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Nice city-scape of Toronto - via chensiyuan through Creative Commons use
I am a Torontonian... I was born here and raised here and continue to live here. My family have strong roots here and it's difficult for me to wander around and see history that, in some way or another, did not involve my ancestors. I'm fiercely proud of my home town... even when it's mayoral choices are... well... moving on... Heck, yesterday I was at the CHIN Picnic at the CNE grounds and actually bought two "souvenir" t-shirts for Toronto for myself... and, again, I live here. I ain't no tourist... well, actually... I am... but let me explain.
I love to "play" tourist and visit tourist traps, galleries, museums, and (of course,) historic sites.
Now, I know what some of you saying... "Well, d'uh Mister Haunted Places Guy! Of COURSE you love museums and historic sites!" (Hey, the city is even using our self-guided walking tour for DIY tourists!)
...others may be noting that someone who just said his family is very intertwined in the city would be, from an almost genealogical standpoint, interested in the city as well... but even that's not the whole story...
Some of us have the ability to stand in a historic place... someplace "ancient" (in relative terms,) and envision life there... or the moments that caused *this site* to be notable. I am, in my minds eye, figuratively capable of time travel... and it's more often than not to me, exhilarating and breathtaking.
In Toronto, probably the most "historic site" is that of Old Fort York (as I grew up knowing it... now-a-days, it's "Historic Fort York".) In all honesty, YES, it's one of the most "reported" ghost-experience sites when people write to us about historic places in Toronto (more people seem to experience things they feel are ghostly at Fort York then any other spot in the city,) but I'm also a War of 1812 living historian... and a history buff... so although I would be lying if I suggested that Fort York's potential ghostly lore doesn't interest me, (it does!) it is most certainly NOT the only draw for myself or Sue.
FACT FANS: Old Fort York is also THE most visited historic tourist site/museum in Toronto.
We love to wander in, chat with interpreters, and generally re-examine displays we've seen countless times... in many ways, Fort York is almost "home" to us... it certainly feels like home to me. (Oddly enough, a close second and third would be Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Welligton in Prescott... could be a theme here...)
Torontoghosts, back in the heady days when I had WAY more disposable income, held two events at Fort York after hours... not "investigations" or the like, but historical and folkloric events with a "ghostly" twist... and it was wonderful to wander about the place at night and absorb the atmosphere... We have always tried to be respectful and build genuine relationships (friendships and connections,) with The City of Toronto and it's museums and historic sites... from making genuine friends with interpreters and caretakers at various sites, to good natured banter and debate with folks like Dr. Carl Benn (who, if he reads this, Sue still feels that there's a CHANCE that Grenadier Pond was frozen over enough to allow potential crossings...) and even past mayors directly!
This year (2012) being the two-hundredth anniversary of The War of 1812, an artists installation was done in the fort. An exhibit that was part of the Luminato events (which does things all over the city,) was held at the site named "The Encampment", a stunning and very thought-provoking set of works where individual artists were given wedge-tents (ones that are very similar to the historic versions of camp tents,) to "decorate"... each artist and tent to represent a person who was historically involved with the fort, The City of York (now Toronto,) or the battle of York in 1813 itself. (If you wish to know more about the battle, see this link again and scroll down to April 2000's update from "our message board"...)
The above is an example of one of the tents interiors...
The installation was amazing... two-hundred tents... two hundred pieces of artwork... all memorializing the war, its victims, and its legacy... it was well worth the visit and Sue and ensured we absorbed each tent as we came to them.
So, you have all that? Let me lay out the salient bits above...
#1: "We", our entire group really, are historians... either quasi, amateur, or in a few cases, actual (post-secondary education in...)
#2: Historic Fort York is a home and a respected place where we've cultivated friendships...
#3: We have no illusions that although Old Fort York has a fantastic amount of "ghost reports" and has a great ghostly lore, they rarely acknowledge this and honestly, don't need to... They do fine without it.
That last one... something some folks don't realise is that although "ghostly" things CAN be a draw for a site, often some places will dodge it to avoid thrill seekers, reality-ish teevee cosplayers, and yes, potential philosophical and spiritual "debates". These debates range from people who are either scared of these things, people that are devout-non-believers who despise the possible teaching or acceptance of "fraudulent garbage" (yes, that's a quote from someone attached to a historic site in Ontario but I've heard this argument dozens of other times,) that will lead people to fake psychics and "dangerous" beliefs, and lastly, indeed, the almost opposite side of that spectrum, those who's faith and religion don't like/accept/condone ghostly things for reasons from "God Wouldn't Let That Happen!" to "It's All Demons". Either way, SOME (many) museums and historic sites only entertain ghostly stuff if they're desperate for visitors (any means necessary,) or open to their folklore (more enlightened then most and recognise the potential to help teach the history and spur interest without selling out philosophical ideals,) and of course, most of them embrace their ghostly legends at Halloween.
