Vancouver’s Most Haunted in Review

22 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Torchwood Editions
Available to order on Amazon USA

Although Ian Gibbs of Victoria’s Most Haunted (2017) didn’t take a road trip to explore the rest of Haunted Vancouver Island to put into a new book (it’s been tackled by Shannon Sinn), he is back examining the Lower Mainland instead! This time, he’s delving into the secrets Greater Vancouver has tucked away. Instead of always tackling the most well-known places, he went around to find other incidents in Vancouver’s Most Haunted: Supernatural Encounters in BC’s Terminal City.

I’ve looked at his first collection (review here) and it’s an enjoyable read. This latest shows how his narrative has developed over the years. When Gibbs is not telling tales of meeting the undead as one of the many guides in Victoria, BC’s Discover the Past’s Ghostly Walks, he’s working on his next Ghost n’ Bears podcast. What he enjoys the most is extoling the incident that helped shaped the transition of human to spirit. Sometimes, as with a certain “Private Home on Marine Drive,” it’s about testing the cultural mainstays of whether other ethnic cultures believe in this world or not. Kristy’s (not her real name) experience of staying at her grandparent’s luxury home is a standout. It is this chapter and another run-in at a private residence that I found the most engaging to read.

He begins each entry with why that venue is important to the growth of this city. It’s tough to get a complete picture of why some spirits remain, and his book doesn’t try to give answers. As the title suggests, what’s recounted are the experiences by the individuals who had a run-in with the beyond. Not every experience has a climax and resolution that’s regularly found in a novel. Instead, he’s recounting that emotion, those feelings and sounds, that’ll give people goosebumps. This bard’s insight offers a nice update to those familiar with the venues but haven’t heard the latest whisperings.

Sometimes what’s recounted is a hiccup of time, presenting those deceased individuals as stuck in a loop. Once in a while, all that’s witnessed or heard is like a flickering moment from an old celluloid film.

Vancouver's Most Haunted: Supernatural Encounters in BC's Terminal City:  Gibbs, Ian: 9781771513180: Books - Amazon.caI expected a certain number of well known Vancouver haunts to be listed. Instead, Ian looked at a few places I knew would be haunted, but never advertised the fact. Spots like the The Waterfront Station and Gastown are done to death, and what he does is acknowledge them in terms of how the energy (of the living) constantly flows there. He has a bit of that Sixth Sense himself and he explains why making use of this ability matters. Interestingly, The Fairmont Hotel and Deadman’s Island are skipped. Sometimes it’s because of the red tape, and it’d take too long to secure all the permissions needed to go further with what invisible inhabitants live there. Plus, not every property owner wants the label of their building as haunted.

One detail I appreciated is in how this work updates readers to the goings on at Riverview Mental Hospital. This place is often used in many television or movie productions that’s going on in this city. It’s odd he doesn’t name them. To know which series had problems can add an extra nuance to why shows like Poltergeist the Legacy, Supernatural and X-Files ‘had problems on set.’ Other programs like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Flash, Smallville and Stargate SG-1 use it because it’s required for the episode of the week. As for whether any spirits manifested when Muller and Scully weren’t looking, it’s tough to say as film editors have to be eagle eyed to cut out unwanted material.

Throughout the book, Gibbs often refers to Cornerstone Paranormal for more of an ‘investigative’ look. This group has members living throughout this province and have operated for quite some time. Another group he interviewed was the Surrey based Canadian Paranormal Society. The Vancouver Paranormal Society seems missing because they’ve been around for a touch longer. All of them have decades of experience, and have revisited places many times while Gibbs have not. The Vancouver Police Museum is a popular place many groups like to investigate, and it’s not the only venue that’s indeed spooked. Sometimes we like to know if these places offer public investigations when Halloween rolls around. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. But before anyone can participate, they better be prepared because nobody ever knows what’ll happen when the veil is thin come Oct 31st!

4 Stars out of 5

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