Paranormal investigators 'connect' with Point Ellice House spirit

Despite being dead for more than a century, former Indian reserve commissioner Peter O’Reilly — whose former home is now Point Ellice House Museum — makes an appearance of sorts in a YouTube video going live today.

You won’t see his face or body, but you might catch some moving objects that paranormal investigator Dawn Kirkham attributes to O’Reilly, who died 115 years ago.

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Kirkham is a clairvoyant who founded Beyond Belief Paranormal Events, an Island-based group that aims to help people understand paranormal activity in their homes and workplaces.

Her group is called when someone isn’t sure how to explain odd noises or movement, or why the TV turns itself on and off.

Sometimes, there are logical explanations for the activity, but not always, Kirkham said.

In that case, they go in armed with infrared and full-spectrum cameras and voice recorders to try to capture video footage and audio recordings of whatever might be present.

This week, she and her team brought their tools to Point Ellice House Museum, where O’Reilly lived with his family until his death in 1905.

They were investigating “ghostly and unexplained encounters” at the museum, which some say is haunted. In past investigations, visitors have been invited to join the team and try their hand at finding spirits, but with COVID-19 making an in-person event impossible, they created a video of their investigation.

The 40-minute video will be streamed on the museum’s YouTube channel at 8 p.m., with a live question-and-answer period with Kirkham and her team afterward. The video will remain on the museum’s channel for anyone who can’t catch the show tonight.

Kirkham didn’t want to give spoilers about what the investigation found, but said she connected with O’Reilly.

“You’ll see some glass moving where we made a real connection with Peter,” she said.

The house was turned into a museum in 1967 and, since then, visitors and staff have reported strange activity they can’t explain, said executive director Kelly Black. Some say they’ve seen doors open and close on their own, watched lights switch on and off, heard footsteps when no one is around or even heard the piano playing on its own.

Black said he hasn’t had any scary encounters himself, but he has been in the house when others have been spooked.

Once, someone doing pest control descended into the museum’s basement to check on traps, while Black stood at the top of the stairs. When the person reached the bottom of the stairs, they asked if Black, still at the top of the stairs, had followed them down, because they had just felt someone behind them.

“And that pest-control person never came back,” Black said.

Kirkham’s group is kept busy in Victoria, which, she said, has high levels of paranormal activity. Some blame the city’s history or geography — water is thought to be a superconductor of activity, Kirkham said.

Kirkham said her goal is not to prove or disprove the presence of spirits, but to help clients understand what’s going on in their spaces. In 25 years of paranormal investigating, she said she has seen only a handful of cases where she believed there was malicious energy.

“I think the best thing that we can do is to normalize it, to help them to understand that it’s not like there’s a demon hiding in the corner ready to get them,” Kirkham said.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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