The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend

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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.

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend Ghost Theories

The Visiting Ghost Theory

One theory suggests that the tunnel itself is not haunted at all, but instead is a gathering point for visiting spirits who are attracted to the steady stream of humans looking to contact the other side. Perhaps this theory has some merit because there is no doubt there is activity at the tunnel, yet there is no historical document or historical article that suggests that anyone had expired within or near the tunnel. In going by the hypothesis that a haunted location needs a death, the tunnel should be free of any ghosts. So why do people witness strange phenomenon at the tunnel and believe they have been in contact with a ghost or several ghosts? It is interesting to note that of the visitors who profess they have witnessed an actual apparition, or have a deep feeling inside, many identify a group of spirits, not just a single entity. Even first-time visitors who have never previously heard of the tunnel will sometimes come to similar conclusions―that the tunnel is haunted by any or all of the following:

  • A large, dark man who often appears as a shadow dressed in period clothing from the late 1800s. The feeling is that this ghost is strong, powerful and angry. This energy usually appears at the entrance to the tunnel and is sometimes near the center.

  • A young female child, aged 4 to 7, who is frightened.

  • An older female child in the age range of 10 to 13, who is also frightened and who had succumbed to suffocation by some means. It appears this spirit is held against its will.

  • An older female aged 18 to 25 who is protective of the children.
Of course there are the additional sightings involving several other spirits, but the most commonly encountered and documented by psychics and paranormal investigators are the ones listed above.
So who are these ghosts and where did they come from?

Are they the angry spirits of the Old Lakeview Cemetery? Were they residents in the long forgotten houses around the tunnel?

Is this theory correct―that the tunnel itself is not haunted, but rather the ghosts have been attracted to the spot because of the human energy there and the interest in speaking to the other side?

The Screaming Tunnel Theory

Another proposed theory is that The Blue Ghost Tunnel is in fact the original and legendary Screaming Tunnel in Niagara Falls. Some claim that the tunnel on Warner Road in Niagara Falls was mistakenly labeled as The Screaming Tunnel and that it was labeled as such only because of its ease of access.

The theory proclaims that the events that took place at the Screaming Tunnel in Niagara Falls actually took place at the Blue Ghost Tunnel, which is why paranormal researchers and visitors alike have experienced the sounds of screaming at the Blue Ghost Tunnel. They also reason that the Screaming Tunnel in Niagara Falls is not haunted at all and that is why many who visit it experience nothing out of the ordinary.

This theory, however, has not survived recent research into The Screaming Tunnel on Warner Road in Niagara Falls, conducted by both Kevin Valencourt and myself. With the new knowledge gathered, the theory that the Blue Ghost Tunnel is the real Screaming Tunnel has been proven untrue.

To protect the privacy of the family involved, this research will not be made public.

The Thoughtform Theory
A thoughtform is a physical manifestation of energy produced by the thoughts of an individual or a group. In Tibetan mysticism it is called a Tulpa.

A thoughtform or a Tulpa can be subdivided into three main categories:
  1. That which takes the image of the thinker.
  2. That which takes the image of some material object.
  3. That which takes a form entirely its own, expressing its inherent qualities in the matter which it draws round it.

The Blue Ghost Tunnel in its early days was simply a dark, dirty and damp tunnel that children had determined was haunted, not based on a murder, a death, a tragedy, or even an unexplained paranormal encounter, but simply because of its appearance. Like an old abandoned house, the children whispered stories of ghosts and of a haunting.

In the 1950s and into the 1960s the tunnel had very few visitors and certainly not all of the explorers were brave enough to enter the tunnel.

It wasn't until about 1970 that these explorers determined that the tunnel was haunted. But again, it was a rumor, and no evidence of such a haunting was ever published or determined to be of significance.

Many of the early explorers dismissed reports of paranormal experiences in the tunnel but were fascinated by its architecture and history.

