The McKay School

September 16, 2011
Temp:  Day 17c Night 6c
Humidity:  47%  Dewpoint 6.c
Moonphase:  85.9% illuminated - waning gibbons

Team:  Brian N, Steve A, Beth F, and assisting Jody & Jeanette

We arrived and met with Catherine, a representative at the school.  We had a quick meeting, and she then told us of the incidences in the school and some of the history.

The School was built in 1904, and was named after Dr. William Morrison MacKay, a doctor with the Hudson's Bay Company. The school served as the first two sittings of the Legislature (1906 - 1907), where the decision was made to make Edmonton the capital city of Alberta.  It now serves as the Provincial Archives.

This mannequin we were told represents Mr. William Puffer (by someone who is a relative) who was a Canadian politician who served in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1905 - 1917.

up in the Legislature room looking towards where the Legislature sat.

Reported incidences included the sound of kids running down a fire escape (that is no longer there), taps being turned on in the washrooms, scraping and dragging noises  in the basement and even a face appearing in one of the bathroom mirrors.  Another incident happened in one of the classrooms, where the night before they prepared the room for a presentation, including stapling the blinds on the windows down - but when they came back in the morning, the blinds were ripped up.

The most famous story though has to be about 'Peter'.  This story first came to my attention when I was watching years ago a TV special with my mother called 'Canada's 10 Most Haunted Places' in the early 90's (Mum and I swear it was hosted by James Doohan of Star Trek fame, but its not listed on imdb!).  Peter the story goes, was a worker working on the building, when he fell to his death and died at the school.

Now I heard two different stories, that he died outside, and the other that he was badly injured, but was carried into the infirmary (which was on the top floor), and later died there.  I always had a question to that story, if he fell, why would they carry a badly injured person up 3 flights of stairs and risk injuing him more?  And why wouldn't they get help to him?

How the story of Peter actually came about, was a maintenance worker in the school in the early 80's was interested in finding out what might be causing the reported incidences, so he brought in a Ouija board.  He claimed he had contacted someone named 'Peter' that had died in the construction of the school.  Catherine told us that the staff of the school have tried to find out proof that there was such a death, and they couldn't find anything.  Being the Provincial Archives, they have newsclippings and documentation from the era from the construction of the school, and they could find no death.

Note the 'orbs' in the photo on the floor and by the stairs.  Other teams have shown this as actual 'proof' of paranormal activity - when in fact it is simply dust.

We then were taken around the School for a tour of the various areas.  We started on the main floor where we toured the display area, and some of the classrooms and meeting rooms, then went up to the Legislative part of the building, and ended our tour in the basement.  During the tour EMF readings were noted along with temperature readings.

Brian set up the locked off multi-spectrum camera in the records room along with a digital recorder.  Reasoning for this, there was a story of a staff member locking the room at night, and she was the first one in the morning.  When she came in - the drawers were open, and documents, maps and other things looked like they had been thrown all over the room.

The drawers in the records room 

Jeanette and I set up an EVP experiment up in the washrooms on the Legislative floor, while Brian, Steve and Jody conducted their EVP session on the main floor.
 The reason I wanted to start there, was years before when we hosted a tour group (we were asked to volunteer by the tour company, but fell out with them when the rep wanted to use dust photos as proof on their site), a couple claimed they had recorded on their phone the sound of a hammer in the washroom area. (Unfortunately they never emailed the sound clip to us - so we couldn't examine it).

Janette, Brian and Catherine going up the stairs to the Legislature.  2nd photo - the Mens washroom on the same floor.

I then set up the laptop camera so that it could capture the whole of the Legislature area and record through the nights investigation.  We went back to the womens washroom (just outside the area where they have the stalls, is a nice sitting area with an antique couch and table), where I set up the night vision camera, one of the digital recorders, and we started our session. Jeanette sat on the couch while I started asking out questions.  The area had high emf readings that we found out were coming from the ceiling and the floor due to the lighting.  Even though it may have been off, the electricity was still running through the wiring.  After about 20 minutes, we went into the men's washroom, where I took out an antique hammer I brought (hoping it would attract activity if there was any).  After about another 20 minutes, I radioed they guys to let them know we would be proceeding to the basment.

In the mean time, the guys continued their EVP session on the main floor taking EMF and K2 readings.

The boys washroom downstairs - 2nd photo - old safe beside the boiler/machine room door

We went into the washroom to conduct an EVP experiment, and the emf started going high in one area.  We checked to make sure it wasn't anything interfering with the readings, and it seemed to be centeralized in the one area, about a foot off the floor.  We did notice however, the heating going through the pipes, make a 'clicking' sound that could be mistaken as a paranormal noise, but it wasn't.

