Ghost Hunt Bristles Hair on the Cats and Me, Too

By Peter Duffy

Ghost Hunting! I’m going ghost hunting! Delicious shivers of anticipation crawl over my back as I turn off Highway 101.

It’s a wintry Sunday afternoon and I’ve come to Mount Uniacke to witness an investigation into the paranormal. The person who’ll be doing it is Darryll Walsh, a serious ghost hunter from Halifax.

We met not long ago and I came away impressed with the man’s dedication to the paranormal as well as his credentials. Darryll, 36, has a degree in counselling psychology and a graduate degree in parapsychology. As well, he lectures at the Nova Scotia Community College and has compiled a book of haunted sites in Nova Scotia. To top it all, he’s executive director of a national organization called the Centre for Parapsychological Studies in Canada.

This afternoon, I’ve invited myself along to watch Darryll check a house where some strange goings-on have been reported. It isn’t your typical brooding Hollywood haunted house. It’s actually a pleasant, blue and white 21/2 story affair set at the end of a short cul-de-sac. And it isn’t very old. It was built in 1971 by a couple who’ve since retired to the Annapolis Valley.

Today, the house belongs to Don and Carolee Lightbody and another couple with a teenage daughter. They moved in about four months ago.

Don, 58 and Carolee, 36, are an open, personable couple. They make me welcome and seem at ease answering all my questions. (The other family, equally as pleasant, asked that I respect their anonymity(.

Don makes a living as a picture framer. His wife is a nurse in a metro nursing home and volunteers a lot of time with various youth groups, including Girl Guides.

As far as I can tell, the only unusual aspect about these people is that Carolee gives tarot readings at the Little Mysteries store in Halifax. That and the fact both couples are Wiccans, people who follow an earth-based religion that honors all things natural.

The man who’ll lead the “sweep” for paranormal activity is already here. Dressed in a black sweater and jeans, Darryll is making ready with cameras and other scientific paraphernalia He’s accompanied by his assistant, Janet Hillier.

Darryll leaves the rest of us to familiarize himself with the house. I parked myself alongside Carolee to learn about her strange experiences in this house.

She says the first was one night in September when she had a bronchial infection and was having trouble sleeping. She came downstairs in the early hours to rest in the big recliner chair by the living room window. As she lay dozing, she became aware of a woman’s face staring in at her from the dark. It was at least two meters off the ground. She’s convinced that it wasn’t her own reflection.

“It was an old woman, smiling in at me,” she says. “Her hair was curly, mine is straight.”

She wasn’t really scared by the apparition.

“I felt like it was just watching over me, checking that I was OK.”

When she got up to investigate, the face simply vanished. She hasn’t seen it since.

Then there was the incident the other morning. She was alone in the house, standing on the upstairs landing. She was about to start vacuuming when a voice asked: “What are you doing?”

Startled, Carolee stood there. The voice spoke again. It said: “I asked you, what you’re doing?”

Carolee’s reaction was one of irritation.

“I said: ‘I’m vacuuming, what does it look like!’”

Then she realized she was alone in the house. Unnerved, she hurried down the stairs where she was met by Kit and Scrag, two of the household’s five cats. The cats stared up the stairs, hair bristling, hissing at whatever was there.

“The rest of the day,” Carolee continues, “I heard murmurings. They weren’t loud enough to hear a voice. And neither cat would go upstairs.”

I turn to Don. Has he seen anything? No, he replies, he’s very non-receptive. Carolee is the psychic one in the family.

“But I have no doubt,” he adds. “I believe implicitly what she says.”

Don mentions their previous home. They’re from Truro and lived in a 120-year-old house built by his great-grandfather.

“We had fairly regular visits from spirits,” he says. “I often felt presences there, but I’m not perceptive enough to see them.”

When Don and Carolee have exhausted their stories, I turn my attention to the other woman living here. Has she sensed anything? She nods.

“It’s not a bad feeling,” she remarks. “It’s like you’re not sitting here … alone.”

She’s never actually seen anything, she says, but she has felt a bit “spooked” a few times. As well, sometimes she’ll smell cigars, even though there are no smokers living here.

Before I can ask her more, we’re interrupted by the sudden reappearance of Darryll. He’s just come downstairs and he’s looking rather pale.

“Something’s just happened,” he says softly…