Later visits, through the 1970s and 1980s, continued in a similar vein. Few considered the tunnel haunted and there were no attempts to gather evidence about a ghost or a haunting.

In the 1990s when those interested in the paranormal began exploring the tunnel, they believed that there could be something abnormal about it, but these individuals, including myself, felt that the tunnel did not provide much in the way of evidence.

Nick Blay and his friends, who heard audible screams at the tunnel and felt that it may be haunted, did not press further, because they did not witness substantial evidence of paranormal activity. It was simply a cool place to hang out―dark and mysterious, away from parents and the pressures of society.

Just as the children of previous generations had done, tunnel visitors in the 1990s began focusing their imaginations on the idea of a haunting.

And along came Russ.

Russ’ reports changed everything because, not only did he declare the tunnel to be haunted on his very first visit, he also maintained that poltergeist activity had occurred―demonic beings manifesting themselves, ghost dogs guarding the entrance―and the list goes on.

What Russ did was create a tangible thought. He took the idea that the tunnel was haunted and gave it character. His online journal created ghosts and gave them names. It gave back-stories, histories, emotion and feelings.

Russ' thoughtform.

The paranormal explorers and thrill-seekers knew of Russ' ghosts and in the early explorations of the tunnel, many came calling on September, the “little girl” and other ghosts that Russ had described. They were sharing his story, wholeheartedly believing in the paranormal and that what Russ had encountered was truth.
The droves of visitors to the tunnel, on some nights numbering in the hundreds, all came to see one thing—the haunting.

A collective thought, and a genuine interest in manifesting the thought, became reality.

Visitors claimed to see, hear, smell, feel, touch, speak to and be spoken to by a variety of entities. Photographic, video, audio and even physical evidence of a haunting began to make its way into the fabric of the legend.

Reputable investigators began experiencing this same phenomenon and many continue to investigate the tunnels haunting.

The Thoughtform Theory suggests that the many individuals seeking to find and experience a haunting have actually created the haunting through a collective consciousness.

Before you dismiss this theory as some ancient Ooga-Booga mind fuck or some new age mysticism, consider what The Toronto Society of Psychical Research manifested in an experiment in which their goal was to create a ghost from scratch and only from their imagination.

Their first step was to create a personality. They would take great pains to make this fictional, nonexistent person seem real.

“It was essential to our purpose that Philip be a totally fictitious character. Not merely a figment of the imagination but clearly and obviously so, with a biography full of historical errors,” said team leader Dr. Owen. “Our ghost would never have existed.”

The ghost they manifested through creative thought was Philip Aylesford, a person “living” during the 1600s at the time of Oliver Cromwell. The Toronto group made Philip a Catholic who was loyal to the king. He was married to a very cold woman named Dorothea who would not bear him children. The two lived at his family home of Diddington Manor. Although there really was a Diddington Manor in England, no such person as Philip Aylesford ever lived there.

The group created a particular incident that figured into Philip’s character as a ghost. One day, while he rode his horse near the boundaries of the estate, he happened upon a gypsy encampment. There he met Margo, a beautiful, dark haired girl with whom he fell madly in love. He moved Margo to the gatehouse and kept their love a secret from his wife. Eventually, however, Dorothea found out and accused Margo of witchcraft. Fearing he’d lose both his reputation and possessions, Philip said nothing and let Margo be burned at the stake. Philip’s subsequent remorse sent him into deep depression. He took to pacing the battlements of Diddington Manor at night. One morning, Philip’s body was discovered at the base of the battlements an apparent suicide. He was 30 years old.

With Philip and his history now established, even down to a drawing made by one of the group members, they began memorizing information about this non-existent character, creating more details, and learning about the historical period in which he “lived”.

They sought to create a collective hallucination of Philip by describing his appearance, food preferences, and especially his feelings toward Dorothea and Margo, until they had created a complete mental picture of him to which they could all subscribe.

