By Anne Jardine
Pynelogs Cultural Centre has a bit of a reputation as a haunted house.
It was built in 1914-15, and was intended to be the home of local mining magnate Robert Randolph Bruce and his wife Lady Elizabeth Northcote.
Unfortunately, Lady Elizabeth died suddenly before the construction was complete and never got to live in her grand new house.
In those days, there was no resident doctor to attend to her and perform the necessary surgery that might have saved her.
Randolph Bruce had her buried on the shore of Lake Windermere near Pynelogs. Her grave is marked by a Celtic cross sheltered by a small pavilion.
Bruce later donated Pynelogs to the district to be used as a hospital, and the grounds to be opened as a park. Pynelogs became the Lady Elizabeth Bruce Hospital from 1937 to 1957.
When a large new hospital was built, Pynelogs became a rest home from 1960 to 1968, and then a group home from 1970 to 1988. In its longest incarnation, from 1990 to the present, the building has served as our regional cultural centre.
Over the years, through all of its phases, many people reported hearing sounds in the building – creaking stairways, groaning winds, scratchy sounds, voices, and mysterious openings and closings of doors.
There have even been a few instances of sightings of a shadowy female figure inside Pynelogs and on the grounds. The stories almost always characterize the ghost as a non-threatening presence. Could it be the ghost of Lady Elizabeth?
One of the many Pynelogs ghost stories has a performing arts connection. In 1992, when Yuriko Kuronuma, a renowned visiting violinist, was performing a benefit concert in Pynelogs, her accompanist and several members of the audience noticed a beautiful soprano voice singing a descant harmony above the melodic line of Mozart’s violin concerto.
The mysterious singer was never found. No one in the audience admitted to the singing.