Haunted La Boheme, Bed & Breakfast in Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton Sun, November 5, 2009

The tale of a woman who was chopped to bits and burned in the furnace at a northeast Edmonton building doesn’t scare people away.

In fact, it attracts them.

On Halloween, the 1912-era former luxury apartment building turned bed and breakfast was fully booked with guests curious to see the slain woman’s ghost.

“People just love it,” said Mike Comeau, co-owner and caretaker of La Boheme, 6427 112 Ave.

According to legend, Comeau says, the building’s original caretaker murdered his wife and dragged her down three flights of stairs.

“The word is he cut her up in pieces and burned her body in the furnace.”

The original coal-fired boiler where the gruesome crime is said to have taken place is still in use, though it’s been converted to gas.

Although the truth of the horrific murder is uncertain and there are no records of it at the city archives, many overnight guests say there’s a spirit haunting the creaky floored antique-style rooms.

Last winter, a regular customer was sleeping in suite 7, said to be the most haunted room when he says his bed lifted right off the ground.

“I was screaming, ‘Stop!’ and I was slapping myself to make sure I was awake,” said Larry Finnson, an advertising businessman from Winnipeg.

Another time a female employee was doing laundry in the dimly lit basement near the furnace room when she felt someone touch her.

She was so startled she ran up the stairs screaming and never came back, said Comeau.

Author Barbara Smith wrote about the bed and breakfast in her 1996 book More Ghost Stories of Alberta.

She doesn’t know the murder tale, but witnessed the unexplained while having coffee at La Boheme in the spring of 1995.

As she asked the former owner of the building if it was haunted, Smith said the lid of the sugar bowl lifted off the dish and onto the table.

“There’s a ghost there,” said Finnson, who described himself as a skeptic turned believer.

“The ghost ain’t gonna hurt you but it will freak you out if (it) wants to.”

Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, British Columbia

Hatley Castle, Victoria, British Columbia

Here is a photo set from The Hatley Castle Investigation:

The Hume Hotel, Nelson, British Columbia

Sometimes you look for them in dark crypts and abandoned cemeteries. Other times you happen upon them in homes and in old battlefields. And sometimes you are drawn to them and they drawn to you. Here is the true tale of one night at the Historic Hume Hotel in Nelson, British Columbia.

The Nelson area has a rich history of exploration and mining. Explorers and adventurers employed by the North West Trading Company and the Hudson Bay Company were the first to enter the Kootenay and Columbia River valleys while searching for fur trade routes. David Thompson travelled the Kootenay River as well as the full length of the Columbia River between the years 1807 and 1811.
In September 1876, gold was discovered at Forty-nine Creek, nine miles west of Nelson, resulting in a minor rush of prospectors from the United States.

The mining industry helped to create the foundation for a community and on March 18, 1897 the City of Nelson was born when the Letters of Patent were issued. The first mayor of Nelson was John "Truth" Houston. Once incorporated, Nelson became a hub of activity for the West Kootenay region. Sternwheelers plied the waters of Kootenay Lake and the West Arm, and development of the new city, including the construction of the Hume Hotel, proceeded quickly.

On March 17, 1898, the Hume Hotel opened with a grand celebration the likes of which had seldom been seen in Nelson. The fan-fair that accompanied the occasion underscored the sense of pride felt not only by J. Fred and Lydia Hume, original owners and one of Nelson's pioneer families, but also the local community in general. No consideration was left unchecked and the opening was a celebration of the skill, determination, and hard work that went in to the hotel's construction.

It also heralded a new era for Nelson, which had been incorporated the year before, and provided a sense of hope and optimism for residents of the new city as they forged ahead into the 20th century. Work on the Hume Hotel began on Saturday, June 12, 1897.

At that time, Nelson's landscape was considerably different from today. A deep ravine, created by Ward Creek, essentially divided the city in two, with the dirt roads of Vernon and Baker Streets passable only by way of wood frame bridges.

The Hume Hotel, which sat on the corner of Ward and Vernon, was an impressive figure within this scene. The hotel was designed by Alexander Charles Ewart, who carefully considered all the architectural details, from piazza views to bay windows to inset balconies. With much thought also given to ornate detailing and state-of-the-art amenities like electric lights and steam radiators, all for a total cost of $60,000, the hotel was indeed a marvel to behold.

