I recently had a phone conversation with another small group of ghost enthusiasts who had recently spent some time near a small bridge in Guelph that has a "spooky" reputation.
I asked them, "So, what's the history of the place?"
They started mentioning balls of light, weird noises and other spooky stuff that people had claimed happened near or on the bridge.
"That's interesting," I said, "What's the history of the site?"
"I dunno. Why?" came back the reply.
"Well, what happened there in the past? Can anything from the sites history maybe explain who or what might be responsible for the phenomena... I mean, even if it is just a legend, these thing are usually attributed to a person or event from the past."
"Who cares." came back a 'matter of fact' reply, "It's just a cool spot and we..."
At this point, I lost complete interest and really tuned them out. Frankly, I was angered and horrified. This is sloppy work at it's best from people claiming to be investigators.
Now, I don't really know who said it first but it's true that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. A very good friend of mine once said that the worst thing you can say to a person is "Who cares." I, for one, would agree whole heartedly with that statement.
Aside from this fact, this kind of tertiary examination of a site is a little like going to the Taj Mahal and only seeing it as a big mausoleum and missing the splendor of the architecture and the tremendous love story between a man and a woman that it truly represents.
How many of these other "ghost sites" and groups go to cemeteries and such to try to take their precious orb pictures and grab the odd EVP without stopping to note the history of the spot? Who are the people that represent the "ghosts" they are supposedly "hunting"?
If you subscribe to the idea that "ghosts" are the manifestation of some form of energy from a living being who has since passed on, then why would you only be concerned with "them" AFTER they died? Wouldn't you LIKE to know why they may be still be hovering in this spot in one way or the other?
Even if your a sceptic or simply a "thrill seeker", why not learn something en route? Would it kill you to learn why certain things may have had a practical reason for being there? If nothing else, it's fun to point out that sometimes legend and fact don't jive... No one has EVER found any hospital or police record of the tragic motorcyclist who supposedly haunts Ghost Road on Scogog Islands but the legend remains.
Another case in point, at Old Fort Erie in the Niagara region of Ontario, there's the "handless and headless ghosts". This is not, as I've read on a new website, ONE ghost with no hands and no head BUT TWO ghosts... One missing the one part and the other missing the other. They have been seen for quite some time wandering the areas of the fort and the "legend" said that they were two occupying American soldiers during the War of 1812 who, while one was shaving the other, suffered a "fatal" blow from one of the cannon balls lobbed into the fort by the British during the siege. Thus, the "shavee" lost his head and the "shaver" lost his hands.
According to what I've read and backed up by our wonderful guide, Jim, this legend persisted and later on in the twentieth century, during an archaeological dig, they found a burial pit... In a line was one headless corpse followed by a "normal" corpse followed, in line, by a corpse who's arms had been amputated at the elbow. This was found LONG after the reports of the ghostly duo had been seen therefore adding credence to the original legend. It goes to reason that the gent with no hands MIGHT have outlived the fellow with no head long enough for another chap to have passed in the interim explaining the person between them.
If you don't think these kind of "finds" happen anymore, wait until you see what Jennifer Krutila has found out about some of the places she's looking into in the Pickering-Oshawa area!
Now, on a different but similar note, imagine that your entire family was buried in a lovely, secluded cemetery that you enjoyed visiting not only to reminisce about family history but to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. One day, you're surfing the net and you find a ghost site that features a group of "ghost enthusiasts" in the same cemetery proclaiming it to be rife with ghosts and orbs and one lovely picture shows them tramping over your grandmothers grave using the headstone as a combination coffee table/writing table/place to crack open a pop bottle?
NOW, some of you may read this and say "so what?" Well, think about it. Do you truly believe you would be in the majority of folks by not caring? I'm sure you're not. The rest of the folks reading this would be appalled at this intrusion and disrespect.
Also on this "What's Cool. What's not." list, we have had MULTITUDES of people suggesting that we (the GHRS,) go and look into certain places that have had a recent traumatic event or something along those lines.
We even got wind of another group looking into investigating a place in Toronto that has had a lot of recent publicity because of it's tragic nature. They assumed that even though there have not been any reports of ghosts there, since so many people have perished there, it MUST be haunted.
All I can say or point out is that even though the study of "ghostly phenomena" usually revolves around the dead, we, and many people that are still VERY emotionally involved, are quite alive and *GASP* we have feelings! Ask yourself this, if your best friend or a close relative died tragically, would you want a group of "ghost enthusiasts" doing web pages and reports about that person? Would you want them trampling the site of your dearly departed's death or worse yet, where they are buried?
There is a time and a place for everything and looking into certain sites of recent problems is not just wrong, it's insensitive and it's in truly bad taste.
There's an old (and frankly tired,) statement but it's quite true and extremely valid... Life is for the living. Let the living mourn before you decide it would be too cool to look into the possibilities of a ghost.
Then of course, there's places that you CAN visit that ARE tragic but you should REALLY think twice and plan.
Case in point of this... The old Donnelly Homestead in Lucan, Ontario. For those that don't know the story of the "Black Donnellys", please take the time to read about it... click here and a separate browser will open with our report on the Donnellys.
The homestead, ghosts and all, is the PRIVATE residence of the Salts' family. It is NOT a public park and certainly not a place to venture into uninvited and most importantly, there is a family trying to lead a somewhat normal life there.
They do welcome visitors and they do even have a sign telling folks where they have stumbled into BUT you MUST contact them FIRST to visit!
Again, to put it into context, imagine your home has become a place where the locals have said it's haunted... Much as you may not think it will happen, there will be "thrill seekers" and folks who THINK they're legitimate ghost investigators who will attempt to "break in" and see something spooky. Won't YOU have fun! Just think of all the uninvited guests and the damage they will cause by dint of stupidity or possibly by design. Imagine the hoards of teenagers DARING each other to go to your "haunted home" at night!
The most fascinating stories I heard from the Salts family when I visited were the stories of the living and how they treat the area that was the scene of this terrible event. If you do visit, ask them about the stories about "the living" who visit and mess around what is really their home ahead of being a "haunt" or historic site.
As a suggestion to would-be ghost researchers, to make life easier for all, if you wish to visit a "haunt", CONTACT THE PROPER FOLKS FIRST and request a visit if you'd like to do something after hours. I've said it a million times but I'll say it again... the WORST someone can do when you ask is say "No".
So, regardless of your views, take the time... Answer these questions... Why am I going to this place to see a ghost? What happened there and who did it? Are the people that are still involved going to be okay with my investigations?
I must say it's these kind of "rules" that make me have a lot of respect for other groups that take the time to look into things and really try to understand them.
M. Didier - Director and Webmaster