area restaurants are getting involved as well, in a bit of a spooky scavenger hunt.

“The big thing is to collect these little buttons,” said Ainley.

“We’ve had our mascot, the little ghost on the bike… printed off on cute little buttons. There’s three different colours, and there’s five different spots that are downtown restaurants you can go to and support — and then purchase the item that’s on special or featured and they will give you a button.”

While the ghost ride is one Halloween-themed event that’s still going on, questions remain about the most important aspect of Oct. 31, especially for local kids.

The most recent information from the province of Manitoba is that trick-or-treating can take place, but with a number of precautions taken both by homeowners and trick-or-treaters to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, gave a similar message to families across the country, saying Canadians should respect the situation the country is in with regard to the pandemic.

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“How do we adapt to the new realities of the new Halloween?” Tam said at a briefing.

“I think trick-or-treating outside with right distancing, pre-packaging your treats so that people are not rummaging in a bowl of candies is important.

“Having hand sanitizers for your kids, wearing a mask — and sometimes you can use different fabrics to make it part of a costume.”

Click to play video: 'Local stories inspired by real life ghosts' Local stories inspired by real life ghosts
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