Who is in there? Ghost hunter to spend a night at Lawrence House

Lawrence House Center for the Arts

Lawrence House
Center for the Arts

A Sarnia man is returning home to look for ghosts in one of the city’s most recognizable buildings.

Bert Richards, the man behind Beyond Ghost Canada, will be taking 15 people inside Lawrence House Center for the Arts April 20 to listen for things – or people – which go bump in the night.

Richards has always been interested in the idea of ghost and connected with groups in the US which go to historic places and buildings to experience ghost sightings.

Richards began going on excursions and witnessed the presence of the paranormal himself for several years including an experience on the Antietam Battlefield in Maryland where 23,000 were killed, injured or missing. Richards did a roll call of a regiment from Connecticut which had 39 people die and had 15 soldiers respond to him. “Those who did I’d attempt to engage …saying ‘Soldier, tell me what your injury was’…They would respond, ‘head, belly, leg, chest,’” says Richards. “Obviously it was pretty moving.”

Richards connected with a group called Beyond Ghosts in New York which organized events where people who were interested would gather at an historic site with a known ghost presence and wait to see what would happen. The participants would be charged a fee and the money would go to the site.

As he was involved in the excursions, Richards would be asked about Canada. “People would say to me, we keep hearing all these stories about places in Canada, why don’t you take this on and start it up over there?”

So he did. Now, he’s returning to Sarnia to visit Lawrence House. The building which now houses the arts group was built by the Lawrence family who were in the lumber business. It was a showcase for their products, says Richards. But the last heir, Elizabeth, left the home “pretty much abandoned… left with perfume bottles on the counter; they left with bread in the drawer.”

Richards has talked to people who worked in the building who often felt the presence of Elizabeth with one person explaining she would say good morning and good night to her each day.

“There is some spirit in the house who likes to play with the elevator,” says Richards. “That happened when I was there.”

Another person who stayed overnight in the building said the elevator moved on its own 14 times in 10 hours and yet there is nothing physically wrong with the device.

Richards hopes to see some of that on April 20. He’ll take about 15 people with him beginning at 7:30pm until 11:30pm for $30 each. The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts will benefit financially from the event.

Richards says no one under 18 will be allowed on the tour and says he’s been at ghost events where people have left because they are uncomfortable. And he admits, for some people the experience can be unnerving. “It is (unnerving) because we don’t understand it,” says Richards.

You can register for the event at http://beyondghosts.ca/BG_Canada_Events.html

– Heather Wright