In September 1972, the group attempted to contact Philip using techniques similar to a traditional séance, save for the theatrics and magic tricks.

The first meeting went on for several hours with no materialization of Philip. Each week the group conducted the same type of meeting, all concentrating on contacting Philip and each week over the course of several months nothing, absolutely nothing, occurred. The group was ready to give up the experiment but decided to try a new strategy. They began the experiment as before, but the atmosphere and approach was more casual and relaxed. Individuals were allowed to meditate and concentrate on Philip without having to force their thoughts.

With this new technique the group began experiencing success. The first phenomenon they observed was that the table around which they were sitting started vibrating. The vibration could not be explained, and even though the group sat away from the table, it continued vibrating. No logical explanation could account for the activity. Over the next few meetings, the table began to make physical noises. A knock was heard, and repeated.

Thinking they themselves were inadvertently causing the raps, they investigated. But when the table started to move around the floor in an irregular, apparently aimless manner, they started questioning one another. Finally, a member asked, “I wonder whether Philip is doing this?”

At that point a loud knock was heard from the table. Before long, they had worked out a communication system in which “yes” was one knock and “no” was two knocks.

With this taxonomy in place, they began to conduct a series of conversations with Philip. They joked with him, teased him – even flirted with him. They learned his likes and dislikes, and found he had strong views on various subjects. When Philip was asked if Dorothea, his wife, didn’t want children, the members heard scratching sounds coming from the walls. One member asked if the question was too personal and one loud rap was heard responding with a yes.

It was noticed by all present that the raps and movements of the table seemed to be very closely related, if not actually activated, by the knowledge, thoughts, will, moods and power of concentration of each member of the group.

“If the entire team were in agreement about the answer to a question, the responses would come very quickly, but if one or more people were uncertain about the answer, then Philip’s responses would be hesitant, taking some time to reply,” says Dr. Owen.

As the group became more comfortable in their encounters with Philip, they began to treat him as just another member of the group. They learned his personality as if he was a good friend. And Philip would play tricks on them. At times, he would move the table around the room, even rushing up to those arriving late as if to greet them and say “Hi”. Other times, the table would trap certain individuals in corners.

During one especially active night, one of the members jokingly admonished Philip by telling him that he could be sent away and replaced. After that, Philip’s activity began to decrease until it stopped altogether and the experiment was terminated.

“We clearly understand and have proved that there is no ‘spirit’ behind the communications; the messages are from the group subconscious, but it is the physical force we need to know more about,” says Dr. Owen.
The success of The Toronto Society of Psychical Research encouraged other groups to attempt similar experiments. Another Toronto group created ‘Lilith’, a French-Canadian spy during World War II, and a group of French students from Quebec created ‘Sebastian’, a medieval alchemist, and ‘Axel’, a man from the future.

The ultimate goal of these experiments was to manifest an apparition, however none of the experiments was able to produce such evidence.

They did, however, prove that perhaps British psychologist Kenneth J. Batcheldor was correct when he said, “...the atmosphere of belief and expectation that permeates a séance in effect creates the phenomena that spiritualists attribute to spirits.”

The experiments had proven a connection between the mind and psychokinetic activities during séances, but could this connection be made at a purportedly haunted location, such as The Blue Ghost Tunnel?
Could our collective subconscious be responsible for the paranormal activity at the tunnel? 

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend Creating an Urban Legend

Creating an Urban Legend

So is the Blue Ghost Tunnel really haunted? What makes a house, a bridge, a tunnel, haunted?

At first, I wrote a lengthy passage here, explaining the conditions under which a place can be designated as “haunted”, but according to Matthew James Didier, co-founder and Director of, the answer is very simple.

“Just what is a 'haunted site'? What is the qualification for that title? How does one 'quantify' haunted or not haunted?” says Matthew James Didier. “There is a simple answer... and some people won't like it... but it's true.”

