Ghost World

"There are two ghosts, one is a mother and the other is a child, possibly about 12 years old."

-Oct. 27, 1994 article in The Whistler Question

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It has never been easier to be a skeptic.

When every argument can be settled with a quick Google search, every theory can be debunked on Wikipedia and each shiny new piece of information we absorb has already been rigorously pored over, dissected and reassembled, it's no wonder that we have become a society full of skeptics.

We are taught from day one to think critically, to ask the tough questions and expect definitive answers in return. We live on the edge of Occam's razor, where the simplest explanation is always the right one, and rationality reigns supreme.

So, if I told you that, until Monday (Oct. 22), when I followed a couple of local mediums into a Creekside restaurant, there was a group of ghosts wandering aimlessly around the property for generations, you would probably laugh uneasily and start to plot your eventual exit from the conversation.

But hear me out. It's natural for you to feel skeptical, it's a perspective local mediums Jules Gillians and Matthew Cody have been dealing with most of their lives.

"I'm just so in gratitude that I have this gift because we are channels. Everybody can tap into it, we just need to make more people aware that it's there," said Gillians, who, like Cody, noticed early on that she was seeing things the other children weren't.

I met the pair at The Oracle, where they work, finally realizing that my idea for a Halloween article had transformed into what would undoubtedly be a unique day.

"The pale apparitions are blamed for strange occurrences late at night, especially in the loft."

-Oct. 27, 1994 article in The Whistler Question

Like most pre-pubescent children, I had a keen interest in the supernatural growing up, which has manifested itself in my adult life through the occasional horror flick or guilty pleasure episode of Ghost Hunters.

I got into Cody's car, half-expecting it be filled with thermal imaging cameras and night-vision goggles.

What I did find surprised me even more: Cody and Gillians visibly nervous, breathing the kind of long, exhaustive breaths you take when you're feeling incredibly anxious.

Both of them explained that they were already feeling "something," communicating in one form or another with a ghostly presence in Creekbread even before we arrived at the pizza restaurant.

"We really pay attention to the feedback that we're getting. Every situation is a little bit different," explained Cody once we reached the parking lot outside the restaurant. "We know that there's someone here, we've established that connection, we're receiving messages already. We're going to go in there and try to help the spirit understand the position that she's in and help her work through that. Just kind of let go of everything that she was holding onto so tightly in the physical world that she didn't let go of when she crossed over."

While we awaited Creekbread's manager to let us in (it was, thankfully, before regular business hours. You didn't think we were going to contact the spirit realm while diners munched on their Pemberton Potato Pie, did you?), Gillians started to fill me in on some of the messages she was receiving.

"I feel that the daughter is actually separated from her and that's what (the mother's) holding onto right now They were separated and she's still looking for her daughter. The daughter's passed over. We need to get them reunited."

Eventually, we were let in and headed towards the rafters, which has been the hotspot for alleged sightings of a spectral woman and child over the years. People often described seeing the pair laughing uproariously or feeling "a push" as they walked down the stairs.

Rob Seguin, manager of Fatburger in Squamish, worked at the location in the mid-'90s when it was known as Settebello and served Italian food.

"One day I was in the dining room and a woman pulled me aside and she goes 'I'm seeing two ghosts up in the top there. It's a mother and a girl and I just thought I'd let you know,'" he said.

A couple months later, after the restaurant had become Anasazi, another female customer told Seguin the same thing, that a woman and child could be see in the rafters.

Seguin started to ask around to see if anyone knew anything about the alleged spirits, leading him to the front desk manager at the Whistler Creek Lodge next door.

"She told me there was a fire, and a woman and a child lost their lives years ago," he said.

The sightings didn't end there.

When Creekbread's co-owner, Jay Gould and oven-builder Mark Jowett were getting the restaurant ready for its grand opening in 2009, they both saw something they were initially reluctant to share with each other. "It was dark,I was looking out into the room and I saw a women in white go from the middle of the room and out the doors that lead to the patio. She was high up, maybe ten feet in the air. I did not say anything to (Jowett) because who would believe it? About five minutes later (Jowett) said: 'I think I just saw a ghost," Gould revealed.

Around the same time, another of the restaurant's owners, Josh Stone, and his wife Amy were working alone late one night.

