2017, May 27 (pre): The Lady in Red?

The Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has had a reputation for being haunted... and on May 27, 2017, the Vancouver Sun website published a picture they felt might prove it.

        The picture was taken by Scott Graham, an elevator repairman who has done work at the Fairmont Hotel. A few days earlier he had been working on the top floor of the Hotel Georgia, near the Fairmont Hotel, and decided to take a picture with his cellphone of the Fairmont from the opportune vantage point. But the picture had a red dot in it; so he zoomed in to see what the dot was.


See the red figure in the window? [Larger version here]

Which is an interesting thing because the Fairmont Hotel has a reputation for being haunted by a ghost nicknamed the "Lady in Red." Of course, the figure might just be a hotel guest... except the floor with the window was at the time off-limits to guests due to renovations.

        According to legend, the Lady in Red is the ghost of Jennie Pearl Cox, a frequent guest who died in a car accident in 1944... where, as the Vancouver Sun put it, she walks "the top floors in her elegant red gown, occasionally stopping at the window to stare wistfully out at the city." The ghost is described as a friendly spirit that hasn't actually frightened any of thepeople who encounter her; she apparently has seen more than once passing through the elevator doors on the first and fourteenth floors of the hotel. Many encounters with the Lady in Red are said to have been reported among staff and guests:

  • a family of Japanese tourists called the front desk to say their room was already occupied... they had seen a lady wearing red in the room.
  • the hotel has 'dummy' elevators that only let out on the first and fourteenth floor, and it's these that the Lady in Red apparently frequents. The doors on these are kept bolted shut... yet staff have seen them open on their own.
  • a bellman checking guests into room 1403 saw a lady in red pass through the door, following the guests into the room; so he followed to check on her... but the lady in red wasn't there.
  • the Fairmont has been used as a set for episode of the TV series X-Files. One of the cameramen in the first visit of the show said he had seen a woman in a long gown; when told it was likely the resident ghost, the Lady in Red, he turned white and refused to continue on the job.

Despite the number of sightings and encounters people are said to have had with this amiable ghost, Graham's picture is the first claimed photo of her.

        Asked about the possibility of faking the photo, Graham was quoted saying: “I did not Photoshop anything on that photo. There’s a little red bleeding into the brick on the window but it’s just a cellphone shot from 50 stories up. It’s not Photo-shopped at all.” Graham also added that he didn't believe in ghosts, and that he felt he'd just photographed someone randomly passing the window wearing a red shirt, even if they weren't supposed to be there... that he got that picture from a hotel reportedly haunted by a "Lady in Red" was just "a pretty cool coincidence." Of course, it could also be pointed out that the hotel would benefit from attention garnered by a posed shot... so that's a bit of a worry.

Some Definite Questions...

        For the most part, modern claimed accounts of the Lady in Red all stem from a 2007 article called "Vancouver City Ghosts and Spirits" by Amada Stutt and published in the Vancouver Sun on Ocotber 24, 2007... in fact, I was starting to think this article was where the whole story started, because everything kept tracing back to it. All of the accounts above, except the story about the X-Files cameraman, clearly all come from this 2007 article. It was that last story that led me to an earlier mention, though.

        In a 2002 travel article from the Palm Beach Post, author Adele Malott gives the earliest history about Jennie Pearl Cox. She apparently was very excited about the 1939 Christmas ball at the Fairmont Hotel, and planned to wear a full-length holly-red ball gown. Pearl (as she was called), her husband Harold, and her daughter Dorothy, all died in the car crash, "just six years later," implying a year of death in 1945, not 1944. We're also informed:

"A recently retired bell captain saw Pearl the first time when she emerged from faux elevator doors decorating the 14th floor. And a cameraman on a shoot for The X Files TV series was so terrified by her hovering outside a 14th floor window that he quit and left it to others to collect and pack his gear!"

...which means that the cameraman may have had a good reason for being spooked, as opposed to just hearing about the ghost.

        So I know the stories regarding the Lady in Red were going around in 2002; but I can't find anything reference earlier, which is odd if the haunting has existed since the 1940's. I also haven't been able to yet actually find any trace of Jennie Pearl Cox herself: no record of her birth, no grave, no information on her husband or daughter. Nothing. So Mrs. Cox might not be the true identity of the Lady in Red, if the ghost does indeed exist; if so, it certainly wouldn't be the first time a story was made up to explain a ghost after the ghost started appearing!

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