There are many legends around the world but there is one in Calgary, Alberta that most people don’t know about. It all started in the year 1875, when Calgary was born, and one farmer has made his success there. His name was Elias Lambert, he raises cows for beef, milk, fertilizer, and just about anything you can think of. Although he was a prosperous man, he was not a popular man especially with his employees. Not only were they underpaid but they suffered a lot from his verbal abuse and general cruelty.
The only reason why they all took his abuse was because of the kindness his wife had shown them. Her name was Rose Lambert (formerly Grace) and she was the exact opposite of her husband. She always spoke nicely to the workers and got to know them personally. She also provides coffee and lunches, so even though they were underpaid at least they felt cared for. The workers knew that if they ever needed something, Rose would always do whatever she could to help them get it.
Rose was also popular with the workers’ wives and the neighbors who frequently visit her in her beautiful garden on the farm. It was lush and filled with the most beautiful blooms. She has a beautiful rose bush growing along her stone fence, a herb garden in the corner closest to the house which she uses constantly for her cooking, and various little blooms like pansies, daisies, and snapdragons spread all along the edges of the garden. The gardens biggest feature is the well that sits in the very center of it. Many people tell her that it looks like a gateway into fairyland. No one knew how she did it, but Rose made everything around her beautiful. Sadly, the one thing she couldn’t make beautiful was her marriage.
Elias was known to be very jealous of anything that takes her attention away from him. Whether it was her garden, the small parties that she threw in it, or the fact that she liked to perform small wishes to the people around her. He grew more and more resentful until one night, he storms into the house drunk. He looks at her with pure rage which contrasts his ice blue eyes.
“Tonight, I have made a decision.” he says venomously. “You will stop giving handouts to those pigs who work for me, you will stop having people here and granting these wishes.” He raises his voice as his wife’s soft face changed into that of disgust. “And above all, you will stop all of this gardening nonsense and be the damn good wife that I deserve!”
She retaliates by looking at him fearlessly in the eye and says. “The damn good wife you deserve? Oh please!” She raises her voice to him. “I have been nothing but a good wife. I’m constantly cleaning up every mess that you make from this house to the people you constantly look down on!”
“You’re supposed to!” He screams but she quickly silences him when she waves her index finger at him.
“No! You don’t tell me my duties especially when you treat me and these men who work for you so unchristianly.” She continues as Elias stands in shocked silence. “You think I don’t know where you go at night? I know you go to those brothels and do ungodly things! Drinking and carrying on with those poor women!”
“This is my house!” He screams. “You are my wife and you will obey me! That is final!”
“Not until you learn how to be good to people Elias,” She argues. “I will continue to do what I do because that is what a good person, husband or wife does. And that is final!”
Elias stands there dumbfounded. Rose turns to go up the stairs but as she reaches the second step, she turns and looks at her husband. “I’m going to bed and until you learn to be a better, godlier man, you are not welcome in it!”
Hate fills his heart as she turns to go to bed. No one, especially a woman would ever dare to talk to him that way. She had to pay! He takes the axe by the front door, stomps after her and roars as he embeds the axe into the back of her skull. Blood gushes out from the back of her head, pouring out of her like the putrid juice out of a rotten melon. A crazed grimace appears on Elias’ face before he catches his fallen wife into his arms. He kicks open the back door and carries her out to the garden. He grunts like a bull as he paces to the well. He drops his wife’s body on the ground like she was garbage. After he pushes the lid off the well, he picks up Rose’s body and drops her in without a second thought.
“Burn in hell you bitch!” He screams and spits into the well. He quickly covers the well with the lid before striding back into the house.
A few days have past and Elias carried on as usual. One night, he drifted off to sleep while the grandfather clock struck midnight in the living room. Suddenly the floorboards started to sound like someone was walking barefoot on them. He paid no notice to it at first until the sound came right to his bed and stopped. He lifted his head to look around and saw nothing but a dark room. Nothing stirred, nothing sounded. So, he closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep.
“Elias…Elias…” A feminine whisper sounds in his ear. “Elias.”
He shoots his head back up and looks to the side of his bed to see what looks like Rose standing there. She looked transparent and ethereally beautiful, with her long brown hair down and a white dress billowing in a non-existing wind. She just stared at him with her dark accusing eyes. He gasps fearfully and he sits upright.
“Rose?” He shouts. “No! You’re dead!”
She points a finger at him, and blood runs slowly down her face like rain that has fallen on the window. He could not move, nor could he scream. In a few seconds she disappears but the scent of herbs and roses still lingers in the air. Tears streak down his face in terror as he watches his bedroom window burst open. The curtains flow towards him like they are two giant hands trying to grab him. He rolls onto the right side of his bed to avoid them only to land hard on the floor. He slowly crawls towards the foot of his bed and fearfully looks to the window to find it open.
The curtains have stopped billowing and are still like they have been that way the whole night. With a shaky breath, he goes towards the window and looks outside. Out in the distance he sees his wife’s garden. It looked just as it did when she tended to it. Confusion hits him first because he spent the day ripping it apart. Elias watches her apparition walk around the garden, appearing and disappearing around various parts of it. She appears up in front of the rose bushes, then at her herb garden, and suddenly she popped up before the well and looked straight at him. He can feel her gaze reach into his soul. With a grunt, he closed the window, frantically bolts it, and closes the curtains. He dives into his bed and covers himself with the quilt, but he doesn’t sleep the whole night.