We came into the main area by the boiler room door and were talking, when I heard footsteps.  I hollered out and asked if any of my team was down there.  We went towards the incinerator room where the noise seemed to be coming from and didn't find anyone.  I radioed up to my team asking if they had moved.  The same moment we heard what sounded like footsteps, the other team lead by Brian heard hammering noises (and they had not moved from where they were sitting which was in the Legislature area, except when they got up to investigate where that noise was coming from).  Jeanette and I went into the incinerator room for a while to see if we could hear that noise again, and we didn't.

I then noticed the 'dragging' sound that other teams claim to be paranormal, but it seemed to me to be coming from the boiler room, and echoing down the hallway.  I put my hand on the doorknob to see if this door was open, but it wasn't.  I moved the handle to one side and leaned on it while talking to Jeanette, and it wiggled then yanked itself to the other side.  I tested to see if it could have been a spring mechanism within the handle, but it wouldn't have done it with that much force.  I then tried it again, and after a while - sure enough, it yanked to the other side.  I radioed Brian upstairs and asked him to track down Catherine to see if she can open it, not only to see if my theory about the dragging noise was correct, but to see if someone was down there maybe playing a prank on us.

Brian came down with Catherine, and we went into the boiler room.  Brian looked around to make sure there was no one in there, and I was able to establish the big huge fan was actually the source of the dragging noise, so another 'paranormal' instance solved.  The sound was echoing down the hallway giving the audio impression something was being dragged.  Brian and Catherine went back upstairs, and we continued with the investigation.

Because of what happened with the door handle, I locked off the camera with the handle in view, while Jeanette and I went into the tiny theatre beside the records room to take some readings and conduct another session.

Again there was high EMF readings, but that was due to the wiring and other normal instances in the room.  Again after nothing happened, we decided to go out to where the camera was, and I noticed it had been turned off.  The only reason for that camera to turn itself off, is the battery has run out - or the tape has reached the end.  I double checked to see that there was at least an hour of tape left, and an hour of battery power.  It was getting late, and Catherine wanted to get home, so we wrapped up the investigation.  I turned the camera on and took it upstairs on its tripod and continued to record.

Jeanette and I went back to the Legislature area and shut down the laptop and gathered all the equipment, then we met with the rest of the team on the main floor.  I still had the camera rolling the whole time, and after realizing that there was a digital recorder left upstairs, put the camera down and ran to get it.  In the meantime, Brian, Jody and Jeanette stayed there and were talking.  We grabbed the rest of the equipment, and thanked Catherine for her time, and went home to review the data.


The problem with the location of the school, is sound contamination.  There is a bar and coffee house not to far away, and there were lots of noises from partiers and customers, not to mention the Harleys speeding down the roads.

Brain however, did capture one intersting thing on his digital recorder.  It was at the moment they heard the hammering and we heard the footsteps. Here is the audio clip - you will here Brian trying to contact anyone who might have passed there (especially a worker) and the noise starts after he says 'forward'.  The audio clip goes right to where I contacted them on the radio when we heard the noises downstairs


The only other thing of note, actually is audio that came from the night vision camera.  This was captured when I had gone upstairs to get the other digital recorder at the end of the night.  Now if anyone had heard this sound - someone would have asked about it.  And if anyone on the team had made a noise, they would have noted it - but this - well - just a little odd.


Final Observations
So is the McKay School Haunted?  Well we have ruled out many of the incidences (noises from the machinery, high EMF again from the machinery and lighting, dust orbs being passed on as actual photo phenomenon).  We didn't capture much evidence during the night to come out and say it is haunted.  My personal experience with the door knob could still be explained, the camera turning itself off when there was no reason for it was interesting.  But in investigations, we cannot use personal experiences as actual evidence, because we cannot back it up with video or audio or by any other means to the rest of the paranormal community.  The only thing of note during the whole night, was the incident with the hammering/stepfoot sounds that we heard at the same time (in the above audio).  That second audio clip - we still have no clue as to what it could be.  And the whole story of Peter?  Chalk it off to an Urban Legend that spread, started by someone with a Ouija board.  So no - we cannot come out fully and say it is haunted, but there might be something residual happening within the school.  We would love to go back and have a more extended period to conduct an investigation - to rule out more, and perhaps capture something that might convince us it is haunted.

Brian N, Steve A, Beth F

Jody and Steve                                                          Beth and Jeanette

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