Ghostly Instagram– Australia Edition

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This ghostly picture was taken down unda’ by a good friend of mine. The haunting picture owes its heavy atmosphere to an iPhone app, but the hollow dwelling looks like it might have a story to tell!

If you have a story or a photo you would like to share, please don’t hesitate! As much as we love sharing our stories and opinions, we would love to share yours — sharing is caring.

Salem to New Orleans: Witches

 

 

 

 

DSC_0590Once you look past the gross commercialization of the Salem Witch Trials that occurred in 1692-1693, visiting Salem MA is pretty amazing. They have a very touching memorial for the women and men who were hanged and pressed to death in the center of the wax museums, Eddie Munster picture signing, haunted houses and Dunkin’ Donuts (shout out to DD for their free Wifi!).

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As we drove into Salem, half of my heart was expecting to walk onto the set of Hocus Pocus, and there were definitely elements that held true. We had a great time, and took part in some of the commercialism– we even sat through the Halloween night Witch Museum presentation. They herded us into the centre of a oval shaped auditorium, and had us focus our attention to the illuminated wax vignettes as a prerecorded story was told. As much as the faces on the wax figures were melting, and outdated — the story was informative. They walked us, the audience, through a version of the witch trials– starting with Tituba, the first person accused of witchcraft in Salem MA. Tituba was also the first to confess to witchcraft, she was imprisoned and then released. After being released, she disappeared.
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This brings me to American Horror Story: Coven. I am not completely caught up because i’ve been stock piling them up. The season’s story line seemed so fitting following my recent visit to Salem. Coven takes place in present day New Orleans– following a group of young women who are in a privately run “School” for witches. It is AMAH-ZING so far. Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassell.. to name only a few members of this amazing cast.

Getting back to the connection between Salem and Coven– one of the young witches, played by Gabourey Sidibe is said to be a descendant of Tituba. Sidibe’s character,  is a “human voodoo doll”– she can cause herself bodily pain and deflect it onto others.If you haven’t started watching it already, you should start! We can catch up together and then compare notes after the season is done. I’m sure, as always, American Horror Story will not disappoint.

TODAY - Season 61

 

 

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The St. Lawrence Market’s Dark Past

Now that Charlene has given a re-cap of her spooky Halloween trip in Bangor (an update on the Salem portion to come!), it’s my turn to share some of my own creepy Halloween night experiences!

This year, my friend Ann and I decided to do something different from the usual activity of dressing up and going out to a party: we signed up for the After-Hours Market Tour with famed Toronto historian Bruce Bell. It was a walking tour exploring the dark past of the St. Lawrence Market, the site of Toronto’s original city hall and, unknown to probably most Torontonians, the location of the city’s first jail.

Plan of the original building where the St. Lawrence Market now stands, including the police station and the jails below

Built in 1844, the jail was notorious for its putrid conditions. With the St. Lawrence Market foundation built right on what was then the shoreline of Lake Ontario, the prisoners who were chained to the brick wall – the hooks of which are still visible – would be nearly or fully submerged by the lake’s rising waters and accompanying sewage, disease, rats, and whatever else came along every time a storm occurred. Needless to say, many miserable souls died in the exact same area that today’s market shoppers happily stroll and bargain for fresh foods on Saturday mornings.

Despite being extremely well-versed on the dark underbelly of Toronto’s history, Bruce Bell is not a big believer in the paranormal. However, as he wrote in a recent article published in The Bulletin, the St. Lawrence Market’s neighbourhood newspaper, a recent experience while hosting a tour of the old jail walls has forced him to begin believing otherwise.

The St. Lawrence Market today, with the original facade still intact in the centre of the building.

According to the article, while standing in the front of the wall in which the hooks of the original chains are visible, a patron asked Mr. Bell if he knows of any ghost stories from the site. Just as he was about to brush off the question, the woman’s camera was suddenly pulled from her hand by an unseen force, the lights began flickering, and a loud banging could be heard coming from behind the bricked-in doorway that once led prisoners to their doom on the wall.

If that’s not a ghost story, I don’t know what is!

To learn more about Bruce Bell and his incredibly information (and spooky) tours of Toronto neighbourhoods, visit www.brucebelltours.ca.

