Over the course of my travels, I can say with certainty that I have personally experienced several unexplainable phenomena. With Hallowe’en (or, All Hallows’ Eve) just around the corner, I feel it’d be fitting to incorporate some of my personal encounters while on my travels to scare your wits!
Do ghosts exists? Is there a paranormal realm? I wouldn’t be able to tell you, but as a haunted ghost tour leader once told us, “Ghosts exist everywhere whether you believe in them or not. Some people are simply more open or prone to experiencing the paranormal than others.”
Personally, I’ve always been on the fence with this notion, but there have been moments when the strange occur and I can’t explain it. This story is one of those moments..
If you’ve been following the Chronicles of Wanderlust since I first began blogging, you might recall a project I had done as an archaeology student in the little town of Powell River, British Columbia. To read about that adventure, click here.
To briefly recap, the town of Powell River is what I called a “duality of modernity and history”. There is the “downtown” core – filled with fast food joints, coffee shops, grocery stories, etc. Then, there’s also a part of the town that has been designated as the “townsite” – a community dotted with protected heritage buildings and historical landmarks.
Upon my first trip to Powell River, I traveled with my classmate and project partner, Kyle. He relied on me to plan our itinerary – an undertaking I will never turn down. With an undergraduate background in history, I browsed through the list of hotels and inns available in the town and was sold on the historical Old Courthouse Inn (circa 1939), naturally.
“Built in 1939, the former provincial building is a model of Mock Tudor design.. This building originally housed the provincial court, the jail, the forestry service, public works, government agent, relief services, and the B.C. Police headquarters for Powell River.” - Townsite Heritage Society.
Decades prior to the construction of this building, however, Powell River was already a bustling town. Not too far from this site stood the old pulp mill which started up in 1908. Across the street from the Inn was the Northwest Telephone Building constructed in 1931. Centuries prior to that, the entire surrounding area was home to several First Nations groups (predominantly the Sliammon Nation).
Reaching our Destination.
Our drive to the Townsite was a concerning one. We knew a storm was approaching, we noticed several crosses and flowers assembled along a highway we’ve never driven before, and it didn’t help that we had been rear-ended by an elderly fellow just as we embarked on our trip.
The rain began to pour shortly after our arrival. The ominous, grey overcast hovered above us and the wind began to pick up – cliché for a spooky story, but I was actually living the tale. We walked up a flight of stairs hauling our bags and equipment and were greeted by silence in a dimly lit hallway surrounded by several antiques from the community including an old piano, cash register, children’s shoes, dolls, and – the creepiest of them all – an old baby carriage.
We made our way to the innkeeper’s suite after tiptoeing our way around the carpeted halls. “BZZZ” rang the old buzzer. The innkeeper signed us in and showed us to our room at the end of the hallway. I had reserved the two bedroom and one bathroom suite – evidently one of the larger rooms available at the inn.
Call me rude, but curiosity had me asking the innkeeper if the place had any paranormal occurrences because it had all the earmarks of a haunted building. To the surprise of Kyle and I, the innkeeper smiled and began to share with us her experience.
The Innkeeper’s Story.
Just a few months before our arrival, the Innkeeper had received an unexpected visit from a First Nations man who had traveled for hours from the interior of British Columbia. In a dream he had, he was told to drive to Powell River and to find the Old Courthouse Inn. Now, this was a man that never relied on technology to do his bidding. He never bothered to search up the inn on the internet, or to research the history of the community. After interpreting his dream, he felt in his gut that there was a job awaiting him at the inn. Without hesitation, he grabbed his car keys and drove. To his luck, the Old Courthouse Inn was there – just as he had envisioned it.
Through his findings, he discovered that several spirits inhabited the old inn and roamed freely through its historic halls. The First Nations man eventually performed a cleansing and aided the passing of several spirits into the afterlife. However, just before leaving town, he asserted to the inn keeper that there are still some spirits that have chosen to remain. Fortunately, they were not malevolent.
To further my curiosity, I couldn’t help but ask her what the history of our rooms were. Kyle’s room had once been the juror’s quarters with the bathroom just around the corner. As for my room, well, it was once part of the old courtroom where criminals had been sentenced. Right below where I slept were the old jail cells. Talk about spooky, eh?
Following an early dinner and a quick shower, I hopped into bed just before 10pm.
The setup of my room was like so:
- My bed was positioned in the centre of the room facing the door to Kyle’s room.
- At the foot of my bed was an old armoire with a vintage radio resting on top.
- To my right was an old drawer as well as a lamp with a shade that belonged in the 30′s.
- To the left directly near my pillow is a small table with a mini-sized television. Further along my left are the windows looking out towards the Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia).
The bed was large enough for me to sprawl myself out like a starfish and the mattress promised a very comfortable night’s rest. Kyle was still awake in his room playing games intensely on his laptop, but after I had flipped through some channels on the old CRT television, it was lights out for me. A busy morning awaited me and I desperately needed the sleep.
I woke up that night to the rattling of the old window panes caused by the relentless wind and unyielding rain which were making very little effort to quit. Since our room was overlooking the coast, we felt the brunt of the storm. I laid there in my bed surrounded by darkness looking towards the ceiling trying to figure the best method to doze off again. Almost immediately I felt that uncomfortable feeling of being watched. I was not alone.
To the left of me, near the foot of my bed, I heard the sound of light footsteps walk slowly from one side to the other and stop. I paused in confusion wondering if it was all in my head. A moment later, my bed shook from the right side near my feet even though I hadn’t moved a muscle. It felt as though someone had sat down on my bed next to me. Shortly after, my bed shook again! At that point I threw off my covers, sat up and scanned my entire room. There was nobody there. I looked at the clock, 3:00 am (popularly known as the witching hour - the time when ghosts are supposedly most active). By now, I was spooked. I called out to Kyle in the other room and to my surprise he was also awake – albeit a little groggy, but awake. I asked him why he wasn’t asleep and if he had entered my room. “No, dude. I was sleeping, but I just woke up because I had a nightmare.” I know it sounds farfetched, but those footsteps were distinctly in my room. My room is not near our room entrance, the hallways are carpeted, and the rain would drown out the sound of anyone walking outside.
The Morning After.
I told Kyle about my experience and he had no trouble believing me. If I were to describe my encounter under the pretense that ghosts exist, I’d claim that a friendly spirit had visited me that night and was curious as to who the new guests were. It saw me sleeping, sat down at the foot of my bed momentarily, then left. The second night I couldn’t resist sleeping with my television set on with sports highlights playing throughout the night. I was in no mood to have any more unexpected visitors! Surprisingly, I slept like a baby.