It was known colloquially as “Padova”, spoken of only in hushed whispers or excited ghost stories. On the edge of the furthest borders of the city of Kamloops, it stands. It is empty, foreboding, and all at once, lonely. It became almost a rite of passage to sneak into the massive site, which had long been boarded up. The serpentine tunnels that run underneath the property are the stuff of legend.
How many times did I party in the tunnels with friends? How many people did we fit into the giant washing machines in the old laundry facility? How many crumpled beer cans were left in our wake?
How many times did we take pictures and later assure each other that the artefact observed in the photographs were “orbs” and “spirit activity”? Too many to count.
The hushed ghost stories told around campfires were based in some truth, though. A show called MTV’s Fear and another show called Scariest Places on Earth filmed episodes on the Tranquille site.
Unfortunately for the would be paranormal investigators, any ghosts they heard were just local punk kids paid in pizza to make noises within the walls and around the site. I know this because I was one of those kids.
My history and knowledge of this haunted place came largely from hearsay, rumor, and gossip. It wasn’t until I learned that for thirty years my grandfather had worked there, right there in laundry, running the washing machines we had one left beer bottles inside.
My mother worked there as a switchboard operator back when transferring calls involved plugging in different cords.
The true name is the Tranquille Sanatorium, but now it is called Tranquille Farm Fresh, and far from the haunted party space, it is owned by a couple who have endeavoured to maintain the buildings and offer history lessons through walking tours, interactive tunnel theatre, a haunted corn maze, and a Halloween carnival.
The Drunk in a Graveyard crew was most privileged to take part in one such of these walking tours with Brennan from The Ghost Story Guys podcast, author of “Strange Little Place”, a book about the haunted happenings in Revelstoke, BC which you can find on Amazon.com (and it’s only like $9 and its a really good read so please go support him if you can) and on Amazon.ca.
Brennan also took some pretty dope shots of the tour and you can find them at LargeLy The Truth. The sharing of history that occurred with those who embarked on the tour was eye opening and informative. It seemed like everyone was connected to Tranquille in some way.
Tranquille it turns out was the name given to an Indian chief who had formerly called the property his terrirtory. Tranquille is the French word for calm, and tranquil. A betrayal of this chief by white fur traders led to his execution, and this was only the beginning of the sordid history of this patch of land.
Many of the old buildings were built in the earliest part of the 1900s. The hospital facility developed to treat tuberculosis, during the time when TB was treated with exposure to fresh air.
The property is expansive. It’s literally it’s own self sufficient little city. Perfect for the young men and women afflicted with TB to get largely symptom management based treatment.
Many of the young men treated here got Florence Nightingale syndrome like a motherfucker and fell in love with the nurses assigned to care for them.
The open property and vast gardens were perfect for that exposure therapy.
Walking through the grounds you begin to realize how empty and sparse the site is. The handprints of people and industry fade away as nature has begun to reclaim the land. The image of a tree growing through a set of stairs was largely covered in life after people and makes for a quiet statement on how nature reclaims what was once lost.
The eerie empty spaces inside the building are even more stark and bleak. The sun shining into the empty room serves as a small reminder that the outside world did exist for those kept inside the Sanatorium.
The future of Tranquille is bright. The family who owns the property wishes to continue their campaign of history and education and has opened the property to tours and even to Hollywood to shoot feature films and television series.
So if you’re ever up for a drive, the Tranquille Sanatorium makes for a lovely way to spend a morning, and you can find them on Facebook. The Tranquille Farm Fresh currently offers walking tours, and their legendary Tranquille Tunnel Theatre throughout the month of October, rounding everything out with Dr. Padova’s Haunted Carnival October 26-28.