The Atlas Coal Mine Investigation, Drumheller, Alberta

Coal Mining in the Drumheller Valley

Coal was not hard to discover in the area that is now Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. Seams of coal show up as black stripes in the badlands of the Red Deer River Valley. 

The Blackfoot and Cree knew about the black rock that burned, but they didn't like to use it. Later, three white explorers reported coal in the area: Peter Fidler in 1792, Dr. James Hector of the Palliser Expedition in 1857, and Joseph Tyrrell in 1884. 

In the years that followed, a handful of ranchers and homesteaders dug coal out of river banks and coulees to heat their homes. However, the first commercial coal mine did not open until Sam Drumheller started the coal rush in the area that now bears his name. 

The rush started when Sam bought land off a local rancher named Thomas Greentree. Sam turned around and sold this land to Canadian National Railway, to develop a townsite. Sam also registered a coal mine. Before his mine opened, however, Jesse Gouge and Garnet Coyle beat him to it, and opened the Newcastle Mine. CN laid tracks into town, and the first load of coal was shipped out of Drumheller in 1911. 

Once the railway was built, people poured in. Hundreds, then thousands, of people came to dig coal. The greatest numbers came from Eastern Europe, Britain, and Nova Scotia. More mines opened. By the end of 1912, there were 9 working coal mines, each with its own camp of workers: Newcastle, Drumheller, Midland, Rosedale, and Wayne. In the years that followed, more mines and camps sprang up: Nacmine, Cambria, Willow Creek, Lehigh, and East Coulee. 

Coal mining was hard, dirty, dangerous work. Mining in the Drumheller Valley, however, was less hard, dirty, and dangerous than it was in many other coal mining regions in Canada. This was due to both lucky geology and lucky timing.

The geology of the Drumheller coal field results in flat lying seams, which are much safer to mine than the steeply pitching seams of the mountain mines. In addition, the coal produced in Drumheller is sub-bituminous. This grade of coal is "immature" which means it hasn't had time to build up a strong concentration of gas. Methane gas is the biggest killer in coal mines around the world. 

The timing of the Drumheller mine industry was lucky, too. By the time the Newcastle opened in 1911, the right to better working conditions had been fought for and won by miners' unions in North America. As a result, miners were provided with wash houses, better underground ventilation, and higher safety standards. When the Newcastle opened, there were laws in place to prohibit child labour, so boys under 14 were no longer allowed underground. The worst of the worst coal mining days were over, at least in North America.

Nevertheless, early mine camps around Drumheller were called "hell's hole" because miners lived in tents, or shacks, with little sanitation and little comfort. It was a man's world, with drinking, gambling, and watching fistfights common forms of recreation. As shacks gave way to little houses, and women joined the men and started families, life improved. Hockey, baseball, music, theatre, and visiting friends enriched peoples' lives. Going downtown Saturday night was a huge event, with every language in Europe spoken by the crowds spilling off the sidewalks. No longer "hell's hole," Drumheller became "the wonder town of the west!" and "the fastest growing town in Canada, if not in North America!" 

Sub bituminous coal is ideal for heating homes and cooking food. People all over western Canada heated their homes, schools, and offices with Drumheller coal. Long, cold winters were good for Drumheller, because everyone needed lots of coal. In these years, miners had of money in their pockets. Short, mild winters were difficult. A miner might only work one day a week, and get laid off in early spring. He got through the summer by growing a big garden, catching fish, and working for farmers. 

Between 1911 and 1979, 139 mines were registered in the Drumheller valley. Some mines didn't last long, but 34 were productive for many years. Between 1912 and 1966, Drumheller produced 56,864,808 tons of coal, making it one of the major coal producing regions in Canada. 

The beginning of the end for Drumheller's mining industry was the Leduc Oil Strike of 1948. After this, natural gas became the fuel of choice for home heating in western Canada. To the mine operators, it seemed that people switched from messy coal stoves to clean gas furnaces as fast as they could. As the demand for coal dropped, mines closed. As mines closed, people moved away and communities suffered. 

Some communities, like Willow Creek, completely vanished. Others, like East Coulee, went from a boomtown of 3800 to a ghost town of 180. When the Atlas #4 Mine shipped its last load of coal in 1979, the coal years of Drumheller were over. 

The Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site preserves the last of the Drumheller mines. The Atlas recalls the time when Coal was King, and "mining the black" brought thousands of people to this lonely valley. The nearby East Coulee School Museuminterprets the life of children and families in a bustling mine town. 

The Investigation

We started our investigation with the row of mine houses and buildings that are situated near the main parking area. As we gathered our equipment we were greeted by Carla, The Atlas Coal Mine Museum Curator, who took us into the Gift Shop and main building. She was eager to see what we may capture and proceeded to gather a notepad and paper. I explained to Carla to not let on about any history or known haunting, but to allow us to explore and investigate unmolested. Carla agreed and said she would take notes that we could compare to later to see if anything we capture or feel matches to their previous experiences and histories.

Our group was immediately succumb to a shortness of breathe and coughing fits. This feeling would be a trend throughout our investigation. As we explored the giftshop area and its museum artifacts our EVP machine picked up laboured breathing as if it was through a machine or a breathing mask. At this same instance JJ noticed a difference in the quality of air and he noted that it “...isn't exactly fresh and inviting.”

We continued to investigate the next house, noted as the “White House” or “Grey House” where upon entering Cher noted: “It's like we are disturbing someone's peace. I can see someone back here smoking a cigarette. Right back here by the window, as soon as I walked in through the door I felt like I was disturbing someone.”

Shortly after making this statement we recorded an EVP that sounds like ““They don't like us. They don't like to touch.”

