• Carmen Marie Fabio

Ghost hunters coming to Hudson haunt

PHOTO COURTESY DAN DUCHENEAUX

The Ottawa-based GHOST team brings their extensive interrogative equipment to town to dispel - or maybe prove - the myth of Willow ghost named 'Maude'.

Any visit to the legendary Auberge Willow Inn over the years would not have been complete without a drink on the back terrace, a meal in the pub or dining room, or a tour of the rooms of the remarkable structure so richly steeped in history. But did it also include unexplained bumps, shadows, and perhaps a sudden shiver? If so, a paranormal research team from Ottawa would like to hear from you.

“One of our investigators came upon the Willow,” said Dan Ducheneaux, GHOST (Ghost Hunters of Ottawa for Scientific Truth), Team Manager of the group that recently investigated the Ottawa Jail Hostel and the Notman House in Montreal. “We scout locations and prefer older buildings of course. We believe in keeping them in the public’s eye.”

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RODNEY LORICA

The entity the team is investigating? Maude, a servant girl at the Willow in 1824, who reportedly (according to the Hudson Historical Society) was a committed Loyalist who supported the British cause in the American Revolution and clandestinely opposed the Patriotes. One story reports Maude was caught eavesdropping on one of the Patriote meetings while they were discussing the Rebellion of 1837. Upon this discovery and to prevent her from spreading the plans, Maude was allegedly murdered and buried in the basement where she is believed to remain to this day.

There have been reports of Maude roaming the hallways, singing, knocking over objects and stacking rocks outside the very room where the Patriote's meeting was said to be held.

There have also been accounts of clients and staff hearing Maude slamming the basement door as she returns to her unmarked grave. Some say that the paranormal activity is most prevalent from October 31 to November 30, which is consistent to Maude’s time of death.

The 10-member GHOST team, which arrives July 9 for a pre-investigation followed by a complete overnight investigation July 29, comes fully equipped with static and motion detection cameras and electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors.

“They don’t detect paranormal activity but we use the EMF detectors to see if there are high levels of electromagnetic fields in the location,” said Ducheneaux. “Some people are highly sensitive to them which could cause anxiety or, if you’re really sensitive, even hallucinations.”

The team also has thermal cameras, manometers measuring a building’s air pressure that might explain door and windows opening and closing, and equipment to detect electronic voice phenomena (EVP), inaudible to the human ear. “We determine (upon analysis) if it’s paranormal or could have been caused by something like a creaking window or anything that could be mistaken for a voice,” said Ducheneaux.

“We don’t go in assuming a building is haunted,” he said. Rather the team operates by process of elimination to determine what, if anything, is going on. “We take a regimented, scientific approach using critical thinking and concrete evidence.”

Following weeks of analyzing the footage and data of the investigation, the team will present their findings. “We show what we found and the public can make their own assumptions based on their own beliefs what they think it may or may not be.”

Vanessa Ades, spokesperson for the Willow and daughter of the new owners David Ades and Patricia Wenzel said that while she hasn’t personally felt Maude’s presence, she’s a believer in the possibility of paranormal presence.

“There’s definitely an energy about the place,” she agreed.

Ades said her parents held a special place in their hearts for the Willow for almost four decades, from their first date to celebrating milestone events in their lives. Hearing it was closing rekindled some nostalgia.

“Before I knew it, they’d placed an offer and we’ve had such a great outreach from the surrounding community, people telling us what a special place it is for them as well,” said Ades. “It’s amazing that every person has a connection to the place and I’m super curious to see what the GHOST team finds.”

“We’re looking forward to visiting the Hudson community, checking out the Willow and seeing if we can actually capture something,” said Ducheneaux. “For us, it’s always the hunt for the ‘Holy Grail’ to see if we can find that one piece of evidence.”

If you’d like to contact the GHOST team, consult the website at www.ghost-canada.com or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GhostCanada/

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