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Halloween in Salem – But first, a visit to Bangor ME

This past Halloween will go down in the record books for this Ghost Girl! I was lucky enough to cross an item off my bucket list, Spend a Halloween in Salem, MA. 

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My husband Mike and i started our mini New England road trip last week. We started in Boston, traveled up to Bangor, ME to visit Stephen King’s eerie town, went over to a very beautiful Bar Harbor, and then back down to Salem right in time for Halloween!

Out of the three places we stayed in, Bangor ME was by FAR the creepiest! We arrived just around dusk, and managed to maneuver through the one way streets to our hotel– the only one we could find in the city centre– The Charles Street Inn. A very creepy little hotel, that was decorated to the nines for Halloween.

The entire city, not just the hotel, had an overwhelming energy. The best word to describe this energy would be eerie. Mike, who is normally very skeptical, felt the same creepy feeling. Our stay in Bangor was short, we had one purpose there and that was to see/take pictures of Stephen King’s home. We parked our rental car near by and took pictures of Bangor, or as Stephen King’s books would call it, Derry. We had to buy some time because there was an arrest taking place right outside King’s house (seriously — there is a lot of crime in Bangor). We decided to do a photo op by an old leaning wood fence, capturing the beautiful fallen leaves and the creepiness– have a look.
DSC_0251As a good skeptic, Mike’s first reaction to me shoving the camera viewer at him saying “..we need to leave as soon as possible, look at what is haunting me” was “that’s just a lens flair”. We went on to cross off an item off Mike’s bucket list, Take A Picture Standing Outside Stephen King’s House.

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After our walk of visiting and taking pictures of Stevie King’s i looked at our pictures from the day again. There wasn’t one other photo, aside from the one of me, with that type of lens flair.

What lens flair has a shadow like that in it? And what is that shadow of?

With the eerie energy, the only thing i could think of was, Orbs.

I managed to sign on to our hotel’s very weak wifi, and googled orange orbs. A ton of things came up, fairies, evil demons, and then healers and/or protectors. I obviously, favor the “protector/healer” option. The post i read explained that despite the negative relationship we often have with colours like red and orange, in the spiritual world, it often represents a healer or protector. Someone who’s purpose in their life was to protect or heal, a doctor, or a soldier etc.

If you have a theory, please feel free to share!

I will be sharing the ghost stories of Salem, MA in  my next post. Stay tuned!

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Happy Belated Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Ghost Girls! We’re a couple of days late, but for good reason: One of us was in Salem, Massachusetts – notorious for the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century – and the other was on a haunted tour of Toronto’s spooky St. Lawrence Market, once the site of a brutal jail where countless men and women died terrible deaths. 

We will update you on our adventures shortly, but for now we leave you with the world’s favourite soundtrack for the scariest day of the year!

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Ghosts of the London Underground

I was lucky enough to have a chance to live in London, England for a year in my early 20s. As a fan of British literature, history, and culture, getting to spend so much time in London presented an amazing opportunity to explore the city’s wealth of historic sites and accompanying stories that date back centuries. Of course, being one of the oldest and most heavily populated cities in the world, London is an outright goldmine for ghost stories.

I was particularly fascinated by the stories you’d occasionally hear about the many instances of hauntings throughout the London Underground, or the subway system. I used to make my way through Balham station in the city’s southwest end most weekends to visit friends without a second thought, until I learned one day that the station had been the site of a terrible tragedy during the Second World War when a bombing raid caused a massive flood that drowned all 60 people – men, women, and children – taking shelter down by the tracks. Rumour has it that London Underground staff on duty there occasionally hear the sounds of frantic screaming, as though coming from a crowd of people, when there is not a soul in sight.

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A creepy old image of the London Underground’s mysterious tunnels

Knowing my fascination with ghost stories and the London Underground, my mom told me about a great documentary she saw last year called, conveniently, Ghosts of the Underground. In it, the filmmakers interview numerous long-time Underground staff about their ghostly experiences, of which there are many. One of my favourite stories involves two staff members, one of whom is watching security camera footage late at night, after the Underground had closed, from an office of the track level at his station; the other was patrolling the large station. The staff member watching the security cameras noticed a man lingering on the platform of one of the tracks. It being long after closing hours, the guard suspected an intruder and sent his colleague on patrol to deal with the man. He watched on the screen as his colleague made his way to the platform, walked back and forth several times, and then radioed back that no one was there and the platform was empty. With chills running up and down his spine, the security guard watching the screen radioed back… “He’s standing right next to you.”