The Washhouse

JJ then commented that “...It feels very heavy in here and I don't know if it is just from the dust and the artifacts that are in here, but it feels very heavy.”

Our entire group felt constricted and short of breathe upon entering each building but the next house we encountered a totally opposite effect. The air quality was different and there wasn't a heaviness to the air.

Cher said she smelled lavender, but none of the other team could pick up this smell, but we agreed that the air was different and that there wasn't such a feeling to whereas we wanted to cough or breathe heavily.

We focused in on one particular room and recorded an EVP which says: “Please listen.” and shortly after another that is unidentifiable, but ends with “...yah.” as if answering another spirits question or affirming a comment.

“I feel a sense of familiarity. Like I know these people and places for a long time,” said Ray, who described this feeling throughout the investigation.

We then proceeded to the last house in the row where Angela immediately felt sick upon entering. I felt a strange feeling of forbodding as soon as I crossed the threshold and as Cher entered she immediately commented: “It feels like there is a very upset man here.”

Following he comment we recorded an EVP that states: “He's mad.”

We proceeded into each room on the first floor but as we ascended the stairs we were immediately drawn to the room on the right where each of our group felt nauseous and dizzy. Upon exiting the room the feeling had gone away. Entering again, and the same feeling came over each and everyone of us. I started writing in my notes and wrote down that someone, a male, had a severe head injury and somehow was connected to this room, or this house. As I concentrated on this feeling the back of my head began to ache, as did my neck.


Angela said that her face was “insanely itchy” while within the room and JJ commented that the hairs on his arms and neck were standing up and he was experiencing a chilling sensation that ran down his back. Cher remained quiet in this room and then as we exited she announced to me while the others investigated the basement area that “That room back there where we were. I think the rafter was exposed and someone hung themselves there. I could be wrong, but I know someone was behind me and my hands went cold. Her name was Sarah Anna or Hanna or something like that. I think she killed herself.”

At this time I reveal to Cher my closed notepad with the words “Room upstairs on right: Suicide, female.”

I ask Cher to see if she can get a name and she comes up with a name of Sarah Anna or Hanna. At this moment we capture an EVP that sounds like “Lionel.”

Upon speaking to Carla after our investigation she revealed that she is unaware of the any suicide within the house, however, says that she can connect the head injury to the back of the head to an accident they had at the mine in which a miner backed into an exposed power line with the back of his head electrocuting himself instantly. She also commented that the house was the electrical engineers house.

Our group then proceeded to the yard were we drawn into different locations. Ray was especially interested in taking a path down and past a wire fence around a corner of the main hill where he felt he needed to go. He could not proceed further due to safety concerns but later Carla revealed that Ray was onto something as the largest mine disaster in Drumheller history occurred just around the corner at the Monarch Mine where several men were killed and injured in a blast and cave in. The Atlas Coal Mine's manager attempted to rescue injured men, but was asphyxiated and died in the mine shaft.

Angela was interested in a train car that later Carla said she wished we would have spent more time on as it was related to a death and many injuries.

As we inspected the artifacts and equipment we made our way into the main tipple, the largest and only still standing coal tipple in North America. Entering this location one really starts to understand the hard work and life the miners endured. Everyone felt short of breathe and started to cough as we climbed the tipple.

We stopped near the top to take pictures and video. The air quality was affecting us more.

“It feels so bad in here like it is so hard to breathe, so hot and dry,” said JJ.

“Holy hell,” replied Angela to the sudden change in air quality.

“It's just hard to breathe, my mouth is so dry. What the hell?”

Both Angela and JJ heard a loud sighing sound to which the EVP recorder verified.
Angela feels as if the sound came from where JJ was standing, but JJ said he did not make the sound.

“I heard it. It was a like a sigh of frustration,” JJ said and notes that his telephoto lens on his camera zoomed in and out at the same time without pressing the button.

JJ and Angela question if I had heard it and I reply that I did not. I was standing about 8 to 10 feet away. Angela said it was “ a sound of desperation – like why me?”

Cher was further up the tipple near the very top where she said she did not hear any sounds, but said she felt as if someone had jumped from the top, was pushed off, or simply fell. Later Carla revealed that no such incident nor accident had occurred.

JJ and Angela were intrigued with hearing an audible sound and tried to capture more sounds on the EVP recorder. I proceeded down to join them and guide them if needed.

“Do you want us to leave? Do you want to say Hi?” asked JJ to which a response was recorded on EVP: “You need to get a doctor.”

“Did you die up here or in the house?” I asked.

An EVP recorded reveals: “The house. I died.”

“Did you die in the mine?” I asked and got a response: “Yes.”

“Was it an instant death?” I ask and again “Yes” is recorded.

Not knowing that we were in direct contact and getting immediate replies I comment to JJ that :“This is not a good feeling.” The air seamed hot, stale and there was a feeling of dread.

“No its not a good feeling,” responds JJ. We both felt strange being there asking questions to seemingly nothing. Our EVP recorder, however, verified that we were not alone.

We exited the tipple and made our way to the Wash House where we experienced the majority of activity. Immediately Cher and I were drawn to the attic or upstairs area. Cher climbed to take a look and asked Carla “What's up here?” to which Carla replied: “Nothing its an attic.”

I was satisfied that Carla did not reveal until later what was in the attic. I wrote down on my pad that I felt there was a secret in the attic, that something in the attic was hidden from others. Cher and I did not pursue the attic further as we were drawn into the main room. Carla later revealed that in fact a secret had been in the attic – the miners had confessed many years later that a prostitute named Alice had entertained men in the room above. Curators found a small brass bed as proof that someone had in fact slept in the room many years ago.