After nine years of successful operation, on March 11, 1907, J. Fred sold the Hume Hotel to Wilmer C. Wells, a political man who served as commissioner of lands and works for two terms under Premiers James Dunsmuir and E.G. Prior respectively. Wells brought in his two sons, George and James, to run the hotel, and fully intended to construct additions in response to the growing demand in Nelson for first-class accommodations. Wells, however, never did fulfill his commitment, and on October 14, 1912 he sold the hotel to George Benwell, an hotelier of considerable repute, for a sum of $85,000. Benwell's tenure irrevocably changed the Hume Hotel. Following the revolutionary architectural standards of Frank Lloyd Wright, in May 1929 a massive interior and exterior renovation was completed.

The Hume Hotel was so different in appearance that it was, as described in the Daily News, "hardly recognizable." The magnificent cupola, which towered over Vernon and Ward Streets, was removed; the balconies were extended outward flush with the exterior walls; the entrance was moved to its present location; and many other changes were made.
Benwell, following in Hume's footsteps, also considered modern amenities and state-of-the-art technology a necessity. He installed a telephone exchange and phone in every room, a dumb waiter, a French steel range, steam tables and electric dishwasher in the kitchen, and an icemaker capable of producing 600 pounds of ice daily. The level of service, sophistication, and general hospitality excellence, which were hallmarks of the Hume era, were also the hallmarks of the Benwell era.

By 1979, the Hume Hotel was in a serious state of deterioration. Benwell had sold the hotel in the 1940s, and after a series of owners failed to keep up the standards established by Hume and Benwell, the Hume Hotel was nearly condemned. Bills were left unpaid, the power was disconnected, and it sat empty for several months. Ernie Rushworth, who at that time carried the first mortgage on the property, called on Dave Martin, who had helped Rushworth successfully revitalize a run-down hotel in the Yukon.

He asked Dave if he would be interested in the purchasing the Hume. After careful consideration, the purchase was completed and an exhaustive heritage restoration project began. Nelson was undergoing a similar initiative in the same period so the timing was excellent. In December of 1980, the Hume Hotel was reborn as the Heritage Inn, and once-again became a proud symbol for the people of Nelson. The restoration project took one million dollars to complete, twice the original budget, and was carefully undertaken by designer David Thompson. The massive renovations were wrought with pitfalls—the interior was completely gutted and the hotel's electrical and plumbing systems redone. A number of hidden treasures were revealed during this time, many of which have been carefully restored and are now part of the Heritage Inn ambiance. In the Library Lounge, for example, you can see the original old brick fireplace, which had been hidden from view by a plaster wall.

Adding to the success of the project, many local residents provided antiques, photos and artifacts to decorate the interior, and local trades people recreated many of the original embellishments, sometimes working from old photographs. The opening ceremony, on December 8, 1980 was an auspicious occasion, with many local dignitaries in attendance.

The highlight of the night was the presence of three generations of Hume descendants: Freeda Hume Bolton (the 80 year old daughter of J. Fred and Lydia), her daughter Dawn, and her grandson Jay Fred Bolton. Freeda presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony and 'knighted' Dave Martin Sir Lancelot.
In 2005, major changes to the hotel’s exterior façade were completed which included an outdoor patio for the General Store Restaurant as well as the hotel’s signature rooftop ‘crown’.

For twenty-five years as the Heritage Inn, the Martins continued the tradition of hospitality excellence started in 1898 by J. Fred and Lydia Hume.
At the completion of the exterior renovation, the hotel went back to its roots to be renamed as the original proprietor once titled it, the Hume Hotel, paying homage to a local legend and a storied history on the corner of Vernon and Ward Street.

Members of the Hume family were again on-hand for the festive grand re-opening as they were exactly twenty-five years ago.

The Investigation Begins

As always, I begin my investigations with no knowledge of the history or the haunt. I come in fresh and with an open mind. I owe it to the reader and more importantly to myself to see what truth comes out.
I arrived at the Hume Hotel in late afternoon on a very hot and smoke-filled summer in 2009.

The BC forest fires raged in the interior and tourism was low. I pulled in Nelson noting all the historical structures and the beauty of the city itself. Pulling into the Hume I felt a distinct welcoming feeling, a calling if you wish. I entered the front entrance and immediately I felt eyes on me. I was being watched. This same feeling overpowered my wife as she entered as well and on several occasions she mentioned it. The eyes that were watching us were piercing and they emanated from a portrait of Lydia June Hume which hung on the staircase.

