An Introduction to the Paranormal: The Lana Version

JULY 26th, 2015


Although not all of our stories involve the paranormal, that mysterious world does hold a huge interest for us (as you may be able to gather if you have seen any of our social media accounts). I have always found it fascinating to hear about the way people first become intrigued by those things that are unknown to us and I’m in the mindset that others feel the same. With that said, I thought I would share with you my first experience of which I am consciously aware.

When I was just a youngster of 7 or 8 years of age, my parents took my siblings and me to visit my maternal aunt and uncle. Now at that time, I wasn’t all that intrigued by the conversations of adults so I gathered up some of the toys that I had taken with me and proceeded to make my way to the finished basement where I wouldn’t be disturbed. I wasn’t totally alone however as my aunt and uncle’s German Shepherd Max came downstairs with me, lying protectively in front of the door.  I stayed at the bottom of the stairs and started playing demolition derby with some of my dinky cars.

As things are prone to do when causing some exuberant smash ‘em up playtime, one of the cars got away from me. It rolled across the floor, coming to a stop very close to the wood stove. Being young and brash and really wanting that particular car back at that exact moment, I went after it fearlessly not once considering the heat bellowing out from the stove.

“Don’t touch!”

The voice was loud, sudden… and unfamiliar. As I began to turn my head I noticed that Max was looking over my shoulder with his ears perked up. He was quiet. Being a protective animal, normally he would have barked at the very least. I finished turning around to see who had yelled at me. Standing there, looking down at me was some woman that I didn’t know. She looked angry. In fact, at my age, this was the terrifying epitome of “Stranger Danger!” Who was this person? How did she get in?

I ran up the stairs as fast as I could, with Max hot on my heels, so I could tell everyone about the frightening event that had just happened. My older cousin went downstairs to look around but after only a few moments came back up saying that there was no one downstairs. I adamantly repeated the entire experience again just hoping they would believe me. I may have been young but I wasn’t crazy. I knew what I saw.

My cousin and brother both decided to look again, this time taking me with them. I showed them exactly where I had been, what had happened and where the lady had stood. We walked the whole basement, going into each and every room in turn. We looked high and low - anywhere that a person could hide. The last room we checked was my aunt and uncle’s bedroom. I had been taught to respect my elders and therefore had never been in there. My cousin was looking under the bed, my brother was checking the closet and I was starting to feel dejected knowing we weren’t going to find anyone.

That is when I saw it. Sitting on the dresser was an old photo. Could it be? Why would there be a picture of this intruder here? Who was this mean, scary lady? I grabbed the frame and went back up the main floor while the guys continue looking. I found my mom and aunt sitting at the dining room table. I gently laid the image on the table in front of them and told them this was the person who had yelled at me. I was 100% sure of it.

“Who was this?” I asked.

“Sweetie, it couldn’t have been…” my aunt began. I interrupted her. I started to cry. Why wouldn’t anyone believe me? They obviously knew her so why could it not be this woman?

They explained to me that the photo was of their mother…my grandmother who had passed away before I was born. I had never had the opportunity to see a picture of her since she didn’t like having her picture taken and my mother had all of her old photos packed away.

“Then how did I see her because that IS who I saw.”

Although my mother is quite a superstitious lady, she has never been one to share her beliefs about the spirit world (even to this day) but seeing I was becoming inconsolable, she said the only thing that allowed me to calm down and put the entire experience in a new perspective. She told me that if it was my Grandmother that I had seen then she was only there to protect me. The reason she yelled at me was to keep me away from the woodstove so I wouldn’t burn myself and get hurt. That was why Max didn’t bark at her, he could sense that she wasn’t there to hurt me, only to help. As a tear fell down her cheek, she let me know that my Grandmother would have loved me so much had she had the chance to meet me.

Well we DID meet that day and Grandma… if you can hear me… I love you too.

I wish I had a better picture of my Grandmother

I wish I had a better picture of my Grandmother

Haunted Niagara-on-the-Lake: A Guided Tour

JULY 26th, 2015


[Lana] Our original experience with the haunted tour phenomena was in Niagara-on-the-Lake nearly two years ago. I had never been to the former capital city (of what was known at the time as Upper Canada) and John wanted to return and visit some of the specialty shops anyways so we decided to give it a whirl. The following is the article as written shortly after the walk took place on October 19, 2013.


[Lana] Let me first say that I have always been curious but leery of going on a haunted walk. Primarily, I suppose that I never really knew just what to expect. I was afraid of paying good money for this cheesy experience of just walking around town, led by some weirdo in a goofy period costume telling me boring stories of the town’s alleged hauntings while obnoxious people in the group with nothing better to do, ruining any smidgen of fun that might have been experienced.

[John] I must admit that my own feelings were similar. I had decided that this was for entertainment purposes only and had hoped that if nothing else, we would enjoy a nice evening with a guided walk about the town and maybe learn a wee bit of its history along the way.

[Lana] While every place has its own unique history, some locations are host to truly monumental events. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario falls into this category. The capital city of the area known as Upper Canada, Niagara-on-the-Lake plays an enormous role in our country’s history, especially in regards to the War of 1812.