Boots in The Wash House

Our group felt different in the Wash House. We all felt as though someone or something was there with us. Something we could not see, but we could sense. Several members of our group felt as though a fight had occurred and that it was a busy place at one time. We decided to split up and sit alone, each in a section of the Wash House.

Upon sitting in one area, I concentrated my vision on one particular area where in front of me manifested small feel splashing across and through flowing water. They were children's feet, which struck me odd. Angela noted that she had seen movement but could not make it out from her vantage point. Children's feet in a miner's wash house? It didn't make sense to me, but I revealed my sighting to Carla after our investigation to which she said the woman and children of the miners did use the wash house on Sundays confirming my vision.

Our group assembled into the main wash area where we tried to make communication with the spirit or spirits who we all felt were present. We made several attempts to communicate with whatever was present but we did not get an audible answer nor one that was recorded on the EVP machine until Carla started asking questions herself. On her third or fourth question we started picking up answers on the EVP recorder.

Carla asked: “Do you know about Alice?” to which we record a reply “Yes.”

I then ask: “Can you tell us about a secret?” but do not get an answer.

Cher then asked “Is it about them?” I am not sure what exactly Cher meant by this, but we do get a recorded reply: “Yes.”

“Did they die here?” Carla asked and gets another reply. “Yes” is recorded on EVP.

“Can you tell us the year?” Carla continues and the year (or age) of “29” is recorded.

I then press on to see if we can make physical contact: “If there is someone with us here now, can you touch one of us?” and an EVP is recorded: “Sorry.”

Cher then said she is picking up on name of spirit with us Joseph Lazar to which Carla is curious about.

“I feel alright,” is recorded right after Cher says the name.

“Does this man know me?” asked Carla.

Cher answers that he does and that he is present with us in spirit form. I ask Carla if anything is making sense to her and she indicates that it does.

“One of the last men working here was Joseph and he did know me. He wasn't directly related to me but he was sort of like my grandpa.”

Immediately as Carla talks about the Joseph person she knows both Angela and myself see some movement in the dark corner. We proceed to ask more questions but reveal no answers and record no further EVPs.

We then made our way to other out buildings which gave us no indication of a haunting but meet up with a maintainance worker who is finishing up putting wooden steps at the top of the mine hill. He is intrigued by our presence and indicates he has had experiences of his own at the property. He said he feels comfortable with the ghosts and knows that some of them come around to visit.

Our next stop, we entered the Supply House and Infirmary. My video camera batteries were near exhausted and I jogged back to the vehicle parking lot to retrieve another battery. The team continued to investigate noting that the upstairs of the infirmary had various cold spots.

Both Cher and Angela feel cold alongside their backs and legs. Cher feels ice cold in one location and cannot get her camera to turn on even though the batteries remain charged. The cold spots are felt by JJ, Angela and Ray confirming location and temperature change.

At one point, Cher feels as though someone is standing in front of her and then feels as though someone had walked by and brushed her bangs.

As I arrive with my fresh battery we enter the basement infirmary where we see an old bed and several historical items. Cher picks up on leg amputations and injuries, however, the rest of the group do not pick up on any unusual feelings.

As we proceed out of the building JJ says that there is definite cold spots in the upstairs and that it felt “weird.”

Carla explains later that the cold spots may be that of a ghost that had been seen in the building by several witnesses including a child. The describe the ghost as a plain-jane looking older woman. Delving into the archives, Carla found out that the building was used by a female doctor making the previous claims of eye-witnesses more valid.

We then proceeded to the mine managers office where no one had picked up anything unusual. I was drawn to a timepiece, however, and when I questioned Carla about the artifact, she smiled and indicated it was once owned and used by Joseph. This further shows us that this spirit was present and guided us along.

The team reassembled in the gift shop to discuss with Carla what we had found where she discusses our investigation and she reveals the history of The Atlas Coal Mine.

Special Thanks To The Atlas Coal Mine. Historical information provided by The Atlas Coal Mine.

The Atlas Coal Mine features a haunted attraction every year at the end of October:

Lougheed House, Calgary Alberta

Lougheed House, also known as Beaulieu, was home to Senator James Alexander Lougheed, Lady Isabella Hardisty Lougheed, their six children and staff.

This grand sandstone prairie mansion was built in 1891 and enlarged in 1907; the impressive scale and the high quality of the design, materials and interior furnishings of the house reflected the wealth and prestige of the Lougheeds. An article in the Calgary Daily Herald claimed it was "one of the finest residences in the Canadian northwest."

In their day, when the population of this pioneer town was under 4,000, the Lougheeds were among Calgary's most influential citizens; they would remain so for decades. Their house was a political and social hub of this young and fast-growing prairie center, and received many renowned visitors.

We spoke at length about my ideas, methods of investigating and my devotion to investigating homes with possible spirits. Shortly thereafter, we were granted an all-access evening to investigate the home and the grounds.

James Alexander Lougheed

This was the first investigation myself, JJ, Ray and Cher conducted as a group. Unfortunately, our good friend Angela could not make the time commitment. For the others it was an evening of awe of the history, majesty and mystery this grand mansion provided.

It was first time any of them had stepped into Lougheed and my second. The team was oblivious to the location until the final minute and heard nothing of the history or rumored haunting. For some it would provide a déjà vu experience, while for others it would only add to their skepticism. 

This was the first investigation myself, JJ, Ray and Cher conducted as a group. Unfortunately, our good friend Angela could not make the time commitment. For the others it was an evening of awe of the history, majesty and mystery this grand mansion provided.

It was first time any of them had stepped into Lougheed and my second. The team was oblivious to the location until the final minute and heard nothing of the history or rumored haunting. For some it would provide a déjà vu experience, while for others it would only add to their skepticism. 