I also got the feeling that something was not right and my attention was brought to an elevator. The elevator was installed sometime later and the shaft blocked the magnificent view of the grand staircase. Checking in, I got to choose my room save for one that was pre-booked. I chose the 2nd floor. Room 221. Room 221 was actually historic Room #4 and #5. You see, during the early days, hotel rooms were not that large and most did not contain a washroom at all. The redeveloped room was a combination of two historic rooms. The room was very comfortable and offered a fantastic view of the Provincial Court House incidentally the same view people paid top dollar for to see a public hanging in the front yard.

The room above- 335, was the prize room for the viewing. The Hume held a lottery to see who would get the room and the best view. This room was the one that was previously booked. I guess the view is still the best. I toured around Nelson and came back to conduct an investigation. It didn’t take too long to meet the ghosts of the Hume face to face. Firstly, I found myself wondering the hall ways and staircases. At each level I felt as if someone was following me. A female. “Mrs. Hume?” I asked. But did not get a response. Mrs. Hume, who I assumed was following me stopped at the 3rd floor and did not continue further. Coming back down I spotted a poem on the 2nd floor. It’s title? The Ghosts of the Hume Hotel. Interesting I thought. They know this place is haunted. I got the immediate feeling of suicides, murder and thievery.

I continued on to the other rooms and into the bar and restaurant and found nothing other than the distinct feeling of being watched and followed. I returned to my room and lay on the bed when suddenly an apparition appeared.

A man in a strikingly dark suit and fedora. He sat in a lone, empty chair smiling as he puffed on a cigar. He knew I saw him because he smiled when I squinted my eyes and strained to see the illusion.

The man tipped his head as to say, “Hello” and then melted away. I had the feeling this man had a secret. His secret I knew by the smile on his face. Without a spoken word more, I knew his secret.
I waited, patiently and did not see him again. I shuffled in the bed and turned on all my recording devices. The night was peaceful for me and I had one of the best sleeps I could ask for. My wife, on the other hand, did not. She, too, saw an apparition. She saw a male pacing in the room back and forth and then sitting on the bed itself. She believed it to be me, but then saw me fast asleep beside her. Startled and scared she was going to wake me when the vision vanished.

That morning, in the shower, wondering what I had picked up on EVP, I heard a sentence spoken to me as if a person stood next to me.
“You’ll have a safe trip lad.” When I returned to my home I checked for any recordings and found none.

My photos, also, proved to hold no ghostly images. Now it was time to do my research. In 2005,

The Nelson Paranormal League, a group of Paranormal Enthusiasts filmed their documentary Haunt at the Hume along with Thea Trussler a psychic who conducted a reading on the structure.

A brief clip is available one Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlaGaPZwyYE which shows a teaser of the documentary. For more info contact the NPL at 250-505-5016 or email nelsonparanormal@shaw.ca

Over the course of the last 75 plus years there have been recordings of strange happenings at the Hume Hotel. Many guests and employees believe the ghost to be that of Fred Hume himself.
Room 335 of the Hume Hotel has become synonymous with paranormal activities.

Stories from guests include the full physical manifestation of a man in a top hat raising his brandy snifter in a cheer to an incoming guest. One guest asked to be moved to a different room, stating she had never experienced such a phenomena, and while she felt no malicious intent from the figure, she was certainly uncomfortable knowing she would be sharing the room. Staff have experienced numerous occurrences of paranormal activity including the television set turning on and off of its own accord, the tap beginning to drip as they are doing their cleaning duties and despite the best efforts of repairs, it continues to do so without measurable reasons. Temperature fluctuations are also a regular occurrence, often times attributed to paranormal activity.

The room has its own history, as conveyed in the film, The Haunt at the Hume.
It is believed there was a prospector who favoured that room as his meeting place for an illicit affair. His love of the room may explain the appearance of the man in the top hat. Room 335 also has a darker past.

The only hanging to occur in Nelson stirred much attention and the entertainment factor of a hanging seemed to inspire the hotel to capitalize on the morbid event.
The hotel sold lottery tickets to gain the best viewing rooms of the hanging that was to occur in the yard in front of the courthouse. The readings Thea conducted on the room had her experience the excitement of the day and then the sheer horror of a man being killed.

