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

Vancouver Sun - - AT HOME - BY MICHELLE HOP­KINS

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.

IAN SMITH/ VAN­COU­VER SUN

Some be­lieve Jeremy El­lis’s White Rock restau­rant has three ghosts: ‘ Weird stuff hap­pens .

. . lights flicker on and off.’

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