4 May 2014
Author finds ghosts at Orillia Opera House
Author Terry Boyle recounts the thrills and chills he and a film crew experienced while searching for ghosts at the Orillia Opera House. The basement proved particularly spooky.
It was no mere bump in the night that Terry Boyle heard while camped out in Orillia’s historic opera house one evening several years ago.
“We encountered a lot of really strange stuff,” says Boyle, the author of three books on haunted sites.
Accompanied by a film crew, and later a clairvoyant, the Burk’s Falls man had set out to confirm the presence of ghostly spirits that have long said to be associated with the historic downtown building.
Boyle’s chilling experiences are recounted in his new book, ‘Haunted Ontario 3: Ghostly Historic Sites, Inns and Miracles’, due out May 3.
“I’m always surprised, I never know when something’s going to happen,” he says. “It always shakes me up because I’m not ready for it.”
Known to television viewers for his work as host of Discovery Channel’s ‘Creepy Canada’, Boyle and a friend had planned to shoot a pilot for a new show and chose the local opera house for the inaugural episode.
“We’d heard it was fairly active through word of mouth, that sort of thing,” he says. “Our intention was to stay the whole night in the opera house with two film crews, with the lights out. That’s exactly what we did.”
While the television show never came to be, the events of that evening would stay with him.
“There were doors opening and closing, slamming shut, footsteps,” Boyle recalls.
At about 4 a.m., the group descended to the basement, once home to jail cells.
“We are all gathered in there, and suddenly a shadow goes by,” he says. “One of the women in the group, she started screaming, and the next minute we heard this moaning, and then we heard footsteps coming toward us.”
Then the room temperature dropped to minus-1 C.
“We knew we had something,” he says. “We heard it, and one person saw a shadow go by, but we didn’t get a full apparition.”
A camera placed in one of the former jail cells – hidden behind a wall – captured astonishing footage during the night, he says.
“It was amazing when we reviewed it,” he says. “We had orbs of light shooting through and bouncing off the walls of the jail cell.”
A few days later, they returned with a U.S.-based clairvoyant.
“He literally pinpointed numerous people that he saw that had worked during their lifetimes in that theatre,” Boyle says. “There was still a man alive that worked in that theatre during the silent movie era. We got a hold of him and brought him in. He knew all of these people (the clairvoyant) was talking about – the female pianist on stage who played the piano during the silent movies, the woman that worked in the ticket office, a fellow that died of a heart attack during a performance in the audience.”
If there was a unifying thread that connected the spirits – save for the unfortunate cardiac victim – it was that “they loved the opera house,” Boyle says.
“They were happy there,” he said.