Seance at George Brown House left skeptical journalist shaking

Brian BakerHave you ever wanted to play a role in a supernatural horror movie?

Did you ever want to investigate the history of a haunted house, much like a journalist by the name of Rachel Keller?

The Ring reference aside, I was that journalist thrown into the fire called the George Brown House. And on this particular night, mentalist Jaymes White was lighting the match to an evening of explosive delight.

There were 10 of us. Guided by lantern from the Sin and Retribution pub on McCaul, we walked over to the three-storey, mansard-roofed Victorian landmark that stood indifferent as we heard its story from our guide, Anthony. We were about to attend a seance. One that will be available to the public from Sept. 13 to Nov. 30.

The odd gallows humour example rolled from his tongue, much like an old gate with wheels creaking along a cemetery entrance.

Then we entered the Victorian abode, and more details were divulged before the host for the event, White arrived behind us in the foyer of the 1874-constructed building.

After we were each given an obsidian pebble, which is supposed to protect against negative energy, and my guest Kerri volunteered to hold on to an antique bell once owned by Toronto Globe founder George Brown, we were taken on a tour of the building formerly known as Lambton Lodge.

While upstairs we were told about the poisoning of children by their mother, and in my research of the building, I don’t recall coming across something like that.

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Yes, George Brown succumbed to a gunshot wound in the house, suffered during a brush with a disgruntled ex-employee carrying a pistol at the Globe office.

Yes, Duncan Coulson, the president of the Bank of Toronto also kicked up his feet one last time within the walls.

That’s on record. It’s a fact.

But a distraught mother who poisoned five kids, (three according to the Globe and Mail article), with arsenic seems a little over-the-top.

Still, I will admit my journalistic sense was buried under the folie à deux of my nine other compatriots as we attempted to make sense of the ghastly tragedy.

Then it got real. Something rang the bell while in Kerri’s hand. We navigated the change in air down to the dining room.

I felt a tightness in my chest. A lump that wedged its way under my sternum. And there was a physical tingling. I wasn’t the only person. A young lady by the name of Brie also shared the feeling.

We were both drawn to a spot around the dining room, as we were in the location where the alleged family were staged after death by the alleged murderer: mom.

White asked Brie and me a series of questions that were squirrelled away for further review — possibly a mentalist ruse.

An ouija board was brought out and three volunteers took to the planchet. I was not one of them.

I may be rooted in skepticism, but I still don’t go looking for reasons to be haunted, so yes, I have boundaries.

But when it came to random bell ringings, dropping items in empty rooms, the old-fashioned table rapping was unavoidable.

More strange feelings occurring, tingling as it were all over my body. Then there was the rapid spirit bell ringing followed immediately by the ringing of the George Brown bell.

It felt like a scene from Poltergeist when the lights flicker in the kitchen.

A sort of JoBeth Willams smiling to Beatrice Straight moment: “There’ll be two more in a few seconds. They always travel in pairs.”

There was plenty of activity during the table-rapping. A tray of obsidian stones was thrown from a mantlepiece. Plenty of bell-ringing. The radio came on. Someone said they heard a running tap in the kitchen. I heard the soft padding of someone walking in the room.

It was all quite entertaining, even if I was shaking. My friend, Kerri, mentioned I was in quite a state. Fear, as it were, makes you feel alive. And I was certainly supercharged by it.

And once the ride was over, once White had gathered all the emotions, feelings and experiences of those present, we were led out the front door, scratching our heads as if wondering what we just experienced.

Admittedly, I went to bed quite easily after the ordeal as I was still not quite convinced I had experienced anything preternatural.

The journalist in me wanted to find out more about the family that was poisoned.

More of me wanted to know if it was all an elaborate act put on by a mentalist. But for the most part, my internal horror fan was sated.

And for a brief moment in my life, I was truly in a supernatural horror film.

Dee Wallace, eat your heart out.