This fantastic story freaks me out every time!  Luckily, you can watch Ghosts of the Underground right here online. Just click here to watch for yourself. Enjoy!

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The Trans- Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and New York Times “Getting into the Spirit”

staffThe best part of having a blog about ghosts and the paranormal is having family, friends and followers send their haunted stories and finds my way, out of the blue. Yesterday at the end of the day, right before i closed my work inbox i received a link to New York Times “Getting into the Spirit” article by John Searles. A clever and captivating recount on Searles’ search for his very own ghost story, and the night he spent at the The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia.

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Searles briefly outlines the history of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum–formerly known as the Weston State Hospital. This West Virginia facility opened its doors in 1864, equip to treat 250 patients for mental illness. It didn’t take long however, for its reputation for patient cruelty and torture to consume the grand Gothic structure. The facility was known most shockingly for performing frontal ice pick lobotomies and experimental chemical treatments on their more violent patients. The hospital withstood the Civil War, raids and destruction. Over the years their reputation continued to worsen, in 1950 the hospital crammed more than 2400 patients within its brick walls, surpassing its original capacity by thousands. The ominous atmosphere soaked into the walls over the years and weighs heavy in the structure long after the hospital closure in 1994.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADoes this not remind you of American Horror Story: Asylum??

The Asylum reopened its doors to tours and over night stays, attracting ghost hunters, television shows and journalists from around the globe. Are you interested in a tour? Want to have a sleep over with some tortured souls? Visit the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum website.

Back to the New York Times– to hear about John Searles over night asylum stay read it for yourself, or watch the clip!

Getting into the Spirit by. John Searles, published October 10, 2013

Everyone has a ghost story, or at least that’s how it has always seemed to me. My mother’s best friend used to tell a doozy about a soldier she met when she was a bookkeeper in the Air Force. He claimed to be a ghost, then proved it by walking into the middle of a moonlit airfield and disappearing before her eyes. Another friend of my mother’s used to bring over a Ouija board when she baby-sat for me. As that plastic pointer whizzed around the board (with seemingly little help from her fingers), she spoke of the messages that the spirit world sent to her on a regular basis.

Blame my mother’s friends, blame the hundreds of people who have since answered my favorite question, “Do you believe in ghosts?” with tales of lost loved ones appearing at the foot of their bed or disembodied voices heard in some shadowy hallway. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve been desperately searching for my own ghost story to tell.

That is how I ended up listening for suspicious sounds in the middle of the night at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, W.Va. The building is rumored to be a hotbed of paranormal activity, and it is easy to understand why. Constructed between 1858 and 1881 to accommodate 250 patients, it housed nearly 10 times that number by the 1950s. They were a discontented bunch, and not just because they were in a mental hospital — many had been severely mistreated by other violent residents and a few were eventually murdered by them.

The place closed in 1994 (a more modern facility was built in the state), but Weston Mental Hospital, as it was known, has been reborn. Inspired in part by the demand created by popular shows like “Ghost Hunters” and films like “Paranormal Activity,” the asylum has for the last six years offered public tours with increasing frequency. A sample includes “October Ghost Hunt” (six and a half hours for $100), “Medical/Forensics/Geriatrics Ghost Hunt” (six and a half hours for $100) and even the fast and budget-friendly “Flashlight Tours” (30 minutes for $10).

There were so many options that I called the phone number listed on the asylum’s Web site, trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com, and asked Rebecca, the rough-voiced woman who picked up, which tour would give me my best chance of encountering a spirit. “The 9-to-5 tour,” she said. “That’s when the best stuff happens around here.”

For $100, overnight visitors break into groups and are assigned a guide to tour the four floors and multiple wards of the asylum, attempting to make contact with the spirit world along the way. As if that wasn’t promising enough, in the wee hours of the morning, visitors are allowed to wander free, staying up until dawn, in search of ghosts.

Enthralled, I asked Rebecca if there was anything more I could do to up my chances, before spitting out an idea, “What if I brought someone with me, and we camped out in the most haunted part of the building?”