Now, let me add ONE MORE POINT...
#4: Did you go to the Luminato link? Luminato was installed AT the fort by the event... not BY the fort... It's a separate entity operating as an NGO art event group. The fort welcomed them, and likely helped... but after that, it's all about Luminato.
Have a look at this screen capture from Facebook... (Please note: The first three "commenters" are different... the bit that's important to this blog post is the exchange between the fourth commenter and the folks that looked after The Encampment's Facebook group...)
Yes, I've blurred the names... I don't want a flame war... but I can say that this group is the same group that were deeply involved with events in this post and, eventually, this post. If you're a member of the PSICAN message board, you can also see a bit more here. There is, sadly enough, more... but that's for another day... and not ENTIRELY related to the above.
...speaking of which...
So, the "professional" paranormal person above has his Facebook visible and I know you'll be shocked, but he's bucking for a reality-ish teevee show. (Gasp. I know.)
...but this bit of nonsense on Facebook for the Luminato event? What's wrong with it?
FIRST: This was a post about an aerial photograph... and he commented on ghosts on this? Open a new thread if anything. This took away from the photographer's work.
SECOND: "I'm serious, btw"? If you were, you shouldn't need to announce that.
THIRD: You're complaining to an artists installation that's running it's event with the fort's (and city's) permission about not being able to hear from the fort or the city. This is like going to a billboard company who has a sign near an intersection to complain about the traffic lights there and expecting "them" to "do something" about the issue.
FOURTH: In one paragraph, "free of charge" becomes "at-little-to-no cost". What happened?
FIFTH: If you've contacted the fort's management, why are you pestering Luminato?
SIXTH: "Do you imply anyone can enter the fort after dark?" (How DARE they, eh?) Did this person read about or visit the exhibition? This statement seems to suggest no, they did not... as a main feature is the illumination of the tents after dark. Heck, MOST of the promotional photos are the tents lit up after dark. Yup, hit the fanting couch, clutch your pearls, JUST ANYONE could visit the fort after dark at this event.
SEVENTH: "A great opportunity squandered..." by the fort? I'm sorry, but this one goes in my 'Top Ten' most arrogant statements I've ever read in this field... and when you realise who is stating that and how long I've been around and the circles I travel in, that is indeed a dubious 'award'... well earned. (Yes, I'm aware this statement makes me seem arrogant, but when you look at it, it's like saying I've had some really bad meals, but this is one of the worst... not that I'm "great", not that everyone should be lucky enough to have MY meals, and not all my meals are the best. Period.) The fort is Toronto's busiest historic museum for tourists... THEY DON'T NEED YOU... WE NEED THEM...
EIGHTH:"Thanks. Unfortunately not the ideal environment for a scientific, methodical investigation like we perform," I entreat anyone reading this to re-visit those blog posts... this one and this one. I would swear on a stack of anything you feel I hold holy that I have not seen one paper or article that would be considered proper scientific data from this group. Another case of someone who waves about a scientific instrument and feels this makes them a scientist... as stated, if I wave about a cranial saw, this does not make me a neurosurgeon. Also, in their previous work, the bulk of their data came from the help of psychics. No offence AT ALL to psychics and sensitives, but resting your science on something that's not absolutely substantiated is like putting up a house on a "potential" foundation instead of a legitimate one... it probably won't stand.
NINTH: "... but hey, enjoy your time there while camping! : )" which manages not only to sound condescending, but shows that you either are incapable of reading, incapable of Googling, and most likely, did NOT visit the exhibit... and, if you did, you really, Really, REALLY didn't understand it. No one was "camping", they were tents set up as static galleries.
Now, this fellow is not PSICAN... if he's aware of us, he probably doesn't like us, but I have to put things in my terms.
PSICAN have volunteers... They pass a test which does test their empathy and their respect levels. They also do two studies... it costs nothing to join, and no one makes their paycheques from the group right now.
You can still be "let go".
If this guy was on our team, this post would be enough to show an utter lack of respect for a site and/or a witness... See this PDF document...
This aside, here's something I've said before, but it bears repeating.
Here's a wee list... some better, some worse... it's not a competition...
