What Part of Canada is the Most Haunted?
There is no question that the east coast of Canada is the most haunted area of Canada. The main reason is because it has been settled and fought over for the longest period of time. It also has the most cosmopolitan heritage and folklore. English, French, Irish, and Scottish are the strongest influences, but Native, German, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish have played their part too. The Portuguese, Italian and Spanish influences on the east coast are generally ignored and almost unknown, both in the timeline of history and their effect upon the land and the emerging culture and it’s representation in folklore. For instance, though Cape Breton Island was French for much of its history, the influx of Scottish after the Acadian deportation in 1755-57 has masked much of its heritage, and little evidence of the French occupation exists outside of Fortress Lousibourg and the French areas and names between Port Hawksbury and the former port and fort Toulouse at what is now St. Peters.
So too, other than the story of Glooscap, Native folklore is ignored and generally unknown even though they have some of the most disturbing folk beliefs. Glooscap is over represented in Native mythology so much so that he obscures many more interesting aspects of Native mythology.
It is almost certain that the Norse were aware of Cape Breton Island though no archeological remains have been found. We know they must have been to the Miramichi River area to gather beechnuts that only grow there, and this, coupled with their exploration-minded mindset makes it almost certain they were the first people to explore and roughly map Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec though nothing of their explorations still exists, either in the archeological record or in their literature. Still, only the most pedantic or obtuse observers could believe that the Norse only settled L’anse aux Meadows and didn’t dare go any farther.
After them came the Basque fishermen from France and Spain prior to Columbus discovering Central America and John Cabot discovering Newfoundland in the great European western migration. The Basque never established permanent settlements, and no one asked them about their fishing areas, so no one in power knew they were the second people in Europe to find North America. Thus, both the Norse and Basque folklore has not been recorded in relation to eastern Canada. We are instead left with primarily French, English, Scottish and Irish folklore. And there is plenty of that. Much more than the rest of Canada, with Quebec following close behind because of its early settlement. @haunted @ghosts @Canada
A Point by Point History of Ghosts
HISTORY of GHOSTS
Ghosts have been identified for thousands of years. Over that time, our beliefs and opinions of them have changed dramatically. This is not so much a result of ghosts changing their behaviour, in general, but of our ideas of their motivations. Our interpretations of ghosts are affected by our religious beliefs, cultural mores, literary influences, and more recently, media effects. Until the 19th Century, most ghost reports were made by religious figures, then intellectuals. Not until the end of the 1800s did the common man’s perceptions become paramount. The following is a summation of the changing factors regarding ghosts in bullet form, taken from one of my classes in Parapsychology that I teach. This is the most efficient way and less arduous way to gain the information than a horribly text heavy blog post. Many of this was taken from the excellent book, Ghosts: Appearances of the Dead and Cultural Transformation, by R,C, Finucane, 1996, perhaps the best book on ghosts ever written. Though it is loaded with detail, that never interferes with its readability.
Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey set standard for ghosts
They were passive, harmless creatures
Living ignored them for the most part
Ghosts seen as impotent, irrelevant, unless needed for advice or information
Witch of Endor called upon the ghost of Samuel in the Old Testament
Ghosts could only be called within 12 months of death
If ghosts appeared, usually they were concerned about proper burial rites
Rare stories of vindictive ghosts
EARLY CHRISTIANITY/EARLY MIDDLE AGES
Many beliefs of pagan times carried on for a time into the early Christian era
Eventually assimilation and accommodation gave way to a more combative stance which ultimately led to the Witch Craze
St. Augustine led the charge after a life pf pagan hedonism
Ghosts got a makeover to bring them more in line with Christian theology
The concept of purgatory was ‘invented’; from the Judaic concept of Sheol
Augustine said the souls of the dead ‘lived’ in a special place (undefined) and inassessable to us
However, our prayers could help the dead, even if we couldn’t see them or they us. (Augustine)
The concept of Demonology was largely unformed at this juncture
However, the idea of postmortem retribution was born (created) by Christian writers
In Later Christianity, battles with paganism ebbed and Celtic/Germanic influences spread
Communication with the dead increased and became mainstream
Death Warnings became more common, but concern about burial rites remained strong
Purgatory became enshrined and thus the assessability of souls from there
Ghost stories were concern with ‘establishing and emphasizing Christian teachings’
LATER MIDDLE AGES
The optimism of the early middle ages (with a celebration of death) gave way to pessimism and a fear of death
The Black Death, major famines, internal church disputes and warfare all contributed to this
Demonology became a staple of church teachings and fire and brimstone replaced a glorious afterlife
Good and bad deaths, alleviation of souls in purgatory, and common communication between the dead and living
Some debate as to whether ghosts occurred in dreams or a result of a vision
Ghosts were concerned with warning people about confession, last rites and absolution
Attoning for sins was another major theme by Christian writers
Seven and thirty days became the usual time-period for visitations, with none after 12 months when decomposition is complete
The dead could return from hell to warn the living
The dead could also come back to ask forgiveness and prayers
The dead of hell would come back bearing marks of their suffering
These ghosts looked like paler, sadder versions of themselves
No physical contact between living and dead
Most ghosts were male, 75%, with 75% of percipients being male as well
Most receivers of ghostly visitations were religious figures
The Catholic Church became under attack by the Protestant Reformation and secularism
Protestants believed that the dead were illusions, demons, or angels (no purgatory for the dead to come from)
Catholics believed that the dead were returning souls
Reports of knockings and poltergeists become less rare, but won’t become common until the 18th Century
Shakespeare formalizes belief in ghosts and their visitations to the living
This leads to a revamping of literary ghosts of the Roman times. From observers to participants.
