Talking to Shanon Sinn on the writing of “The Haunting of Vancouver Island”

Sinn_Shanon_CreditSarahPackwood.jpgBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest) 

Release Date:
Oct 10, 2017

Reading / signing:
Oct 23, 2017
7:00 pm at Bolen Books
1644 Hillside Ave #111
Victoria, BC

Oct 27, 2017
5:30 pm at Arbutus Room B300
(above Cafeteria)
Vancouver Island University (map)
900 Fifth St
Nanaimo, BC

Octobere 28, 2017
12:00pm (reading at 12:30pm)
6670 Mary Ellen Drive
Nanaimo, BC

Summer is over, and people are planning their itineraries for the All Hallow’s Eve season. The Haunting of Vancouver Island by Shanon Sinn will be released on October 10th by TouchWood Editions and later in the month will be a presentation at Bolen Books. This collection of stories shows how some spooky legends persist year-round. If you are not careful when exploring those forbidden trails or handling forgotten relics unearthed while spelunking about, those spirits can get you! Well, that’s only if you are superstitious.

Sinn offers a grounded approach to understanding how the folklore developed. He is also out to bust some myths. That is, to distinguish fact from fiction and not be afraid to hurt some feelings along the way. He is a member of the British Columbia Ghosts & Hauntings Research Society (BCGHRS) and Paranormal Studies and Inquiries Canada (PSICAN) where using a realistic approach at examining the lore is paramount. Both value obtaining accurate information through library archive digging and talking to those who experienced a supernatural encounter first-hand. When he is not busy with work for these organizations, he maintains the Living Library website and is the author of Way of the Wraith, a work of paranormal fiction. This novel is of particular interest since he’s crafting short stories in this shared universe. He is currently in the Creative Writing & Journalism program at Vancouver Island University to further develop his skills. And with this background, he’s the perfect investigative reporter to delve into the mysteries on this island located West of Canada.

“My approach is more on documenting and researching the story,” revealed Sinn. “A lot of times the story begins when someone else writes about it. I’ve found that many places ‘haunted’ had an actual occurrence at one time (about 30% of the people actually had the experience), but subsequent incidents have been made up.”

This researcher said that even if the root cause is due to mental health and how this condition can alter perceptions, just what happened still needs to be looked at at an objective level. Also, he finds the growth of tourism where searching for ghosts is made fun and the influx of paranormal reality television shows still persisting have done a lot of damage.

“There are ideas and theories, several I introduce in my book’s introduction, but anyone who claims to know what ghosts really are is a fraud in my opinion. [Sometimes], it is done intentionally to promote tourism. This is folklore fraud,” said Sinn.

He finds the mainstream social norms as far as belief is concerned has become ridiculous. Most are wholeheartedly accepted as fact because of how mass media is painting this industry. He asserts that, if these entities really are spirits of the dearly departed, then changing the story and sensationalizing a sighting takes readers further away from the answers. That is, to uncover the reasons why these stories persist.


“Again, we do not know what ‘this’ is and why these incidents occur. If they are spirits, then what gives anyone the right to tell them to leave? In a sense, this [action by people professing to be spirit rescuers] is extremely egotistical and self righteous. There are folks who believe that sending a spirit to “the other side” or to a light is unethical.” said Sinn.

This author steers clear from weighing in on the pros and cons of spirit rescue in his work. He presents the history, the facts behind (the creation of a ghost) and the beliefs which emerged to say why a location became haunted. The information he presents about Doris, the Victoria Golf Course is a good read. One part history and another part recalling past encounters, much of the book is about his and other people’s first hand experiences.

He has also organized his book into sections. From Qualicum Heritage Inn to the Heriot Bay Inn, much of the Mid to Northern Vancouver Island is explored in two-thirds of the book. The appearance of ghost ships tend to be an East-coast phenomenon but this island has the legend of the SS Valencia. It hit a reef on Pachena Bay by Bamfield and hardly anyone surived. The native people who explored the area years later found skeletons, and those legends about moaning spirits still persist today.

Because this island is home to several First Nation tribes, their stories must be heard. This book has a chapter “The Spirit of the Wolf” and another on “Cannibal Spirits and Mount Tzouhalem.” These old legends are often rife with serpents and shapeshifters, and this culture respects them. They are considered non-theatening. While that’s easy to say for them, other people either look on in fear or run away! The most exciting chapter is the enigmatic Forbidden Plateau. It is Comox Valley‘s most prolific and persistent story because there’s a lot of mystery in how this name came to be and where the hauntings come from. Some point to the actual park where there are walking trails and another suggest the old ski resort. The stories are wide and varied, and to get answers, this author did his best to find people to talk to in order to get proper accounts.

“People would send me comments or I would meet someone like Caitlin Blakey (Beban House chapter) and the pieces would fall into place. There were many moments of coincidence or serendipity, if you will, where things just lined up. In the chapter on Keeha Beach (which actually started the book’s journey almost 20 years ago), the reader learns about how my camping trip in a search of solitude started me down this road towards writing this book,” recalled Sinn.

“When it comes to people telling me things, sometimes they came out of nowhere. This includes people willing to talk but also the book deal and the mechanics of writing. The acknowledgement section is long for a reason. I am very grateful for all of them.”

Even though Sinn somewhat debunks some of the island’s best known stories, the truth is that others get put into doubt becomes much more disconcerting for those wanting to believe. The inclusion of First Nation oral sources further credits the belief that Vancouver Island is haunted, but by what is still a mystery.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

One thought on “Talking to Shanon Sinn on the writing of “The Haunting of Vancouver Island””

  1. Thanks for writing this Ed — enjoyed talking to you! As you’ve said, I will be doing a reading at Bolen Books in Victoria on October 23rd. I would like to add that I will be reading at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo on October 27th as well.

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