The other day while looking at some old pictures, I saw one that reminded me of a place close to where I live. It’s a place I often forget is there but a place I should consider myself lucky to live by. A place full of abandoned buildings and where some have seen shadowy ghostly figures that suddenly vanish before their eyes. A place full of history, some good, some bad, depending on who you talk to. A place where MTV chose to film an episode for their TV show Fear and a place always amongst one of the top 5 most haunted places in Canada. A place where many lives ended and perhaps because of this, it is the reason why many people get an uneasy feeling the minute they step onto the grounds. A place that has been here for many, many years. A place I’m going to tell you all about…..
Back in 1907, the British Columbia anti-tuberculosis society began looking for a location with a suitable site to build a Provincial hospital to house and treat patients with Tuberculosis. Kamloops, B.C. due to its climate was eventually decided on. The location of the hospital and community would be located about 15 minutes outside of the city on 470 acres of land close to the Kamloops River. It was named King Edward VII Sanatorium but residents called it Tranquille.
The first building built was the Sanatorium which had two wards for Tuberculosis patients. After the Sanatorium was built, over 40 more buildings were built over the next 51 years. Tranquille transformed into a large community which housed over 600 staff and patients and was fully self-sustained. It had a fire hall, laundry facilities, a steam plant, a greenhouse and an abattoir. Some of the other buildings were the ones for staff housing, a large house for the Doctor, nurse and caretaker buildings and a Canteen. There was a school, cafeteria, a gymnasium, and even an indoor sports facility. Tranquille had everything one would need in order to live. The only downfall was that staff didn’t get to have very much contact with the outside world, so things like a social center, dance hall, and a movie theatre were built to help them feel less isolated. Tranquille would also receive 3 more hospitals, a morgue and a cemetery.
For food, the Tranquille farm provided meat, dairy, eggs, fruit, and vegetables for the patients and staff. Another unique thing was that between 1920 to 1970, 2 km of tunnels were built underground the kitchen, laundry room, and the wards. These tunnels were to transport foods and goods, laundry, patients to other wards and even bodies over to the morgue on site.
In 1958 due to a cure being found for TB and the advancements in surgery and drug therapy there was no longer the need for such a large-scale institution, so Tranquille was closed down. During the 51 years that it was open, it was reported that 1,600 people died there.
Tranquille was not closed for long though and was reopened about a year later as a facility for the mentally handicapped and those with mental illness. It operated for another 25 years or so but was once again closed due to cutbacks in 1984. However, before its closure, many workers reported that strange things would often happen there. Nurses would feel as though they were being watched when they were alone or would find things misplaced or in different spots when they came back after leaving the room momentarily. Some of them said they would sometimes hear footsteps or screams coming from empty wards. In one of the underground tunnels, a nurse was killed by a patient that she was transporting to another ward. There were also reports about how some of the patients would become extremely upset, restless and violent but as soon as the patient was moved out of the building the behavior would stop. It was said that when patients were outside, they were always happy and cheerful. This would quickly change when they were told it was time to go back in. The patients would become angry and try to avoid being brought back in, the nurses that witnessed them like this said it was almost as if they were afraid of something inside. Another common thing among some of the nurses was that regardless of how long they had been there, they never did feel quite comfortable working there even if they were working there in the daytime.
After the closure in 1984, Tranquille sat abandoned until 1991 when the Government sold the property to Giovanni Camporese. Giovanni was from a little village called Padova in Italy, so he renamed Tranquille Padova City. Giovanni rented out the houses on the property and talked about turning the place into an Italian themed resort. The resort never happened and in 1998 the Government repossessed the property from Giovanni because he quit paying city taxes and mortgage payments.
In 1999, it was purchased by Ed Nielsen and Russ Cundari who created the company BC Wilderness Tours Inc. in order to buy the property. Both had plans of turning the property into a golf course. Sadly, in 2002 Ed passed away and it was left to Russ. Without Ed who was the developer on the project, the original investor ended up backing out. Then in 2005, Tim McLeod who is the development manager for BC Wilderness Tours and a group of 13 investors from BC and Alberta got together and started working on new plans for Padova City. Instead of a golf course, they wanted to develop the property into a livable community again. With plans to turn the barns and hayfields into a working farm and to create housing for around 3,000 residents. Unfortunately, the project which they named Tranquille on the Lake has pretty much been at a standstill since the plans were first made. Over the last ten years, BC Wilderness Tours have realized that they don’t have the capital nor the expertise to continue moving forward on a project of this size. In 2016, they started contacting International investors hoping to find one who would be interested in coming in on the project. The property went on sale for 15.9 million but they have stated that amount is around what they are hoping an investor can provide. Overall, what they are looking for is a partner rather than a buyer. Over the last few years to try and attract some new interest and due to all the public interest from locals, Padova has been the location for events around Halloween like the “Haunted Corn Maze” and night tours of the tunnels. More recently there has been the Heritage Tours, where you can go on a guided Tour of the property with Tim McLeod as he tells you all about the history of Padova City. As of today, the search for a partner is still underway and there has been no further development on the Tranquille on the Lake project.