It was first time any of them had stepped into Lougheed and my second. The team was oblivious to the location until the final minute and heard nothing of the history or rumored haunting. For some it would provide a déjà vu experience, while for others it would only add to their skepticism.

When I first spoke to the director of Lougheed House he explained that his house is not really considered haunted and being a historic and cultural centre he did not want the property exploited for the sake of entertainment.

History of the Mansion

Entertaining at Beaulieu
Lougheed House received important state visitors on many occasions. In 1912, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and their daughter Princess Patricia stayed at the house. In 1919, the Lougheeds entertained the Prince of Wales at a garden party. Prince Edward visited again in 1923 and 1928. Other notable visitors included Prince George; Governor General Lord and Lady Byng; Prince Erik of Denmark (1928); Lord and Lady Willingdon; and the Right Honourable Stanley Baldwin.

Lady Lougheed & Daughter Marjorie

James Lougheed was appointed to the Senate in 1889, and worked to grant provincial status to Alberta in 1905. Following the Conservative victory in 1911, he held a number of key portfolios. He was knighted in 1916 for his role in establishing hospitals and services for Canadian veterans after the Great War. Successful in business and property development, Lougheed also supported the arts, building Calgary's Lyric and Grand Theatres.

The End of an Era
Lougheed House Conservation Society Sir James died in Ottawa on November 2, 1925 and was brought back to Calgary for burial at the Union Cemetery. The Anglican Cathedral couldn't hold all the people who wanted to attend the funeral service. At the time, it was said that "no other individual played as large a part in the actual building of this city."

Following the onset of the Depression in 1929, the Lougheed estate was unable to pay the property taxes on its real estate holdings. In 1934, the City took legal title to the house, one of the many mansions that it acquired during that period. Lady Lougheed was permitted to remain in residence at 'the Big House' until her death in 1936. A public auction in 1938 saw the contents of the House distributed into the winds. Lougheed House Conservation Society is particularly interested in the whereabouts of items purchased at that auction!

As history goes, Lougheed House has continued to play many public roles since that time.

Training Centre
In 1939, the house was made available to the Dominion-Provincial Youth Employment Training Program. Almost 40 young women lived at Lougheed House in each of two sessions, and learned home nursing and housekeeping skills.

Canadian Women's Army Corps
During the Second World War, Lougheed House served as barracks for the Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWACs). Women lived at the house and worked in the military base offices and stores and drove military vehicles.

Canadian Red Cross Society
Later in the war, the Canadian Red Cross Society established a blood donor clinic in the basement to help the war effort. When the war ended, the house became a dormitory for returning service women until they could find other housing or could return to their pre-war homes. In 1947, the Red Cross rented the house as their Calgary and southern Alberta headquarters.

Province Takes Ownership
The Province of Alberta designated the house a Provincial Historic Resource in 1976. By 1978, the Red Cross moved to a building at the west end of the block while the provincial government took ownership of Lougheed House.

Community Action saves Lougheed House
In 1988, the Historical Society of Alberta researched the possibility of restoring Lougheed House. The province approved its plan and created a provincial advisory board. In 1993, the City of Calgary purchased the original formal garden and pasture, and the entire historic estate property was in public ownership.

Lougheed House Conservation Society
During the 1990s, the Historical Society of Alberta continued to raise public awareness about the site and its potential, creating the Lougheed House Conservation Society in 1995. Since then, the Society has spearheaded the project to restore and re-use the Lougheed estate, a project completed with the formal opening of Lougheed House in 2005.

Already a Provincial Historic Resource, Lougheed House was designated a National Historic Site in 1995. During the following decade of dedication and hard work, the House was faithfully restored to its Victorian and Edwardian splendour. It opened in May 2005 as a Public Heritage Centre. The historic gardens on the estate have been beautifully recreated as well and are now designed, planted and landscaped to a different theme each year.

Today, it's yours to discover and enjoy.

The Investigation

We began our investigation by assembling on the main floor and then proceeding to the basement where we sat in the main room, and proceeded to feel out the energy. We set up a recording unit to record any possible communication with the other side via EVP. I also set up a stationary video camera to record any possible activity.

We decided to sit on the floor in a circle and remained focused. I began by asking if anyone was with us and if they could speak to us.

I felt a sense of children playing and this feeling was confirmed with all those present. To me it was not the feeling of a child ghost, but the knowledge that the basement held the energy of children and play. This feeling was later confirmed, as the Lougheed House, has programs for school-aged children.

Cher indicated that she could also feel children and she also pointed out a cold spot around her. Upon investigating the cold spot further, both JJ and I determined that the cold spot had a natural explanation. Immediately behind Cher was a door leading outside and a cold draft was entering the room through the door. Cher choose to ignore this obvious explanation.

The basement remained quiet and no EVPs or activity was recorded. We then proceeded to the first floor where Cher mentioned that a ghost had followed her up from the basement.

As we proceeded to go to the 2nd floor an EVP was recorded: “She is coming.”

Days before the investigation the team proceeded to meditate and Remote View the location. As JJ rounded the corner staircase he stopped dead in his tracks and commented that it was exactly what he had envisioned. He was rather stunned by this revelation and began taking pictures.

On the 2nd floor we split the team up into different rooms and turned out the lights completely and tried to communicate with the spirits on a one-on-one basis. Individuals were allowed to pick their own room and with recorders, cameras and video cameras we proceeded to try to feel more from Lougheed House.

JJ chose the main bedroom in the front of the house where he later commented: “It was very quiet; a sense of sadness. At one point I could not tell if it was with this room or not. Very, very sad though. It feels like the longer we are here, we've been here long enough. Like we overstayed. Not 'Get out'...but I am not sure, an uncomfortable feeling.”

