Sunday, November 12, 2017

HGB Ep. 231 - Haunted Whitby, Ontario

 
Moment in Oddity - Hypha Tombicina Makes Mummies

Hypha Tombicina is a microscopic, parasitic bacteria that has an unusual effect on human bodies after death. The parasite dehydrates the bodies before decomposition can even begin. The result is a perfectly mummified body. A place where this phenomenon has been observed is in Venzone, Italy. Bodies have been buried in the tombs beneath the Cathedral of Venzone for hundreds of years. It was in these tombs that townsfolk started noticing that the bodies of their loved ones were not decomposing. The bodies would be perfectly preserved and almost recognizable. The family members started a weird tradition of taking their deceased loved ones out of the tomb on occasion to talk to them and have them in attendance at various events. It would be scientists studying this phenomenon that would discover that there was no miracle taking place here to keep the bodies intact, but rather that Hypha Tombicina was the culprit. We're not sure which is weirder, that a little bacteria was able to make mummies or that townspeople took their mummified relatives out of their tombs to socialize, but both certainly are odd!

This Month in History - Mary Jane Kelly Killed by Jack the Ripper

In the month of November, on the 9th, in 1888, Jack the Ripper would claim his final victim, Mary Jane Kelly. Jack the Ripper, as he called himself, killed and mutilated at least five prostitutes in the White Chapel area of London from late August 1888 to November 1888. Kelly had claimed to be born in Ireland and that her parents had moved to Wales when she was young. It was in the early 1880s that she ended up in Cardiff and it is believed she started prostitution at this time. She was poor and a widow and there were not many other ways to make money at the time. She moved to London in 1884. She was described as a beautiful and buxom girl and she loved to sing Irish songs when she was drunk. And it was when she was drinking that she became an abusive woman who many referred to as Dark Mary. Kelly's death was the most gruesome of all the Ripper killings because the Ripper was able to take his time with her body because she had invited him back to her room. Dr. Thomas Bond wrote in his notes of the scene, "The whole of the surface of the abdomen and thighs was removed and the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds and the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone. The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus and kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side and the spleen by the left side of the body. The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table. The bed clothing at the right corner was saturated with blood, and on the floor beneath was a pool of blood covering about two feet square. The wall by the right side of the bed and in a line with the neck was marked by blood which had struck it in several places. The face was gashed in all directions, the nose, cheeks, eyebrows, and ears being partly removed. The lips were blanched and cut by several incisions running obliquely down to the chin." Jack the Ripper was never arrested and his identity remains a mystery today.

Haunted Whitby, Ontario

Whitby, Ontario is in southeastern Ontario and is what we would consider a suburb of Toronto. The name is Danish and means "White Village." The original surveyor of the area chose the town names here from towns in northeastern England, so Whitby is named for the seaport in Yorkshire. Camp 30 was an urban explorers playground with several abandoned, crumbling buildings just waiting to be explored. This was a former school for delinquent boys and World War II prisoner-of-war camp that housed Nazis. While things were good for the prisoners, life at the school for the boys was horrible and several died. This has left behind some spiritual residue.The Whitby Psychiatric Hospital was run like many of the asylums in America. Abuses and deaths here seem to have led to hauntings. The Centennial Building is a former courthouse that now seems to be a haunted theater. The Trafalgar Castle School is built to look like a castle and just like so many castles, it seems to be home to some spirits. Join us and Karen Wickiam, host of the STAT podcast, as we look at several locations in Whitby, Ontario that have a reputation for being haunted!

Camp 30

In 1922 Mr. John H. H. Jury owned a farm known as Darch Farm that spanned 300 acres. He donated the land to the government so that a school for delinquent boys could be built. Construction was completed in 1927 and it was run as a school until the outbreak of World War II. It was at this time that the British government needed a place far away to house Nazi prisoners. The government ordered the school to shut down in 1941 and refurbish to become a suitable prison. Most boys were sent back home, but a few were relocated to the "Rathskamoray." The transformation took seven months and included the installation of wire fencing, guard towers, barracks and gates. The first P.O.W.s arrived in October 1941.