Religion was divided to various camps of the Right, Left and Center.
These camps each had strong views on visitations of the dead.
Ghosts became weapons in ecclesiastic wars
Mainly though, ghosts became a weapon of all religions to combat the rise of atheism
The ghost who appears to give evidence in his murder makes his first appearance in the literature
Provision for heirs or announcing an impending death also main reasons for visitations
Poltergeists ‘proved’ the existence of demonic forces
Death pacts came into vogue
Most ghosts were known to their viewers
They are normal in appearance, voice and behaviour, open doors, even knock.
Main distinction of 17th Century ghosts were their freedom from purgatory
18th CENTURY AND THE AGE OF SCIENCE AND ENLIGHTENMENT
Many of the mundane reasons for visitations continued into the 18th Century
First, brief, belief in the Devil reanimating corpses
These reanimated/manipulated corpses resemble Eastern European Vampire tales
These tales merged with Vampires and faded away
Poltergeists became common
Science developed and an understanding of Nature and God was felt to be in one’s grasp
Arguments about ghosts changed to debates about miracles and violations against the laws of nature
Ghosts appeared less to the upper classes at this time, though an increase in belief in spiritual forces increased
In the lower classes however, ghosts remained popular and were reported often
First folktale collections were started
19th CENTURY AND THE ROMANTIC PERIOD
Science was the dominant darling of the upper classes and intellectual thought
The Industrial Revolution changed the lives and living conditions of most people
This led to a yearning for the ‘lost innocence’ of earlier years
Reason gave way to a resurgence of romanticism
Fears of premature burial replaced ghost visitations as important indicators of death beliefs
Gothic horror stories became very popular and affected beliefs of ghosts and their behaviour
The idea of an energy force, first coalesced around Mesmerism, was born
Spiritualism was officially born by the Canadian Fox sisters in Hydesville, NY
Seances became very popular, with most mediums and guests being women
The SPR and ASPR were founded in the late 1800s
The scientific investigation into the afterlife culminated with Census of Hallucinations and Phantasms of the Living
Commoners were encouraged to write with their stories for the first time
In the early 19th Century, ghosts carried on with mundane tasks, but by the late 19th Century, their visitations seemed to have little or no reason (reflecting the general populace’s experiences with ghosts) T
Moment of Death visitations became more common and occurred in silence
Dull stories abound, but this reflects an increase in ordinary occurrences being lumped into ‘hauntings’
Ghosts tend to wear black, and prefer a specific venue
The new religion of Spiritualism began to fight with Christianity
Victorian ghosts were insubstantial, often accompanied by a dull luminescence, vague, clothed in black or gray and melancholy. Most are unknown to their viewers and do not appear to tell of buried treasure, murders , revenge or legacies.
Spiritualism flourishes and then collapses after the First World War
Science and a changing culture killed it
Ghosts and their behaviour in the early 20th Century little changed from 19th Century
With the advent of the Internet and dawn of the 21st Century, interest in ghosts reaches a fever pitch
Many more insignificant events are lumped into tales of hauntings
- The internet made access and distribution of information on ghosts easily available to anyone who wanted or needed to understand more about ghosts.
- Unfortunately, the internet soon was corrupted by negative forces and facts and truth became subsumed by opinion and philosophy.
