Summer is winding down, but there’s still one long weekend to go.
The Labour Day long weekend is the perfect time to head to the cottage, take a day trip into the countryside, enjoy an afternoon at the beach, or just relax on the backyard deck.
And local author Andrew Hind has a pair of new books that are the perfect addition to any summer reading list, especially for those with plans to travel Ontario.
Haunted Museums and Galleries of Canada was Hind’s sesquicentennial project. A historian, researcher and popular writer, Hind wanted to find a way to encourage Canadians to visit their national historical sites, museums and galleries. And what better way than through ghost stories?
“It’s the perfect way to get people interested,” Hind said. It’s an opportunity to “shake off the stodginess and dustiness” associated with museums.
The book includes information gathered for his earlier book Haunted Museums and Galleries of Ontario, plus additional stories of hauntings culled from every province – over two dozen paranormal tales in all.
Hind had heard some of the stories before, while doing research for a series of Ghosts of… books written with co-author Maria DaSilva. Others came to light only after he approached the institutions, asking if they had any traditions of paranormal activity. The results were surprising.
The Sharon Temple, Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum, Haliburton House, Muskoka Heritage Place, Roblin’s Mill at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto all apparently have resident spirits which are detailed in the new book.
One of the haunted sites is the Elman W. Campbell Museum located on Main Street South in Newmarket in an old registry office built in 1884.
The presence of a ghostly male figure has been sensed at the former location of a reception desk.
“He then stands, turns around, walks briskly in an arc by the washroom door and then down the hallway before disappearing into the museum vault where artifacts not on exhibit are stored. He unfailingly takes the exact same route, never deviating, his movements locking into some eternal loop as if he is destined to recreate this walk for eternity.”
Who is he? Through research, museum staff think they know the identity of the ghost, Hind said, although the name of the former North York Registry Office employee is being kept a secret. The fact that the image “matches up with the historical record” makes the story more believable.
Ghostly millers, apothecaries, blacksmiths, women in dark clothes, and mischievous children all have made their presence felt by visitors. Haunted Museums and Galleries of Canada invites readers to see for themselves.
His other book, Canadian Monsters and Mythical Creatures, is a tribute to Hind’s childhood fascination with monsters and folklore. Not only did his brother tell stories that “creeped me out,” Hind said, he had a 12-year-old cousin who made plans to buy a van, dress like the characters in Scooby-Doo, and head to Thunder Bay to hunt for Big Foot.
While revisiting a topic that enticed him as a child, Hind’s approach today is different. He tackles everything from Kempenfelt Kelly, the resident ‘sea monster’ of Kempenfelt Bay in Lake Simcoe, to giant beavers and bats, Wendigo and Sasquatches, “from a mature, scientific point of view.”
Hind includes the historical records, legends, news reports and diary entries of sightings, and provides possible explanations, through the filter of “cryptozoology,” the study of unknown or mythical animals.
“It’s so much fun,” said Hind. “The world feels so small now, everything can be explained away. It’s fun to have a little mystery.”
Both books are printed in Canada by Quagmire Press, and available from Amazon, and at Chapters, Coles and Indigo.