Haunted Places: Tranquille Sanatorium in British Columbia

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.


The old staff quarters

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.


he who walks behind the rows

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.


the old physician quarters

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.


8 responses to “Haunted Places: Tranquille Sanatorium in British Columbia

  1. My mother was a nurse there. Beyond it being for TB patients, it was also a training hospital for nurses. A lot of nurses going thru nursing school started there. The time frame my mom was there as a nurse was around 1949. It was not entirely made up of psych Patients. They had a psych ward. She ended up getting TB from the patients and she herself became one. She was treated at the “SAN” as it was called for TWO years before she was able to go home. That’s how it was for someone who was admitted for TB.

  2. Great article. I am currently working on a piece about Tranquille and must agree that it is a fascinating and interesting story. I have to ask though, what exactly does it mean when you said the local kids were paid in pizza to make noises on the walls, do you mean the show paid you or the people that own the property did? I am super curious now, lol.

    • I would sneak out and play hide and seek here as a kid with friends. All of us a little more adventurous than most our age. I want to go back to see if anything else goes bump in the night!

  3. Pingback: Tranquille Sanatorium – BC Heritage Fairs Alumni·

  4. Well is you want stories about Tranquille I was born and raised on the grounds. What a place to grow up. so much trouble to get into with tunnels. barn for milking cows, piggery with little pigs and greenhouses. Yes ghost were reported by staff…soft music playing, no one could find the sourse


      • The tunnels was a small network which joined many of the hospital building remember they are doing cooking and laundry for 400 residents. In the center of the facility was also a Rec Hall which clients and staff kids watch movies on Friday nights.

        Most the time we dropped the movie and went exploring climbing up to roofs of many buildings.. smoking in hay stacks that was stupid. and the fireman son did the same thing and burned down a hay stack.. I was always luck and never caught up to mischief. Sometime I need to be stopped, I climbed up on top of the green house building to get a view of the huge lemon tree. The tree was small but it produced an 11 pound lemon once and I love to look at it. Straddled on top of a glass building looking down I saw the lemon tree again… I do not know why I did it. Just for fun and to see if I could… All you had to do was ask the green house keep to view. He gave me one of the lemons once… Huge lemon. Largest ever seen.!!!! Never went up the building again… I was lucky…

        It was also set up as a play gym with mats and trampolines. High quality tramp… But the tunnels were used to transport food and laundry to housing facilities. Also to transport clients to cafeteria in the winter months when it was very cold. We often went down into the tunnels and rode or bikes and roller skated. The new tunnels they are pretty modern. but the older tunnel you could hear the wind move through them… Tranquille was self efficient and had a steam system to heat the building.. The old pipe to move water and steam and water ever can be seen in the tunnels… Old way of building. But it is spooky. We go through late at night me and my best friend trish …Tried not to get caught. Never did. If we did we would be chased out and our parents told. Given do not do that again go play… The kids at tranquille had the run of all outdoor facilities and many of the the governement building

  5. As a kid in the 70s 80s we would go there on field trips to see the cow with the window in its side, and the HUGE pigs. My dad used to take us out there to enjoy the quiet and play in the creek.

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