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.