The shock that reverberated through the winning lottery ticket party was palpable in the very walls of the room. Why was room 335 denied on my investigation? Was Lydia Hume following me as I enjoyed my time investigating the Hume and who was the man in room 221? Was he the same as witnessed in 335 or simply a different spirit altogether?

The Hume is there, waiting.
Waiting to be discovered and the secrets revealed.



Out of the Dark: The Photo Album

Here is a direct link to the photo album. It will be updated for each investigation we do.


Episode Three: The Apartment

The Out of the Dark team investigates one of the team's private residences. J.J. Brewster, investigator takes the team to his house to find out what is keeping him up at night. The team utilizes a Ouija Board and witnesses objects move by their own accord.

J.J. Brewster has since moved to a new residence, as with the other many previous occupants. Find out who is haunting and what they want.

Director’s Notes:

Out of the Dark investigator J.J. Brewster has expressed that he perhaps is experiencing something in his downtown Calgary residence. He invited the rest of the team to perform a Quija Board session to speak directly to the spirits who have been causing him sleepless nights.

The team witnesses an object move on its own accord and uses the Ouija Board to speak to the spirits of J.J.’s home.

J.J. has since moved out of the residence, as several previous tenants have done. According to a neighbor, “No one really stays for very long.”

Episode Two: The Atlas Coal Mine

The Out of the Dark team investigates Canada's most complete historic coal mines in Drumheller Valley, Alberta, Canada. The Atlas Coal Mine has been long suspected of being a popular haunt. Find out what the Out of the Dark team finds during their investigation.

Director’s Notes:

The Atlas Coal Mine in Drumheller, Alberta has been calling me for some time. On several visits to the Drumheller Valley I would drive down the length of the driveway, park in the visitor parking and walk the public grounds and feel them.

And they are here, waiting.

The second investigation of the Out of the Dark team brought us to the National Historical Site of The Atlas Coal Mine – Canada’s best preserved and complete coal mine. An impressive structure with a huge wooden tipple, several authentic mine buildings and many, many ghosts.

The exhaustive investigation proved to be proof positive for some of the team and left us yearning for a second investigation. Perhaps, in the near future we will return to follow up on this impressive location.

Episode One: The Lougheed House

The Out of the Dark team investigates one of Western Canada's most influential family homes - Historic Lougheed House in Calgary, Alberta Canada.

Does this sandstone mansion dating back to the 1890s hold the spirits of the past? The Out of the Dark team investigates.

Director’s Notes:

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.

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.

This was the first investigation the Out of the Dark team conducted. Unfortunately, team member Angela Watt 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.

Out of the Dark: The Ghosthunting Chronicles Televised Series

Out of the Dark: The Ghosthunting Chronicles is a televised series that follows a group of paranormal investigators as they research and investigate suspected haunted locations across Western Canada and the Western United States. The group is made up of a diverse cross-section of participants including a channeller.

The Out of the Dark Team:

John Savoie, Team Leader

John has been investigating the paranormal for over 16 years and has encountered some of North America's most haunted locations from Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona to the Keefer Mansion in Thorold, Ontario.

John is the author of Shadows of Niagara: Investigating Canada's Most Haunted Region and producer of a 2-disc DVD of the same title.

John will lead the Out of the Dark team into the depths of most haunted locations and introduce you to the spirits that haunt abandoned cemeteries, insane asylums, mansions and homes just like yours.

He will document every aspect of each investigation and present the team's findings, the psychic impressions and the physical evidence for you to decide for yourself - haunted? or not?

J.J. Brewster, Investigator

J.J. had an intense interest in the paranormal since his earlier years. While raised in a traditionally religious home, the ideologies introduced to him in his youth never really seemed to resonate with a deeper part of himself. He has found that when it comes to the spiritual occurrences that happen in our lives, words transcend the experience.

As a child, he experienced intense dreams that always seemed to carry a prophetic tone to them – creating a potent déjà vu. Throughout his life he has feelings at various times that he was never quite alone, even though he was the only person in a house or a room. He seems to have an acute sense of empathy for the context of a room he enter, feeling what he can only describe as ‘vibes.’

