By Darren Lum
When the Wellington County Paranormal Investigators were asked to come to the Haliburton Highlands Museum to see if there was any paranormal activity no one really knew what they’d find.
Several weeks ago their team set up video and audio recording equipment including infrared cameras throughout the museum’s Reid House on the evening Sept. 21.
Their visit which included a preliminary walk-through of the building was based on a request by museum director Kate Butler who was curious about what could only be described as paranormal happenings. One of the main stories she’s been told was about a little boy being seen by other children at the Reid House.
WCPI founder and investigator Joe Cairney led the presentation on Sunday Oct. 27 which was part of the municipality’s Hali Halloween 2019.
Cairney and his team included an audio recording of a word and four sightings of “stick” figures which he said were spirits picked up by a camera with an infrared light projector. The camera uses the same technology employed in the Xbox Kinect device released in 2010 that shows everything as dots arranged in 3D formations. He played an audio recording of what sounded like a woman’s voice saying “nothing.” Cairney said he didn’t hear the recording at the time while walking to the front door and pointed out there wasn’t another women in his vicinity. The closest woman was Butler who corroborated that she wasn’t close enough to be able to whisper in the recording.
One of the stick figures was seen at the top of the stairs in the Reid House. Another moved with Butler while walking up the stairs of the house. There were also two seen upstairs. One in the hall and another in a bedroom. Another was seen on top of the pump piano in the museum on the first floor.
Along with his fellow members Cairney not only provided the team’s findings but also explained their process and their investigative approach which includes working through interviews and their collection of data to rule out the “normal” first to leave behind what can only be considered paranormal.
WCPI was recommended by writer Andrew Hind who included ghost stories related to the museum and its grounds as part of the Haunted Museums and Galleries of Canada book.
Cairney pointed out the WCPI team has extensive investigative experience.
He encouraged the audience to not just believe him but make their own assessment of what was presented.
“This is all about trust and weighing out the balance of probability. What do we have to gain from lying and making all this up? We don’t charge. We’re not looking for a TV show or radio show. I once had a podcast. It’s hard to make money on a podcast. We have nothing to gain but this is what we found” he said.
He added “If you were to ask me if ‘is there something in the Reid House is there something here?’ I would say I’m 99 per cent sure there is. We’re hoping to come back and do more.”
WCPI was founded in 2010 by Bruce McClelland and Cairney.
Cairney who has been interested in the paranormal since he was 12 wanted to help people by giving them answers to incidents that were without explanation. He said there is an important distinction between investigators and ghost hunters who are more interested in thrill seeking than learning and helping clients find answers to unexplained questions.
He admits investigators get scared while investigating but likens the attitude he had as a firefighter which was to run to the fire instead of away from it like everyone else.
He reminded the audience at the presentation that the paranormal is nothing to worry about or lose sleep over.
The presentation also included a portion dedicated to placing the audience members in the shoes of an investigator examining video footage for interesting aspects for further study or spotting photos that have been doctored.
Butler said these findings aren’t anything to be afraid of so much as add to the belief that there is something here.
“I feel like whatever is here is friendly. It’s a whole part of acknowledging the fact that not only do the buildings here have history everything in this building every single artifact in this building has a connection to people and so it just makes sense those memories and connections are contained within all of those. It doesn’t freak me out. I think it is all friendly and all good” she said.
She adds this is good because she is the one “that hangs out with them all the time.”
Butler wasn’t sure who the voice that said “nothing” could be.
She knows there were two women who lived in the house: Jean Reid (but has an Irish accent that didn’t match the recording) and Janet Clinkscale who was the wife of John Russell Reid Jr and raised three children in the house. The couple had the house built in 1882.
“It’s also important to remember the house was moved from its original location. You also have to think about the land the house sits on so that could factor in as well” she said.
She appreciated being included in the investigation.
Butler welcomed them to return so they can learn more about the woman and conduct an investigation on the museum’s homestead buildings. She hopes they can come back in the summer.
“There’s enough evidence that can’t be explained away so I’m curious to find out more and that’s really got me thirsty to learn more” she said.