It is for this reason (and the fact that John was willing to go with me) that we decided to give this Ghost Walk a try. Unless our guide was totally inept then we would at least hear some interesting history and the area is absolutely gorgeous.

[John] Though my suspicion of the walk that we were going to try was that it would not necessarily be what we were looking for, I was more than happy to visit the town again. I never seem to spend much time there but always want to and while there, we may as well try on a new experience.

[Lana] We arrived in Niagara-on-the-Lake in mid-afternoon so that we could look around before our 8:30 Walk was to begin. Other than the wineries that the area is known for, of which there are many, the city is home to a variety of specialty shops which we thought we would check out. One of our favourites shops being the strictly Christmas-oriented store aptly named Just Christmas. (For anyone interested in booking a similar trip I would suggest arriving much earlier than we did, as we didn’t allot nearly enough time for everything we wanted to see once we actually saw what the city had to offer.)

As the afternoon gave way to evening and we tried to decide which of the many restaurants to dine at, the atmosphere of the city seemed to change leaving the commercialism behind, taking on a more spiritual feel. Even the Shaw Café and Wine Bar had that eerie sensation you only get when you feel like you are being watched.

*Traveler’s note: reserve your table. These establishments get extremely busy incredibly quickly.

[John] There is a staircase in the Shaw Café that drew my attention quite a bit. It was the sort of feeling that made me want to stare at it but also made me want to turn away. I can’t say that I really felt someone on the stairs watching but it was a feeling similar to that. Intriguing and eerie at the same time.

[Lana] We finished our meal and proceeded to The Haunted Shop (for information and pre-ordering) to pick up our tickets. We were to be the third tour that night which gave us time to get coffee from the nearby Starbucks…a strong recommendation for a chilly autumn evening stroll.

[John] Slightly more than chilly and very damp. It was a wet cold night. Hot drinks were a must.

[Lana] As the time to commence grew closer, my excitement and trepidation grew as well. A seemingly meek gentleman came out to the group introducing himself as our guide for the evening, Daniel. He then informed us that he was not one of the regular guides but since the night was over-booked, they had asked if he could help out.

What were we getting ourselves into? Not only were we hesitant about the whole idea to begin with, but now we weren’t even sure if our guide would know what he was talking about.

[John] I was a bit nervous too but as I had decided I was there for the experience regardless of how it panned out, I remained open and was happy that I did.

[Lana] It didn’t take long for us to realize that, not only was Daniel competent, he was the star of the Walk. He knew every location we stopped at like the back of his hand and told us the history with equal parts drama and comedy. It was only after the tour ended that we found out Daniel Cumerlato is the founding partner of the whole operation.

Photo provided by Daniel Cumerlato

Photo provided by Daniel Cumerlato

After this experience, I would definitely go on another Ghost Walk. I had a wonderful time and only hope to get another guide as invested in the experience as Daniel.

[John] Same here… it was a magnificent evening that truly did inspire a desire to try out more haunted-themed walks. Learning the history in this way was a lot of fun and sparked my imagination quite a bit. It was interesting to hear and see the reactions of other people in the group when Daniel would tell us the different stories. The incorporated history is exciting and whether or not you really believe the ghosty aspects, it is enjoyable. To be a storyteller in this way must be immediately gratifying… being able to entertain and possibly spook people while sharing the history of a beautiful and very historic town… oh how I wish I had a talent as such.

[Lana] I’m not going to ruin the fun for anyone who wants to take the tour but I would like to share a couple of my favourites (please skip the rest of this article if you want to be surprised by every stop on the walk).

The Olde Angel Inn is believed to be haunted by the spirit of Captain Swayze, a British officer who was chased into the basement by American soldiers and killed when they stabbed through the barrel he was hiding in. Reports say that footsteps can be heard in the washroom when no one else is present. The most drastic activity, such as breaking glass and moving objects, happens when the Union Jacks are taken down to be cleaned. Once they are replaced, the activity settles down once more.

The Romance Collection House doesn’t have a famous ghost as it is unclear as to what exactly is happening. The one known anomaly however is that cameras and other electronic devices have strange things happen to them such as batteries being drained, flashes not working, malfunctions and strange captures in photographs.

I myself captured something odd at this location. I took a photo of Daniel as he told us about the happenings but it was a very dark picture. In my attempt to lighten it, strange markings appeared in the photo. I was sure there was no plant life between us and I spoke to Daniel after the fact; he confirmed there were no plants there. I am still unsure as to what exactly is in this photo.

[John] I have also tried to explain what could be in the photo. It’s tough to understand what the camera could have picked up. Is it possible that lightening the picture highlighted “noise”? Some sort of “static” that is visible when removing some shadows? Whatever it is, I do find it interesting and certainly it adds to the mystique.

This tour was definitely not what I expected and it left me pleasantly surprised and appreciative of Daniel’s talents and company. I’m very happy we decided to try it out and I look forward to many similar adventures.

[Lana] So if you have any interest in the historical or even a twinge of curiosity about the spirit world, visit “Canada’s Most Haunted Town.” I am quite sure you will have an amazing evening on the Ghost Walk of Niagara-on-the-Lake. You won’t regret it.