“I’d know just where to put you,” she said, giving me an offer that she said was exclusive. “The ward where patients recovered from lobotomies. It’s off limits to everyone else. No electricity. No running water. I’m going to make you sign a waiver, cuz if one of you breaks a leg running from a ghost, I ain’t going to be responsible. Got it?”

I pretended to think things over, though the truth was Rebecca had me at lobotomies.

A week later, the gothic asylum loomed before me as I rolled up the long drive toward the front doors. Beside me, my boyfriend, Thomas, made the sign of the cross for easily the fifth time since we’d left Manhattan early that morning. When I first told him about the trip, he made it clear I’d have to find some other sucker to come along. Like everybody else, Thomas already had his ghost story — something to do with a door inexplicably slamming in his father’s basement. But after I ticked down a roster of friends, all of whom flat-out refused, Thomas reluctantly agreed to come along. To keep us safe, he brought a pendant blessed by Mother Teresa.

We arrived hours early, and the place was mostly deserted. Waiting for us on a rocker outside the entrance was Miss Sue, a nurse who actually worked at the place from 1966 to 1990. As if to prove it, she wore an old nurse’s uniform. Instead of taking us to the lobotomy recovery room, she deposited us in a former office that was freshly painted and had electricity. No self-respecting ghost would be found there, I thought.

When evening finally came, we met our guides, who gathered in a paranormal-free area on the first floor of the asylum that could very well have been a waiting room in any hospital. They showed us their vast array of tools, including electromagnetic frequency meters, motion sensors and something called a spirit box, which mostly seemed to record a lot of static and occasional voices from a nearby radio station. As if that wasn’t enough, some of my fellow ghost hunters had apps on their iPhones, like Ghost Radar Classic, that were sensitive to spectral vibrations. And someone carried along a Raggedy Ann doll that was supposed to light up when it sensed paranormal activity.

Our little group would be led around that night by Copperhead, a man with shock-straight hair that looked as if it belonged on Gwyneth Paltrow and tattoos up his arms. The tools that he first chose in our hunt were relatively old-fashioned: flashlights. He led Thomas and me, as well as another couple, down a dark hallway, where he lined four of them on the floor, about 10 feet apart and facing the ceiling, all turned off. When it came to communicating with the beyond, I expected some sort of special language, but Copperhead began speaking in a tone one might use to coax out a recalcitrant teenager who locked himself in the bedroom. “Eddie, I know you’re upset with me,” he said, “but I’m hoping you’ll come on out.”

This one-sided conversation carried on for some time, until, at long last, Eddie, a former patient who had a penchant for playing poker, made the flashlight closest to us blink on and off. For one glorious moment, I felt that I was living my very own ghost story. But as Copperhead and Eddie kept shooting the breeze, the skeptic in me surfaced. I found myself wondering if perhaps that flashlight was placed on a specific floorboard with some sort of control hidden beneath it, or if maybe he had a miniature remote.

When Eddie grew tired of chitchat and the flashlight stayed dark, Copperhead relocated our group to a dingy room with mountains of cigarettes on the floor. This, I learned, was something of a tradition: visitors bring smokes to the ghosts in hopes that it might lure them out. When no ghost reached forth from the beyond to communicate with us, or at least to toke on a Marlboro Light, he even pulled out the big guns: “We’ve got a girl with us, Fred, and I know how you like the ladies.”

Amy, the sole woman in our group, later told me that she hadn’t felt vulnerable, sitting on the floor in the dark with four men, being used as ghost bait. Not that she’d been in much danger. She was a brunette, and that ghost is said to prefer blondes.

By 2 a.m., I was getting sleepy, and my hopes of coming face to face with a spirit were fading. It was time for Copperhead to take us to the lobotomy recovery room. He led us along a warren of hallways, through a locked rusted cage door and down a flight of stairs. When we stepped into the room, I shined my flashlight to reveal platter-size slivers of paint peeling from the ceiling and shattered glass on the floor. Even though the only ghost I sensed in that room was the Ghost of Asbestos Past, I heeded Thomas’s objections to the place, and we settled on a hallway that led to dozens of isolation chambers instead.

As soon as we set up our cots, a strange noise — like something heavy being dragged across a floor — started coming from a distant part of the asylum. Thomas sat up and asked if I had heard it. At first, I told him that it was coming from that ghost-free waiting area, which was not far away. But then we heard the sound again, this time unmistakably coming from the space near that rusted cage door that led to the lobotomy area. When we heard the sound a third time, louder than before, Thomas bolted.

