Haunted Dolls: From Film to Fort Edmonton Park

by | Nov 2, 2023 | Opinion

I have spent many years pondering the age-old question: What horror movie monster would I like to be murdered by? The one answer I always come back to is Chucky, the serial killer who possessed a Good Guy doll. Not only does he have a great (dark) sense of humour. But according to his creator, Don Mancini, Chucky is not a bigot.

While we do not have to fear Chucky, he was an homage to a similar doll named Robert out of Key West, Florida. Robert the Doll was owned by Robert Eugene Otto in 1906. Otto treated the doll as if it was alive and was his friend. As a child, he would blame mishaps on the doll.

The Firkin house (pictured above) was rumoured to have a haunted doll living inside. Photo by Sandy Joe Karpetz

According to Atlas Obscura, Otto owned Robert the Doll until he died in 1974. After his death, visitors to his old home would claim to hear children’s giggles and footsteps in the attic where Robert the Doll was stored. If you were unwise and insulted Robert in front of his face, people would notice the doll’s face change.

Edmonton might have its own version of a haunted doll. Back in Halloween of 2004, while attending NAIT for the baking program, I watched an episode of Creepy Canada featuring a segment about the Firkin’s House at Fort Edmonton Park. The episode told the story of a young boy with cancer or polio who lived in that house. While alive, he played with a ventriloquist doll; it was his best friend. After the boy’s death, the house was relocated to Fort Edmonton Park. A few weeks later, guides began reporting tales of the doll appearing in cabinets and rocking chairs. 

But according to Omar Moullem, a writer at Edify, the tale of the haunted doll was nothing more than an exciting story. While the Firkins did exist, and lived in that house, they died in California. Moullem’s article explains that the only person who died while living in that house did so in a car accident on Whitemud Drive. Not exactly the spooky story Creepy Canada portrayed. 

The Firkin house being moved to Fort Edmonton Park. Photo by Sandy Joe Karpetz

On a whim while researching for an article I wrote last year, I asked the host if she heard of the Firkin’s house. She claimed the stories were true and that she worked on the episode herself. I could not find any information online to back up these claims.

Sandy Joe Karpetz, in a YouTube video with her sister, Katie, would also disagree with the host’s claims. Sandy Joe and Katie lived in the house as children before it got moved to Fort Edmonton Park in 1992, and states Karpetz’s family was never consulted on these stories for any written or filmed story. 

I reached out to both of the sisters for comments. Katie, who also runs an online witch shop called The Witchery, was the first to reply and had a lot to say: “No, there was never any type of haunted doll or ventriloquist doll in our home and those stories are bullsh*t and I have no idea how they got started.”

While I believe in ghosts as I once lived in a haunted house, I think the tale of the Firkin’s ventriloquist doll is nothing more than poorly researched sawdust. Just be wary of any doll that Jennifer Tilly is obsessed with, as that doll might just be a serial killer’s soul in a child’s toy. 

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