The Social Spirits

After investigating ghosts for most of my life I have always been fascinated with the social characteristics of spirits and how they act and interact with one another.

I first became aware of this interaction in 1996 when I investigated a home which was involved with a multiple haunting and was the basis for my first book “Overshadows” where a teen aged girl committed suicide and then returned home to discover her family had left and a new family had moved in, what she also found was other spirits there. A conflict arose when a malevolent spirit named Edward had control over the home and other spirits, the young girl seemed to want none of this and a battle began between them leaving the family trapped in a nightmare. The action that took place between these two entities demonstrated to me that there was little difference to what people could do to one another no matter what side of life one stood. The activity was extremely negative as Edward chased the girl throughout the house and property. At first I was lead to believe it was purely a control thing, but as the investigation proceeded I discovered it was much more than that, control yes, but also knowledge, and knowledge is of course power. Edward having died in the 1940s demonstrated a difficulty in understanding our technology and in the beginning gave us extraordinary evidence of his existence on video and audio surveillance. This all changed one Saturday night when Edward caught the girl and seemingly convinced her to join with him, after which her actions towards the family turned from benevolent to malevolent. The girl was a modern teenager and was able to educate Edward on how to defeat our surveillance equipment.

I had to wonder if this situation was unique. I investigated many haunted locations, and not until 2003 did I get a second astonishing look at this interaction.           

I was working a job in Mississauga of two haunted houses sharing the same property.

Lewis and Elizabeth Bradley built their farm house in 1830; the home today is a museum operated by Mississauga. The spirits there are friendly and welcoming.  Relocated to the Bradley property is a house named by its first owner as the Anchorage, the structure is a fine example of Regency style construction. It was owned by Commander John Skynner, who served under Admiral Horatio Nelson aboard his ship Hirondelle, battling against France and its emperor Napoleon. He settled into his home in 1839. Although Commander Skynner and the Bradleys were separated by class distinction, they all were part of the same small community known as Merigold’s Point.

The reports at the Anchorage were of strange noises, lights that turned on and off without reason, doors would close on their own and staff were reporting dizziness and nausea.

We had just finished shooting interviews for the documentary “A Haunting” for an episode entitled “Darkness Follows” which was based loosely on my first book “Overshadows” with New Dominion Pictures for Discovery Channel at the Bradley Museum when my brother Paul and I were taking a break outside. Paul said he had seen two spirits near the rear of the old homestead. He described the man and woman he had just seen and the period clothing they were wearing. Later, we mentioned this to the curator, and she said his description was accurate of the Bradleys and she would see if she could locate some photos of their original portraits for us to look at.


Our first investigation in the Skynner house was short, however it showed us that the reports from staff were valid. As we sat in the meeting room we heard heavy footfalls near the back door, the house was locked and the only people in the building were all sitting in the meeting room. As we headed up to the second floor to have a look around and take some environment measurements we encountered strange phenomena in the room at the top of the stairs. Our first measurement of temperature was 19 degrees Celsius, in a matter of three minutes the room’s temperature changed to 31 degrees. The room became not only unbearably hot, but oppressive as well. We checked to make sure the furnace had not come on, and it had not, we could not find an answer as to why this dramatic temperature change had occurred. We retreated down to the main floor, where it was cooler. It was then that we heard footfalls on the stairs. We responded and found nothing to indicate a cause. Paul and I went upstairs again and even though a relatively short period of time had passed, four minutes, the second floor was a comfortable 19 degrees again.

We were all sitting in the meeting room on the main floor when Paul and I kept hearing creaking noises from the floor near the back door. We had checked several times and had found nothing. I finally decided to respond by jumping out into the hall and firing my camera towards the back door. I snapped off two quick shots. And there it was framed in the windows of the door to the foyer were two ghostly images. Later the image was enlarged to reveal a man looking through the left glass panel and a woman looking through the right panel, they were both wearing period clothing.

When Paul looked at the photo he was immediately excited, as he recognized the couple as the two spirits he had seen behind the Bradley house. When we showed the photo to the curator she said it resembled pictures she had seen of the Bradleys. She went off to her office and came back with photos of the Bradley portraits, the similarity was startling.

We mused philosophically on what this photo meant. Could there be a social interaction between spirits? Had the Bradleys come over to see Skynner, or had they come over to investigate what we were doing here? Either way, they were now visiting a house that did not sit on this patch of land until the 1970s. This meant that they were aware of its existence even though they were both dead long before it had been moved here. Could that mean they knew of and visited the Commander as well? I believed so.

In my new book “Ghosts” I explore the social interactions between the spirits which dwell in this remarkable estate located in Mississauga where we had the opportunity to pull back the veil and have a glimpse at these incredible relationships, I personally found it to be a very profound discovery. From the lady of the house ordering a spirit named Henry to watch over and keep his child Danny under control and away from harm. Henry is run ragged chasing down the child, barking out warnings and instructions.

A servant spirit named Anna Rita who still takes her orders and keeps the stairwell clean and polished.

Then there is the spirit of a young girl named Tonya who visits and plays with Danny coming from an old farm across the road. Rumored that in life Danny had a imaginary friend, was this the spirit of Tonya who had died only a few short years on the very property Danny had moved to? In Danny’s death it seems that the two will now be friends for ever.  

The children and servants at the farm and the mansion maintained a meaningful coexistence. I found it interesting that in all of these cases there was indeed a social interaction between spirits, nothing unique as it seems to me that, even in death, life goes on…as if never interrupted.