- The rise of the DIY movement was eagerly embraced by those who wanted to obtain facts on ghosts with first hand experience on demand. No longer were experts needed, any old plumber could become a celebrity with absolutley no training in the tools necessary to understand and interpret hauntings.
- The rise of the paranormal reality TV show, still a dominant factor 20 years hence, has skewered beliefs of ghosts and changed their nature and behaviours. Gone are the apparitional ghosts, now we have unintelligible murmurings recorded on audio devices and the presence of cold spots in obviously drafty old buildings to ‘prove’ ghosts exist and are present at any particular location chosen by any ignorant amateur.
- The creation of ghosts as a business model has rendered useless the collection of ‘haunted’ sites since truth is shrouded in generally fun exaggeration of ambiguous sensory input for the sake of customers and the bottom line.
- Ghost tours, as well as history tours, now are tainted by entertainment and monetary gain rather than careful documentation and dissemination of actual hauntings and folktales.
- The once respectable field of research into ghosts by respected, highly intelligent and scholarly people has been reduced to fools crawling into dirty old basements or attics and screaming for the ghosts to appear or talk to them. On camera of course. These shows don’t even bother to pretend it is reality that the viewer is seeing, and having worked int he TV business and had a ghost series myself, I can assure you it is all FAKE.
Our Mission (updated)
Welcome to Ghost Project Canada. This project is a multi-year effort to collect and analyze all supernatural events in Canada statistically and geographically. Questions pertaining to clusters of events; locations; timing; weather; cultures; time of day and year; belief systems; and effects of media, as well as other factors will be investigated and the results made public. The final report(s) will be submitted to the appropriate provincial and federal archives for use by future folklorists, social scientists and independent researchers. It should be noted that Canada is just first in this process. Next will be the United States and then the UK, with Europe following in good time. Collection and collating of stories, myths, folklore, urban legends and beliefs in these countries has already begun. Therefore, we encourage anyone to submit their favourite story, personal experience or idea from any of these countries. We thank you for your interest and hope you will participate. Your submission will be confidential unless otherwise indicated. Multiple submissions are welcome and encouraged, either by individuals or research groups. Thank you for checking out Ghost Project Canada.
email@example.com Facebook: @GhostProjectCanada 902-454-4745
Ghost Stories: The Science Behind Sightings
Ghost stories have been around as long as there have been stories themselves. The idea of apparitions from the spirit world goes back to the very beginnings of written history, and probably even farther back in oral traditions. A recent CBS News poll concluded that nearly half of all Americans believe in ghosts, and 22 percent say they have seen or felt the presence of a ghost.
And yet mainstream science has long been clear and unequivocal: There is no scientific evidence of a supernatural explanation for ghost sightings. So how do we explain those incidents when rational people sincerely believe they have seen or felt a ghost? What are some of the scientific, non-paranormal explanations for the phenomenon of ghost sightings?
As it turns out, there are quite a lot of real-world explanations for ghost sightings. Researcher Loyd Auerbach, author of several books on the subject of hauntings, is a believer in ghosts and has been investigating reported sightings for 30 years. Yet even he concedes that the vast majority of alleged hauntings can be explained away by natural phenomena. Chief among them is the psychological state of the person who experienced the haunting.
“It’s often because people are predisposed — they’ve been watching too many TV shows, or something bad is going on in their lives,” Auerbach said. “Sometimes people are psychologically disturbed, but most of the time I find it’s people making mistakes because they’re already in a sensitized state due to something else entirely. It’s people who are suggestible, and when that nail in the wall finally pops out, they ascribe significance to a mundane event.”
Sometimes a legitimate natural phenomenon, or a combination of different phenomena, can result in a “ghost sighting.” For example, research dating back to the 1970s suggests that extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields can stimulate certain parts of the brain and produce effects that are often associated with hauntings. “I had a case a couple years ago, a family had moved into a house and in a particular room, they got dizzy or got headaches,” Auerbach said. “They saw shadows out of the corner of their eyes.”
Auerbach investigated and found out the house was directly under high-tension wires that were emitting an electromagnetic field and a low-frequency hum. “It was in the frequency that would vibrate your eyeballs,” Auerbach said. “That would cause you to see things out of the corner of your eye.”
Low-frequency hums, sometimes called infrasound, can also produce feelings of fear and anxiety, Auerbach said. “Hollywood has known this since the 1950s at least, which is why you get those low frequency tones in horror movie soundtracks.”
