Update January 2009:
For our continuing work at the former DuMaurier theater now the Enwave Theatre please visit our sister site's article.
The following was submitted by Ian Harper...
Du Maurier Theatre
I have worked for the Harbourfront centre for about ten years now, as a technician. There are many theatre venues there, the Premier dance theatre, the duMauier theatre centre, and the York Quay centre.
Originally these three buildings which are all side-by-side were terminal buildings. Ships would bring cargo in and store it in these buildings which had railway lines running to them. The duMauier theatre was originally an ice house where in the winter, ice was cut from the Harbour and placed in the ice house where perishables were stored before transport.
Every two years, at the Harbourfront centre, we host "World Stage". This is when we bring in shows and theatre companies from all over the world. It usually runs for three weeks. Three "World Stages" ago, I was working in the duMauier theatre centre. We were in the middle of setting up one of the shows. There was about two dozen people in the room, actors and technicians. The room was dark except for the lights hitting the stage.
I was running up the stairs in the theatre to the lighting and sound control room booth when I suddenly looked up I noticed I was about to collide with someone standing on the stairs instead I ran right through him.
Later that week I had my second experience. For this show the sound console had to be placed at the back of the theatre as opposed to it's normal location in the booth, right beside an exit door. At one point in the show an actor would come through the door and give me a large sweater and sweat pants that would be used by an actress later in the show.
Early in the show, out of a corner of my eye, I noticed a man standing beside me. Thinking it was the actor I turned to him to ask why he was there so early. The man did not acknowledge my presence. He just completely dissipated before my eyes. This happened during a sold out show.
My next experience happened very recently. We were setting up for a corporate rental. I was walking from the storage area to this stage when I noticed a small child crouched behind the stage door. I turned to ask the child what he was doing there and he too dissipated before my eyes.
I have not seen the third entity, a woman, yet. There are certain security guards who won't go in the building at night and will only check the outside doors.
I've found out more about the du Maurier theatre. It turns out that a security guard went in the theatre at about 4:00am and found a woman sitting in the middle of the theatre. he went over to her to ask what she was doing there. She then said to him, "What time does the show start?". The woman then disappeared before his eyes. The security guard quit the next day.
The Du Maurier Theatre - Reevaluating The Concepts of A Haunting
Mathew J. Didier - Director GHRS
After missing the first visit to the DuMaurier Theatre at Harbourfront Toronto because of prior commitments, thanks to our friend Ian, I finally made it in.
We'd known about the place and it's rather interesting ghosts for well over a year, but this was my first real chance to wander the place in search of the various entities that are apparently housed within it.
Now, I had a brief knowledge of the three well known ghosts from Ian and from reading about everyone's first visit to the site but for some reason, once I had boarded Steve's (from the Orb & Ghost Photo Research website) pickup truck for a lift down to the site, my brain turned into guacamole and my memory suddenly crapped out on me. For the life of me, I couldn't remember the details of the reports! Luckily for me, the same horrid condition had not affected the intrepid crew of Steve, Dee, Anita, Sue and Krystal and Ian filled most of the blanks in for me. Next time, MORE caffeine before heading out!
Anyway, Steve and I arrived and met Ian in the lobby area between the theatre and the art gallery located directly behind it. We kibitzed about this and that and generally chatted mostly about cars and insurance due to a rather unfortunate accident earlier that day involving Ian's significant other. Granted, Mr. Jell-O-for-brains (that would be me,) didn't clue in that this accident had happened that day. (Fortunately, for the record, although sizable destruction had been done to the automobile, no one was hurt.)
After a time, the rest of the team showed up and we were off and running.
Ian, as stated, filled in the details for me and the crew and we were allowed to pretty much wander where we may.
After much talk, a little walking and more than a few jokes leveled at some folks (usually my) expense, we were on our usual role.
NOW, this is where this stops being as much of a report of an investigation and starts being a rather weird editorial of sorts...
