With Halloween approaching, there is a heightened sense of spookiness and those eerie feelings. A light flickers in your house. You find your keys in a place that you didn’t leave them. You feel that sense that you’re being watched when no one else is in the room. For some, those things may mean you need your eyes checked and a key hook by your front door. But to others, those are the signs that you may have something paranormal happening in your home.
Hauntings have been reported for centuries and Hollywood has done a great job of making hauntings the new ‘must have’ with movies such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ where people are scared and tortured by a ghostly presence.
Recently, some posts on social media, began a conversation about Chestermere residents that have instances of the paranormal variety happening in their homes. Spirits being seen. Children/babies heard in a home where no children reside. Doors slamming. Then in a bit of a twist, a self-proclaimed ‘ghost hunter’ responded to the post offering her services to those that felt they had a presence in their home. So, I contacted her to get more information on what ghost hunting is all about.
Ghost Hunters Research Team (G.H.R.T) was founded in Saskatchewan in 2004 by Dana Kapay and her husband. When they met, they soon realized that both had an interest in the paranormal and had each experienced paranormal events and so they wanted to take their interest and experience and help others.
“When people call us it is for things like noises, things moving out of the corner of their eye, mostly its unexplained things. What makes us different, and it’s something we always tell people is that we don’t go in with a whole entourage – we don’t have thousands of dollars of equipment. The shows on TV are very disrespectful. We are very private and discreet and to us, what is important, is that this spirit was once a person – somebody’s loved one. They deserve respect”.
They say that their job is to find out if there is something there when someone contacts them regarding a disturbance in their home. They do not banish spirits, nor do they take part in exorcisms. They don’t perform séances, or participate in witchcraft and never use Ouija Boards, and actually had very strong feelings about the use of them. “Don’t use them. You have no idea who you’re inviting in”. They state that they strongly that they believe a spirit has any right to be anywhere it wants. They simply are there to determine if there is a spirit and try and find out what it wants.
I also reached out to Colin Bengert, the Executive Director of CAPI (Calgary Association of Paranormal Investigators). CAPI is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose main focus is to investigate and document suspected paranormal activity in homes and businesses in the Calgary and Southern Alberta region. Their service is free but they do accept donations to help keep their services operating.
Bengert is a paranormal investigator that says although it can be exciting at times, it can also be really boring. “We get called out for a three hour investigation, we set up three cameras….that’s 9 hours of footage to watch and 95% of investigations come up as nothing”. Bengert says that when you get involved with investigating the paranormal, you have to be very aware of your own thinking and reactions. “You have to make sure that you’re not thinking that every shadow and thump is something paranormal”. He goes on to explain that the vast majority of homes or buildings that they go to for an investigation, the noises are something environmental or household like a leaky pipe or a clunky furnace. “That doesn’t always mean that nothing is happening, it just means that nothing happened while we were there”.
Bengert tells of a few instances where there were in fact paranormal occurrences while his team was out on investigations. “I was in a back room of the pub – what use to be the Unicorn in downtown. I saw someone walk by out of the corner of my eye and I went over and there was nobody there. So I was writing down what I thought I saw and just documenting the time and such and as I was writing someone poked me in the back. I turned around and there was nobody there. Just someone trying to get my attention”.
“On the third floor of another location, I heard voices. Someone talking in a room where I was all by myself. At first I heard it, it was about 5 feet away from me. So I replied ‘I heard you can you say it again?’ Then the voice responded and it was like right beside me…like a quiet soft whispering in my ear”.
Bengert believes that people that deny that these types of things exist, even if they have experienced something themselves, have likely already gone into the situation firmly convinced there are no such things as ghosts so there has to be another explanation for what they’ve seen or heard. “It’s also quite possible that their fear of something actually being there makes them convinced there is no such thing as ghosts because that’s safer than admitting it might be something else”.
Before Bengert and the team at CAPI go out to do an investigation, they send the requested a series of questions to try and rule out that it is anything but something paranormal. “We want to narrow it down and do some research as to what they are telling us they’ve experienced. We do some research on the address to see if the land has a history of this type of activity. We’ll then set up an investigation and we usually ask the residents to leave the house, if they are uncomfortable with leaving strangers alone in their home, one of them may stay. The vast majority of the time, it’s us investigators sitting in an empty room with a few voice recorders running and we just vocalize anything that changes”. If nothing is discovered during an investigation, the crew will pack up and leave and just advise the building occupants to let them know if they experience anything else and would like them to come back at another time.
But….not all their investigations turn up duds…….
“At this one call, we were talking with the client, and we heard on the second floor a noise – like someone was pushing a couch across the floor. There was nobody upstairs and the home owner claims that this happens all the time. We went up to the second floor – there was nobody up there. We were the only ones in the house and this wasn’t like a book falling over….this was a significant something being dragged across the floor sound. That house, especially the children’s bedroom, they felt extremely uncomfortable in. You would go into the children’s room and every hair on your body would stand up… it made everyone very uncomfortable. That situation ended up where things escalated. The family had a priest come and bless the house, they’d smudged the house, things would calm down for a few months and would then get worse and it got to the point where the family members were being physically struck, the children were being hit, pushed….so everyone started sleeping in one room in the house and they did end up selling the house and moving”.
The final story that Bengert shared, stemmed from my asking his opinion on Ouija boards. He feels, similar to Dana of G.H.R.T., that Ouija boards are bad news. “It’s like opening the front door to your house and letting anyone walk in off the street. You don’t know who they are, where they’re from or anything about them – so what take that chance. If someone was a whack a do in this life, chances are they’re still a whack a do in the next life. So you could be inviting in a serial killer or someone that did some pretty awful things”.
He then told the story of the Marlborough Park investigation that occurred in 2006 in a basement apartment. “We were contacted by the homeowner as she was afraid for the safety of her daughter. A week before, the daughter was attacked by an unseen entity. The daughter’s boyfriend heard her screaming and came into the room and found her being pinned against the wall by an unseen force and she was hardly breathing. As the boyfriend moved closer, the daughter slumped to the ground and began to breathe freely. They gathered some things and left and the daughter did not return to the basement apartment but did return from time to time to gather items – always taking someone with her. She told the investigators that she always felt uncomfortable in the hallway between the kitchen and storage area and always in her bedroom – which she also said was always very cold. The investigators checked all the heat vents in the basement apartment, they were all blowing hot air except for the vent near the girls bed….it was blowing cold air…always blowing about 5 degrees colder than the rest of the apartment”.
“Over the next few hours, nothing really happened so the crew was packing up to leave. As they were packing up, Tom noticed movement behind his head in a mirror reflection. No photos showed anything but the camera itself started acting erratically. Soon the whole apartment became oppressive. Each team member, the homeowner, the client and her friend all became very uncomfortable and unwanted. One of the investigators then had a sudden urge to need to bathroom and as he was using the facilities, felt a presence standing right behind him and that the dark presence wanted to suffocate him. While this was happening, two other investigators noticed small child size handprints on the closet doors that had not been their earlier in the evening. It was at this time that all decided it was time to leave and they did so. The tenant also moved to a ‘paranormal free house’. It turned out that one of their relatives was a child molester who had been taken away to jail and they were storing some of his items in the basement apartment and it was in that storage area in the basement were we were finding the strongest readings of this negative energy. That was probably the closest we came to non-human paranormal activity”.
So…whether you believe in this thing or not…there are just somethings that you hear that make you wonder. Those tiny moments when all the hair stands up and you have to ask yourself…’do I believe in ghosts?