In the past and still today, the fact that Padova is abandoned and a location where people have claimed that unexplained things have happened, it seems to attract the local teenagers and ghost hunters out to explore. Most of them are greeted by security and it is understandable why a place like this does have security. It’s just to bad that it has to but if you were to take a tour today you would see why.
Many of the buildings have been vandalized, beat up and spray painted, destroying what was once a piece of history that can now no longer be rebuilt and will eventually be torn down. However, as for the ones who make it in and who do appreciate what is there, they always come out with something to share. Most of the stories seem to come from the underground tunnels where strange things continue to happen. Things like getting a creepy feeling someone is in there with you or the feeling of being watched when it’s just you and some friends, or supposedly if you take a picture in the tunnel, glowing orbs show up in the picture when it’s developed. There have also been people who have claimed that when they were down in the tunnels they have heard a women screaming off in the distance yet they never do run into this woman. Many believe the screaming is from the nurse that was murdered by the patient she was transporting to another ward when it was still the mental facility. Then there are people who have reportedly seen a woman looking at them out a window from one of the buildings, then suddenly she vanishes before their eyes. Besides the scary aspect of Padova that draws people in, there are the people who see the beauty and uniqueness that it still holds. Many leave with the most beautiful yet haunting photos from there. If you are ever interested, you can find a lot of them just on google.
Tranquille is a place of true wonder and full of fascinating history. So, for a girl who loves her scary stories, true crime, and her history, I could not have grown up in a better place.
Padova City is about 15 minutes North of Kamloops, British Columbia. If you ever find yourself passing through Kamloops you should stop in and ask any local about it and they will be able to give you directions. Do keep in mind that as I said, you might not be able to get right on to the grounds but the main road passes right through it. From the road, you will still be close enough to be able to take in the amazing view.
If you’re not into taking the drive out there but would like more info on Tranquille then again ask any of the locals and I’m sure they would love to fill you in. You never know, you might even get a story or two from one of them!
Thank you so much for reading and if you have any questions or comments, then please leave them in the comment section below.
I used to work at Tranquille. I started on my 19th birthday. I never saw any spirits or heard any strange sounds. I worked until they closed it.
I did too. I worked there when i was 17 and 18 years old during the summers. Summers of 1978 and 1979. I never saw anything either. But definitely a gloomy sad place.
I’m apolled to see such noteriety for Mr. Camporese! Boasting Tranquille as “Pavoda City” …so an investor comes along, buys the site, ‘renames it’, paints murals to represent Pavoda City in Italy where he came from like it was his pride and joy, to turn around and default on his investment and not paying taxes! And you boast about this? You give Mr. Camporese too much credit. 🙁
Hi there, I was just wondering what your sources for this article are???
Hey Adam, This post was submitted by an author who lived in the next town over and had her own experiences there. She also used a variety of articles about the town that can easily be found on google.
Hi. I have a question which I am not sure can be answered. However, I thought I would try. With respect to Giovanni renting out properties between 1991 and 1995, were any “Padova City Resorts” t-shirts ever sold there at the same time? The reason why I ask is that there is a famous 25-year old John Doe (Unidentified Remains) cold case in which the male had a t-shirt from Padova City Resorts and unfortunately it was never determined why or how he had that T-shirt. Some speculated that he may have worked there, but it was never known for sure.
We don’t have any information or leads to help on that question.
Tranquille is beautiful and peaceful. I was born on the door steps. My first view of the world would have been Battle Bluff and Kamloops Lake. Tranquille has a lot more history. A story told to me by my father, First the Shuswap people used the area to fight. I believe that is the reason it is called battle bluff. Be careful of rattlesnake bluff. Most of that bluff was destroyed when they double tracked the train tunnel.. Stay out of the tunnel Diamondback rattlesnakes would cool in the tunnels. When we went fossil hunting we always climbed the bluff listening for rattlers. We used to cut the tails off of the snake. The more rings of the tail the older the snake.. There is an important legend about Battle Bluff. A brave was running away from his attacher and to get away he jumped off the first bluff, landed on the second and dove into the lake… It’s said you can find his footprints where he landed on the second bluff.. The Dew Drop is so hot in the summer.. You really saw deer but up in the dew drop you might get to view an animal…
But back to tranquille School..It has so much history Tranquille was the first place in BC where Gold was found.
The discovery of gold in the Tranquille Creek in 1856, contributed to British Columbia’s first gold rush. A shipment of 800 ounces of gold was sent from HBC Factor Donald McClean in Kamloops to Governor James Douglas of the HBC in Victoria. Douglas, in turn, forwarded the gold San Francisco mint. Within a week of the gold shipment’s arrival in San Francisco 400 men booked passage on a steamer bound for Victoria. News of this gold discovery added to the euphoria of the gold rush that brought an estimated 30,000 gold miners to BC’s interior seeking their fortune.
