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The spirits of photography in Toronto

Steve Russell - Staff Photographer

There was a time leading unto today when I thought I might have to purchase the Ovilus app for my iPhone to do my job.

 An ovilus is a EMF detector linked to a database of words. This set-up allows ghosts to speak.

Why would a photojournalist consider purchasing this two dollar app?

Well last week four of my assignments were of the spooky kind. 

Reporter Nancy White and I interviewed three sets of people with spooky or gory jobs. We interviewed a family company that cleans up crime scenes and after unfortunate deaths, paranormal investigators and a grave yard keeper.

Added to that I teamed up with Tanya Talaga to tour Queen's Park with David Bogart who showed us the parts of the building that are said to be haunted.

And over the years at the Star I've also gone ghost hunting at the Island lighthouse, where the light house keeper is said to roam around after being murdered by some soldiers from Fort York.

I've also spent a night wandering the halls of the Guild Inn in search of ghosts and I have done the ghost tour of the Spuce Hill house on the Bronte Creek Park.

Here are some of the pictures from these assignments,

Island Lighthouse

Tanya Zyganiuk looks up at the The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Island (Wards Island) with Matthew Didier. The lighthouse is believed to be haunted by the ghost of lighthouse keeper John Paul Rademueller who disappeared and was believed murdered in 1812. While it was cloudy, I have no idea what the blue mist is near the top of the lighthouse.

The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Island is believed to be haunted by the ghost of lighthouse keeper John Paul Rademueller who disappeared and was believed murdered in 1812. The other strange thing about this shoot was we showed up at the lighthouse to find it unlocked, which the paranormal investigators said never happens.

The Guild Inn

Former city councillor David Soknacki knocks on walls in the basement searching for a tunnel that might have existed between the Guild Inn and the Studio Cottage as a team of paranormal investigators equipped with their own senses and full electronic gear overnight at the Inn to investigate stories that the Guild Inn is haunted.

A rose lays on the kitchen floor, the kitchen is reputed to have a ghost that walks through it.

Richard Palmisano looks at the image on the monitor from the infrared camera set up in the kitchen at the Guild Inn where a ghost has been seen.

Ghost hunting equipment.

Paul Palmisano speads talcum powder on a garbage bag on the sixth floor hallway of the Guild Inn where a six-year-old boy might haunt. The talcum powder is a trap where investigators hope to capture evidence of any kinds of prints. The trap will be baited with a couple toys as well.

Paul Palmisano's belt includes a flash light and crucifix.

As the rest of the team call out to the ghosts or spirits, Paul Palmisano listens for noise.

Krystal Leigh a former Inn employee and member of the team invesigating the Inn concentrates on what she is picking up on the sixth floor of the Guild Inn.

 As the rest of the team call out to the ghosts or spirits, Paul Palmisano peaks out a door on the sixth floor after hearing a noise and picking up a strange smell.

Spruce Lane Farmhouse

Andrew Cirtwill, 28 opens the pocket doors to the parlour, where  Henry Breckon laid in state during his funeral. Cirtwill hosts a Ghost tour of the Spruce Lane farmhouse that was owned by Henry Breckon.

Andrew Cirtwill, 28 walks in the parlour, where  Henry Breckon laid in state during his funeral.

Paranormal investigator Steve Genier says he felt someone tug on his shirt in the parlour during an investigation.

Cathy Entwistle tells some of the history of the home of Henry Breckon.

Andrew Cirtwill holds a picture of Henry Breckon and family sitting on the front porch of the home. Cirtwill in Victorian garb co-hosts a Ghost tour of the Spruce Lane farmhouse that was owned by Henry Breckon. 

Casa Loma

The Ovilus II picks up electro magnetic engry and converts it to words from a 2000 word dictionary.

Tom Board has worked at the castle for 51 years, he recounts a story of a movie people being spooked in the tunnel while filming Maximum Risk.

Sir Henry has reportedly been seen at his desk in the Round Room.

A bullet hole adorns the jacket worn by Ensign Malcolm McEachren from when he met his end on June 2, 1866 in Ridgeway Ontario, dispite this jacket on display the Ensign does not haunt the castle.

After a young boy saw an "angry man" on the second floor a staff member brought him into the Great Hall to get a description, the boy pointed to the portrait of Sir Henry. 

Read more about the Casa Loma ghost here!


Queen's Park

King's College once sat on the the East Lawn of Queen's Park, it served it's last six years as an asylum before being torn down to make way for Queen's Park. Much of the Limestone from that building was used to build a foundation for Queen's Park.

The main stairway in the lobby of Queen's Park is rumored to be the site of the odd ghost sighting.

Queen's Park protocol officer David Bogart tells the tale of the sighting of a ghost reported by a contractor in a tunnel under the East Wing.

David Bogart tells of his favourite spirit story. While taking a group through Queen's Park a person who said they were sensitive to spirits was near the Sergeant at Arms desk and mentioned the name Charles and the year 1936. After the tour Bogart looked up that year's house and discovered that the Sergeant at Arms was Captain Charles Rutherford VC MC MM. Hear David Bogart tell the story!

Aurora Cemetery

The Keeper's house was built in 1879 at the Aurora Cemetery that was established 1869.

The original drawings of the Keeper's house sit inside.  A Keeper lives in the home, while she doubts that it is haunted her brother says whenever he has to do work in the cellar he describes it as spooky and his dog refuses to go down with him.


I never purchased the Ovilus app, which with a compass makes a simple but effective ghost hunting kit.

I might be a little afraid of what I might hear at my house!


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