“What makes a site haunted is if people say it's haunted. One person says so... then another person experiences something, so they say so... and by the time you have three or more unrelated people saying so, the bargain is struck.”

So who said the Blue Ghost Tunnel was haunted in the first place? According to Thorold residents, the chatter started amongst children and their parents who often ventured into the area to use it as their playground. One can imagine being eight or ten years old, happening upon a dark, damp tunnel and hearing strange noises coming from within.

Children often perceive a dilapidated house, or a darken cemetery, as haunted—and the tunnel must have been intensely foreboding and terrifying when underbrush hid its entrance. Some brave enough to explore the tunnel did so in the early days and did not encounter any paranormal activity.

Others, after hearing the tales from other children and their parents, began to experience odd activity at the tunnel.

Some exaggerated their stories to make them more interesting while others forged additional Urban Legends into the tunnel walls. Despite the stories, the tunnel, seemingly uninteresting to most Niagara residents, existed for the most part without many visitors.

In the late 90s, as interest was on the rise in the paranormal, teens in the area began chattering about a haunted tunnel they frequented. Many believed this was simply the efforts of teenagers developing a good campfire story late at night. As the online presence of paranormal enthusiasts began to grow, the chatter about the tunnel reached the Internet. One teen wrote on a message forum:

Everyone in the niagara area knows about the screaming tunnel, which lyes between NOTL and St.Catharines... the place is freaky and yeah itz a weird place... and oh yeah theres a syco down the street who may shoot @ yah but thers another place that we have come to call the screaming tunnel
and my friends and i beleve that this may be the real one. Anyone who knows Thorold and St.Catharines will know where GM is on Glendale Ave. across the Canal well go up glendale past GM and u'll see a sign that says GATE 12, it'll be on yer left, turn and u'll be behind GM by the loading docks, in front of u is a yellow barrier-gate. go into the gate and go straight, theres a dirt mound go over the mound and continue straight. the road will curev to the rite, follow it, and u will see a decline it'z all rock ther, follow that down and once at the bottow in front of you a bit will be the TUNNEL. go into it, once in ther it gets really really dark, dark enuff that one flash lite wont work... the ceiling is collapsed part way in.. but u can still mange to get thru if u dare. that place is freaky by itself... but heres the story behind it on top of the tunnel used to be a grave yard, now all bodies were supposed to be removed, but apparently the childrens graves were left, or some were left behind... now where the road turns to go to the tunnel there is a traight path... the bridge that is ther is collapsed but u can still get across... across this bridge is a long path that will eventually lead you to the new cemetery... sum frends of mine have seen stuff here... at one point when 2 of my frends were in ther it was pitch black, then when they turned around all of these candles were lit so they took off the cemetery is tied in w/ the tunnel the place is freaky enuff on its own but if u can find it go out ther dress warm for the tunnel is very cold 
tell me what if any experiences u have w/ this place and venture to the cemetery if u can get across the bridge.”

The young writer had been visiting the tunnel with others for over a year and was correct about the relocation of the Old German Cemetery. His facts were not completely accurate, but how did he know about the cemetery and the removal of bodies?

According to locals, the cemetery now known as the Lakeview Cemetery is haunted. These teens apparently heard the rumors and stories about the removal of the old cemetery to make room for the canal but were mistaken in their belief that the cemetery was on top or near the tunnel. In fact, the cemetery was some distance from the actual tunnel, but the teens made the connection that the desecration of the cemetery was the source of the unusual paranormal activity at the tunnel itself, and this assertion formed the main story of the tunnel for some time. This narrative was gradually replaced when others learned about the train accident near the tunnel, the drownings and the accidents that happened while the canals were being built.

