A little girl who cut herself and died of a staff infection.
Mysterious footsteps and pianos playing when there’s no one there.
A French spirit who is also, a music critic.
And even angry presences that didn’t want paranormal investigators around.
With Halloween coming up, it’s a spooky time of year on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, with White Rock and South Surrey both active areas for reports of experiences that can only be described as paranormal.
Husband-and-wife team Glen and Janessa Ferguson, who used to be with the Canadian Paranormal Society and lived in Surrey before they moved to the valley, have a long history of hunting otherworldly presences, but these days, they tend to offer their services more through word of mouth than with any organization.
Janessa, who is a medium, and Glen, whose mother and grandmother were mediums, both grew up being more sensitive and open to things that might scare others, such as feeling presences or spirits that others don’t, they say.
Mediumship, according to several sources, is the practice of purportedly mediating communication between familiar spirits, or spirits of the dead, and living human beings.
“Sometimes, they’re scared. They don’t understand or they don’t have the mental capacity to understand that they can move on,” Janessa explained.
Years ago, she and Glen were invited with some other paranormal investigators to Alex House (formerly Camp Alexandria) in Crescent Beach, as there had been reports of activity.
“There was a cook there who said she’d had a couple of children running around the kitchen, but when she went to go after them, they disappeared,” Glen said.
With another medium, Janessa said they were able to help the children move on.
“You tell them the situation. You tell them where they are, and you tell them to look for their parents and you invite them to cross through,” Glen said.
Janessa remembers the ‘thank you’ she received after helping them.
“I just got this massive hug of energy… all I felt was ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you… I about fell off my chair,” she said.
“There was an old cook who’d stayed back and she was so happy we’d sent the two kid’s spirits on and she gave me this hug. She had stayed behind to protect them. Then she went on,” she said.
Both Glen and Janessa feel anyone has the power to be a medium – it’s more being open to the feelings, or to sensing, other presences, Janessa said.
“I just feel them – like chills going up your back, up your spine. I feel their emotions a lot,” Janessa said.
While they often use paranormal equipment, such as an obelisk that helps with voice recognition and allowing questions and responses from other presences, infrared cameras, full-spectrum cameras, thermal cameras, trigger devices, and other devices that focus on vibrations and electromagnetic fields, such equipment isn’t always needed.
With the Peninsula’s history of Semiahmoo First Nations people living in the area for centuries, there are often Indigenous presences felt, the couple said.
“Crescent Park is quite an active place in the middle of the night. Glen was out there and said something about how he is an ex-British army soldier, and we actually got an EVP – that’s an electrical voice phenomenon – of ‘Yes sir!’ And then he got attacked, and he was throwing up all the way home,” she recalled.
Glen remembers that he also got scratched – and has been shoved and pushed by apparitions and unseen presences in the past as well, so hard he’s been knocked over – admitting he may have pushed a little too hard that time.
At the former Chateau Cargill Manor in South Surrey, they experienced another presence, who apparently preferred to communicate in French.
“Before (the building) got condemned, one of the investigators was humming and we got an EVP in French saying ‘Stop the music!’ That was really interesting,” Janessa said.
With both of them having served in the military, and having a history of working steady jobs that require intelligence and skill, Glen and Janessa know there are skeptics out there.
“I love skeptics. Because when you can prove a skeptic wrong, it’s always cool,” Janessa said, noting Indigenous and other histories are rich with spirit walkers and spiritualists.
“We’re not crazy. We’re just more in tune.”
The pair have never visited the Washington Avenue Grill nor the Oceana Parc Playhouse in White Rock, but they’d like to, as both places are reportedly, known to boast a ghost or two.
White Rock Players Club artistic director Fred Partridge, a past president who has been involved with the club for more than 40 years, said there’s been plenty of reported happenings.
“There’s definitely unexplained phenomenon happening there… one thing that comes up fairly frequently is footsteps up in the dressing rooms when everybody’s downstairs on the stage, and they know that nobody’s up there,” he said, or the lights around the costume or storage area being switched off – while someone is in there.
More recently, some technical workers were on the stage doing some work.
“This has happened a few times – the last time, they actually heard someone playing piano out in the lobby. They thought, ‘Oh, we thought we were the only ones here,’ so they went out to see.
“There’s two pianos out there, but there was nobody out there and both of the keyboards were not exposed, they were covered,” Partridge said, noting that other times, it can be just a random note or two that is heard.
“Just recently, someone (who was upstairs) heard somebody trying to talk to them, and they had their back to the doorway, and they heard somebody say, ‘Aren’t you going to talk to me?’,” he said.
“They turned around, and nobody was there, so they went downstairs and asked, ‘Who was just upstairs?’
While there have been theories that the presence might have been a former longtime costumer, the person who heard the voice thought not, Partridge said.
“There’s a female presence there – if that’s what you believe,” he said.
He’s not quite sold… but, “Only because it hasn’t happened to me yet,” he noted.
The Explore White Rock website calls the Washington Avenue Grill ‘White Rock’s Haunted House,’ telling the tales of the building, which was built in 1913 by the Campbell River Lumber Company and originally operated as a lumber mill that employed more than 400 people during the First World War.
In 1934, it became the home of caretaker Arthur Sharpe, who, after living there for 10 years, “mysteriously disappeared, and is believed by many to be haunting the building to this day,” the website says, adding his isn’t the only presence reported there.
Staff and customers of the restaurant have reported paranormal experiences with two other apparitions: the first, a young woman who died after being hit by a car in front of the restaurant and the second, being her lover who witnessed the accident and committed suicide out of grief over her death.
“Reports are that the woman’s ghost comes out of the neighbouring cemetery, wanders through the restaurant and up the stairs and her romantic interest is known for touching staff members and visitors.”