In many cases, an alleged haunting is caused by multiple factors that seem supernatural when combined. For instance, Auerbach said that infrasound and electromagnetic waves only explained some of the issues in the house under the high-tension wires. “It wasn’t just headaches, the family said they would smell noxious odors that smelled like brimstone,” he said. “They would also report bursts of fire that would singe the walls.”
Further investigation revealed the house was adjacent to garbage dump, and methane gas was seeping up from the ground. “That was what they were smelling, and there was so much static electricity in the house that the methane would catch fire,” Auerbach said.
In cases where people claim to have seen an apparition, but there are no psychological or emitted energy factors, the “ghost” can simply be an optical illusion. Most commonly, it’s an incident of light bouncing off a window or other reflecting surface. There’s also the psychological phenomenon of pareidolia, where the brain gives significance to random images or patterns — seeing faces in clouds, say, or the ghost of your grandmother in the shadows of a wardrobe closet.
Dante Centuori, director of creative productions at the Great Lakes Science Center, said that he believes alleged ghost sightings are always the result of natural phenomenon being misinterpreted. Even with incidents we can’t explain, it’s simply a matter of overlooking something or ascribing false significance.
“We’re very error-prone in terms of observation and perception,” Centuori said. “We have a predisposition to fill in the blanks with a cultural context, with the images that we’re all bombarded with. We see something that doesn’t add up, and we jump to: ‘It’s a ghost.'”
Visual hallucinations are often cited as the scientific explanation behind ghost sightings, and they can be caused by both psychological conditions and — according to some research — electromagnetic waves affecting the brain. But there’s a giant gray area in this topic, Auerbach said, because an experience that could be accurately termed a hallucination can also be a genuine ghost sighting.
“The key for us is, people might have experiences that could be termed hallucinations,” he said. “But if what they’re seeing is historically accurate — if they’re describing things they couldn’t otherwise know about — then there’s something very worthy of research.”
When investigating ghost sightings, researchers always have to keep an eye out for another entirely non-paranormal phenomenon — the hoax. Auerbach said that most of the time, it’s family members or kids trying to pull a fast one as a prank. Sometimes the hoaxer has other ambitions, and attempts to fool the investigator, too. Does Auerbach ever get requests from people trying to run a Scooby Doo routine?
“Infrequently,” Auerbach said. “I get calls every now and then where I sense the situation is a little hinky. I always ask people what they want out of an investigation. If they say they want to sell the story to the movies and make a lot of money, then I don’t want to get involved. I’ve also had a couple calls that, I found out later, were skeptic groups trying to trap me.”
Even when all the known physical and psychological factors have been eliminated as explanations, it’s possible that ghost sightings may be caused by forces that we just don’t yet understand. Robert Schoch, associate professor of natural science at Boston University, has been doing research on the relationship between brain waves and geomagnetic waves. Schoch cited the phenomenon of “crisis apparitions” — when family members see the “ghost” of a faraway relative at the exact moment that person died. “Some people will dismiss this as coincidence,” Schoch said. “But there have been, in my assessment, very good statistical studies of such things that take it out of the realm of coincidence.”
“One study looked at crisis apparitions and geomagnetic patterns on the surface of the Earth,” Schoch said. “It turns out that the incidents of crisis apparitions correlate with geomagnetic flux.”
Schoch said it can be professionally risky, in the academic community, to advance any theories that include parapsychology phenomena like ESP or ghost sightings. But he still believes there is value in exploring these topics. “When you get rid of all the bogus crap, which is 95 percent plus of it, there is a residuum left where it seems to be something real.”
Legend Tripping: Ghost Hunting Made ‘Real’
While many ghost hunters may claim to be seriously seeking spirits, folklorists have another term for it: legend tripping. ->
Does Fear Drive Kids’ Paranormal Experiences?
Night terrors and bad dreams are common among young children, and a new study found that that some preschoolers who suffer from nighttime phobias have difficulty telling the difference between fantasy and reality.
Children are often said to be more sensitive, or “open,” to psychic and paranormal experiences. The idea is that there is wisdom in the ignorance and inexperience of youth and that adults rarely see entities or have such experiences because their minds have been closed off by logic and skepticism to the magic and wonder of the world. Or, to use another analogy, it’s like in Warner Bros. cartoons when Wile E. Coyote or Elmer Fudd walks off a cliff but doesn’t fall until they are told that they’re not on land.