After this posting others ventured into the tunnel and experienced paranormal activity that was similar to the stories they had heard. Russ, the teen who changed the name of the tunnel from The Screaming Tunnel to the Blue Ghost Tunnel, proceeded to enthrall an entire audience of paranormal enthusiasts and thrill seekers. His escapades at that tunnel, and his personal experiences, attracted other paranormal researchers and groups to investigate. Once exposed to a national and then an international TV audience, the Blue Ghost Tunnel became the hotspot in Canada and for that matter, North America.

It is still visited today as a popular haunted destination, even after the Seaway Authority and General Motors fenced the location and began monitoring the area with security cameras.

Some people experience absolutely nothing noteworthy at the tunnel, but a good number who have read or heard about the tunnel, or have seen the Creepy Canada Episode on TV, experience what they consider to be paranormal activity.

So are these people simply feeding into their own imagination? Myself included? Are we simply wanting to believe and therefore characterizing any natural phenomenon as paranormal? Or is there something more to this tunnel?

The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend Exploring Locations Near The Tunnel

Exploring Locations Near the Tunnel

St. Peter's, The Old German Church and The Old Burial Grounds of Thorold, Ontario

For years Internet rumors circulated about an abandoned cemetery that once had been exactly above where the Blue Ghost Tunnel now resides. Eye-witnesses claimed to have seen coffins floating in the water deep inside the tunnel as well as protruding through the limestone roof. Witnesses could not, however, provide photographic evidence and the eyewitness accounts were either ridiculed or dismissed as people mistakenly seeing things in the dark.

To this day, there are still Internet rumors about an abandoned cemetery above or very near the tunnel that is the root to the paranormal activity inside the tunnel.

And this rumor is partially true. There was and still is a burial ground in the area of the Blue Ghost Tunnel, but to say it’s near the tunnel is a matter of interpretation. It would also be a stretch to believe that a cemetery some distance from the tunnel could be the source of its paranormal encounters.

In the early years throughout the Township of Thorold, there were numerous cemetery sites, including several family-operated grounds. In the early 1880s a proper cemetery was established alongside a structure commonly known as The Old German Church.

The log church was erected in 1773 on the crossroads of the former Ten Mile Creek Road and St. David’s Road. In 1775, the first burial occurred on the property. Thorold resident, Jacob Ball, deeded additional land to the church in 1802 so that the church could bury its dead adjacent to the churchyard. Jacob Ball deeded five acres and the transaction was approved by The United Empire Loyalists who governed the local community.

In 1829 plans were drawn up to erect a more functional and impressive church made of nearby limestone, and by 1832 a new church with a new name, “St. Peter's”, had been built across the street from the decrepit log structure, which had in the meantime been transformed from a church into a feed stable.

In 1836, George Keefer, church warden and burial-grounds trustee, motioned for the community to build a new church closer to the vibrant downtown of Thorold. As these plans were set into motion, the congregation slowly abandoned St. Peter’s, save for special occasions and funeral arrangements.

In 1862, St. Peter’s was replaced by St. John the Evangelist in Thorold and by the end of that decade St. Peter’s had become an empty shell with its cemetery filled to capacity.

In 1875 the Thorold Post published an article about the poor conditions of the cemetery grounds. The author wished to have the city regarded favorably by visitors and called the state of the cemetery “...a crying evil...” and a “disgrace to humanity.” The Welland Canal was considered an engineering marvel in its day, and was often visited by astonished tourists. Noting this, the Thorold Post writer asked rhetorically, “...if a stranger came to see the new canal, what would they think by coming across such a site? I am sure they would have a low opinion of the region.”

The article did little to entice the city or populace to act. The cemetery remained in a state of neglect and the lack of care caused the yard, headstones and fence to fall further into disrepair.

In 1876, another article was published in the Thorold Post, emblazoned with the headline: “Oh, Why Is It So?”

The article asked why the city had abandoned the care of the cemetery, allowing cattle to roam inside the church and in the cemetery proper, causing damage to headstone and property. In chastising the local authorities the author concluded: “Why, Oh Why, Is It So?”

