Ghost Stories: St. Louis, Saskatchewan
St. Louis (pronounced Saint Lewie) is a small community in central Saskatchewan located 30 kilometers south of the city of Prince Albert. Currently, there are around 431 people that live in the small village.
St. Louis saw it’s beginnings in 1880 and 1884, when settlers began coming into the area. In 1885, the Northwest Rebellion in nearby Batoche helped shape the lives of those early settlers.
In 1897, the Daughters of Providence Sisters arrived from France and built a convent and boarding house in 1919. In the 1970′s, the boarding house only accepted female borders. That continued until it’s closure. One would think that such a sleepy little village on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River would be ideal for anyone to live. In truth, it is. But there are two events which hold a rather ghostly air to the place.
The Phantom Light
In 1914, the railroad connected the city of Prince Albert and the town of Watrous. St. Louis was a stopping point on that line. As the years went by, rail service was important. But as the end of the 20th century arrived, both CN and CPR began closing rail lines. This connecting line between Prince Albert and Watrous was just one of many to disappear.
But in St. Louis, the train still runs.
It’s known as The St. Louis Light or the St. Louis Ghost Train. The paranormal phenomenon reported to be seen in near St. Louis. The phenomenon has been featured on the television series Unsolved Mysteries.
The phenomenon entails reports of a strange light that moves up and down along an old but abandoned rail line at night, changing colours and varying in brightness. The rail line is located south of Prince Albert and north of St. Louis.
Several origin stories exist to explain light, including that it is a ghost train, or that it is the ghost of a drunk brakeman who lost his head to a passing train and now wanders up and down the tracks with a lantern attempting to find it. Non-paranormal explanations include possible refraction of car headlights.
The tracks that the train used to run on have since been removed however this phenomenon still occurs on almost a nightly basis.
Scientist have attempted to debunk the light, suggesting that it’s distant headlights from a vehicle, but no road runs parallel with the old line. Even reflections that may bounce off nearby clouds has been suggested, but even those trying to debunk the light have dismissed such stories.
What truly happened along the line to cause the train to keep running is unknown. What we do know, is the train keeps going.
The Chilling Tale of the Convent
The Daughters of Providence Sisters was one of many groups that arrived in Saskatchewan to create convents and spread the word of the Lord. The Catholic faith is well entrenched in the province, as many settlers of European decent had Catholic leanings. Today, churches on the prairies still stand, and some are still in use, of those long gone days.
Not everything in those churches and convents was exactly peaceful.
As the story goes, the convent found one of the sisters became pregnant. Believing the pregnancy to be the work of the devil himself, the sisters carried the pregnancy full term, and then disposed of the new born baby in a nearby well. Having believed the evil had been dealt with, the child was forgotten.
The convent has since closed, but chilling tales are being told to this day. Visitors to the old site have taken a walk around the old grounds and returned to their vehicles to find a dark omen that leaves them feeling unnerved. Along the lower half of their vehicles tiny hand prints are seen, particularly near the rear of the car.
Whether this tale is true or just legend is unknown, as no information outside of the book Ghost Stories of Saskatchewan has been found. I even recall trying to find the convent site with my ex-girlfriend after coming back from a vacation to Prince Albert National Park.
We never found it.