After a few years and many "adventures" looking into hauntings, it's usually a given that there is a "centre" or at least one place that is a focal point for hauntings. There's a feeling or "electricity" about this area and it allows you to sort-of know where to start.
At Merritt House for all our investigations, it was the top of the main stairs and the boardroom. At Fort George, it's the second blockhouse and the officer's quarters (some may include the tunnel too), at Baptiste Lake Inn it was the main dining room, the kitchen stairs and one room in particular, etc., etc....
Now, I know this is a blanket statement and possibly not at all true, but my experience has usually led me to this conclusion. Granted, in a recent "Online Poll" on the ghost message board the consensus from the "Irregulars" there was that my theory of the centres of hauntings is not all I assumed it was cracked up to be.
Trouble is in this case we did note that there was such a place, but it seemed to move locations from time to time.
Yup, just when you figured you had it pegged down, ZIP! Off it seemed to go and you lost your bearings!
Stranger still is that all the "ghosts" reported at the site seem to be related to (or at least aware of) the theatre, which (in the grand scheme of things) has not been in operation for that long.
Previously, the theatre was an ice house (storage for large chunks of ice used for refrigeration before the days of refrigerators and other mechanical cooling systems,) and then as a warehouse, BUT the ghosts seem to be actually using the theatre layout and architecture.
What's interesting is that the "woman", "man" and the "little boy" who seem to haunt the place do not have a whole lot of chance of being related to the theatre, but a better chance of being related to the ice house or warehouse yet they seem to be seen in what is decidedly the theatre's additions.
One ghost, apparently, even asked one worker when the next show was going on!
The old building has had extensive renovation to accommodate the three tiered seating and the stage that can be converted to a "theatre in the round" set-up YET the ghosts seem to be using these relatively new settings, which is very unusual. Most of the ghosts we've looked into see the places they are in as the way the space looked at the time of their death thus defying logic by walking through walls and "floating". (Walking through walls when researched, one usually finds that the original floor plans show a doorway or some sort of exit, floaters usually you'll find a stairwell that's been removed or even a landing or "floor" that has been moved, but the 'ghost' follows the original plans.)
When I asked if there have been any "real people" whose passing may account for the ghosts, I was told that to the best of Ian's and Joanne's knowledge, no.
So, we have possible historic ghosts so aware of their new surroundings that they are not only haunting the place, but awaiting the next show AND no central point or place that the hauntings seem to centre around.
Even more interesting is the sheer amount of people who have, in one way or another, experienced one of the ghosts of this theatre. There are dozens of reports and some extremely recent ones too. It should, if you could figure out how to "cover" the place correctly with people and equipment, yield some interesting things... well... not that it hasn't already.
I did have one VERY strange thing happen to me that I loudly exclaimed when I realized what it was... or more appropriately, what it wasn't.
Towards the closing moments of our trip, I was standing on the Southern side of the stage on the lowest level talking to Ian when I glanced up and saw what I thought must have been Steve bolt out of sight through a doorway on the third (uppermost) level. I didn't see Steve's face as he had his back to me and I was more wondering what his rush was to get away from that area as he truly "darted" out this door.
One problem, Steve was VERY visible and on the stage at the time. When this registered in my guacamole turned brain, I made some sort of loud noise... Don't quite remember what but knowing me it was something like "Oh!"
See, I was taken aback as what I saw was VERY solid. Not "ghostlike" in any traditional matter but as solid as anyone else on the site with us. It really set me off because I was SO sure it was indeed our intrepid investigator.
Sadly, no one can back me up on this so you'll have to take my word... It was a thin man(?) wearing a dark shirt and no, it was definitely NOT one of the staff of our crew.
A very strange place indeed.
Big thanks go to the team and especially Ian and Joanne... for putting up with me and letting me see this place which has really got me wondering about my own conceptions of what a "haunting" should be.Next time, extra wings at the Bishop after and I hope that Ian and his crew join us and it's happier circumstances all around (i.e: no traffic accidents, please!)