Ray chose another bedroom near the rear of the house and said that he “...did not feel alone, but nothing had happened.”

Cher said she could not choose a room and was drawn to several areas, so I placed her in the back bedroom which the curator said was recognized by others as a place of interest.

Cher later said that she picked up on the name of Edgar and nothing more. Edgar, however, was a name that was in large print on one of the museum boards. Perhaps Cher had glanced at the board and subconsciously brought the name forward.

During the time the team had split up I was pulled to the 3rd floor. I was drawn almost immediately to a door near the front of the house. I tried to open the door and found it locked. I sat down in front of the locked door and concentrated on what was inside. Slowly a name came forward – Sarah. As the name revealed itself I felt a great deal of sadness wash over me. It is interesting to note that directly below me in the bedroom JJ felt sadness as well. As I sat in the darkness I felt compelled to cry and holding back tears I felt a chill run up and down my spine. Suddenly, the feeling vanished and a sense of calm took over. I was perplexed by the range of emotion and once again the name Sarah had come forward.

After our investigation it was revealed that Sarah Lougheed, aged 13, had died in the house, in the locked room. The room was supposed to be unlocked for our investigation. Does Sarah haunt this particular room? There is certainly no evidence to suggest this is so. The room held an emotional energy and not what we would consider a haunting. There is also no record of any kind in regards to Sarah, or a younger girl haunting the location.

I proceeded to the 2nd floor and gathered everyone and said we should investigate the first floor as a group. Cher said that she got the name of Clarise who she believed was a spirit who was following her about the house. She also said she got the name Joseph Alexander and commented that these were the servants children who she said lived in the basement. However, later we learned that no servants lived in the basement and the names did not match anyone who had lived or worked within the Lougheed House.

In the main hallway I find that my camera light battery has totally drained, as with one of my camera batteries. JJ notes that his camera battery is very low as well. Both Cher and Ray's camera batteries are still functioning properly.

The first floor offered nothing of interest and we all felt as though we should proceed once again upstairs. As we got to the second floor landing an EVP was recorded: “I'll play.”

We gathered in the back bedroom to record an EVP session and also to communicate via Ouija Board.

The EVP session began and we asked several questions but nothing of note is recorded. Cher said she felt a cold spot around her, but both JJ and Ray said they cannot confirm it. I also entered the space and could not feel the cold Cher is said to be feeling.

JJ noted that every time he passes by the bed he feels he should not be near it. He sat away from it as we proceed to try communication with the Ouija Board. I set up two stationary video cameras to capture any activity. JJ, Cher and Ray proceeded with holding the planchette and asking questions. Immediately it begins to move and begins to respond to questions posed by the group. This was the fastest and most noteworthy activity I have ever seen.

I proceeded to take my main camera on my shoulder and zoom in on the action. As I do so, Cher indicated that she cannot proceed stating she is feeling very ill. The session is stopped as I put down my camera to assist Cher.

Later both JJ and Ray said they believed that the Ouija Board session was not authentic. The sudden stoppage when directly on camera makes me suspicious of the whole investigation. No EVPs nor any other photographic or videographic evidence were recorded.

After a short break and refreshment I ask Ray about his Remote Viewing Session to which he responds he felt he saw an older woman with short hair. I point out a photo of Lady Lougheed to which he says it looks similar to the woman he envisioned.

We proceeded to investigate the third floor where the team did not feel anything out of the ordinary. The house felt different even near the locked door where I felt emotional. The third floor offered us no evidence of a haunting and so we proceeded to the first floor while I gathered our stationary cameras.

We concluded the investigation of the Lougheed House.

When I reviewed footage of the stationary camera in the back bedroom I noted that the lights had turned on and off several times while were on different floors. Upon turning up the volume I also noted the definite “click-click” of the light switch. No one was in the room or on the floor, for that matter to have turned on an off the light. In fact, the door was closed to the room.

So is this proof that the Lougheed House is haunted? Our team gathered information and feelings from the house and several EVPs were recorded throughout the historic building. The house certainly has an aura about it and there is a feeling and energy of the past.

Witnesses have said they have seen a woman in the front window looking out. They describe her as old and in old-fashioned dress. The front window is where Mrs. Lougheed would sit and watch the bustling streets of Calgary in her later years.

Others have stated that in Mrs. Lougheed's bedroom they have seen movement out of the corner of their eyes, furniture moved slightly and footsteps when no one is in the room.

Children, who also visit the site through school programs have come forward and asked, “Who is the woman in the window?” to which staff and others cannot see what they are viewing.

The Lougheed House remains one of Calgary's historic mansions and offers tours as well as a fantastic restaurant on its first floor and well worth the visit!

Dining Room

2nd Floor Hallway

3rd Floor Hallway / Sarah's Room

Lady Lougheed's Room

JJ Going up to 2nd Floor

 Basement Floor

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend at

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend is now available as a FREE ebook at

to get your free ebook and discover the truth about the tunnel.


The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend

is available for FREE from the good folks from

Available for Free Download...

In 1999, an old rail tunnel was transformed from a forgotten engineering feat into a supernatural legend.

The Grand Trunk Railway Tunnel located in Thorold, Ontario, Canada was for the most part undisturbed and undiscovered until a young paranormal investigator and his friends publicized their encounters at the tunnel and distributed directions to its location.

In just four months the tunnel metamorphosed from a forgotten historical landmark into a paranormal hotspot rivaling the most famous in the world. Internet discussion forums exploded with talk of the tunnel, and paranormal groups and enthusiasts flocked to investigate.