When daybreak hits, Elias gets up from out of the quilt and lands on the floor with a thud. He looks towards the window and sees the curtains are still closed. He stands up with his legs shaking and stumbles towards them. As soon as he opens them, the sunlight is so bright that it is blinding. It’s so hard to take that he covers his eyes and turns away to face his bedroom door. He is greeted with a fresh bloody handprint on the middle of it. A sick feeling gets stuck in the pit of his stomach. He gets an even bigger shock when the door suddenly slams open and a hard wind blows past it.
He agitatedly bursts out the door and looks around. He looks to the window at the end of the hall and notices that not only is there is no wind outside, but that window is not even open. He sees fresh leaves on the floor that should not be there. When he gazes down the trail of leaves, he sees Rose’s ghost at the end of the hall. She looks towards him with an indifferent look on her face before she descends down the stairs.
“Rose!” He screams out as he charges towards her. “Get back here, you bitch!”
She has already disappeared before he made it to the top of the stairs. Elias stares down the stairs for a moment but as soon as he breaks his focus on the landing, he sees those same bloody handprints going down the stairs along the walls. Without thinking he runs down the stairs and flees towards the front door but finds that he is surrounded by bloody handprints. They are all around him. Everywhere he turns there is a handprint made of blood there. He grabs a fist full of his hair, falls to his knees, and screams in delirium.
Weeks went by and the farm started to fail since Elias boarded himself up in his house. When the workers no longer saw him, they all decided to cut their losses and leave. One worker named John decided to figure out what was happening. Since Rose’s disappearance he and the workers have wondered if there was foul play. Now with Elias acting strangely, he decides to go to the house himself.
When he got to the house, he found Elias hanging from a noose outside of the upstairs window. His once ice blue eyes are now frozen in fear and opaque. His skin a sickly greyish-white along with his tongue lolling out like he died screaming. John immediately acts and rides to the Mounties to get help.
After a few hours, the Mounties surround the area. Before they take Elias down, they find a journal below his hanging body. One of the men flip through it and find the last entry. It says.
“I will never be free of her. She forever haunts me for what I did. I threw my wife down the well, but she never stays down. Is she trying to drag me down with her after killing her the way I did? There is only one way out and she won’t take me.”
“Sir!” the young constable calls out. An older Mountie walks towards him and looks at the diary. “It looks like a full confession.”
“Yes, it does.” He says and over walks John who reads some of the journal. Just enough of it to realize that Elias killed Rose. The lead detective pulls the journal away as soon as he sees John. “I’m afraid that’s confidential sir.”
“Forgive me but Missus Lambert holds a special place in the hearts of the workers here.” He explains soulfully. “What did he do with her.”
The head Mountie empathises with the man but before he could say anything. A voice calls from the garden. “Sir! I found her!”
John and the Mounties run towards the garden and to the well. One of them lifts the dead body of Rose Lambert. As soon as he sees her, John feels the hot tears run down his cheeks.
“That’s her.” He says to the Mountie. Not able to look at her when he sees her pale and lifeless, he turns and looks sorrowfully to the ground. “That is Missus Lambert.”
With out meaning to look for it, John sees a gold wedding band on top of the green grass. He kneels, picks it up, and studies it. It was his wedding band that he lost during his work. The strangest thing about this was that he remembered how he told Rose that he lost it and here it was, placed in front of him as though it was there for him to see. As he holds it in his palm and feels the warmth of it, he realized that Rose might have given him his wish after all.
A couple of days later, the whole community had a funeral for Rose Lambert with the reception being held in her garden. She was remembered fondly since then, but no one could say the same thing about Elias. He was given a poor man’s funeral with an unmarked grave that people eventually forgot about. His memory never lived on like his wife’s. Even from beyond the grave, she still granted little wishes to the good people who came to her garden.
A neighbor named Marie found her grandmother’s recipe for strawberry scones at the entrance of the garden. She couldn’t even describe the joy she felt when she found it. Next was a shy gentleman named Peter who was just walking by. He found a perfect red rose along the stone fence to present to Emily with whom he was infatuated with. He wished to court her, and the flower worked like a charm. The most outlandish wish come true was when old mister Simmons found a pony eating some grass in the garden. He has been looking for the perfect pony for his granddaughter for a long time and here it was right in front of him.
To this day, her ghost still wanders the land and unexplainable things happen. Although it is no longer a farmhouse with a lush garden but a popular garden centre. She makes her presence known in many strange ways. Employees always feel that they must put a water feature where the well used to be, the plants are the most beautiful in the city, and small wishful items still pop up around there with no explanation.
One day, the center was too busy, and a poor employee named Cathy was hungry, but she couldn’t go on her break just yet. She looked behind her to find a protein bar sitting on the African violet display. It didn’t belong to anybody, so she managed to get a quick bite in and felt much better afterwards. A customer named Matt was short five dollars for buying his girlfriend some tabletop roses but miraculously finds a five-dollar bill in his pocket when it wasn’t there a minute ago.
All these small miracles and unexplainable events happen at odd times but often. It has become so common that staff and customers consider Rose’s ghost to be a worker there. Suffice to say, Rose’s ghost gets employee of the month a lot.
A Special Thanks to the Local Greeneries in Calgary who allowed me to visit and take pictures of their beautiful estabilishments:
Golden Acres: 620 Goddard Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2K 5X3 - https://www.goldenacre.ca/
Garden Retreat : 6510 1a St SW, Calgary, AB T2H 0G6 - https://www.buyagreenhouse.com/
Cobblestone Garden Centre : 10300 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T1X 0L4 - http://cobblestonegarden.ca/
The Little Nell Garden Shop : 2015 33 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 1Z5 - https://www.thelittlenell.ca/
The Plantation Garden Centre: 2408 4 St NW, Calgary, AB T2M 2Z7 - https://www.plantationgardencentre.ca/