He returned with Copperhead. The three of us walked quietly with our flashlights through a series of rooms, some with old hospital equipment still in them and bars on the windows, until we entered a room that had what looked to be roofing material on the floor. Copperhead stepped on it with his boot, and we heard that distinctive dragging sound. We were in the off-limits part of the asylum, where no one else was supposed to be, so that meant the noise we had heard had to be otherworldly. I couldn’t help but feel as if we were in a “Scooby-Doo” episode, and at any moment we would figure out who had been trying to scare us away.

But Thomas had no interest in speculating. He soon gathered his things and headed out to the rental car, refusing to come back inside. Eventually I got in the car too. As we pulled out of the driveway, I looked back at the dim lights of the asylum and thought of all the people I knew who had a ghost story to tell. If only I could make myself believe it, I would finally have one too.

John Searles is the author of the new novel “Help for the Haunted.”

 

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you are pleasantly stuffed to the gills with one or more thanksgiving dinners!

As a little treat, i thought i would provide you with a little throwback to the 2000′s– back when butterfly clips and mod robes were all the rage! The Family channel aired a show for just over a year called “Real Scary Stories”. The opening sequence is the right kind of creepy. This clip is entitled “Gurdon’s Light and Condie’s Ghost”.

[I googled Gurdon's Light, i am definitely interested in researching this story further. It reminds me of a legendary haunting  just east of Toronto in Port Perry--"Ghost Road" the site of a motor cycle accident and reported UFO sightings, stay tuned!]

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The St. Lawrence Market Halloween After-Hours Market Tour

Did you know that Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market hosts all kinds of fantastic food-related events, workshops and cooking classes? And they’re affordable too!

While browsing the Market’s offerings, I was thrilled to discover a fantastic event scheduled for October 31st – Halloween night, obviously. Called the “Halloween After-Hours Market Tour,” this will be a spooky tour of the St. Lawrence Market and the remains of the old jail that was discovered underneath the building – a relic from the days when the St. Lawrence Market area was the site of Toronto’s first city hall.

The After-Hours Market Tour will be hosted by Bruce Bell, a popular historian renowned for his informative and fascinating tours around Toronto. And to ensure ghost-hunters don’t go hungry, wine and food will be provided. Does it get any better?

To learn more about this event and the many others offered by the St. Lawrence Market, click here.

The St. Lawrence Market at night

The St. Lawrence Market at night

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The Haunted Elevator at Malabar Ltd

Would you take a ride on the fright elevator?

When shopping for costumes in Toronto, save your time and go to Malabar! A one stop shop, costumes, dance wear and haunted elevators — well just one haunted elevator. I stumbled across this story first in John Robert Colombo’s Haunted Toronto, which lead me to do further research.

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In 1904 Sara Mallabar began her business in Winnipeg,  Manitoba selling ball gowns.  With the ever popular live entertainment industry growing, in 1906 Mallabar took the bull by its horns and expanded her business, becoming S. Mallabar Costume and Hair Goods.  Outfitting many local live shows and acts in addition to building a strong buisiness relationship with the Winnipeg Operatic Society– this enabled her reputation and business to expand. In 1923, Sara Mallabar sent her business along with her son Harry to Toronto. Their first location opened on Spadina Avenue, after time the business name changed to Malabar Ltd. Their success lead them to open up a larger shop in Toronto’s Entertainment district, where we find it today at 14 McCaul St. (McCaul and Queen).

In the 1960′s one of Malabar’s employee’s was riding the freight elevator to the top floor with inventory for a client.  Without warning, the cable snapped and the elevator fell to the basement resulting in the employee’s death on impact. Since then the elevator is still in use, continually serviced and maintained to its top performance.  Some staff members over the past thirty years however, have all reported that something about that elevator isn’t right. This is not your typical freight elevator–  upon entering, an overwhelming feeling of panic, fear and anxiety overcame each staff member. The overwhelming energy that remains in the elevator, motivates many staff members to drag costumes up three flights of stairs rather than taking a ride with Malabar’s permanent employee.

Sounds like i just gave you an even BETTER reason to checkout Malabar Ltd this Halloween Season!

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