Exposed on television a few years later, the tunnel was well on its way to becoming an Urban Legend. And that is what fascinated me. I have always wondered where Urban Legends actually come from. How do they begin? How do they manifest? And what truth is hidden within their simple tales?

The Blue Ghost Tunnel, as it has become known, developed and transformed online and within paranormal communities to what it is today. The legend is continuously molded and the truth becomes increasingly gray.

This book provides a time-line of events, people's encounters, and historical facts to showcase how a legend is born, how it flourishes and how we can learn from this modern experiment. 
Please be sure to visit for more information about Ontario haunts and paranormal encounters.

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend Investigating the Tunnel

Investigating the Tunnel

First and foremost, you must understand that if you visit the tunnel you are trespassing on private property, and that both the Blue Ghost Tunnel and the property surrounding it are very dangerous. If you visit, you do so at your own risk and hold no one, including this author, the publisher and its subsidiaries liable for any injury or death. It is my understanding that in the future the area may be used as municipal parkland and given an historic designation. Until then, it is private property, and should be treated as such.

The tunnel can be accessed via a private roadway owned and operated by General Motors Canada. On this road you may encounter security personnel from both GM and The Seaway Authority. They may or may not let you pass, and they may even decide to call the police and have you charged with trespassing. Also on this roadway you’ll see a newly constructed chain link fence, a gate, lighting and security cameras.

Some who have left a vehicle in this area have found it vandalized or even stolen. With the added security, the risk of this occurrence may be reduced, but it is best to err on the side of caution.

Once you pass this gate, follow the dirt roadway. To your left will be the Old Welland Canal. As you cross over the tunnel on this road, you will notice a railing that is spray painted with various text and pictures. One of these read “Blue Ghost”, with an arrow pointing downward. You will notice a well-worn pathway here that you can take to access the tunnel. This is a steep trail and can be quite dangerous especially in the winter or after a good rainfall.

The preferred approach is to keep hiking until you see the Pump House with the warning sign. Here, make a right and follow another trail down to the right, which will take you to the Blue Ghost Tunnel. This pathway is much safer, and may be of more interest to those seeking a paranormal encounter. This trail seems to have ignited some paranormal activity about 100 metres or so from the tunnel entrance itself.

On this trail, you may choose to hike down off the pathway to where the rail bed once lay. There is a small stand of trees with level ground. Here you will find a large rock which I placed to mark the exact location of the train wreck. If you dig down about eight inches, you will discover blackened sediment indicating where an intense fire burned long ago.

You may want to conduct an investigation at this particular location. However, on the occasions that I investigated this area as well as the tunnel, I had no luck attempting to communicate with the train wreck victims. The exact location of the train wreck did not produce a single noteworthy paranormal event. No EVPS, apparitions or feelings were encountered.

If you do decide to take photographs of this particular location, keep in mind there is a natural phenomenon that results in photos which depict unexplained mists. What is happening is that the ground releases a natural gas that can be photographed with long shutter speeds.

The front entrance of the tunnel is of great interest to many paranormal investigators. A number of feelings and sightings have occurred outside the tunnel, sometimes even when nothing was happening on the inside. When recording EVPS, keep in mind that there are coyotes, birds and also bats in the area which may produce sounds that when played back sound terrifying. If possible keep note of the natural sounds.

As you enter the tunnel through the iron door, walk slowly and watch your step. The floor is uneven and there may be hazards such as used condoms, needles and broken beer bottles. If you have remembered to bring a flashlight its best to use it as you navigate further into the tunnel.

Stop when the natural light of the outside world fades and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Keep a watchful eye on the doorway so that others trekking down to the tunnel do not interfere with your visit.

If you are with a group of people, split up. Let a few people remain at the entrance, while others enter the tunnel. Once inside the tunnel stop at the number four beam. Conduct an EVP session there, take photos and speak out loud, telling the spirits that you have come to respect them and the land.

Next, stop at the number six beam and do the same.

Your next stop will be at the number eight beam. Here, remain as silent as possible and listen for footsteps, screams and whispers. If you are coming in the summer months, the constant dripping of water may interfere. In the winter, the silence of the tunnel may be deafening. At the number eight beam, many individuals have felt an energy that changes the atmosphere.

Finally, walk all the way until you cannot go any further. You'll know when to stop in the summer as you reach the flooded area. In the winter you may encounter a four-foot block of ice.

Keep in mind that photographs may reveal “orbs” or “ectomist”. Remember the tunnel is damp and cold, and may be seeping water, causing your camera's flash to reflect from water droplets or your own breath. You can dismiss these photographs altogether.

Recording EVPS in the tunnel may be difficult because of the natural sounds of the tunnel. You may hear banging, which is natural. Your entire session may be useless due to the interference of the water dripping.
If you do record a voice or an anomaly, have friends listen to the sound and determine for themselves what is being said or heard. If several people hear the same thing, without any prior discussion of what the sound might be communicating, you may have captured something paranormal.

Videotaping the tunnel is a great way of capturing your visit. If you have a night vision option, use it. Otherwise use a lot of light to make sure you don't end up with a pitch-black video.

Once you are finished visiting the tunnel, trek up the path that curves around and visit the Pump House. Be very cautious here and remain safely away from the water and building. Next, follow the road to where the pondage area is laid out. Here you will see that the roadway continues on the other side, near the escarpment and towards the Lakeview Cemetery. You cannot cross here as the bridge has been removed. To visit the Lakeview Cemetery and the grounds of the old burial ground you will need to go an entirely different route.
If you plan on visiting the cemeteries, do so when the Canal is drained so that you can make a proper visit to the old burial-grounds. If that’s not possible, you'll need a boat. Use the maps provided to access the historical cemetery and old burial grounds. Do so during the day, as visiting at night is considered trespassing and disrespectful.