Traveling to Mexico in his mid-twenties to teach young children, he became acutely aware of ancient and powerful places steeped in mystery and an almost magnetic energy; All of these things have culminated in an intense interest in the experience of things that science cannot yet pigeon-hole into tangible reality.

He comes to this project with a desire to simply experience what other truths may be out there, expand his consciousness, and better understand perhaps what awaits all of us when this life is over.

Cher Hunter-Cyrynowski, Chaneller

Cher has been enveloped with the paranormal since childhood and has come to understand how to feel and communicate with ghosts.

As a chaneller, she routinely comes across the souls of the departed who have something to say or have unfinished business to take care of.

Her vast experience has allowed her to clear homes and help friends and family members who have a genuine haunting. She does not charge for her service.

Cher will help the Out of the Dark team by directing and assisting the team’s abilities to speak to the ghosts that haunt the forgotten cemeteries, the abandoned farmhouses or the historic buildings we will encounter.

Raymond McDonald, Investigator

For the better part of his life he’s worked in the business administration field – leading a normal life, working 9-5, hanging out with friends and going out on the weekends.

However, since childhood, there have been internal questions that continually nag at him regarding the paranormal.

Ray does not have a formal idea about religion or spirituality, but experiences throughout his life have led him to at least be open to this experience. Ray is an open-minded skeptic.

When his mother passed on, specific things, perhaps paranormal, come to his mind that are hard to explain and he’s forever remained fascinated with experiences of the world beyond ever since.

His interest in this project is for simple gratification. He’s looking to connect with real experiences, validated through normative means. In short, Ray wants to see what’s out there and experience it for himself.

Angela Watt, Investigator

Angela has believed in ghosts ever since childhood. Ghosts would visit her and she would feel their presence including the loving touch of her deceased grandmother's hand caressing her cheek. But not all of her encounters were this pleasant.

She was haunted by a group of strange, dark-cloaked beings who terrorized her at night. In one incident, one of the beings grabbed her legs while objects in her room were knocked off shelves and pictures were thrown from walls. The event caused her to ignore the paranormal.

Being extremely sensitive to the paranormal, her family has lived with strange occurrences and has always had an interest in the spiritual world.

Angela, however, has disconnected herself from the world of the dead.

Until now.

Angela is now going to test her bravery and find out what really is out there and perhaps to answer who or what the dark-cloaked figures are that haunt her.


Thank you to The Shadows Project team for allowing us to utilize their message forum to discuss the program and investigations. You can visit The Shadows Project by visiting www.theshadowsproject.com. Make sure you join the forum!

Psychic Detectives - can psychics find missing persons?

I've been researching the results of several psychics in regards to their help with finding missing persons.

There are some remarkable findings and others that seem coincidental and there are some findings that are really reaching, striving to make a connection.

Here is a brief rundown of my research:

The result of my information gathering on over 30+ psychics who posted their information before the person(s) were found or any evidence gathered resulted in an 80 per cent failure rate. Meaning 80% of the time the psychics were wrong with absolutely everything they came up with.

20% of the psychics came back with some evidence.

Of this 20% that came back with evidence only 2 had any evidence that one could say is significant.

Of all the psychics, not one was able to help police find the missing persons.

I could not find a police officer, or police department in Alberta that solicited psychics, for any reason.

Several psychics sought out the family members of missing people to offer their assistance but in some cases, the psychics cause more harm than good.

Marc Klaas, Founder of KlaasKids, and father of abducted, then murdered child Polly Klass, said it well:

"I have very strong feelings about psychics. They're part of a second wave of predators. The first wave is the person who takes the child. The second is the ambulance-chasing lawyers, the exploitation journalists and psychics. They're off the mark, every last one of them."

Please also note that the FBI and NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) maintain that psychics have never solved a single missing person's case.

The most recent child abduction and murder of Tori Stafford, in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada had many psychics on the hunt. Many of the psychics had good intentions and posted their information online.

Nearly all the psychic evidence was false; many of it absurd.

In the case above, family members sought out psychic Beth Diselets to help them find Tori. The family reported over twelve psychics pestering the family in their time of crisis, some seeking money, others seeking fame.

Beth describes her evidence below in the video. According the findings we know today, her psychic vision proved false and misleading.

Please See Video:


Others came forward as well presenting psychic evidence in this case.

