Haunted Saskatchewan: Bushwakker Brewpub, Regina
Continuing our exploration of Regina history, the Warehouse district is an area that had to be rebuilt following the devastation of the F4 tornado that swept through the middle of Regina in 1912. One of the buildings that was built in the empty streets on Dewdney, after the residential area was destroyed, was the Campbell, Wilson, & Strathdee building. This building, built during 1913 and 1914, is one of the locations in Regina with stories of a ghost that likes to make his presence known from time to time.
Welcome, my ghouls, to the Bushwakker Brewpub
Before the tornado hit, there was a small Chinese laundry that was on the corner of Dewdney Avenue and Cornwall Street by the name of Mack Lung Laundry. According to sources from the time of the Regina tornado, however, there were no deaths at the location. On July 4, 1912, the Regina Morning Leader indicated that there were still 4 people from Mack Lung Laundry missing (or their survival unknown), but they were never reported as deaths later on.
Another interesting fact about the building that was 2204 Dewdney pre-June 30, 1912 was that in 1911, it appeared to not only be the business of Dec Lee Laundry. In the Regina newspaper, The Morning Leader, on August 14th, 1911, there was a report of two men being arrested in “opium joint at 2204 Dewdney Street.” If this building was truly used as an opium den in 1911, it does make you wonder if that could cause some hauntings all on its own.
After tragedy hit the small city of Regina in 1912, following what would forever be known as the “Regina Cyclone of 1912”, the city slowly rebuilt itself to become thriving again. One of these areas, that is said to have been a residential area north of the main railway station, would later be called the Warehouse District. One of the few remaining buildings in the area was the Ackerman building, which can be seen still standing (although damaged) in many of the old photos following the tornado.
The Ackerman building was repaired, and the area started to sell large warehouse lots. On the corner of Dewdney Avenue and Cornwall Street, a wholesale grocery company named Campbell, Wilson, & Strathdee was working to build a new warehouse building. It was going to be the Cadillac of warehouse buildings for the time. The Winnipeg architect J. Russell was hired to design the new building, which would be in a Chicago style with red and brown brick and a Tyndall stone foundation and detailing.
Now, we will go through more detail about the Campbell, Wilson, & Strathdee warehouse building in the future. For now, let’s fast-forward to present day. When you approach the warehouse building on the corner of Dewdney Ave. and Cornwall St. today, you will see something very different than you would have in the early 1920’s. Instead of a busy, bustling grocery warehouse, you will find a favourite local gathering spot. If you are lucky, you will arrive on one of the many nights that Bushwakker’s holds events, including local bands or Irish dancers. There is even a local artist wall showcasing a local artist’s work.
The Bushwakker Brewpub moved into the lower floors of the warehouse back in 1991. Since then, they have been serving Regina residents and visitors with award-winning craft beers and pub food. What many visitors of the brewpub don’t realize is that they aren’t alone when they visit, no matter how empty the brewpub looks. There is someone always watching over the building.
Unexplained Stories from Bushwakker Staff
Stories from the staff have been collected by the current bar manager, Grant. He was happy to share them with us while we toured the basement and parts of the pub itself. Grant has been working at the location almost the entirety that it’s been open, so his stories extend much longer than just the last few years. Many of the stories, although sometimes sending a shiver down your spine, indicate a ghost that simply is watching over the building, making sure that the workers aren’t slacking off.
My favourite story that Grant told us had to do with a different part of the building. A man named Dave owned an antique store on the third floor. One night, he had come down, pale and shaky and asked Grant, who had been working at the bar at the time, to pour him a drink. He went on to let Grant know that he had an unusual experience as he was closing his shop. To lock up, he had to close and lock big, wrought-iron gates. As he was doing that, he realized that there was a light turned on in the back of his shop. Although he didn’t believe in ghosts, he called out, “Hey Jim, can you turn that light out for me?”
Apparently, it was a light that had three brightness settings. As Dave stood there, about to leave the light on and go downstairs, he saw the light go brighter, working through the remaining settings. Then, after a few seconds, it turned off completely.