The new article gained much more attention as residents felt it ungodly to have cattle defecating on the graves of their forefathers, and in August of 1876, one month after the article’s publication, a plan to have the cattle expelled and the fence repaired at St. Peter's was brought forward to the town council. In addition, a motion to commission a new burial site was also approved.

St. Peters fence was repaired and some of the monuments were re-established after being knocked over by the roaming cattle.

By 1886 a new cemetery was developed on the escarpment, far from the developments of the Welland Canal. With the new cemetery, St. Peter's and the old cemetery were once again forgotten.

In 1903, another article about the old cemetery appeared in The Thorold Post. The author described his visit by saying it was like “...walking through a jungle, with overgrown brush, and neglected grave markers that popped up through the brush. Some of the stones were broken and the fence that surrounds the grave yard was broken in many areas.”

No one took much notice or concern.

In 1921 the cemetery once again in the news, but this time the topic of conversation was its demise. A new canal, one that would be able to transport larger vessels, was needed and the land on which St. Peter's church was on, as well as the cemetery, would be used in the construction of a large pondage area.

The Thorold Post ran a notice asking relatives of those interned at the old cemetery to have the bodies exhumed and re-interned at the new Lakeview Cemetery (which is now known as The Old Lakeview Cemetery).

The residents were given one summer to make arrangements and have the business completed. It was a daunting task, as many of the graves were over 100 years old; the oldest being that of Hannah Lampton, buried in 1793. The total number of graves on record was 842, but only 253 of these would ever be moved to the new cemetery. Families simply could not afford the re-internment and many graves had no family members to care for them.

When excavation and re-internment of the bodies occurred, some corpses were shuffled around and some went missing altogether. Adding to the confusion is the fact that some remains were not recoverable and only some body parts and coffins were moved to the new location.

According to the superintendent of Lakeview Cemetery there are 118 graves with no record of whose body they contain and as many as 72 others which may contain only body parts for which there are no records. He also stated that a number of the monuments were damaged or destroyed when they were moved to the new location.

The limestone bricks of St. Peter's were moved to the new cemetery and used in one of the outbuildings. Other stones were used by local quarrymen to build houses. The remains of St. Peter's, including the hardwood floorboards, were burned.

The Canal construction began and the entire grounds were flooded with a pondage area that was used for excess water flow.

Today, the remains of headstones that were left behind can be seen when the pondage is drained by The Seaway Authority. At first, the authorities had denied that the cemetery actually existed, fearing that they might have to, in modern times, move the remaining bodies or preserve the land somehow.

However, with evidence of pieces of headstones, grave markers and human remains, the authorities have finally said, that, yes, indeed, the cemetery was and is there. There are no plans to move the remaining bodies or preserve the area.

For several years I attempted to find the location of the cemetery, and while I found evidence such as gravestones and grave-markers, but the actual plot of land eluded me. I was convinced I was near the cemetery, but never entirely sure. I did, however, experience a very unsettling feeling when I was near the area.

Gord Westwater of The Shadows Project and Kevin Valencourt, formerly of NAGS, reviewed archives and maps to pinpoint the cemetery’s precise location, and to date, the only paranormal group to conduct investigations into the area is The Shadows Project.

The members of The Shadows Project each experienced different activity at the old cemetery grounds, and with it they recorded several EVPs. You can read about their experiences at

Lakeview Cemetery
Lakeview Cemetery is divided into two separate plots of land―The “Old” and “New”. Old Lakeview Cemetery, which had its first internment in 1886, holds the remains of over 253 bodies from the cemetery known as St. Peter's or The Old Burial Grounds. The New Lakeview Cemetery, which was developed in 1962 to accommodate the growing population of Thorold and the surrounding communities, feels modern, but on it are the remains of The Bishop Fuller House as well as a monument to Bishop Fuller himself.

The Old Lakeview Cemetery is darker and more historical. Some tombstones are so dated that all the inscriptions are worn off.

