Ghosts in Metro? Be skeptical if you like, but there are all these signs . . .
Paranormal investigator isn’t sure spirits exist, but she has seen plenty of weird things
It’s the job of Jan Gregory, lead investigator and founder of Vancouver Paranormal, to try to explain mysterious happenings.
“ Even though I’m not convinced ghosts exist, I can tell you, for sure, strange things do happen,” she said.
In 1998, Gregory founded Vancouver Paranormal after the loss of her beloved kitty, Spuddy.
“ She was put down by the vet in my living room because she was too sick to go to his office,” the self- described skeptic said. “ That same day, exactly six hours later, as I bent down to pick up one of her toys, it went flying across the room.”
First, she put it down to her sadness and stress, but Gregory couldn’t shake the fact that she saw the object fly into the air.
“ It did move and I couldn’t pin it down to anything other than what made it happen . . . I had to investigate it by looking around on the Web.”
Today, Vancouver Paranormal fields at least 200 inquiries a week; of those, maybe five will be worthy of a phone interview.
One such query came from White Rock’s Washington Avenue Grill ( WAG).
It’s been well- documented in the press and on television that the restaurant appears to be home to at least three troubled orbs.
Built in 1913 by the Campbell River Lumber Co., the WAG was originally a lumber mill, employing as many as 400 workers during the First World War. Over the years, the WAG has been a Presbyterian church, a school and living quarters for migrant railway workers. In 1934, it became the home of caretaker Arthur Sharpe. This is who many believe is haunting the restaurant.
However, it’s also believed that the ghosts of both a young woman struck down by a car in front of the restaurant and her lover, who committed suicide after witnessing the horrific accident, frequent the popular eatery.
“ We heard a whistle downstairs and a table rocked just once,” Gregory said. “ We can’t substantiate anything yet, but we are going back to do a proper investigation.”
Its colourful history means the WAG has attracted the attention of many paranormal investigation teams and mediums from across North America.
“ We recently had a psychic from Baltimore come and tell us that there’s unnaturally negative energy hanging around,” Jeremy Ellis, partner in the WAG, said. “ Weird stuff happens, like you think you see a reflection of someone in the mirrors, lights flicker on and off, or orbs have been seen walking by,” Ellis, who takes it all in fun, said.
Staff have heard noises when no one’s around and lights are on when someone insists they were turned off.
There’s also the story of the two burly busboys with tattoos who ran out of the kitchen, their faces white as a ghost, after saying they saw a bin fly across the room — to this day, that still garners a lot of guffaws among the WAG’s employees.
The oddest thing to happen to Ellis was when he was locking up the restaurant about 1: 30 a. m. on a cold, winter evening.
“ An odd gentleman came in saying he was a ghost investigator and asking if he could he look around,” says Ellis said. “ I told him we were closed and he left. Then I felt a change in the lights and I could see a reflection of someone in the mirror . . . I raced downstairs to make sure the doors were locked and they were. No one was in the building except me.” Freaky, yes! A ghost? Perhaps. But all that Gregory knows is that she still knows nothing.
Vancouver Paranormal members have recorded EVP ( electronic voice phenomena) readings of what appears to be disembodied voices in empty rooms, have seen shadowy figures, felt cold breezes and been touched by unseen hands. Their motion sensors go off when no one’s around. Their digital cameras capture unexplained moving orbs of light.
Some things that have occurred during investigations can be easily dismissed as non- paranormal, but others can’t be explained, Gregory said. Vancouver Paranormal doesn’t receive any money for any of its investigative work.
“ Ten years later, I’ve discovered that I still can’t explain what happens,” Gregory said. “ I do have lots of cases we have investigated that are fascinating, and although I can find correlations I can’t find proof that ghosts exist.
“ It’s almost as though we aren’t supposed to know.”
However, Gregory concedes that many people, visitors and staff alike, firmly believe the Burnaby Art Museum is haunted. “ Apparently it is reputed that people have felt or seen ‘ persons’ behind them and seen orbs of the original owners, Henry and Grace Ceperley, walking along the railway tracks.
“ When asked how they know it’s a ghost, they say they can see right through them,” Gregory explained. “ Staff and visitors have heard children crying from the vacant third floor. In addition, the sound of footsteps and furniture scraping can be heard from the same floor.”
True or not, the rumours make for good business, both restaurateurs agree.
“ Everyone loves the whole haunted concept,” Ellis said.
In the end, while people still believe that things go bump in the night and increasingly popular reality TV shows about paranormal investigation keep sparking our collective interest, ghost hunting will continue to provide, at the very least, a few nervous giggles — and maybe some spooky thrills.