One of these prisoners was General Johann von Ravenstein, second-in-command to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. He was captured in the desert of North Africa and had on him at the time several maps with orders from Adolf Hitler himself. Another prisoner was General Artur Schmitt who was captured in Africa as well. A third Nazi general here was General Georg Friemel, who was captured during the Blitzkrieg. Otto Kretschmer was a famous Korvettenkapitan who was captured and brought to Camp 30 in 1941. He had sunk more tonnage than any other U-Boat Commander. He was awarded the ‘Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords’ for his efforts.

These tunnels Karen has referenced were dug in an ingenious way. They were started in the summer of 1943 and work on them was done round the clock. The prisoners tunneled fifteen feet beneath the building. The dirt was removed in bags that were placed on a trolley track and lifted from one person to the next until it made its way to the attic of Haus IV. A prisoner in the attic would then empty the bags, sprinkling the dirt over the rafters. The tunnel ran three hundred feet and passed under Lambs Road and into a cornfield.

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam

Photo: Karen Wickiam


Whitby Psychiatric Hospital 

The Whitby Psychiatric Hospital was built in between 1913 and 1916. It was set up much the same way as most asylums at that time, as a self-sustaining community. A network of tunnels was built underneath the many buildings to facilitate movement.

Reports of hauntings at the location from the Cold Spot website:

 "A few of my friends and I went there in the summer of 2004, we were curious about it. We went into the building called the Children’s Ward. We had to crawl in through a basement window. The second we got in I got a terrible vibe from the place. I mean it was really, really creepy. Anyway I noticed that throughout the building there was an area where it was cold or there was a breeze. At one point I swore I heard children laughing. Only me and my friend Sam heard it, Sarah and Tiff didn’t hear anything. I really wanted to leave after that, but they insisted we keep looking around. We went into one room and there was whispering and foot steps. We all heard it this time, it was quite terrifying. We all made haste and left after that. On our way out I kept on hearing footsteps following us, and not just one set, like a lot of them. Anyway it’s 100% haunted by my books, and by lots of other people I know who have gone.”

“I was a guard at Whitby Psychiatric Hospital in 1988 to 1989. One night I got a call that a doctor’s dog was going crazy when the elevator went by in Building 30. Her office was located on the second floor. I went in, saw that the elevator was on the 3rd floor, called it and went to the 2nd floor. The doctor explained that her dog normally ignores the elevator (it had a habit of starting up on its own and travelling the floors) but that night was an exception. After I asked to borrow the dog, we went up to the 3rd floor. I was about half way around the floor when the dog stopped at a door. The dog started sniffing and I said “What do you hear Max?” The dog looked at me and turning back at the door started pawing it. I got my keys, put the key in the lock and all I had to do was turn the key and the door was open. I felt a sudden wave of terror go through me and my hand would not obey the signal from my brain to open the door. I pulled the key out and tugging on the dog’s leash said “Let’s go Max!” I had to get out of there really fast! The dog wouldn’t leave that door and I had to drag him away with all my strength. (Max was a medium sized dog). After the dog was about ten feet from the door, he finally came with me. I headed back to the doctor’s office, handed the dog over, said “Found nothing, gotta go now!” and headed out of that building as quickly as I could. I started feeling like a coward and returned. The doctor had left for the night although she appeared to be ready to work through the night and I left. The next day, I retraced my steps and found the drag marks on the floor. I opened the door, looked inside and found only undisturbed dust. I heard later that years previously, a patient had murdered a nurse on the third floor and then committed suicide. He has been known to scream at the guards telling them to get out of his building.”

The Toronto Ghosts website received this report from a reader who lived near the old psychiatric hospital site:

"About 2 years ago, while I was home alone I was going upstairs to go to bed and when I got to the top of the stairs, I turned to go into our bedroom, I saw a woman in a red satin dress or nightgown lying on my side of the bed. She had strawberry blonde hair and I would say that she was around  (5 foot 3) thinking about the amount of space she took up on the bed. I would say that she was probably in her 30s though I didn't get a really good look at her features. I can't remember positively, but I think she turned to look at me. I only saw her for milliseconds though. I was very shocked and after catching my breath, I turned back and she was gone. After some time had gone by and nothing more happened, I figured that it had been my mind playing tricks on me. But last night, my husband had gone upstairs briefly and when he came down, I knew something was wrong. He told me he'd seen a woman lying on my side of the bed and described her as I have."