If you find any artifacts, please leave them in place. Take only photos and tread lightly. There is not much to see of the old burial grounds as sediment and time have covered most of it up. The area, however, has produced some remarkable paranormal activity and it is well worth the visit for those seeking to contact the other side.

Specific directions to the East end of the tunnel, the house foundations and John Walker's house location are not provided here. There is a tangle of bush and trees to trek through in order to find each one. Us the maps provided to find them, if you so desire.

Once you have completed your visit, check out the Welland Canal Centre at 1932 Welland Canals Pkwy (at Lock 3) in St. Catharines for more information about the canal and updated stories about The Blue Ghost Tunnel.

If you are interested in the paranormal and local history you may want to pick up Shadows of Niagara: Investigating Canada's Most Haunted Region, which, along with records of 30 other investigations, transcribes two visits to The Blue Ghost Tunnel that produced some interesting results, including physical contact. The book is available at the Welland Canal Centre and online.

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend Safety, Security and the Future

Safety, Security and the Future

On my last visit to the tunnel with several members of NAGS, and under the authority of the St. Lawrence Seaway, we were in disbelief at the state of the tunnel. It had more water seeping down its walls and dripping into pools at our feet then at any other time. The stones were eroding under the constant pressure of the ice build-up. We concluded that the tunnel was generally unsafe and agreed that it would not exist much longer under these conditions.

But the tunnel remains still, holding strong, a testament to the engineering and quality of the workmanship. Visitors hoping to experience the paranormal keep visiting and others with alcohol and drugs continue to rendezvous for a quick thrill.

The Seaway Authority believes the tunnel is unsafe and in 2010 constructed a wire fence around the property and mounted security cameras. They hoped to deter visitors to the tunnel, but admit it is nearly impossible because of its remote location. They have been the defendant in three separate lawsuits where individuals have been injured while on Seaway Property.

There have been talks of sealing the tunnel completely, with tons of dirt and cement, as has been done with other tunnels in the area. But these talks have been ongoing for the last five years and budget concerns seem to get in the way of implementing the measure.

Recently, authorities had to prosecute several individuals for trespassing on the land as they were conducting “ghost tours” of the tunnel. The tours have been canceled.

Proposals to open up the area as park land with historical markers about the Welland Canal are still being debated. Would this clean up the tunnel? Would it allow visitors to safely visit? Perhaps.

Discussions about cleaning up the area, creating parkland with extensive pathways, and placing historical markers on the land began as far back as 1979 with Greenwald et al, The Welland Canals, Historical Planning and Research Branch, and the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation. It is interesting to note that nowhere in the documentation do the words “haunted” or “ghost” receive printed mentioned.

Recently, The Region used Shadows of Niagara as a reference to determine whether or not exploiting sites such as The Blue Ghost Tunnel might be beneficial in bringing additional tourist dollars to the Region. Talks about opening up the area as parkland are once again making the rounds.

Future access to the tunnel is certainly in jeopardy as additional security fencing, cameras and lights have been added to the roadway approaching the tunnel. For those interested in the paranormal, this location may soon disappear. The tunnel will always, no matter what its condition, remain a mystery and the legends that it spawned will continue to grow and develop.

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend Weighing the Evidence

Weighing the Evidence

Russ' past may explain his experiences at the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

According to Russ he had begun experiencing paranormal phenomenon at an early age and had experimented with using a Ouija Board prior to his experiences at the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

Russ also says that he lived in a haunted house in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. He claims the energy in the house caused people to have nervous breakdowns and psychotic episodes. He suggested that, as a result of the haunting, a teenage girl committed suicide by jumping out her second-story bedroom window, and that shortly after the incident the house was exorcised by a Roman Catholic Priest. Russ also says that the original owner's daughter, who was engaged and pregnant, was killed in a tragic vehicular accident near the home.
He concluded that the house was haunted and that a paranormal explanation for the experiences and tragedies could be found in a local story known as The Wicker Legend.

As a teen Russ assembled a small group of friends who frequently visited haunted locations across Niagara. Often he would catch orbs or mist in his photography, believing them to be spirits or ghosts.

I also spoke to others in his group, who suggested that Russ had been involved with hallucinatory drugs and was heavily interested in the occult. During the exploration of the Blue Ghost Tunnel, Russ' group disbanded because of personal reasons, but recently some have come forward to say that although they cannot explain a lot of what did happen during their visits to the tunnel, they believe that Russ had not actually experienced everything that he said he did.

Was Russ embellishing his experiences to make a more interesting and terrifying story that he hoped would land a book deal or even a movie deal?

Did the history of living in a haunted house contribute to his experiences? Did the use of hallucinatory drugs play a role in developing the legend of the Blue Ghost Tunnel?

Or were Russ' experiences genuine?

This we do know: Russ has not returned to the Blue Ghost Tunnel, nor has he been involved with investigating the paranormal or any aspect of the occult. Russ married one of his teammates and operates a successful Internet business. He does not wish to discuss nor participate in any discussion about what happened at the Blue Ghost Tunnel. He wishes to remain anonymous―known only as “Russ”. To protect his identity and his privacy we will not be releasing his full name.

We also know that since Russ' exploitation of the Blue Ghost Tunnel, countless others, including paranormal investigators, have experienced phenomenon that closely matches his experiences.

Is the Blue Ghost Tunnel haunted? And if so, by whom?

My own personal belief is that the tunnel itself is not haunted, but it remains a focal point for all our energy and investigation. It’s a destination for both body and spirit.