The only time that the resident ghost (or ghosts) interacted with the staff physically was in the grain room. In this room, while taking a break from grinding the malted barley for the brewery, one of the assistant brewers at the time was pushed from behind. There was only himself and the main brewer in the room, and the door was closed behind them. The assistant brewer then left the room, going into the bathroom to lift his shirt and look at his back. A red handprint was left between his shoulder blades, where he had felt the invisible hand push him.
While standing in this location, listening to Grant tell us about the experience, chills and goosebumps covered my body. It felt like I was standing in a place I wasn’t supposed to be, listening to a story that I had no business knowing. It was the creepiest feeling I had the entire tour!
The Bushwakker Clubroom downstairs, a room that can be rented for social gatherings (at least it could be before COVID), has also had a fair share of experiences. In one, one of the kitchen staff was cleaning up a spill, but he left the mop in the middle of the room to go upstairs for a few minutes. Then, when the person returned to finish mopping the floors, he had found that a wide wet circle had been left on the floor, and the mop and bucket had moved from where he had left it. No one else was in the area, so it is unknown how the mop had been dragged around the room.
Another story that I’ll share today (the rest will be in my video later in the week) happened in the boiler room. The boiler room is located at the end of an old hallway, behind a small red door. The original boiler is still located in the room, although it has long been decommissioned. Since the boiler was coal-fired, there was also an area for a coal pile in the room with a small hole in the wall leading up to the alley, where the coal could be shoveled down the chute to land on the pile. While the brewer at the time was bent down looking at the new boiler for the brewery, small pieces of coal were thrown from somewhere in the coal pile (behind a wall) and landed behind him.
Overall, the ghosts seem to be rather shy, as they do not like to come out when new people are visiting. A few paranormal investigators have tried to investigate the location, but they tend to leave with only a little evidence. The Bushwakker ghosts prefer to come out in the morning hours to have some fun making staff aware that they are still watching over the place.
Who is haunting Bushwakker Brewpub?
There could be many possible deaths that could have occurred in the area leading to ghosts hanging around. Given this building was built along the path that the Regina “Cyclone” passed over, as well as the Spanish Flu tearing through the city in the 1918. Not to mention the potential opium den located in the area before the 1912 tornado destroyed the previous building.
The most prominent tragedy I could find that was linked directly to the location was that of the original building manager, James Strathdee. It is believed that James (or “Jim”) is the main ghost seen in the building. Some have claimed to see a man in 1930’s clothing walking in the halls, which would fit the time that James would have been last in the building. Watch for my next post, where I will talk about who James Strathdee is and why he may be haunting the Bushwakker Brewpub, making sure that the building is well taken care of, and staff aren’t slacking off. Mediums have also been to the location and have told Grant that there are multiple ghosts hanging around the location, so perhaps there are others!
If you are interested in paranormal investigations …
A fellow Regina resident has recently done a paranormal investigation in the basement of the building. If you are interested in checking out his videos, it is located here – https://youtu.be/0G2jpGh4aF8.
If you are interested in great pub food and craft beer…
If you are in the Regina area, make sure you check out Bushwakker Brewpub, with their quality pub food and craft beer. You can also find their history and information about their resident ghost on their website – www.bushwakker.com.
Regina Morning Leader newspapers from 1911 through 1912 (accessed March 2022 via the Regina Public Library)
Henderson’s Regina City Directory, 1911 and 1912 (accessed March 2022 via the University of Alberta – http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/3592.2.3.html)
Canada’s Historic Places (accessed March 2022 via their website – https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=1293)
The Regina Cyclone of 1912, Saskatchewan Archives (access March 2022 via their website – https://www.saskarchives.com/collections/exhibits/regina-cyclone-1912)
Regina, The Early Years, City of Regina Archives (accessed March 2022 via http://digital.scaa.sk.ca/gallery/regina/north/warehouse.html)
Regina’s Night of Horror, Kenton De Jong Travel (accessed March 2022 via https://kentondejong.com/blog/reginas-night-of-horror)
Regina Warehouse District: Bricks and Mortar – Pride and Passion, Biographies Regina, Inc. 2012.