Centennial Building

The Centennial Building is the former Ontario County Courthouse, which was built in the 1850s. Frederick Cumberland and Wallace Storm were the architects who designed the building. Trials were held here starting in 1854 and the courthouse was in use until 1964. After that time, the building was used as a community center that eventually became home to the Whitby Courthouse Theatre, county archives, banquet facility and meeting rooms. In 1979, the Centennial Building was designated as a Heritage Structure under the Ontario Heritage Act.

One tragic event that occurred here, happened during a trial in 1873. A man by the name of Jack was sitting in the courthouse watching the trial of his son. The young man was accused of rape. Jack was very agitated and became even more stressed after the jury came back with their verdict. As the judge was preparing to read the verdict, Jack jumped to his feet and ran through a set of doors in the courtroom that led to a balcony. Once the judge read that the verdict was "guilty," Jack threw himself over the balcony and died. It is his spirit that is believed to haunt this location.

Custodians and other workers in the Centennial Building say that lights go on and off by themselves and that they have seen a shadow person in the hallways. Many times, custodians have locked up a room only to pass it later and see the lights back on in that room. This happens often in the Regal Room. One custodian witnessed an apparition in the upper balcony of the theatre, which then stepped down 15 feet onto the floor below. The building has been investigated several times by various groups with each reporting that they have captured EVPs and that members of their teams have experienced strange feelings up on the balcony that have left them dizzy.

The Canadian Paranormal Seekers did an investigation here in 2005 and claimed to capture what appeared to be a ghost on video. They also said that their psychic tried communicating with Jack and that he was angry and wanted to know why they were there. In a picture taken of her while channeling, there is an orb and they claim there are hands overlapping her hands, but we didn't see that.


Trafalgar Castle School

The Trafalgar Castle School is home to one of the finest private girl schools in Ontario. It was originally built in 1859 for the sheriff of the county, Nelson Gilbert Reynolds. The term castle in the name refers to the buildings structure, which was inspired by an Elizabethan castle. It was built from limestone and took three years to complete at a cost of $70,000. At the time, this was the largest private home in North America. There is reportedly a legendary "hidden chamber" and a secret tunnel. Reynolds lived at the Castle until 1874. Financial difficulties caused him to sell the property for just $35,000 in 1874. The Methodist Church bought the property and opened it as the Ontario Ladies' College, which changed names in 1979 to Trafalgar Castle School.

It's only fitting that a school that looks like a castle would have ghosts. Students throughout the years have claimed to hear phantom footsteps and seen doors open and close by themselves. One legend from the school involves an elderly woman's visit to the school. It was night and she told the caretaker that she wanted to see her granddaughter's room, which was Room 232. The caretaker leads the woman towards the room and when he turned to tell her that they had arrived, the woman had disappeared. The Toronto Ghosts website reports that in 2008 someone wrote them and said, "Because I work in law enforcement, I'd prefer to remain anonymous. I just finished three nights of working at Trafalgar Castle School and I feel pleased to offer you a new story.  This happened my first night there. At about 9:30 PM, I was starting to write a report in the green gym office area when I saw a brunette about 15 years old in white gym clothes (tshirt, shorts) walk down a staircase, turn right and vanish from sight. She was in the building where the fitness room is, located behind the Chapel. Since I hadn't toured the grounds yet, I didn't think anything of it. The students are free to go in and out until 10:30 PM. Then I went for a walk and I quickly realized that there was no door where the girl turned and left my sight. 24 hours later, a friend was talking to my husband quite casually about TCS being haunted. Apparently this is old news to those who live nearby."

It would seem according to these stories and the stories that Karen told us, that some unexplained activity is going on in Whitby. Every town seems to have its share of ghost tales. Are these locations in Whitby, Ontario haunted? That is for you to decide!

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