It certainly wasn’t the kind of welcome you’d expect from a trained hospitality professional.
A middle-aged couple walk into the Revelstoke Tourism Information Centre, explain they’re in town from Kelowna for the day and are looking for information on old buildings and landmarks.
The man hands over his business card.
As if she’d seen a ghost, the woman behind the counter turns white, throws the card back towards him and takes a step back from the counter.
Mike “The Ghost Guy” Rowland of Healing Haunted Houses is a ghostbuster, and he travelled to Revelstoke in late September to free ghosts from historical buildings in town – and hopefully drum up some private business for his consultancy.
The clerk, it seems, believed in ghosts.
I can understand the clerk’s surprise. Rowland and his ghostbusting partner Cahrei don’t look like those who free ghosts from earthly purgatory.
At first glance, they could have been here to find new retail partners for their vertical blind business, or open an instant windshield chip repair franchise. He’s in a white, striped knit top and relaxed-fit khaki slacks, she’s in a fuchsia floral blouse and black Capri pants. As it were, they were here to delve into the world of lost souls.
Ghosts – or earthbound spirits as Rowland prefers – sometimes have trouble crossing over to the great beyond. “It’s about crossing them over into the light,” he explains. “It’s a service we do for those who are lost between two worlds.”
When we set up the appointment, we decided to find a building with lots of skeletons in the closet. A building haunted by moribund souls who whiled their days away purposelessly shuffling papers, making things clink, clank and squeak. Lost souls condemned to write reports that will be shelved, never to be read, then repeat the process for eternity. OK, you get it now: Revelstoke City Hall.
As I rode my bike to the meeting, I wondered how they’d actually chase the ghosts out. Proton packs? PKE meters? Ecto goggles? Electric ghost traps?
If I’m lucky, maybe a blood sacrifice with some good visuals, I thought. Perhaps they’ll cut the head off a chicken and squirt blood on the front steps, or something.
I wanted to make a crack to them about the mysterious symbols that had just appeared on sidewalks all over Revelstoke. “It’s really freaky,” I’d say. “Nobody knows how they got there.”
They say in journalism the bias is always towards the story; there’s that desire for a dramatic and exciting narrative. Well, I’m going to do the responsible thing and tell you that the Healing Haunted Houses method for freeing ghosts isn’t that exciting at all.
PHOTO: Mike and Cahrei Rowland of Kelowna’s Healing Haunted Houses visited Revelstoke in late September where they performed rituals at City Hall, the Revelstoke Museum, the Revelstoke Railway Museum and the Revelstoke Courthouse. They freed ‘earthbound spirits’ from the buildings and shared some of their stories. Photo by Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Times Review
There was a short centring ritual of sorts – kind of like a yoga class warm-up.
Mike and Cahrei mostly sat on the bench out front of city hall and flipped through a tabulated binder while they performed quiet rituals. To the many passersby on that stunning fall day, they could have been a couple of city hall staffers taking advantage of the sunny day to review a policy manual on the front bench.
There was murmuring, and some speaking directly to the earthbound spirits. I listened carefully, but I could only hear Mike and Cahrei’s end of the conversation.
For over half an hour they flipped back and forth through that tabbed binder, all the while speaking with earthbound spirits.
Then, a long list of the trapped souls and their histories start coming out.
Mike senses a group of seven negative energies. He asked me if city council met in the building. No, the negative energies meet across the street, I thought.
They explain to me that the first batch of earthbound spirits freed during their ritual was a group of 12 “rough” men and women were killed in a backcountry landslide in 1889. The spirits stayed with their bodies, hoping to be found. “Apparently no one ever came and they found themselves trapped in another way, in a place between where they were as people and where they needed to go to complete their journey of life,” Rowland wrote to me in a post-ritual report.
There was another group of five pioneers. The men and women died after their wagon slipped off an icy winter trail, rolling down and embankment, also killing the horse team. “They did not share why they stayed behind and why they took up residence in city hall,” Rowland said.
Another group of seven First Nations women were killed by European settlers, he said. Rowland said they wouldn’t elaborate more.
In total, Mike and Cahrei said they liberated 191 earthbound spirits and 194 negative energies from the Revelstoke City Hall building.
He describes the ritual as a service to those who he helps pass onto the next world. “If I was stuck in a place that didn’t seem like reality, it wouldn’t feel right,” Rowland said. I concur – I sit through city council meetings all the time, wishing someone would bring me back to reality.
After city hall, Mike and Cahrei went on to perform similar rituals at the Revelstoke Courthouse, the Revelstoke Railway Museum and the Revelstoke Museum.
They tell me they uncovered a 1941 food poisoning that killed four – at the time it was thought to be a group suicide, but by speaking with the souls they learned otherwise.
They relate other tales of lost souls.
Mike also puts a pitch in for his website healinghauntedhouses.com. For a fee, they’ll do private residences, he explains – even using an “energetic connection” over the phone. “It’s just like making a long distance call,” he said.