Rogo, Roll, Holzer, Spencer, Underwood, Price, Auerbach... I can even toss in The Warrens, the plumbers on reality-ish teevee, and a host of other folks.
NOW, look at the above...
As a person reading this blog, you MIGHT have said, "That's a list of people that look into ghosts who are all very different folks!" That's probably about 5% of the people reading THIS blog post.
Most of the people reading this blog post read that and said, "Those are people that look into ghosts!" and that's it. They're all, on the prima facia, the same.
Most of the people in the world (who don't even know this blog exists,) read that and didn't know who the hell those people were/are.
Sadly, for a very large number of people who do not read this blog, do not know this field of study, but are inundated with either ghostly fans (through places they work or visit,) or have casual ghostly fans as contacts who watch the reality-ish shows and or the like mostly for laughs or a good scare will simply see that list, when explained, as more of a run-down of some of those ghost people... and no, many of them are fed up thanks to thrill seekers and the low IQ folks who just want a good scare or a moment's fame.
This latter group is a large and vocal majority in the realms of historic sites, museums, academic boards, and the like... in other words, the people that can help us most usually don't like us...
...because of the ill-mannered, egocentric, arrogant boneheads... like the fellow in this Facebook screenshot.
He, and many others show they have no grasp of history or research... no experience... and most of all, NO respect for the site or the people involved... not even enough to be honest or, at the very least, Google the event to which they are commenting.
Like it or not, "WE" (all of us... including PSICAN...) are measured by this fellow... because everyone knows, PSICAN folks, Scott Rogo, William Roll, Hans Holzer, John and Anne Spencer, Peter Underwood, Harry Price, Loyd Auerbach, The Warrens, and grey-suited Mario and Luigi guys are all the same (again, in the eyes those that MATTER.)
Now, the GOOD NEWS for the fellow that posted this, he did get attention... The management of the fort saw the comment...
...and now they've most likely slightly hardened the "AVOID GHOST STUFF" stance because of it. (We've not heard good things...)
Yup, this nitwit not only managed to create an opposite reaction to his "request", he's made it potentially more difficult for everyone.
I guess in stating this, I'm the bad guy... and "controlling"... and telling other people what to do...
...but to everyone ELSE (quite literally) reading this... ALL the other groups, independent investigators, and yes, even our own crew... perhaps I am *suggesting* this turd SHOULD have looked HARD at where he complained on Facebook... learned about the event it was for... Googled it... visited it... acted with respect and friendship with the people... and perhaps realised, as I stated, they don't NEED him... he NEEDS them... and reigned in his arrogance and acted with civility... with reason though.
...because if you think I'm ONLY speaking for us... that only PSICAN will have a harder time at Fort York now...
Oh, boy, this really got you going. Perhaps you should write a letter to the editor of the Toronto paper about what the event meant to you. Cut out parts where you could be sued. I love the lit tents and aerial view.
If this was the only time I’d seen/heard/witnessed/"felt a backlash because of” this sort of thing, I’d be all over it like ugly on an ape. Thankfully, I have many friends in the forts and within the historical sites so I can SORT-OF cover our butts to a degree (on some levels,) but it’s like I said, this hurts everyone…
This post was more a “loud suggestion” that people be respectful, learn who they’re contacting, and generally be honest.
Oh, and Toronto has four available million-plus subscription papers…
The Globe and Mail - …and since it doesn’t involve a Fortune 500 company or the government, they wouldn’t be interested…
The Toronto Star - …which would be interested only if it came with a photo of either a happy family, a smiling politician, or rioting youths… or if their Arts and Lifestyle people could turn it into a cry about the state of culture within the city… and this would OBVIOUSLY be the fault of a Tory government something-or-another…
The National Post - …which would either spin it as being OBVIOUSLY the fault of the left wing liberals OR something that can ONLY be saved by The Conservative Party of Canada… or would ignore it unless they could peg a dollar figure to the story of over $1million.
The Toronto Sun - …that would ABSOLUTELY blame those damned lefty communist pinko liberals and would DEMAND, before EVEN CONSIDERING publishing it, that both Sue and I pose for seductive photos in a bikini.
The entries found on this blog are based on the thoughts and discussion of Matthew Didier and Sue Demeter-St.Clair...two paranormal investigators/researchers based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who just also happen to be a couple.
We are founding members of The Ghosts and Hauntings Research Societies, PSICAN, and Pararesearchers of Ontario and are members and supporters of The Society of Psychical Research, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences
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