Haunted campus: A look at legends in and around SFU

The frat house

One of the most haunted locations in Burnaby has an SFU connection. Fairacres — or as it’s better known now, the Burnaby Art Gallery — was built in the early 1900s and has changed owners several times over its long history, including being the home of SFU’s first (and very short-lived) fraternity. According to interviews conducted by The Peak’s own Bess Lovejoy back in 1998, staff at the gallery have had their fair share of ghostly encounters. One of the employees claimed to hear voices on the other side of her office door, despite nobody being there when she went to investigate. Other tales include the gift shop being found in shambles after a night when the gallery should have been empty, footsteps and sounds of moving furniture coming from the unoccupied third floor, and lights on telephones lighting up with no connection.

There has even been a sighting of a monk praying a spirit left over from the building’s time as a monastery. The most common stories are of the house’s first mistress, who wanders up and around the main stairs. Another ghost also haunts the staircase, which may explain the feelings of unease Lovejoy experienced in this area. Countless others have shared accounts of strange goings-on, ranging from small sounds of rustling fabric to intense instances of inexplicable terror. Could you make it through a night?

An AQ office

There is a well-known rumour at SFU that a professor was found dead at their desk and now haunts the campus. This tale has more truth to it than you might think. Psychology professor Barry Beyerstein was found in his office. Cause of death: a heart attack. Beyerstein was the co-founder of a skeptic society in BC. Yet, he remained open-minded about the unexplained, only ruling out what the facts proved to be absolutely impossible. While it is unclear what Beyerstein believed happened in the afterlife, wouldn’t it be fitting for someone who tried to disprove the paranormal for most of their life to now forever haunt the halls?

The art gallery

There’s a legend floating around SFU that the art gallery in the AQ is haunted. The story goes a little something like this: a long time ago, a house stood right where the art gallery is now. The house was owned by an American outlaw who was rumoured to be a cult leader. In this house, the man tortured children. That far up the mountain, no one would have been able to hear the screams of the young victims. Who’s to say one didn’t die during the process? Whatever the truth is, the memory of these terrible events reveals itself late at night when the halls are seemingly empty.

People who have stayed late enough at SFU have reportedly heard the screams of young children. Some have even seen the image of a young boy. What everyone seems to agree on is that all the strange goings-on appear to take place around 2:30 a.m. A note of warning to anyone hoping to hear the ghost for themselves: if you hear it cry for help, it may just follow you home.

The old burned-out Bugs

By the time you’ve been at SFU for a few years, you’ve probably heard of the old Volkswagen Bugs that are hidden in the woods. Hell, maybe you’ve even seen them for yourself.

There are two Bugs slowly being claimed by the forest. It seems that many years ago, the drivers lost control of their cars and they went plummeting over the edge. While the Bugs themselves aren’t inherently creepy by the light of day, after sundown it’s a different story. After all, who knows what happened to the people in the cars?

The abandoned playground

It’s a long-standing trend in horror movies to include images of childhood in chilling and creepy forms. With its monochromatic greyscale and semi-permanent fog, it’s not hard to picture SFU as the setting of just such a film — especially if one stumbled upon the abandoned playground. Half-consumed by the forest, the only structure still visible is the old swing set. With the fog rolling in, the wind gently blowing the swings, even students with nerves of steel may find themselves shaken. Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself.

The treehouse

If there is one thing that can strike fear into students’ hearts (other than finals), it’s the Vancouver housing crisis. This isn’t the first time those attending SFU have had trouble finding places to live. During the 1970s, there was a popular trend of building treehouses in the forest around campus. Even after that, there were still students who chose to live rent-free in the woods. Most of these structures were destroyed by parking lot expansions, but at least one still remains. Hopefully, if you ever stumble upon it you don’t disturb someone — or something — inside.

The morgue

Something that very few people outside of the criminology department will know is that Burnaby campus has its own working morgue. It is off-limits to everyone except the RCMP and research assistants that run it. Every day, as you walk through the halls, somewhere nearby there is a room full of dead bodies whose souls can be tortured by their untimely ends. If you’ve ever felt like you’re not alone when studying late at night, this might be the answer.