There is no historical document, newspaper clipping or any recording whatsoever concerning a haunting or even a tragic death at the tunnel. The theory that the train collision near the tunnel has caused the haunting is not supported by any proof―, no EVPs, no psychic impressions―nothing of the men or their names. On several attempts I have called out to these spirits, to no avail. In my opinion, they do not haunt the tunnel, nor the area of the accident.

Then what of the house foundations? Could they be the cause of the hauntings? Again, there are no historical documents, newspaper clippings or any recording of a haunting whatsoever connected with these foundations. What Gord Westwater felt at the foundations during his investigation may be energy from a residual haunting, and it was not transferred nor felt at The Blue Ghost Tunnel.

What about John Walker's house on the hill and the rumor it was haunted? Again, there are no historical documents, newspaper clippings or any recordings of a haunting at this house that can be connected with the tunnel itself. The name Walker, or John Walker, was never recorded on EVP or through psychic impressions.

What about the other tragic deaths? Could the instantaneous deaths of canal workers or the drowned five-year-old boy be responsible for the hauntings at the tunnel? And why would they decide to haunt a tunnel they had no relationship with?

What about the burial ground that was moved? With the investigation conducted by The Shadows Project, we can determine that this location may be haunted, but what does it have to do with the Blue Ghost Tunnel? The burial grounds are a good distance from the tunnel, and why would lost spirits of a disrespected cemetery haunt a tunnel that they had no relationship with? You might argue that it is because the construction of the tunnel forced the removal of their bodies from the Old Burial Ground. But this is not true. The cemetery was moved because of the need for a pondage area. So shouldn't the spirits be manifesting in the pondage area instead?

What about the Old Lakeview Cemetery? Are those spirits haunting the tunnel? I don't believe so. The cemetery is even further away and those interned there had no relationship to the tunnel.

So what is going on at the tunnel and why do so many people experience what they consider as paranormal activity?

Let's first discuss the experiences people generally encounter. From the early days, before Russ exposed the tunnel and described his adventures, there were several individuals who had heard audible screams from a female. Others, including myself and other reputable paranormal investigators, have heard those exact screams. The evidence pre-dating Russ' exposure is the most interesting, as no one at that time was particularly influenced by claims of paranormal activity.

Still others claim to have witnessed a ghost dog. However, to date no reputable paranormal investigators have recorded, seen, felt, been exposed to or tell of a ghost dog. Only Russ' hallucinatory adventures and Haunted Hamilton have experienced a ghost dog, and it appears we can dismiss both as sensationalism.

Next is a child spirit who many feel is frightened, lost and looking for help. Some say they hear the crying and sobs of a young female. Some believe the child is about 4 to 7 while others feel she is older, in the age range of 10 to 13. She seems frightened, and viewers report the impression that she had succumbed to suffocation at some time. It appears this spirit is held against its will.

Most oppressive is a male figure, who has been seen, recorded and photographed. Each time the sense is of a strong, older man in period clothing. The male figure is felt near the entrance to the tunnel and seems to be guarding its entrance.

Let’s conclude that these spirits, that of a woman, a female child and a male figure are accurate. Who are they? And what are they doing haunting a tunnel that has had no physical record of any death?

And why are individuals who have no prior knowledge of the tunnel hauntings experiencing these three ghosts?

It’s been suggested that the water, both above the tunnel, and within the tunnel, are magnets for spirit activity, and that is what is attracting spirits to this particular location. If that’s true, then we must conclude that the ghosts of the Blue Ghost Tunnel are traveling from another location, perhaps to make contact with us. We could speculate further and suggest that, because of the increasing foot traffic, the spirit to human contact has intensified, making this location a haunted hot spot worthy of further investigation.

But there is something else to consider and that is the possibility that we are fabricating the whole thing.
Beginning with the earlier accounts, including Russ' experiences, to the present-day investigations, it may be possible that together we have manufactured a ghost, or in this case a series of them, simply by using our own minds. The Philip Experiment has certainly suggested this possibility. Perhaps the Blue Ghost Tunnel is a haunting of our own making.

We could have created our own legend.

“My own hypothesis about such places is similar to those of Japanese and Tibetan ghost folklore,” explains Matthew James Didier. “When you have enough people who continuously visit an atmospheric location with high expectations of experiencing a ghost, a psychic imprint from these same people is left behind.”

“Those who are sensitive to these imprints will then pick up on them. If we refer back to Japanese and more specifically Tibetan beliefs it is possible that an entity is born from these emotions and feelings.”

“In this case, by sheer accident. For those unfamiliar with what I am talking about, please look up Tulpa. This concept is similar to the experiments run by the TSPR in Toronto during the 1970's in which a 'ghost' was manufactured through meditation. The most well-known and successful being the Philip Experiments.”
If you purchased this book, hoping to get concrete answers, I am sorry. In the realm of the paranormal there are rarely concrete answers―just more questions to be asked.

I am hoping that by reading through the history, the experiences and investigations of others, you will be inspired to question more, to not take things at face value, and to make your own visits and investigations to The Blue Ghost Tunnel and other even more engaging haunted locations.

I encourage those who are interested in the Blue Ghost Tunnel to explore it for themselves and share their experiences with others on social media sites, web site forums and blogs. Perhaps the answers will be revealed through your endeavors.

The Blue Ghost Tunnel is a legend. It is a legend of our own creation. One that we developed and constructed. One that we are responsible for molding. How our children and their children will remember it is up to us.

About This Blog

Out of the Dark: The Ghost Hunting Chronicles is a blog providing detailed investigations of the Out of the Dark team, paranormal news and editorial.

It will also feature the past investigations of paranormal investigator and author John Savoie.