“Do you want to see something scary?” This was the question posed to me this past Friday. Do you want to see something scary? Honestly, probably not. It’s definitely not one of my favorite questions. It might actually rank near the bottom. You’ll likely find it alongside such fan favorites as “Do you want to smell something gross?” ( I do not ) and “Taste this. Do you think it’s still good?” (No. My answer is no. Every Time. Without pause. No. Eww. Gross).
So what’s my hesitation to the fear? It’s not that I’m afraid and it’s not that I’m a wimp ( I am a wimp, but that’s not the reason). It’s that I generally don’t find ghost stories very believable and I’m fairly close-minded when it comes to tales of the supernatural. My wife however, loves a good scare and hates a bad nightmare. She’s interested in spirits and slightly opposed to visions of tiny machete waving dolls that have come to life. So even though I had no initial interest in seeing something scary, I still found myself dubiously heading out to Stony Plain to attend Creating The Paranormal: An Immersive Evening Of Evidence, Magic and Spirits.
The night’s venue was Stony Plain’s Multicultural Heritage Centre and adjacent Opperhauser Building, both well known landmarks to those seeking out a ghostly experience of their own. The Centre which has been running for over 40 years, is a lovely red brick schoolyard building that’s now home to a living museum, a gallery promoting local artists and the delicious Homesteader’s Kitchen downstairs. It’s a beautiful building inside and out, so do yourself a favor and browse the upcoming events on their website. We had a fun family style meal and spent most of our time giving uncomfortable googly eyes towards the pies behind the counter. I’d like to say that the meal was perfect, but it wasn’t. There was a ……how can I put this politely …. there was a ….complication. We didn’t just share our table with some folks looking for a good time and a quarter chicken dinner. We shared our meal with George.
George is the phenomenon that lives in the space that now occupies the restaurant. Many years ago before the restaurant was tempting the locals with savory pies, the eerily creaky stairs lead to the gym of the schoolhouse. Though many exhibits and patrons have come and gone through the Centre over the years, George has managed to remain. The staff are very aware of his presence and claim that not only have they seen him, but he has called them by name and even whistled at them.
Morgan Knudsen (Discovery Channel/CBC), a professional entity seeker and paranormal investigator is very familiar with George. She told us that he may be interactive, intelligent and curious; but he is not to be messed with. He’s been overheard growling and has been known to get violent, including shoving an employee off a ladder in the gallery. Visitors need to remember to respect George, as they are in his space.
Now you may be wondering if I believe in George and other George-like phenomenons? I don’t, but I was surprised to learn how many people do. A number of polls I researched showed that on average about half of the population believes in ghosts. The lecture we attended was smart to acknowledge both sides of that. For the sceptics, Knudsen was quick to point out that 20% of the cases she investigates turn out to be “faux-hauntings”. Her lecture about the unknown contained an unexpectedly heavy dose of science. She explained how things like building structure, electromotive force and lighting can lead to people thinking their homes were haunted. Many of these elements in our homes can create sounds and even scents. No more blaming it on the dog. From now on, I’m blaming it on the house.
For the believers, the entity seekers had plenty of information as well. They discussed the variety of positive and negative effects that spirits can have on people’s lives and how maintaining relationships with those who’ve passed can be healthy. Knudsen was quick to debunk many preconceived notions that attendees had coming in and also shared her opinions on the legitimacy of TV “Ghost Hunters”. She also made it crystal clear that she was a paranormal researcher or investigator. She was not and will never be a Ghostbuster. At the end of the night, this unfortunate bit of news left me still wondering “who ya gonna call?’ I wish I knew.
Creating The Paranormal was a fun and informative night out that appealed to a much larger audience than I initially assumed. The discussions were broad and would appeal to fans of not only the supernatural; but also those interested in science and history. This gala was a special event, but don’t hesitate to check out the Stony Plain Multicultural Heritage Centre in the future, if you want to do some ghostbusting paranormal research of your own. If all the spooky stuff still isn’t your thing, just remember: they also have pie.
TIP // Interested in more events like this one? Follow along with the Stony Plain Multicultural Heritage Centre events.