MIDNIGHT AT THE BAILLIE HOUSE
Rumour has it the Baillie House is haunted, and I must confess, nothing both terrifies and fascinates me quite as much as a haunted house.
When it comes to this well-known heritage property that houses Merritt’s Visitor Information Centre, almost everyone has heard the stories, and many locals have their own ghostly experience to share.
Some people have reported hearing footsteps upstairs as if someone were pacing up and down the corridor. Others leave convinced they have seen a woman moving up and down the staircase and some simply report feeling a presence with them in the house.
The most common report seems to be the sound of the doorbell ringing when no one is outside the house. What makes this particularly creepy is the fact that the doorbell is programmed to ring with a typical “ding dong” sound, but the phantom bell plays the Westminster Chimes.
But how many of the rumours can be attributed to actual ghosts, and how many are the sounds and feelings associated with an old house? Last Friday, Shaw TV’s Paul McLellan and I decided to try and find out for ourselves. With permission from Baillie Property manager Sandy Curnow we arranged to spend most of the night in the Baillie House and see if we experienced any visits from beyond the grave.
I must mention we weren’t the first to attempt such a thing. In 2008, a group called BC Spirits used some high-tech equipment to investigate the house overnight and came away with impressions and names of some of the spirits in the house — though the names don’t match up with historical records. Since these ghost hunters appeared to be successful, Paul and I decided to try and recreate some of their experiments (with admittedly less high-tech equipment).
We arrived at the house at around 11:30 p.m. and my heart started pounding a little louder than usual as we moved from room to room turning on the lights, and then made our way up the creaky staircase to the upper level. While the lower level was filled with items for the yard sale, the upstairs bedrooms were furnished with antiques making it seem more likely that a ghost would choose to hang out upstairs. We set up a video camera in the front bedroom and left a audio recorder on the floor in the nursery. We also traced some toy building blocks on a white sheet of paper as the BC Spirit group had done to test for any movement, then went back downstairs to wait.
We played some Trivial Pursuit while we waited and read a Bert and Ernie book we found called Something in the Attic, but overall it was a fairly quiet night at the Baillie House.
Part of me wanted some sort of experience — the doorbell, some footsteps or maybe the sense of something or someone in the room with us — and part of me hoped desperately that the ghosts (if indeed there are any) would leave us alone.
At one point during our late night vigil Paul challenged the ghosts to make some sort of noise and almost immediately we heard a loud creak from the kitchen, but I’m afraid that is really the only noise we have to report. When we packed up at about 3:30 a.m., the blocks hadn’t budged and nothing much has come from our reviews of the footage and audio files except a few faint bumps and creaks.
So the question remains, is the Baillie House actually haunted? Certainly the home has almost 100 years of memories, having housed heartache, and death, as well as many happy memories, I’m sure. Are the ghosts more active on certain days or with certain people, or do they even exist at all? We may never know for sure, though people who have experienced the noises and feelings are positive that something unseen calls the Baillie House home. In any event, despite our relatively quiet night at the Baillie House, I’d never go upstairs alone.