By Vivian Moreau – Saanich News
Published: October 29, 2008 1:00 PM
Updated: October 30, 2008 8:56 AM
“Ghosts are sensitive to renovations.”
It’s the kind of comment that makes you check to see if the person is yanking your chain. But Camosun college student Ed Sum is serious. He’s talking about the outside east wall of the Young building, a 1914 three-storey brick structure said to have ghosts. The building was renovated in the 1990s, which likely annoyed some spirits, Sum says. The first-year applied communications student is a self-professed “paranormal enthusiast.” He talks about ghosts as easily as others might speak of eccentric relatives.
“Ghosts don’t perform for us,” he says about why he doesn’t try to capture apparitions on film. Instead, with electromagnetic field detector in hand, he scouts out the halls of the Young building late at night. He’s checking out stories he’s heard from former and current students as well as staff. Tales of unusual sounds and events that take place in the building that has served as a schoolhouse and a military hospital before becoming a university and college campus. Sounds of shuffling feet in the building’s clock tower and mysterious background voices in media students’ recordings are just some of the odd happenings Sum and others have run into.
“You’d hear thing, mostly creaks and bangs. We always thought the third floor was haunted,” she says. “But honestly it was probably pigeons walking on the skylight or the wind.”
Sum knows there are other explanations for readings that appear on his detector, a device said to pick up on energy fields emitted by ghosts.
“From a sceptic’s point of view, there is a window that points straight down Hillside and Shelbourne,” Sum says about background voices that show up in tape playbacks. But one voice, recorded in a late night scrum that Sum and fellow paranormal buddies took part in, defies explanation. Scouring a floor of the Young building used for surgery during the Second World War, the group paused. One of them asked what time it was. On playing the tape back later, an ethereal voice can be heard sharply breathing out the hour: “Eleven!”
Another floor once housed a morgue. Another houses a cemented-in swimming pool. It all adds up for Sum, who thinks the Young building is a logical place for ghosts to reside. That ghosts exist also seems logical, he says.
“It’s mostly just (me looking for) a validation that there is something in the next emanation of life,” he says. “I’m just trying to find out if there is something more than simply us.”