"I came around the last bend in the flight of stairs and the hair on my body just shocked up. It was like getting a blast of freezing air, but it wasn't cold at all. Something was around the corner, I just knew it, and when I peeked around the last flight of stairs I saw a figure whisk into the men's bathroom," Jay said. "When Amy asked me to explain what I saw, I could only say that it was an adult woman, but I had no specific description. I'm a very analytical person, and I hate the fact that I can't explain this away, not because I am worried about a ghost in our building, I'm actually stoked about that, but rather because it defies logic."

Minutes after we took a seat upstairs, Gillians breathing was becoming more and more laboured. An anguished look spread across her face as she seemed to grow less and less responsive.

"What do you feel?" Cody asked.

"She's screaming," said Gillians.

She explained that the messages she was receiving - which Gillians said can come in many forms, be they images, voices or a wave of emotion - told her that the daughter had been taken forcibly from the mother, who was First Nations, in the early nineteenth century.

"It wasn't her fault. She's still holding that guilt, she's still blaming herself She's so sad, you can just feel her crying," said Cody.

Moments pass before Gillians starts to sob hysterically, shaking violently.

"There was a fire," she said. "Oh God, she was burned alive."

I hadn't revealed what Seguin had told me the day before, the only mention of a fire I had heard up to that point.

"Yes, you can really go, it's safe to go," urged Gillians, tears still running down her face. "You can really go. You can be together. You're safe."

"She's so happy," said Cody. "You could feel her do the complete 180."

The mother kept asking Gillians why nobody had come to help her earlier. They admitted to her that only a handful of people have the ability to communicate with what the mediums kept calling "the spirit world."

"I first felt his presence in one of the rooms, but it wasn't strong."

-Oct. 27, 1994 article in The Whistler Question

"There's something outside in the back, there's something out there," said Gillian frantically. "There's something out back that needs clearing and it needs clearing now."

Just like that, we were off to the nearby condo complex that used to be the Whistler Creek Lodge, tipped off to a different pair of ghosts wandering the grounds.

Gillians was eventually led to an outdoor pool behind the facility that was fenced off.

We waited a few minutes trying to figure out how to get in, the mediums breathing heavily the way they were on the ride over.

A man pulled up in a car and asked what we were doing

I reluctantly explained our rather unique predicament to the man, fully expecting him to dismiss us as a bunch of wackos.

"Well I've owned this building since the '80s," he said, treating the news that we were ghost hunting next to his pool rather well, I thought. He admitted that there have been reports of a female ghost on the third floor for years.

We were looking for a male presence, however, a rather stubborn one, according to Gillians, who was refusing to leave the lodge, his posthumous home.

"He never listened to anybody in his lifetime, why would he now?" chuckled Gillians.

"He's gotten comfortable with where he's at and he just doesn't care anymore. Let's make him go. Let's just show him the way, so he gets a taste of how good it is over there," said Cody.

After some coaxing from the mediums, the male spirit finally moved on, said Gillians. But not without some company.

"He's gone now and he's taken the lady upstairs, who was his partner in crime," said Gillians. "It wasn't a romantic relationship, it was friendship."

"Once he saw how peaceful it was on the other side, it was like 'Oh, I gotta go now.' With his realization of that, he wanted to bring his friend with him. 'You don't have to be lonely, you don't have to live like this anymore, let's end it,'" said Cody.

Back in a Village coffeeshop, I sat down with Gillians and Cody, trying to wrap my head around what I had just seen.

I asked Gillians what she was feeling in Creekbread, the moment she let out three of the most blood-curdling screams I had ever heard, while we were winding down, preparing to head over to the lodge next door.

"When I channel, a lot of the time I have no recollection. All I feel is the energy," she said. "(The mother and daughter) are at peace now and they're with one another. They just need to be together to have that healing time together. It's been a long time coming."

The two mediums answered my questions in hushed tones, obviously worried that someone in the crowded café might overhear what we were saying.

"What do you say to people that don't believe in this stuff?" I asked.

"Everybody has a choice and it's their choice. If they choose not to be open to this world, that's fine. There's no rights or wrongs, it just is," Gillians said.

It's never been easier to be a skeptic.

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