One psychic, claims the missing girl had visited her in spirit form and pleaded for her to help her find her body. Her online evidence gallery and story is compelling.

This psychic sought the help of another psychic by the name of Sayge, for guidance.

Unfortunately, this psychic known as Shane Flannigan who goes by the performing name Sayge, who channels a spirit named Zoltach and who has a second job as a professional clown, was working a gig known as History of a Haunting (a hokey, controversial paranormal show with no televised distribution and little credibility) was not interested and only provided one clue: That she is in Woodstock.

Common sense, not psychic intuition.

For more information visit:


So the local psychics were interested and some, with limited cognitive ability tried to help with the best intentions. But where were the famous psychics? Where were the John Edwards and the Sylvia Brown’s?

They were too busy according to their publicists.

Further Reading:



Voice for the Missing:


Why Police Use Psychics?


Psychics & Missing Children In Belgium


How do Police Psychics do it?


Canada’s Missing Children


Haunted Niagara Photocards

Here is a collection of my historic photocards of Niagara Falls. Some of these are simply historic buildings, while others are haunted. Enjoy!

Mount Carmel College or Loretto Academy
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

The only original structure left of Fort George,
Niagara On the Lake, Ontario, Canada

William Lyon MacKenzie's House & Printer,
Queenston, Ontario, Canada

The Niagara Falls Custom House or The Stone Jug,
Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada

Ghost Hunting Chronicles: The Old Bisbee Jail House

It is said that Bisbee, Arizona is one of the Southwest’s most haunted towns with notable haunts such as Brewery Gulch, The Copper Queen Hotel, The Bisbee Inn, The Bisbee Mining Museum, The Queen Mine and the Grand Hotel just to name a few.

There are numerous ghost sightings reported as far back as the turn of the century.

Bisbee grew out of the sides of the Mule Mountains as a Copper, Silver and Gold mining community. In the early days, it was a rough town with notable outlaws such as the Clanton Gang and Frank Stilwell and lawmen such as Wyatt and Virgil Earp amongst its patrons.

From its early beginnings in 1880 until 1910 the town boomed and stores, houses and shops suddenly sprang up. Along with the boom came the dark side of prostitution, gambling, corruption and gunfights.

Floods and fires destroyed the town on several occasions and the population suffered from Typhoid Fever and Small Pox due to the poor sanitary condition of some of the less-than cosmopolitan areas of town.

Bisbee also had its fair share of barroom fights, gunfights and murder.
And with such a history, I started my ghost hunting in Bisbee, Arizona at the rest-stop for many – The Bisbee Jail House.

This was one of my first ghost hunting experiences outside of Ontario and one that started my ghost hunting in the South West. Armed with the most advanced ghost detection equipment, a pad, paper and 35mm camera I spent the night in the jailhouse.

The Jail is located on OK Street just a short distance from Brewery Gulch and the Copper Queen Hotel. The streets are narrow, winding and eerily empty at night and as I arrived I was given keys to the jail and made my way to the 2nd floor room I was staying in. It over-looked the street below where it is said numerous ghost sightings have taken place including eye-witness accounts of a woman with earthworms crawling out of her decayed eye-socket.

The night was comfortable as the daytime temperatures gave way to a cool evening. I was alone in my cell and started to feel as if someone else was finally with me.

I jotted down the name that came to me: “Johnny” and a last name starting with an "ha" sound.

I started to feel a cold spot develop around my neck and back and snapped a few pictures but got nothing out of the ordinary.

Then I heard rough words echoing from the front lobby below (which was the jail-keepers original room). “Get in!”

It was an audible shout and I went to investigate but the room and OK Street were empty and quiet.

I asked if anyone was there and I saw a quick movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned and saw the apparition of an arm, but it quickly disappeared.

“Johnny?” I asked but did not get a response.

“Who’s here with me?” I probed.

And then I heard the words whispered: “You don’t belong here.”

I probed with more questions and took more photos but nothing materialized. I went back to the jail cells to see if I can find more.

I wrote down the words and phrases that came into my mind’s eye – “The empty lot” – “Fire – it burned down.” And “Tell Sally I miss her.”

So where was this empty lot? Who was Johnny and who was Sally?

I pressed for last names and more information but didn’t get anything.

The night drew on and I managed to sleep comfortably after 3am and awaking at 9am. I felt refreshed and snapped out of bed to find out if anyone named Johnny or Sally were connected to the jail.

