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

The Hotel Vancouver -- in, naturally, 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 Hotel Vancouver. A few days earlier he had been working on the top floor of the Hotel Georgia, near the Hotel Vancouver, and decided to take a picture with his cellphone of the Vancouver 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 Hotel Vancouver 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 or 1945 along with her husband Harold and her daughter Dorothy. Now, 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; she apparently has been seen more than once passing through the elevator doors on the first and fourteenth floors of the hotel. She is said to be wearing a red ball gown that she had once worn to the 1939 Christmas ball at the hotel, held the year the hotel opened; Pearl must have really enjoyed the event!

        Many encounters with the Lady in Red are said to have been reported among the 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 two 'dummy' elevators -- shafts that were built but never completed -- 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 up on their own.
  • A bellman checking guests into room 1403 saw a lady in red pass through the closed door, following the guests into the room; he followed to check on her... but the lady in red wasn't there.
  • The Hotel Vancouver was once used as a set for an episode of the TV series The X-Files. One of the cameramen saw a lady wearing red hovering outside the windows on the 14th floor of the hotel... he quit and refused to come back to 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, Graham then decided to share the picture with the Vancouver Sun who then, not surprisingly, labeled it as evidence of the ghost. It should also be pointed out that the Hotel Vancouver would only benefit from the attention garnered by a posed shot... so that's a bit of a worry.

Some Definite Questions...

        The earliest reference I've been able to find to the 'Lady in Red' at the moment is an article in The Province, a newspaper of Vancouver, British Columbia, dating from October 27, 1997; but I can't find any reference earlier, which is odd if the haunting has existed since the 1940's.

        The earliest I've been able to find the ghost identified as 'Jennie Pearl Cox' is an article in The Palm Beach Post from August 18, 2002, which is a newspaper from West Palm Beach in the state of Florida, USA, of all places... pretty far away from Vancouver in Canada. I haven't been able to find any trace of Jennie Pearl Cox herself: no record of her birth, no grave, no information on her husband or daughter or any accident, or any association with the Hotel Vancouver.

        A quote from a 2007 article generally regarding ghost stories in Vancouver should be considered. The article's author, Amanda Stutt, had interviewed the Hotel Vancouver's public relations co-ordinator, Brenda Meikle, who stated: "The legendary 'Lady in Red' is both part of the hotel's history, and integral to its character." Which says that, whether or not the ghost is real, the Lady in Red will continue to be talked about for the simple reason that it helps bring guests to the hotel!

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