Approximately 200 Chinese and a handful of local indigenous men including Secwépemc Chief Jean Baptiste Lolo staked claims along the creek. Approximately $1 million of gold was found in the creek when it was valued at only $12 per ounce (which equates to $154 million at today’s price of gold).
In 1868 Charles Cooney from Ireland, and Bill Fortune from England, headquartered their ranches on the Tranquille lands.The completion of William Fortune’s sawmill and flourmill at the mouth of the river early in 1869 meant the necessities of flour and lumber for miners were close at hand for the miners. But placer mining was essentially a transient occupation. The Klondike started and the miners went to richer ground.
What I know most about Tranquille was from growing up on the grounds. I was a privileged child for living in such an amazing safe place. All the families worked, we all had homes, food and fun. Playground which one do you want to play at.. We had a choice of a few.
The residence had the highest standard of care. The reason why Tranquille school for the mental retarded opened was to help with the over population of patients at Woodlands Sanitarium. My father, Alex McIntosh, said Woodlands sent their worst patients to Tranquille. Those patients were the lucky ones.
One of the first things done at Tranquille was to toss the uniforms. Staff wore street clothes to work. At this time in history it was not cool to have a child with disabilities. So parents send their children to institutions like Tranquille. The sad thing was very few of the family members visited their children. Tranquille had no children, about 10. Tranquille was not really a hospital, it was a home to over 400 residents and 800 staff at its peak. In its early years it also had an old folks home with about 50 clients. They also changed the name to Tranquille for the Handicapped. Tranquille had a huge variety of patients with high functioning patients who needed to be located in a secure building. On Christmas day my dad, myself and other members of my family would go to every ward and visit patients and staff. I got so many hugs and kisses that day.
It was not budget cuts which closed Tranquille doors. It was a change in social thinking. Parents wanted to raise their child in the community. The Society for Community Living started lobbying the government to close facilities like Tranquille and create boarding homes in the city centre.
So at Tranquille they started to experiment with this idea. Lots of families whose parents worked at Tranquille lived on the grounds: doctors, nurses, firemen, farmhands laundry service people. When a family moved out of a house. They filled it with patients and staff to see if this boarding home would work in the community. In 1986 Tranquille closed their doors. All 400 patients were moved into boarding homes located all over the province and territories. This was happening in institutions across the Province. At this time they stopped using the word patients and used the word clients. It’s time we stop using the word mental and call it social health. Instead of handicapped, people with needs. All humans have needs.
Family Service was getting pissed because at this time it was difficult to place children because Tranquille clients were so well behaved. Group homes and caregivers wanted Tranquille clients because clients were easy to care for. Tranquille clients were easy to place. That says a lot about the care provided at Tranquille. Take the worst and produce the best,
Glendale stayed open to handle high needs care clients.
Trust me this move into community setting was not cheaper than the larger facilities and it often left clients left uncared for in remote communities who had one person in home caring for clients. But some homes work well; homes with larger numbers of clients with more staff to carry the workload. Today, many clients have been integrated into society. However I believe medium size facilities would be beneficial for clients with high needs. The team work at Tranquille provided excellent care. Houses with high needs clients, the worker needs to focus on the client and allow others to handle the laundry and food preparation. A balance of the two methods. I praise workers who have six clients who need tons of care just to get clients up for breakfast.
The ghost of Tranquille. Well the truth Tranquille could give you a scare. It was remote and at night with the wind blowing I got scared a few times. My imagination running wild. Spirit, well since I was born on the grounds. If spirits are real. I will go back to the place of my birth but would I haunt anyone. Not too busy exploring again.
“Some of them said they would sometimes hear footsteps or screams coming from empty wards.” That was probably one of the many kids who lived at Tranquille who broke into the one empty ward and played in the building. We did it all the time. We would climb up onto the Cafeteria roof and at this location a small door opened and we could get into the empty ward. While I was at Tranquille I never heard about a nurse in one of the underground tunnels, being killed by a patient that she was transporting to another ward. But I might be wrong. The tunnels we had so much fun playing games . They did have some weird sounds.. The old tunnel for sure… We never got in trouble for riding our bikes and rollerblades in the tunnels, But we also did not want to be caught. While in the old tunnels if you heard a wind sound. That was a warning that someone from the administration office had opened the door to the tunnel. Run fast and we would take off. All the kids at Tranquille played in the tunnels.
Tranquille sat abandoned until 1991 when the Government sold the property to Giovanni Camporese. Giovanni . Stupid choose. It went for 1 million dollars. My father and a group of investors also tried to buy the property. The facility was in excellent shape. Except to develop you needed to upgrade the water intake and sewage system. The government refused this investor group due to the high cost of infrastructure development. That is what is holding back most developer of this property. Giovanni won. This person had no idea how to operate the steam system which heated the buildings. I heard. That some of the buildings were turned into a grow operation and when the steam heat went down it caused the pipes to explode in winter time.. Water damage occurred in all the buildings.