Restaurant to Celebrate Ghost in the Cellar

A restaurant in Bedford will play up its connection with the paranormal on Halloween night. Staff at the Cellar Bar and Grill say they have lots of spooky first-hand evidence to share. - By Heather McLeod

Back in the 1800s, the honorable James Butler, a member of the Halifax legislative council, owned a farm in what is now the town of Bedford. One late night a woman was finishing up her work on the property when she was attacked and brutally murdered. Nearly 200 years later, her spirit is supposedly still lingering the site, now the location of the Cellar Bar and Grill.

“There are quirky little things that happen,” says Mike Hubley, a chef who has worked at the Cellar Bar and Grill for eight years. “You’ll be the only person in the building, and you may be downstairs and hear footsteps, but no one else is there.”

He says the tables in the restaurant are left set over night, and sometimes in the morning the cutlery and glasses are all moved around. At times the furniture is found out of place.

Hubley’s parents worked at the restaurant, then run under a different name, when he was a kid. Someone found a dead body in a bag washed up on shore behind the building. Apparently, the smell of the body came through the restaurant and ever since, people swear things have been happening. That was 20 years ago.

“It’s supposedly been going on for quite awhile,” says Hubley, of the ghosts who show no sign of leaving.

Hubley says staff can be standing around the restaurant and swear they see a customer going by into the back dining room. A server will go to see the guest, but no one is there.

Water taps surge all on their own, and even the computer started acting up, says Hubley.

“Employees were getting punched in over night.”

The lurking spirits seem to enjoy meddling with Hubley’s cooking utensils.

“I’ll go to use a knife I set down, but it won’t be there anymore. I’ll come back later and there it is again,” explains Hubley, adding that everyone else will promise they never touched it.

So who should they call? Ghostbusters

According to the corporate director of Paranormal Phenomena Research & Investigation the paranormal is relatively commonplace in Canada. Elliott Van Dusen says they have 16 case files so far this year, mostly involving ghosts. Last year they had 13 case files and Van Dusen says they receive at least 10 every year.

Van Dusen started the organization, whose headquarters are located in Lower Sackville, in 1997 and eventually merged with a New England UFO Investigative Group. Together, they research and investigate the paranormal.

Van Dusen is also affiliated with the Centre for Parapsychological Studies in Canada, and has looked into the claims of the Cellar Bar and Grill being haunted. Van Dusen believes it is possible, but says the case needs more investigation.

Two investigators from the Centre for Parapsychological Studies in Canada found nothing unusual at the Cellar Bar and Grill, except for one investigator’s ghostly encounter. The man went to use the bathroom, located in an enclosed area described by Van Dusen as “creepy in itself.” There, the man felt a tug at his collar, yet he could see no one around. Van Dusen says a lot of people have reported this experience, along with claims of a force trying to keep them out of the bathroom.

Van Dusen explains that when Paranormal Phenomena Research and Investigation receives a call, investigators go along with their equipment. If they find nothing, they put the case on hold and tell the person to contact them if something reoccurs.

Ghost-hunting equipment:

  • Electro Magnetic Field Detector: reads electro magnetic energy to detect changes in the environment. When power is shut off, shouldn’t detect anything because no electro magnetic energy is being supplied. A spirit may cause change in the environment, causing detector to go off
  • Infrared Thermal Scanner: detects changes in temperature. People often report drops of temperature of 20-30 degrees when they believe a spirit or apparition is present
  • Digital cameras: to capture images
  • Camcorders: to capture footage
  • Voice recorders: to pick up voice/noise in the background that may otherwise not be heard

Van Dusen has several reasons why an apparition would haunt a dwelling

  • An apparition or spirit may stay in a particular place because it doesn’t know or realize it has died or passed on and just continues what it’s doing
  • Residual Haunting: can compare like a movie on repeat. The metaphysical part of a person is still present, and they keep doing things over and over. For example: reports of a ghost walking down a certain hallway every night at the same time
  • The spirit is attached to a certain thing or the area and doesn’t want to leave it. For example, the murdered woman not wanting to leave the farm, which is now home to the Cellar Bar and Grill

Though many staff and some guests have reported odd experiences at the Cellar Bar and Grill, not everyone has encountered the paranormal at the restaurant. As one businessman, Nathan Kroll, leaves the Cellar Bar and Grill after a lunch meeting one afternoon, he says he has eaten at the restaurant a dozen times, mainly when doing business in Bedford. He says he doesn’t find it creepy, but if ever encountered with a ghost, “that’d be it for me, I’d never go back again.” Kroll says he would leave fast, and he wouldn’t complain to the restaurant.

“Mainly because they would think I’m a nutcase,” he says.

Chef Hubley understands the customer’s point of view.

“If someone just came to me and told me all those things, I’d say they were crazy,” says Hubley. “Until it happens to you, you won’t believe it.”

He describes how new staff start working at the restaurant — they’ve heard the stories, they don’t really believe them. “Eventually they’ll see something start to happen,” says Hubley. “Until you see it on a regular basis it’s hard to believe.”

Hubley says the Cellar Bar and Grill has not tried to get rid of the supposed spirits haunting the place.

“It’s not a scary thing,” he says. “It’s not bringing any harm to anyone, so no one really worries about it too much.”

Claims that the place is haunted with lingering spirits floating about does affect business, as it seems it would — but more of in a positive way.

“A lot of people think it’s real neat, and come in hoping to see something happen,” says Hubley. “But mostly it doesn’t happen when people are around.”

Not long ago, guests at the Cellar Bar and Grill wanted to go down to the basement and check things out, says Hubley. While they were down there, a light flicked on and off all by itself.

“That really spooked them!” he chuckled. Now the guests want to come back on Halloween with their Ouija board to see what they can find out.

On Halloween night The Cellar will be showing an episode of Creepy Canada, a television production that presents myths, legends, and stories of the paranormal found across the country. The show produced an episode in its first season that features the restaurant. If you think you’re brave enough to chance an encounter with spirits from beyond, then visit the Cellar Bar and Grill at 1516 Bedford Highway to see the show on Oct. 31.