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Gillian, TV Producer/Director, and her camera man, Sam, have been filming heritage sites for a few years now: A new series for the History Channel highlighting some of Canada’s culturally interesting sites is to air with the new season. Unique architecture and a famous artist have led them to a location 117km west on hwy 401 to the village of Doon, now part of Kitchener. As they wait in traffic, Gillian becomes discouraged, “It says on the GPS that 1754 Old Mill Road is located close to the highway: Not sure how authentic a house in a new subdivision is going to appear on camera”. As they near the city, traffic intensifies. “I see a sign: Next exit.” The cut-off leads them to a major intersection on Homer Watson Blvd.
As they take the first right past a College, their hopes begin to rise. A field opens to the left of them and the road narrows. Soon they are winding along, past quaint 19th century cottage homes. A bridge spans a small creek that feeds into a large river. From the bridge they see for miles: trees and fields intermingle within a pastoral setting. A gentle river runs through. Time seems to stand still. In the distance, a tower stands as a beacon memorial to pioneer settlers who once used this waterway as a means of travel, exploration and discovery. The ruin of an old mill appears on the right: the lime stone remnants are nestled amongst scattered wild flowers, and a path leads lazily down to the river’s edge. A few steps away their hopes are realized. With greatness and humility stands before them an unusual Scottish Style House. “Romantic and moody with a gothic edge…perfect,” whispers Gillian.
Over the next few weeks of shooting, the film crew is increasingly aware of a presence. It becomes so obvious that one day they decide to try and capture it on camera. A spiritual guide is hired. Near the end of the day, as they wait for their medium to arrive, they prepare to contact the beyond: A small round table is set-up in the museum, and a few odd chairs are drawn around. Faith gathers together artifacts and history on the spiritualist movement in which Homer Watson was involved. Included is a photo of Homer with mysterious shapes and spirits floating in the background and some old séance cards from the turn of the century. The cards contain messages from those departed sent to those still living. “How do we go about calling a ghost?” inquires Gillian.
Faith shrugs, “I don’t normally ask them to appear. However, I have asked Phoebe for help from time to time, and it seems help is provided.” Sam laughs, “OK Pheobe, so we need your help to film a spirit.” Everyone waits in silence.
The spiritual guide is not due to arrive for another 45 minutes, so it is suggested that they walk with their cameras and sound equipment to the cemetery up the road and shoot the grave markers in the shadows cast by the setting sun. In an air of excitement, everyone leaves except Faith who stays behind to catch up on paperwork. No sooner has the door shut behind the crew, Faith hears it open again. “Forgot something?” she calls, but as she turns the corner and walks toward the door; no-one is there. In a nervous laugh Faith jokes, “They just stepped out for a minute or two, Phoebe.” Suddenly someone says, “Hello”. Faith whips around to find a pottery student. Faith shakes her head at herself for being so silly: thinking Phoebe had heard the request for help and actually walked through the front door. The student must have slipped in the entrance unnoticed, and headed to the pottery stored in the back room. Faith greets the student, “Hello, can I help you?” The student replies, “Oh, no. That’s fine. The staff member with the period costume showed me where to find my pottery”. Seeing Faith’s blank stare and open mouth, the student clarifies: “You know…the woman wearing the long dress and blouse with her hair tied up in a bun like someone from the 1800’s…She helped me. Do you know who I mean?” “Absolutely, she’s been with us for a long time,” Faith smiles. The student leaves happily, never knowing she just met a ghost.
Many people have tried to capture images of the spirits that roam the site, some with moderate success. Orbs are particularly abundant on still photographs. Others, such as Dianne Verniel, host of the TV show Province Wide, caught a white misty presence that drifted across the camera during her interview. On the particular evening of our story, the crew returned from the cemetery in a whirl wind of excitement. The camera man was particularly ecstatic while filming the interview with the medium, claiming that the film was “wavy”, and he was capturing something unusual. Some time later, the director/producer mentioned that they caught so much material that they couldn’t include it in the architectural piece they just completed. She hinted that they may develop another show about the ghosts sometime in the future! One wonders what they caught on film! To see a trailer for the documentary they did film here, go choose “Watch Preview” from this link.