Why Children See Ghosts
The trope of supernaturally-sensitive children is staple of countless depictions in the media and popular culture. Ghosts and monsters usually make their presence known to young children. We see this in countless horror films such as “The Exorcist” (demons possess a young girl); “Poltergeist” (evil spirits contact a young girl through television static, causing her to famously announce their arrival with the creepy sing-song phrase “They’re heeere!”); and the film “Mama,” currently in theaters, which features two young sisters who communicate with an evil ghost the adults don’t see.
Real children reporting ghostly experiences (often at night) were also a staple of the popular, long-running television show “Unsolved Mysteries.” Though some parents were initially skeptical, they soon came to believe that their child’s accounts of seeing and interacting with ghosts and monsters were real and not merely imagination. “Why would a child make up something like that?” they often ask.
Of course children make up stories for any number of reasons, including seeking attention and avoiding punishment, and often for no reason at all. But new research suggests that some kids think their nightmares are completely real.
When a genuinely terrified and wide-awake child tells his mother or father that she saw a scary, shadowy man outside her door or window, there’s a good chance that they might take it seriously, especially if they are among the nearly 40 percent of Americans who believe in haunted houses. This, of course, only feeds and reinforces the child’s fears.
A new study may help explain why some kids report seeing imaginary monsters in real life.
It involved 80 children between four and six who experienced severe nighttime fears and compared them to 32 children who did not. The researchers assessed the children’s fears, using reports from both the kids and their parents. Children viewed images of imaginary figures (such as fairies or Bob the Builder) and were asked whether they could occur in real life, for example, could they go visit a fairy in person. The study found that children with nighttime fears demonstrated more fantasy-reality confusion than the control group (those without fears) and those fears were more dramatic in the younger children.
The more children understood the difference between fantasy and reality, the less fearful they were.
The study also found “that children with nighttime fears suffer from higher levels of general fears and more behavior problems… thus suggesting that nighttime fears may reflect a broader vulnerability to general fears, anxiety and internalizing disorders” and that “a less developed ability to distinguish fantasy from reality may contribute to the emergence and persistence of children’s fears… . Children’s uncertainty regarding the existence of magical entities such as witches, ghosts and monsters may generate and maintain fears of these creatures.”
The study, “Nighttime Fears and Fantasy–Reality Differentiation in Preschool Children,” conducted by researchers Tamar Zisenwine, Michal Kaplan, Jonathan Kushnir, and Avi Sadeh, appears in the February 2013 Child Psychiatry & Human Development journal.
Photo Credit: Corbis
Ghostly syllabus for new degree
Students are to investigate the existence of ghosts as part of a degree course looking at people’s experience of the paranormal.
Coventry University is offering the chance to look into haunted houses, extra-sensory perception and “the survival of bodily death”.
Tony Lawrence, director of the two-year parapsychology course, said it would be “controversial yet thought-provoking”.
The focus will be the “middle ground” between religion and science, he added.
The 15 post-graduate students starting the first course this autumn will look at the paranormal using several scientific methods.
For instance, some will investigate haunted houses, looking at statistics on which parts of buildings provide the most sightings.
Extra-sensory perception – where two people seem to communicate without using sound, vision, touch or smell – will also be looked at.
The vice-chancellor was never the same again
Dr Lawrence said: “We’ve got to look at what people are experiencing.
“No one has bothered to look, so people’s view of the world has been divided into two components: the secular and humanist, and the religious.
“We’ve got to look at the middle ground, otherwise all you have is Richard Dawkins (professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University) or the Pope.
“Both have probably not quite got their finger on the real pulse. People out there are having interesting experiences and no one is really following them up.
“It is less about Hammer House of Horrors and more about proper methodology.”
If you were to ask anyone what fascinates them, you can guarantee that the one thing they would all like an answer to is if there is life after death
The course also looks at people’s interest in the spiritual and paranormal, as seen on TV, in films and in books.
It promises “an honest, open systematic examination of the evidence for these exceptional human experiences”.
Student will use yoga and meditation “to extend or enhance their personal development”.
‘Not always answers’
Dr Lawrence said: “A lot of what we do will be controversial yet thought-provoking.
“There is always a fascination with the unknown and we will be exploring the paranormal and trying to explain why things happen, but sometimes, there won’t be answers.
“If you were to ask anyone what fascinates them, you can guarantee that the one thing they would all like an answer to is if there is life after death.
“It is not going to be a course that will tell students what they should believe and it is not a course that will expect the student to practise any particular religion either.”
It is hoped some of the students of the Master of Science course in parapsychology will go on to write doctorates on the subject.