Since the early 1940s this cemetery has been known to locals as a haunted site, and children dared each other to walk through its shadows. Even today, visitors get an eerie feeling when walking the grounds, while paranormal enthusiasts have recorded EVPS and describe strange activity.

I've investigated this cemetery several times and each time I felt like I was being watched. On every occasion, as I stood there, a feeling of urgency began to occupy my mind. An urgency to leave. I am always drawn to the back left corner of the grounds and often find myself at the same tombstones each time. Others, such as Stephan Willet, currently of The Shadows Project, have also happened upon the same tombstones in the same locations.

Here, on these grounds are the final resting places of the founding fathers of Thorold and many prominent families from the Region, including the Smiths and The Keefers.

Do the Lakeview Cemetery and its stories of being haunted have a relationship with the activity at The Blue Ghost Tunnel?

The Smith House
Just a short distance from The Blue Ghost Tunnel are the remains of what once was a family home belonging to James Smith, who in the 1840s listed himself as farmer and then later, capitalist.

The only elements remaining of the house are a limestone foundation, a nearby small well and a staircase that climbs to what was once a vegetable garden.

Here one can find the residue of broken housewares originating from England and Scotland.

There is little historical documentation about the house, but it was known to be abandoned by the early 1920s as farms had amalgamated into larger operations.

I happened upon the foundation while hiking around the Blue Ghost Tunnel, believing that perhaps other structures or evidence of such could be found.

On a separate hiking adventure, Gord Westwater, of The Shadows Project and Kevin Valencourt, formerly of NAGS, had found the same structure and conducted a few investigations in which Gord said he had evidence of it being haunted.

Are the spirits who haunt this particular location responsible for the paranormal activity at The Blue Ghost Tunnel?

The Mystery House Foundation

In the general area of The Blue Ghost Tunnel, a larger house foundation was discovered by Gord Westwater and Kevin Valencourt. All that remains of this structure is a limestone foundation and there is so far no documentation found to determine who owned this particular structure. It is of a much larger scale, and perhaps this was simply a farmhouse or even an outbuilding from the Smith property.

The House on the Hill
Above the Blue Ghost Tunnel's East Entrance, near the edge of the Quarry, stood a large three-story house. It is seen on only a few photographs of the Blue Ghost Tunnel as a blurry haze. During my investigations into the tunnel I approached a psychic medium who drew an aerial view of the tunnel and placed a house upon a hill, alongside a large barn. She indicated that the source of the paranormal activity of the tunnel was the house on the hill.

In venturing up the hill and looking for a house, I found no evidence of its existence. Walker's Quarry is still operating and they have taken much of the hill in extending their operations. Officials at the quarry insist that a house was indeed on the property and was owned by one of the Walker Brother's―most likely John Walker himself―but they could not provide any more details. They said the house was most likely torn down in the late 1960s when the quarry was expanded.

In talking to many locals I learned that they used to regard the abandoned house as a foreboding presence upon the hill. These same locals played as children around the wooded areas surrounding the Blue Ghost Tunnel, and often spoke of a haunting inside the walls of the dilapidated mansion.

“As kids, we used to call those two buildings on the top of the hill, ‘the haunted house’. Even in the 60's going over the Skyway you could see them,” says Pendykowski. “There was only the stone shell, no floor or roof. What would have been the rear, facing the canal, had a large doorway opening on to a 10'x10' pad with steps down to the ground. This also was when they still cut stone blocks using a cable & pulley system as well as with a saw.”

Several other residents of Thorold told me the house was said to be haunted by an angry old man who would try to capture children if they came close to his dwelling. The story proclaimed that this old man could travel as far as the Welland Canal and possibly into the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

Could the source of the activity originate from this house? Or are these simply fables formulated by children to scare one another? And what of the psychic's assertions about this house on the hill, of which she had no prior knowledge or even awareness?

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.