Initial results of a local investigation by a group of Wellington County ghost hunters were among the highlights of Ghosts of Minto Past, held as part of Culture Days in Minto last weekend.
Ghosts of Minto Past was the latest in a series of storytelling events hosted by the town and its cultural roundtable committee in an effort to keep alive the verbal history of the community.
Local residents were invited to share their spooky tales or stories of unexplained happenings at the event on Sept. 27, and a few, including Town of Minto Mayor George Bridge, did just that.
Bridge opened the evening with a story from his youth about a time when he and a group of friends set up a practical joke at an area pond that was a popular hangout for young people.
Bridge explained that according to local legend, a family perished after their horse and buggy fell through the ice into the pond and subsequently, the lights of their lantern could be seen through the ice on winter evenings.
Bridge and his friends set up a flashlight in a nearby tree, hoping to spook visitors to the pond with the sight of a light on the ice.
However, the prank turned spooky for them when the flashlight appeared to fall out of the tree and hang in thin air, floating up and down.
The nervous pranksters didn’t want to leave the flashlight behind, so they turned on the lights of the car they were travelling in and shined them on the tree, where the flashlight then seemed to be exactly where they had left it.
“I don’t know if it means anything or not, but that’s my story and to this day I can’t explain it,” said Bridge.
Several representatives of the Wellington County Paranormal Investigators (WCPI) were on hand for the evening to speak about their efforts to investigate and research reports of paranormal activity in the region. The group does not charge a fee for their activities and pursues the investigations out of personal interest and a desire to “help people feel comfortable in their homes,” explained Mike Couling, the group’s technical manager.
As a demonstration, the groups were invited to conduct an investigation of long-standing rumours of a “ghost” inhabiting the Harriston Town Hall Theatre building, where the story-telling event was held.
Longtime users of the theatre have reported hearing footsteps or other strange noises when the building is mostly empty. During the Sept. 27 presentation, former municipal employee Gary MacDougall told of hearing footsteps while working alone in the building early in the morning many years ago, when it served as the Harriston Town Hall.
McDougall said that several other town employees had reported the same experience.
The WCPI group set up audio and video recording equipment, including infrared cameras and camped out in the theatre overnight on Sept. 21 to 22.
“We found paranormal activity, but we’re not at the point yet where we can say this is paranormal,” stated Joe Cairney, one of WCPI’s lead investigators and a co-founder of the organization.
During their evening in the theatre, the group recorded a number of “electronic voice phenomenon” or EVPs. One EVP, played back for the audience at the ghost stories event, sounded like a female voice asking, “Do you want to help me?” The investigators also reported hearing faint singing voices while sitting in the balcony of the theatre.
The investigators pointed out they had not yet had time to go through the hours of audio and video recordings completely or to determine if the EVPs they recorded could be explained by non-paranormal causes.
Following the event, Minto recreation and marketing coordinator Mandy Joes said she was pleased with the turnout for the event – roughly 60 people, the largest yet for one of the town’s storytelling sessions. She said the audience appeared to enjoy the presentation by the WCPI members.
“They were very compelling,” she noted.
Minto’s Culture Days activities also included a well-attended Treasures of Minto bus tour on Sept. 28, which took participants to numerous points of cultural interest around the community.