Volume 95, Issue 33

Wednesday, October 31, 2001
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Going on a Ghost Hunt

Your guide to spooks and ghouls in the London region

The Hunter and the Haunted

Going on a Ghost Hunt

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

It was just approaching midnight when the police cruiser pulled up.

Now, when you're in a graveyard with a photo editor, an Engelbert Humperdinck album, two garden gnomes and a bag of peanuts – with the objective of ghost hunting – you might find yourself in a situation beyond the average police officer's comprehension.

But that was the end of the evening – let me start at the beginning.

I've always had a potent interest in things that go bump in the night: ghouls, goblins, Harris' Tories and the multitude of other creatures that lurk in the shadows.

I'm the kind of guy who still occasionally thinks the Bogeyman is lurking under his bed [many a girlfriend has left me for that very reason]. This year, I decided I'd gather a crew, do some lacklustre research and conduct a little ghost hunt across the phantom-infested City of London.

The night of the hunt, like any other night, began with a drink. Or many drinks.

Following that, our first stop was Eldon House, one of London's oldest and most notoriously haunted homes. It may have been the whiskey-filled Pepsi bottle I had been drinking from or the giant lights in the front yard of the property, but the entire structure of the house seemed trapped in an incandescent glow.

I had gone for an official tour earlier in the week, but I expected Eldon's famous phantom was more likely to slither out under the blackness of night.

According to the 'experts,' you're supposed to bring a compass and a thermometer in order to register strange phenomenon. Frankly, I wasn't into this whole registering phenomenon business – I just wanted to catch a ghost.

I decided to go with my instincts, which told me ghosts are likely attracted to peanuts, carrots, garden gnomes and the fine music of Mr. Humperdinck. In case of the potential sighting of a baby ghost, I purchased some baby pabulum before heading out for the night – I was prepared for spirits of all ages.

At the gates of Eldon House, we placed a number of peanuts under a box, which was propped up with a stick. We waited an hour for the supernatural to take the bait, but only managed the near capture of a squirrel. My crew and I momentarily debated the possibility that the wily rodent may have been a "ghost" squirrel.

The next stop was London's old court house, located at 399 Ridout St.. Many public executions have taken place on those grisly grounds and the bodies of the dead had once been buried right under the current front steps of the building.

The trap was laid again – I figured the garden gnomes might do the trick this time around. Besides an odd feeling in the air and the eerie cackle of a few nocturnal ducks in the nearby Thames River, we had no luck.

We made many stops throughout the rest of the evening – a haunted house on Colborne Street, the Grand Theatre, a Tim Horton's and a number of eerie pizzerias.

The ghost count remained at zero.

Our final stop was a decrepit old cemetery on Commissioners Road. An ominous presence filled the air as the glare of our flashlights filtered across tombstone after tombstone. We talked in hush whispers, caught up in the anxious tension of the moment.

We arranged our full arsenal of ghostly delights and set up our trap beside a tombstone. The wind howled with the voices of the restless dead. An icy chill seeped into our bones.

We were on the verge of something. All my childhood fears were about to appear before me. I was scared; I was exhilarated.

Dave Van Dyck/Gazette
That was when the cop showed up.

I quickly gathered our equipment and we made a run for the car – we mumbled some crap to the officer about being professional journalists and he seemed too weirded out to even bother to pursue his line of questioning.

Unless the officer had been one of those infamous "ghost cops," the spirits of the night had eluded our well-laid plans. With that, we were gone – always next Halloween, I guess.




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