Will Clermont and Cindy Elford of Bytown Paranormal prepare equipment for their final paranormal investigation at Macpherson House on March 22. They and their fellow investigators will present their paranormal findings at a public event on Saturday, April 26. Staff will also talk about their own mysterious experiences at the house over the years.
By Meghan Balogh, Napanee Guide
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 9:00:32 EDT PM
If you are looking for ghosts, the Allan Macpherson House in Napanee might just be the perfect place to hunt elusive but persistent spirits.
That’s what Bytown Paranormal was hoping would be the case during the past few months, as they investigated paranormal activity in the historic house that can lay claim to being one of the oldest residential homes in Canada.
Bytown Paranormal investigators have spent at least two separate evenings moving through the house with special gear — digital video recorders, Electromagnetic Field and temperature readers, infrared cameras, hard drives, audio recorders, and handheld cameras, all tools of the ghost-hunting trade.
They will present their findings at two public tours and presentations on Saturday, April 26, one at 2 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. The event is open to people ages 10 and up.
There is plenty of lore that surrounds the Macpherson House, which has been active in a historical capacity since 1967 — for many years before that, the historic building was a boarding house for several families.
Lisa Bird, a member of the Red Cow Society and a previous volunteer at the Macpherson House, has experienced strange things in the old house that leave her puzzled.
“I have heard things, felt things, but not once was I spooked because you just feel part of this house, part of the Macpherson family,” said Lisa Bird. “There is nothing sinister about the house.”
Bird and other staff will talk about the strange things they’ve experienced in the house during the two tours on April 26, and Bytown Paranormal will do an audio-visual presentation of their investigation findings.
The team goes through a building first to take baseline temperature and EMF readings before they begin their “interviews” with the potential spirits present. Then, they begin asking questions — they listen back to their recordings later for answers.
They prefer to work at night when it is quiet and dark, and they’ve had some success during their several investigations across eastern Ontario and western Quebec in the last few years.
Though it’s hard to prove the existence of a spirit world, some interesting things have occurred during Bytown’s explorations, including one chilling incident at a property in Bristol, Quebec.
“There were a few of us in a room and the EMF detector was going up,” said Cindy Elford, who both investigates locations and reviews footage gathered for clues. “When we did base readings it was zero zero. In the time we were sitting there it went up to 21, and the temperature dropped from 18 degrees to -2. It came back up after.”
“These days so much is explained,” said John B., one of Bytown Paranormal’s investigators. He says he’s had many strange experiences himself, and that those first set him seeking answers. “I’m logical about stuff…it’s just trying to explain what you’ve been through. The other side of it that I wanted for this group, there’s a lot of history that people don’t know about. It helps educate people. It’s a different way to get people into these places.”
The Macpherson House was the first house on the north shore of the Napanee River. It was built in 1826 by Allan Macpherson, a prominent local businessman and community-minded individual.
That community mindedness is well-rooted in Macpherson House today, a building that was painstakingly and lovingly restored nearly 50 years ago and continues to be mostly managed by volunteers and donations.
Bytown Paranormal offers its services on a volunteer basis as well.
“For us it’s not just about the ghost-hunting, it’s also helping raise money for some of these historic houses,” said John B., one of the investigators. “Everything that people pay goes back to the house, it’s an honour for us to be here.”
A NIGHT OF GHOST HUNTING with the Bytown Paranormal team…..
Ghosts do exist! Without the shadow of a doubt, Sandra Lepage is thoroughly convinced of the fact and it must be said that she is not by any means the only one to share that point of view. The investigation team of Bytown Paranormal of which she is the Quebec Liaison, travel widely throughout the region-from Eastern Ontario to the west of Quebec- searching for tangible proof of their very existence.
January 2014, meeting scheduled at Pine Lodge, a fair-sized 2 star hotel located just a stone throw away from the Ottawa River, in Bristol, Pontiac County. In this small village boasting a mere 1200 souls, rumor has it that the local hotel which was built in the 1930s would be inhabited by spirits. One of the rooms would be consistently colder than the others. The founder’s son’s body was exposed inside the hotel after a tragic car accident years prior. Also, odd noises are sometimes being heard. Ms. Lepage, who speaks several languages and whose parents were diplomates is extremely determined to get to the truth of it all. “There are many stories circulating about Pine Lodge,” she stresses. One of the bedrooms would be inhabited by an entity. A choice destination for festive events organized by local bourgeois, the lodge has now become a more modest establishment run by the Thompson family….a popular stop-over in winter with skidooers looking for a decent place to grab a good but quick meal, as well as with the cyclists and golfers come summer.
