The Tranquille Sanatorium and its surrounding quarters were built in 1907 when the sanatorium was established to treat patients with tuberculosis (also known as the white plague), during the time when TB was treated with exposure to fresh air. The area itself, just outside Kamloops city limits, where the North and South Thompson meet and flow into Kamloops Lake was purchased in 1905.
It seems that Tranquille was the name given to an Indian chief, “Sanquil”, who had formerly called the property his territory. “Tranquille” is the French word for calm, and tranquil. A betrayal of this Indian chief by white fur traders led to his execution, and this was only the beginning of the sordid history of this patch of land. However, the locals and residents referred to the area as Padova City.
The small community known as Tranquille built around it was expanding, and it was literally a self sufficient little city.
By 1950, Tranquille became a self-sufficient community consisting of 40 buildings, four of them designated as hospitals, which were come to be known as the Main Building, the Greaves Building, the infirmary and two large pavilions referred to as the East Pavilion and the West Pavilion. The remaining buildings were cottages that housed doctors and staff, a fire hall, a large kitchen, a laundry, farm buildings and a dairy barn, nurse’s buildings and halls.
Below the grounds, every building was connected by an extensive tunnel system which was used by staff and patients to get between buildings and to transfer food and laundry, while certain areas of the tunnels were used as a barber shop and even a morgue. Perfect for the young men and women afflicted with TB to get largely symptom management based treatment. Before its decline, between 1953-1958, the sanatorium housed over 600 patients and staff.
But the occurrence of new cases of tuberculosis had sharply declined, making the institution obsolete. In 1958 the hospital was closed as the last of the patients were transferred to Vancouver.
After briefly closing for a year, the hospital was reopened in 1959 to treat the mentally ill as a relief for the overcrowding at Essondale (Riverview) and Woodlands.
It eventually closed again, this time permanently, in 1983.
Today, it’s sadly popular for ghosts stories: those brave enough to approach have reported seeing floating orbs and figures outlined in the windows often identified as the spirits of old patients. Some stories claimed to hear children crying on the eighth floor of the hospital where the pediatric wing once resided.
Walking through the site you begin to realize the nature has begun to reclaim the land, and the eerie empty spaces inside the building are even more sad and bleak.
Located on the edge of the furthest borders of the city of Kamloops, the structure is empty and all at once, lonely. It became almost a rite of passage for many young locals to sneak into the massive hospital, which had long been boarded up.
Lot of ghost stories told around campfires started thanks to a show called MTV’s Fear and another called Scariest Places on Earth, whose episodes were filmed on the Tranquille site.
However, any ghosts that paranormal investigators “heard” were just local kids paid in pizza to make noises within the walls and around the site. I know this because my brother was one of those kids!
Its true name is the Tranquille Sanatorium, but now it is called Tranquille Farm Fresh, and it is owned by a couple who have endeavoured to maintain the buildings and offer history lessons through walking tours.
The site is a lovely way to spend a morning, and you can find them also on Facebook. The Tranquille Farm Fresh currently offers walking tours, and their legendary Tranquille Tunnel Theatre throughout the month of October, rounding everything out with Dr. Padova’s Haunted Carnival October 26-28.