The Keg Restaurant – New Westminster
About the building:
The Canadian Pacific Railway was first built in 1887 as a train station for passenger and freight services. These buildings, along with most of the downtown area were burned to the ground in the 1898 Great Fire of New Westminster. Amazingly, not a soul was killed in the fire that leveled much of the downtown area. Or so it is reported. From talking to a historian, there is a narrowly held belief that members of a minority race did perish at that time, but their deaths were unrecorded because of their race.
In 1899, a new station for the CPR was built. Two wings were added in 1910 to accommodate the growth of the industry. This extension corresponded with the completion of the rebuilding of New Westminster.
It was again renovated in 1929; a major renovation, costing the CPR $5,000. This was to keep up with their competition, the CNR.
There are rumours of two more fires in the building that is now known as the Keg Restaurant; however, we are still in the process of confirming or disproving this. Rumours include a family of four dying in the upstairs part of the building. There is evidence of fire on the second floor. If you have the opportunity to sit in the South-West corner of the upper floor, the brick surrounding that nook shows smoke and fire damage, and carries a noticeable smoky smell.
It should be noted that before this site was bought by the CPR in 1898, it was likely the site of a cannery; one of many that dotted the waterfront along the Fraser River.
The CPR used this building as their offices until it was bought by the Keg Restaurant chain in 1973.
Photo courtesy of the New Westminster Public Library Heritage and Local History.
About the haunting:
We were able to interview five staff members whom informed us of areas in the building in which they personally experienced odd events.
Such events were described by one staffer as hearing a man scream, “NO!” when there was no on there, and another time, hearing footsteps behind the bar upstairs. A secure rack of glasses fell from a wooden ledge, chairs which had been piled on top of the tables after-hours were found back on the floor. Sightings include seeing a couple at table number #23; numerous witnesses have experienced something at this table. The upstairs bathrooms seem to be regularly active with the lights going off and hot water turning on by itself. This is mostly in the women’s washroom but occasionally happens in the gentlemen’s restroom as well. One witness was in the women’s washroom and thought there was someone in the next stall. She even heard the toilet paper roll moving. When she came out of her stall, there was no one there.
One staff member tells of a time during his employee orientation, being shown the stockroom downstairs when he turned and thought he saw his manager crawling through the crawlspace. His manager was just inside the door the whole time. This witness does not know who this was in the crawlspace, but has heard rumours that the tunnels were once used for smuggling refugees. We are trying to find evidence that will validate this.
Footsteps have been heard upstairs when the building was only occupied downstairs, unusual smells of burning, shadowy figures have been seen.
One staff member may have even heard someone whisper in a male voice, “hello”, feeling the breath, but no one was close enough to have done this.
September 2013 addition:
Hello, My name is Martyn I have just finished four days of demolition work in the train station in new westminister. We pulled up the floor on the east side of the building which was sinking. After removing and going through the bits and pieces of remnants under the floor which is filled with river sand I can confirm that there was a fair bit of burnt wood in the sand and whether it was from 1897 fire or other I don't know. My work mate that was there before me had to move some supplies out of a small storeroom on the second floor on the far east side 15 feet from the womens bathroom and he expeienced an extreme cold then as he moved away from the room his light tured off, now he won't go there without prodding. My workmate is not the sort the even knows much about things like this. The building is in the middle of a renovation and has the east side floors and substructure pulled up at the moment(sept 26)I was doing a little research on this remarkable old building and came across
your site I hope this adds to your picture of this place and if someone wanted to visit the site the superintendant is very approachable.
The management and staff at the Keg who welcomed us into their space and gave us their witness accounts
Planning department of New Westminster
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