The operation begins at around 9 pm. Four large metal cases are spread over several tables. Thousands of dollars worth of equipment are inside. The bulk of the instruments, purchased by Paul, one of the group founders, on a US internet site. As it stands, Canada lags a bit behind in this field, he explains. One instrument measures temperature in real time, another one the strength of the electromagnetic field. Night vision cameras are positioned in strategic locations: bedrooms, corridors, dining room. Will, a young man with a passion for computers, takes care of all the connection work. Cindy for her part, is in charge of the base reads of the specific rooms/area to be investigated. She measures the temperatures as well as the strength of the magnetic fields. Everybody has a specific task to perform with a corresponding title. Thus, Cindy is junior investigator in charge of studying probant data. Everything is in place. The only thing left, to wait for the arrival of James, who is suspected to be more sensitive than most to the presence of wandering spirits. He does look tired when he finally appears at around 10:30pm. He has been on the road for an hour, braving a fierce snow storm, without taking the time to change from his airline uniform after a 16 hour work shift.
THE <HUNT> BEGINS …..
Two distinct teams are formed. We follow the one wich will head for the suspect room on the upper floor. Digital recorders, cameras as well as instruments used to measure static electricity are switched on. While lights, are switched off. No crystal ball, amulets or talismans. We look for proof which is tangible, measurable, quantifiable, with the help of modern and state of the art equipment. Indeed, these ghost-hunters are determined to adhere to a strictly <scientific> approach. The questions being asked are directed straight at the <entity>.
Great care is being taken to induce an atmosphere of trust so that spirits are not scared away by 20th century technology. “Should there be anybody here in this room….can you give a sign by knocking,” suggests Ms. Lepage…..with her eyes fixed on her instruments. “We mean no disrespect. We are here to help you. We can relay a message to someone if you wish”….she adds. But only silence prevails. She continues….”Do not hesitate to make a noise in order to communicate with us or to touch us….gently, of course.” “You may also approach our instruments and make them react to your presence. They will not harm you in any way. “ The small room is furnished with a bed, a chest of drawers and a dressing table. Instruments will remain switched on all night. Audio and video recordings will be thoroughly reviewed. “Most of the time, one cannot hear anything to the audible ear after questions are asked. It is when the recordings are later checked that elements of responses may be picked up,” adds Ms. Lepage. Questions continue for some twenty more minutes, followed each time by a further silence. Le Droit leaves at around midnight, too early to be witness to an extremely odd manifestation. During the night, the Bytown Paranormal team carries on its investigation when a strange phenomenon suddenly takes place. The ambient temperature in one of the rooms on the third floor, suddenly drops from +15 degrees to a mere -2 degrees in a matter of minutes. A sudden spike in the electromagnetic field is also recorded to 21 MG…let it be noted that on the floor in question, there is no power at all. “I could not feel my fingers anymore,” will relate Ms. Lepage to Le Droit a few days later. “There was a reaction in our equipment each time James was asking a question.”
To BELIEVE OR NOT TO BELIEVE…….
Indeed, if some ghost hunters have an unshakable belief in the presence of spirits, others equally display some degree of skepticism. All of them however are haunted by the same recurring question: « Is there another form of life after death? » When they spend whole nights trying to catch the attention of spirits in complete darkness, trying to bring to light unexplained phenomena, often come across a wall of utter silence which can play havoc with their original belief , says Paul, one of the group founders..For me, what we do is comparable to going fishing. Sometimes the whole exercise is long and boring. You may spend eight hours just taking to a wall. But on other occasions we get a response to our questions, at times even in a loud voice ., which is even rarer. This happened to us twice this year. » Paul has now been conducting investigations for several years. He spends a good deal of time and money in the pursuit of his hobby. And after all that time, does he still believe in spirits ? « Probably I still don’t have enough experience to prove it, but enough to keep myself interested in the subject., he says….
If I had failed to find anything for a period of over five years, I probably would have grown tired. Yet, now and then, we get lucky and hear a voice responding directly to a question. » Ghost hunting is much more than a game. Distressed « clients » sometimes ask that their homes be inspected., but hunters of supernatural creatures have a sense of ethics. Paul went as far as confessing, that some clients go as far as inventing their fears. Illusions are sustained by very ordinary causes: old plumbing in need of repairs, inquisitive rodents ….In some cases, taking adequate medicine is the only known remedy. » We prove the falsehood (of some unexplained phenomena) probably more often than we can prove existence of life after death.stresses Paul. Cody Macleod is also waiting for the confirmation that his own doubts are well founded with regards to the existence of life after death. But in the meantime, he finds personal satisfaction in visiting parts of our heritage and believing it all on a 50% basis in the hope of hitting a clean 100 % one of these days.. » There are places and buildings I never would have visited if I was not interested in ghosts, he explains with a smile on his face.