SOMEWHERE NEAR HIGHLAND GLEN, MB—I always knew this gig would put me in an ambulance some day. I just never thought it would be a spooky one.
For those worried about my condition, be assured that I’m alright—at least, in the physical sense. It’s the hairs on the back of my neck that need attention, as they’re somewhat erect at this particular moment. The reason? I’ve decided to take part in an investigation of the paranormal, accompanied by the Winnipeg Paranormal Group, aka WPG.
According to the Winnipeg Paranormal Group, strange pictures such as this one can occur when spirits are present.
The potentially haunted premises in question rest on a four-wheeled foundation, otherwise known as a 1950 Dodge Coronet ambulance. I’m sitting in the back seat, asking the Dodge questions. Are you here? Are you a man or a woman? Did you die here? We just might get some answers tonight, if the spirits are willing.
Even the cats stay away
Talk about a night rife with spooky. A full moon glows behind wispy cloud cover, as coyotes croon in the distance. The members of the WPG are hard at work, outfitting the ambulance with video cameras, voice recorders, and snapping infrared stills in and around the Dodge. The Coronet is the property of Jamie Johnston, from the Hillbilly Garage. He’s spent the better part of his life restoring old things Mopar. If you’ve got a VIN number, a cowl, and part of a roof from a 426 HEMI Charger, Jamie Johnston can build you the rest of the car. He found the ambulance in Saskatchewan, at a former Canadian military unit. The weirdness began the minute it pulled into the driveway.
Photographer Gerry Miles uses both long exposure and battery-operated light sticks for this eerie effect on the Dodge ambulance
“This car has no evidence of mice inside,” said Johnston, pointing out the 1970’s era faux fur that is still intact on the door panels. Feline radar is also on High Alert. “The neighbourhood cats walk on every car in the yard, but they steer clear of this one.”
Gerry Miles felt steered by the car one night, while enjoying his hobby of night photography. In the wee small hours of one shoot, he felt something strange come over him, as he headed back to Winnipeg.
“All of a sudden, everything got foggy in my head,” said Miles. “I didn’t know where I was, or where I was going.” The brain fog eventually passed. Miles continues to indulge his night photography passion, though the ambulance experience still gives him cause for concern. “It kind of threw me for a loop,” said Miles.
Winnipeg—a very paranormal city
Adam Dreger, a Paranormal Investigator (PI) with the WPG, is busy inside the Coronet, ensuring that all of the capture equipment is operating correctly. “This is a unique opportunity for us,” said Dreger, as this is the first vehicle that the WPG has been asked to investigate. I’m just glad that they had the time to squeeze me in. “It’s been very busy as of late,” said Dreger. “Apparently, Winnipeg is a very paranormal city.” The WPG receives a constant string of requests for residential investigations. A team of six from the WPG has been dispatched to the Hillbilly Garage for the ambulance analysis.
Dreger agrees the haunted vehicle theory has merit. “It had to be a pretty active vehicle,” said Dreger. “It carried people in distress, so there’s always the chance that someone passed away inside it.” Many theories abound. “Sometimes, spirits will cling to the place where they passed,” said Dreger. “In many instances, we provide closure for those experiencing the paranormal activity.”
Rookie investigator Ashley Barnes
The experience for those being haunted can also inspire them to take part in the WPG investigations. Rookie Investigator Ashley Barnes joined the WPG team after she experienced a noisy spirit in her home. “It started out as weird noises,” said Barnes. “Eventually, I got to the point where I needed to know more.”
Barnes, as well as the rest of the team, take ten-minute turns inside the ambulance, asking questions of who may, or may not, be inside. While the chances of a direct answer are slim, a spirit can deposit bits and pieces of answers on the voice recorders within. It takes a keen ear to catch the spirit chatter. A special scanner is used, which skips through AM radio presets at a rapid pace. “In some cases, we get very legible answers to our questions,” said Dreger. It may be a digital age, but don’t toss that VHS camcorder just yet, as many spirits prefer to say ‘Hi!’ on analog equipment mediums, instead of memory cards. “It may not be an exact science, but we try to keep things on the scientific side,” said Dreger.
Equipment inside the ambulance. Notice the strange shadows?
So what if a ghost shows up?
I was busy scanning for escape routes when I bumped into Tom Corrigan from the WPG. He has over 12 years experience in paranormal investigations, and has seen it all, even the things you can see right through. “I’ve seen full-body apparitions,” said Corrigan, which occurred during an investigation in Florida. “You have to have nerves of steel.” Instead of running away from an apparition, Corrigan runs towards it, and he’s still here to talk about it.
It may sound like a thrill-seek to some, though Corrigan is very serious about the investigations. “There are several types of hauntings and apparitions,” said Corrigan. “Some are not aware that you’re there, and continue to replay their former life events over and over. Others are very intelligent, and will interact with you, such as moving an object on command.” Corrigan has delved into the haunted vehicle theory before, having investigated a steam locomotive haunted by the spirit of a young girl who was struck and killed by the train.
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and spikes in EMF meter readings can be signs of a spiritual presence. After about three hours, which is short by WPG standards, the team departed. It took a few days to sift through all of the information collected.
The verdict? Well, it sounds like a definite maybe for the area surrounding the vehicle, though possibly not the vehicle itself. The site where the investigation was performed is a former schoolyard, dating back to the 1940’s. “Sometimes, our activities during an investigation can draw out the curious ghosts in the immediate vicinity,” said Dreger.
Of note: EMF spikes, plus strange photographic evidence, as well as possible interaction with the other side. At one point, one of the cameras started taking pictures by itself. The WPG has promised to return to the site for additional analysis, as well as the investigation of other cars on the property.
As for the owner of the Hillbilly Garage, Jamie Johnston thinks he might have the answer for the ultimate in rodent-free winter vehicle storage. “I’m going to look for a haunted warehouse.”
(Cover photo by Gerry Miles)