As I walked down OK street I turned a corner and found the empty lot. And it looked like it had been empty for some time. Here, I got the distinct feeling that both Johnny and Sally were and still are and somehow connected to the jail.

Searching the historic records I found a famous Johnny – John Heath, a Bisbee Saloon owner. I also found connected to him a Sally R., a saloon prostitute. No one knows what happened to Sally, but John Heath’s history is demise is very colourful.

On December 8, 1883, five men held up the Goldwater and Castenada Store in Bisbee, leaving behind four people dead, including a pregnant woman.

The vicious robbers included Daniel “Big Dan” Dowd, Comer W. “Red” Sample, Daniel “York” Kelly, William “Billy” Delaney and James “Tex” Howard.

Having heard that a $7,000 payroll for the Copper Queen Mine was held for safekeeping in the store, two of the men charged inside demanding the money, while the other three waited outside.

However, to their disappointment, they discovered that the payroll had not yet arrived. Angered, they then took what money was in the safe (reports vary from $900 to $3,000) and robbed the staff and customers of any valuables.

In the meantime, the three outlaws waiting outside began a shooting spree, first aiming through a window and killing a customer named J.C. Tappenier. Hearing the shot, Deputy Sheriff Tom Smith, who operated the jailhouse, came running and was immediately shot down by the bandits.

A bullet gone wild entered a boarding house, killing a pregnant Annie Roberts. Another shot hit a man named J.A. Nolly as he stood outside his office. Yet another unknown man took a bullet in the leg as he was trying to run away from the shooting spree.

The town leaders wasted no time notifying Sheriff J.L. Ward in Tombstone by telegraph. Ward soon formed two posses, with himself leading one, and Deputy Sheriff William Daniels, leading another.

When Daniels arrived in Bisbee he began to question its citizens, including John Heath, whose saloon was just down the street from the Goldwater-Castaneda Mercantile. Heath told Daniels that he knew the men involved and could probably help to lead then to outlaws.

Though Daniels was apprehensive of Heath, due to his already having a reputation as an unsavory character, he also hoped to quickly apprehend the outlaws. With Heath at the lead, the posse found nothing and soon accused Heath of leading them on a false trail.

Heath returned to his saloon and the posse continued to search for the outlaws. Though it took several weeks, all five were found, two in Mexico, one in New Mexico, and the other two in Clifton, Arizona.

When questioned, some of the outlaws began to indicate that John Heath knew more about the crime than he should have. Soon, the authorities brought Heath in and began to question him. Under pressure, Heath “fessed” up to having prior knowledge of the crime and many believed that he probably master-minded the whole affair.

All were scheduled to be tried, but Heath requested a separate trial and was given it. Furious Bisbee citizens awaited the outcome of the outlaws involved in what had become known as the “Bisbee Massacre.”

On Feburary 17th, the trial began for the five killers and two days later they were all sentenced to be hanged on March 8, 1884.

Heath’s trial began on February 20th, where he admitted to being the mastermind of the robbery, indicating that the others lacked the intelligence. However, he adamantly insisted that the killings were never a part of the plan and that he was in no way responsible for the actions of the other five men. A coward at heart, he even admitted that when he heard the shots being fired, he hid behind the bar of his own saloon. The next day, Heath was convicted of second degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery, and sentenced to life in the Yuma prison.

Though Heath was obviously relieved, the citizens of Bisbee were furious and determined to do something about it. Early on the morning of February 22nd, a mob of some 50 men, led by Mike Shaughnessy, descended upon the Tombstone jail and dragged Heath from his cell into the dusty street.

At the corner of First and Toughnut Streets, they looped a rope over the crossbeam of a telegraph pole, as Heath continually claimed his innocence. The vigilantes were not listening.

In his last moments, he said: “I have faced death too many times to be disturbed when it actually comes." As the rope began to pull him skyward, he cried out one last request, "Don't mutilate my body or shoot me full of holes!"

Public approval of the hanging was reflected in the verdict of the coroner's jury:
"We the undersigned, a jury of inquest, find that John Heath came to his death from emphysema of the lungs--a disease common in high altitudes--which might have been caused by strangulation, self-inflicted or otherwise."

