To celebrate the Halloween season, the Nelson Star is exploring various “haunted” buildings in the city. This is the first instalment of a month-long series of interviews with Chris Holland about haunted locations around Nelson.
Imagine you swing open the door to your room at the Hume Hotel and find a well-dressed, bowler hat-wearing gentleman ghost sitting on the edge of the bed.
As you gape in the doorway he turns and politely tips his hat to you, a friendly smile on his face, and invites you to enter.
“Most of the stories you hear from the Hume are about Room 335, which no longer exists and has been renovated,” paranormal expert Chris Holland told the Star during an interview in the Hume’s Library Lounge.
“In this case the front desk had a woman who wanted to check out right after checking in. The front desk asked her ‘why are you leaving?’ and she said, ‘Your hotel is great, I love it, I just want to stay somewhere else.”
It was only when they pressed her that she nervously admitted to seeing the man. When they told her there was no way somebody could be inside, she said, “I know that, but he doesn’t.”
This is only one anecdote Holland has picked up during his years of investigation into the hotel, which first caught his attention when owner Ryan Martin started doing extensive renovations.
He believes the historic lodging, which was built in 1898 by Fred and Lydia Hume, still retains energy remnants from all the people who’ve stayed in it over the years.
“When Ryan started ripping apart the walls he found artifacts and remnants from days gone by,” said Holland, pointing to the lounge’s fireplace as one example of a unique find. “This hotel in its many gestations has had the same wood in it, and that retains psychometric energy.”
That’s why Holland worked on Haunt at the Hume, a short film about his exploration of the property along with the Nelson Paranormal League.
It was during that investigation, while coming up the steps from the laundry room, that they picked up an audio recording of a voice saying one word: “Careful.”
“That voice that we heard downstairs, that’s how we started this whole thing. We took it really seriously. The energy in the Hume Room, down in the basement, is crazy. And it’s because an old creek, Ward Creek, comes right underneath it and that’s always a sign of energy — running water.”
But what are these spirits trying to accomplish? Well, Holland believes they are a variation of the “caretaker” ghosts commonly found in the Kootenays, typically benevolent female souls that are committed to the buildings they inhabit. But they’re not the only type of ghosts out there.
“People used to be able to come to the Hume Hotel, which was a reputable establishment, then they could deke under the street to an establishment called the Little Davenport which was an opium den, and became the Red Fish Grill recently.”
According to him, that building became host to a malevolent spirit. And it was that spirit that started the fire that gutted the place years ago, across the alley from the Hume. He thinks it’s no mistake the hotel was untouched.
“When we went there for an investigation, we actually traced a really bizarre energy where people had apparently hung themselves. There was one person who had reported, days before it happened, a malevolent spirit bursting out of the room with this intense heat.”
That shows the stakes of dealing with the supernatural, he said, and he hopes the Hume will stay on the caretaker ghost’s good side.
“The voice said ‘careful,’ and even in this beautiful place there’s the potential for malevolence, so we have to be very aware of what’s going on and be respectful.”
But there are happy stories too, if you know how to interpret them properly. In one anecdote, Holland was told by someone who stayed in the newly renovated rooms that she heard a woman laughing uproariously.
“Not all laughter is maniacal laughter from the dark. It could be joyful laughter. The feeling I got was that this hotel has a benevolent spirit, it’s protected. Who knows? Maybe it was Lydia Hume.”