The Strange Disappearance of Felicia Graham

Felicia Graham’s mystery begins on the unusually cold afternoon of November 15, 1918. Dressed in a luxurious fur coat, she left the Le Marchand Mansion to walk across the High Level Bridge – supposedly to a south side shelter for Edmonton victims of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. But upon reaching the Bridge, a witness reported that when she reached the middle – she disappeared!

The School Board, citing her persistence for fair compensation as being indicative of depression, suggested that she had jumped from the Bridge. Felicia taught Grade Nine at the new Westmount Junior High – a job that was supposed to be a high school job and pay at least another hundred dollars more than her previous post teaching in a high school in New Westminster, B.C. A university graduate with a Master degree, Felicia excelled as a scholar and could speak several languages, which, she argued, entitled her to the same the same salary as a male high school teacher. It wasn’t long before her persistence secured her a move to Strathcona High at the salary she desired. But, before she could begin, Spanish flu arrived in Edmonton and by October 17, schools closed – not to reopen until January 1919. And then she vanished —

Had she jumped? Her father, a wealthy farmer from Lindsay, Ontario, refused to believe this of his fiery daughter and felt she had likely left the city for a new adventure. For months he published ads in newspapers across the country and in New England – offering a hefty reward for news of her. False sightings of Felicia flooded in from across the Prairies.

But what later became known was that James Watson was living in the Arlington Apartments – that lay between the Mansion and the Bridge. Watson was later apprehended in California after a series of murders of wealthy women – many of whom he robbed and killed, before disposing of them in a river. Could the serial killer have met Felicia?

Today, Felicia is believed to haunt Westmount Junior High, her boots clicking as she hurries up the steps to her classroom. Others claim to have seen her wandering the grounds of the Mansion, as well as along the river banks near the Shaw Conference Centre.

The mystery remains. Felicia Graham, where are you and what really happened that day?


Read more from the Edmonton City as Museum Project

Westmount School

Lawrence Herzog

Built on land that was part of the old Norris farm and purchased from the family for $3,200 in July…

The Weather Woman of the West: Eda Owen and the Highlands Dominion Meteorological Station

Bruce Cinnamon

Edmonton’s history is full of remarkable women. From Beatrice Carmichael to Thelma Chalifoux, from Betty Stanhope-Cole to Felicia Graham, from…

Alfred Carrothers: Early Edmonton’s Crooked Confidence Man

Dr. Aidan Forth

The owner of any historic home will wonder about the generations that have lived within its walls. When I recently…