The other five killers' scheduled hanging for March 8th remained unchanged, soon taking on a carnival like atmosphere. Free tickets were issued for the event, but when Sheriff Ward ran out of them, an enterprising business man built bleachers around the gallows and began selling yet more tickets.

However, famous business woman, gold prospector, and spiritual caretaker, Nellie Cashman, objected adamantly to the circus that was surrounding the event. Outraged at the citizens’ behavior and feeling that no death should be “celebrated,” she soon befriended the five convicts, visiting them often and providing them with spiritual guidance.

She pleaded with Sheriff Ward to place a curfew on the town during the time that the hangings were to take place. Ward conceded and the vast majority of interested onlookers were not allowed to watch the “event.” In the meantime, she and some friends had destroyed the bleachers that had been built. When the five men were standing on the gallows, reportedly Dan Dowd remarked that the multi-gallows were a “regular choking machine.”

Unfortunately, he was right, because of the five men, only one died of a broken neck, the other four dying slowly of strangulation.

After they were executed, the men were buried in Tombstone's Boot Hill cemetery. Cashman also found out that there was a plan to rob the bodies from their graves for a medical school study. This, too, outraged the woman and she hired two prospectors to guard the graves for ten days, which were left undisturbed and remain at Boot Hill today.

On such history I went to Tombstone, Arizona to the death site of John Heath and to his gravesite in Boot Hill Cemetery. At the Boot Hill cemetery, I found the marker for the five men and also the gravesite of John Heath. I found nothing particularly haunted about the gravesites and later researched that John Heath’s body was removed and re-buried in a family plot in Texas.

Today, you can visit Bisbee and all the history it offers. In the 1970s it was re-invented by the hippie culture and offers one of the best artist-communities in North America. You can also stay a night in the old Bisbee Jail House. It is now operated as a unique hotel and who knows – you might also encounter some ghostly never-do-gooders.

This investigation continued with further investigations in Cochise County, Arizona.

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Buffalo Jump Station, Alberta, Canada

Buffalo Jump Station was once a thriving stop for rail travelers and motorists driving the Trans Canada Highway.

In 1883 the CPR had laid tracks and developed a railway station to accommodate travelers heading to and from the booming town of Gleichen and the new Siksika Nation lands.

The communities thrived through the 1920s and 1930s but after WWII the town of Gleichen saw its population drop from over 1000 to just 300.

Buffalo Jump Station remained in business servicing automobiles and selling native arts and crafts. But motorists with more fuel efficient cars drove past the station and in the early 1970s it was abandoned.

The CPR railway station was moved west of Cochrane, Alberta. The large garage fell in the 1990s and was completely destroyed.

The prairie lands are still, save for the sound of the wind and the passing transport. The land also echoes history and longing.

A mile to the west is a cliff over which the Natives used to drive buffalo, and to this day buffalo bones may be found there. Twelve miles to the southeast, the great Chief Crowfoot is buried, and nearby is a cairn commemorating the signing of Treaty No. 7.

But passing motorist and rail travelers will never know. They will never hear of the tales of the early pioneers nor will they hear of the tales of buffalo hunts and bloody Native battles.

And they will never know that the Station is said to be haunted by two Native spirits.

I approached the Station building and the door suddenly swung open. An invitation or simply a gust of wind?

The Station sits on a cinderblock foundation that has fallen inward causing a great deal of damage to the structure. The first floor held a craft room, a kitchen and washrooms. I felt nothing in the first room, but as I approached the kitchen I noticed a hole in the floor leading to the basement.

The kitchen offered no more than silence. The washrooms were completely destroyed and again, this area felt lonely, but not haunted. The second floor and stairs were so rotten I could not proceed.

I made my way to the back of the house and peered into the basement. It was filled with liter and so much damage that it was dangerous to go further. Three of the four cinderblock walls had given way.

But here I could sense something. But I could not pick up anything more. I knew something was here and then I turned and went into the backyard where the feeling was more prominant.

It was a spirit. Not connected to the Station, nor the CPR, nor the pioneers. This felt old, very old. I got the words "I wander" as the wind whiped by my ears. A storm was coming. The spirit was gone.

I made my way to where the garage and CPR station were and found nothing but scraps on the floor. I proceeded to walk the grounds, but found nothing else of interest. The wandering spirit was no where, yet, as I looked out at the vast, empty prairie I knew it was everywhere.

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.