-Jillian Courtney, Features editor
Brantford has a long and rich history. Many historic Canadians have resided in here, from Wayne Gretzky to Alexander Graham Bell. With such a deep rooted past and many old buildings it is possible that a spirit or two may have hung around, if you believe in that kind of thing. Ray ‘Chico’ Bartlett of the Brantford Paranormal Society gave me a quick rundown of some the more active places around town.
Woodland Cultural Center
The building now stands as a place to learn about Native culture, but at one point it was a residential school with a dark past. Many children were mistreated and abused on the premise, which means it is a prime place for the paranormal. There have been many reports from local residents claiming to see translucent figures crossing the grounds. After the figures disappear, it’s said that distant, muffled voices can be heard.
These claims may interest certain paranormal groups. But management says that because of the tragic past of the Center, they will not allow an investigation to happen. Bartlett agrees, “There’s no point in stirring up those kinds of things.”
The Sanderson Centre
This beautiful theatre is one of the most known in Canada, and is famous for putting on a number of different performances. The theatre first opened in 1919 in downtown Brantford. There weren’t any claims of paranormal activity on the premises until 2008. A stagehand who was running the lighting for a show alone in the lighting booth said that he heard a table crash in the next room and that a vacant chair was thrown across the room he was in. According to the story, he was so shaken that he needed to have another person sit with him so he could finish the show.
The Brantford Paranormal Society has investigated the theatre a few times in the three years that they have been running and they have recorded some interesting findings. The most notable, Bartlett tells me, happened when an associate from Hamilton accompanied them on one particular investigation. “He was skeptical,” says Bartlett.
The group was investigating the building, and had just come up a set of stairs. In a chair a few feet away from them, they spotted an old man just sitting there. As their associate approached the man, he disappeared. Upon telling the current theatre manager, he showed them a picture of the former theatre manager, who turned out to be the man they saw in the chair. He explained to the group that that was the spot where he and his wife would sit to watch performances.
Pauline Johnson House
The structure was built in 1856 by Pauline’s father, and is the place where she was born. She lived there for a majority of her childhood, and became a well-known and beloved Canadian author in her later life. The house still stands in Brantford as a national historic site, and has had some interesting activity happening for a long time.
The Brantford Paranormal Society was allowed to investigate the property and managed to record some interesting findings.
“One of our investigators was actually kicked down the stairs,” says Bartlett. While that was the most physical of the their experiences, strange smells we also reported. Another things that stands out in Bartlett’s mind was the presence of an apparition near the top of the stairs.
“Every time we would go to check it out it would disappear into the attic,” Bartlett explains.
Brantford has many historic roots and they can be found in the many old structures still standing in and around the city today. With so many stories and memories held in the walls, it is possible that a spirit or two may linger to enjoy the relics of the past that still exist in Brantford.