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Paranormal powerhouse: Whispers, barking, and bright lights

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Paranormal Society investigates strange happenings at Stave Falls Powerhouse

Posted by Tanya Fish

Whispers, voices, chairs being dragged, shadow figures, a dog barking and a bright light are just some of the strange happenings reported at the Stave Falls Visitor Centre and Powerhouse.

Vancouver Paranormal Society (VPS) president Peter Renn calls it the "most active" place his team has investigated in B.C., an historic, decommissioned powerhouse and current tourist attraction that seems to be a hub of unexplained activity.

Personal experiences at decommissioned powerhouse are ‘quite immense’

The Powerhouse at Stave Falls was constructed in the early 1900s, with the first generator being activated in 1912. The Powerhouse itself was decommissioned in 2000 but was later turned into a visitor centre for tourists and school groups to learn about how hydroelectric power is produced and the important role it has played in the history of the province.

The VPS team has investigated the facility on a dozen occasions over the past two years.

"Stave Falls is the most memorable place out of all the places we’ve investigated in B.C," explains Renn. "It is by far the most active; each time we investigate, the personal experiences are quite immense."

From unexplained noises, physical touch and shadows, the VPS team has experienced what Renn and his team would describe as "paranormal activity" at the facility, which they define as meaning "something that cannot be explained logically beyond any shadow of a doubt."

But don’t call it haunted. Renn prefers the term "highly active".

"For me, the term 'haunted' can have negative connotations and can elicit notions of cheesy old movies with creaky floor boards and ghosts that pop up and scare you," said Renn. "What we do isn't like what you see in the movies, which is often a very exaggerated (or incorrect) version of what we do."

So what is it about the powerhouse and Visitors Centre that would make it so "active"?

"One of the theories is that entities and spirits are drawn to energy, and with the facility being a decommissioned power station, they are drawn in and remain there as a sort of residual energy," explains Renn. "In addition, there are a few documented accidents that took place at the facility, which could also be a factor in this type of activity."

Bright light is the first visual evidence that the Vancouver Paranormal Society has found at the Powerhouse at Stave Falls

The Vancouver Paranormal Society team has captured a lot of electric voice phenomenon (EVP) over the years, but this image that shows the bright light is the first visual evidence they have gathered during their investigations

Finding answers; giving peace of mind

The mission of the Vancouver Paranormal Society – a registered non-profit society based in the Lower Mainland – is to help clients find explanations for strange occurrences or phenomena that they are experiencing.

"Clients will contact us when they think they’re experiencing something paranormal," explains Renn. "We will then go in and either validates their concerns or find a logical explanation for what is happening."

The VPS team is made up of nine volunteers all from different backgrounds – including those with construction, mechanical and electrical experience, which helps when they are looking for logical explanations for the goings-on. They do around 60 investigations a year, most of them at homes.

"When my team and I begin an investigation, we will go to the residence or building and do a preliminary investigation that includes an in-depth interview with the client to get as much information as we can," said Renn.

"When necessary, we will look into the background or history of the structure and what has gone on there. We first look to find a logical explanation for what the client is experiencing. We're not ghost hunters or thrill seekers, looking to get scared by the unexplainable."

If the team cannot decipher an obvious logical explanation for what the client is experiencing, they will begin their investigation. The investigation requires the use of various types of equipment including artificial lighting so they can try and get an image of something paranormal.

Other equipment the team employs includes:

  • 360-degree voice recorders
  • Single microphone voice recorders
  • Bells on a string for doors
  • Fishing wire across doorways with bells on either end
  • Full spectrum cameras
  • Infrared cameras
  • Light sensitive camera equipment
  • 15 cameras with DVR recorders capable of recoding direct to a disk
  • Monitors for monitoring video feeds
  • Remote control motion sensing cameras
  • “Hunter cameras” used for recoding of 15 seconds of footage at a time on a motion sensing trip
  • Thermal imaging cameras

If the team concludes that there is something paranormal going on, they'll inform the client of their findings.

"Although there is no way to clear a spirit or a haunting, we find that educating our clients and offering them some piece of a mind – whether with a logical explanation or evidence to support their belief that they are experiencing something paranormal – their awareness about the haunting diminishes and it becomes much less of an issue for them," said Renn.

Tanya Fish is a member of BC Hydro's digital communications team.