|Let Me Rest for a Spell © Stephen Mullock|
A Chilliwack Ghost Story - Part One begins with a bang or shall I say a hammering that will not stop.
Please read Part One, first before proceeding further with this article.
It is 1951, and the knocking continues night and day like a jackhammer pounding on the exterior of 150 Brooks Ave. Chilliwack, undermining the health of its occupants, a middle aged woman called Anna Duryba, and, her 14 year old niece Kathleen.
A deputy sheriff is posted in the house at night hoping to find the prankster. Spot lights are brought in and a series of experts. The banging continues, sometimes 30 times a night and as close as six feet away. Rev. Clarke suggests that perhaps a poltergeist is present and the niece Kathleen is sent away to Vancouver. For three weeks the house is quiet.
Below is the story as it unfolded in the local newspaper, The Chilliwack Progress. It shows a family and community struggling to come to grips with what appears to be the supernatural.
December 12, 1951 The Chilliwack Progress
First indication of the approach of the "ghost" came Monday night when a small dog in the basement started to bark" said Mr. Duryba.
Alec Duryba, the brother of Anna, had been staying at the house since the banging on the exterior walls had begun in October. Kathleen, it seems, had returned from her sojourn in Vancouver. "I went outside with my gun but there was nothing there," Alec said. "I told my niece it was just rain dripping on the leaves that the dog had heard. Then a few minutes after we heard the banging. It went on for an hour on the east wall and on the south wall."
January 2, 1952 The Chilliwack Progress
A kitchen window, protected by a metal screen, is broken from the outside. "A creamy stain remained on the shattered glass" said Alec. The screened window is repaired to be broken again Saturday afternoon. The dining room window was smashed on Monday.
"The window- hammering went on in daylight while members of the Duryba Family stood watching, unable to discover the source of the hammering."
"I think that I'll have to go to the doctor again. Every time I hear that hammering I just go all to pieces. My nerves are all gone," Anna tearfully says.
January 12, 1952 The Chilliwack Progress
Water diviner, Peter Hiebert suggested that the "ghost" consists no more than an unfortunate combination of hardpan, quicksand and air under the home of Anna Duryba. The quicksand lies under the hardpan and a "vein" of water snakes through the quicksand directly under the Duryba home close to all four walls. Above the quicksand is a thick layer of hardpan upon which the house has been built. "A combination of drought last summer, cleaning out of the nearby Semiault creek and a new drainage ditch has lowered the water table. When the water flowed out of the quicksand, it left low pressure pockets. Air rushes into these pockets causing the hammering which shakes the home and breaks the windows." "It will stop again", he said, "with the spring rains".
February 13, 1952 The Chilliwack Progress
A new theory from Alec Duryba is that some malicious prankster has a hidding place on the north side of the residence as all sound since the snow had fallen had come from that side of the home. He suggests that as soon as the snow melts, and, no footprints can be left, the banging on all sides of the dwelling would resume. They do.
March 5, 1952 The Chilliwack Progress
This is the final reporting of this story in The Chilliwack Progress. The article reads:
Discovery of various metal objects, held together with wire, in flowerbeds beside the home of Anna Duryba, has raised speculation as to whether the "Duryba ghost" is the work of a mechanically minded prankster.
Pounding on the outer walls of the home have been heard since early last fall without explanation.
During the past two weeks, six objects have been dug up in flowerbeds around the house by Alex Duryba, uncle of the owner, who lives next door at 150 Brooks avenue.
Police, however, state they know of no way in which the objects could cause the pounding.
Found have been a small wrench with wire wrapped around it, a valve and wire, and nails wired together in an unusual manner. Several of the objects have had lengths of copper wire attached to them.
Discovery was originally made by Mayor T.T. McCammon, for whom Miss Duryba formerly worked. He noticed the copper wire projecting above the ground while visiting the Durybas.
Mr. Duryba says that as each of the objects was discovered and removed, the hammering stopped at that section of the house.
Some ghost stories just fade away - as did this one, thankfully, for Anna and Kathleen. I wish that I could write a Hollywood ending to these events one that would including them finding an ancient burial site and putting to rest a troubled soul. This story however is real and not Hollywood and so a lot of questions are unanswered. I leave it for yourself to decide.
Were these metal objects the source of torment? If so, how could they be without a power source? Do curses work? Was the haunting the result of a poltergeist? A ghost? What was the material found on the broken window, could it be ghost ectoplasm? Was it just a poor foundation? I can tell you after 30 years of selling real estate in the Chilliwack area I have never heard of foundation problems that sounded like this one. A clever and malicious prankster? Some individual determined to drive Anna Duryba and Kathleen from their home so that it could be purchased at a bargain price?
I did look in the telephone directory to see if anyone with the family name of Duryba still lived in the area but there were no entries. The house is long since been removed and a church built on the site - home to the holy spirit.
If you were living in the area at the time and have some information to add, please send me a message.
Imagine living here....
Chilliwack Halloween Joke 1951 - 1952
Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock
Sources: All quotes may be found in the articles of The Chilliwack Progress as dated above in the article.
UPDATE - October 29, 2018
I received some comments from a friend of mine and local Chilliwack resident Ron Arnett who shared the truth of what was really behind this "haunting".
Hi StephenThat storey has some flaws in it. Anna was Alex Duryba’s “sister-in-law” not his sister. Anna was married to Alex’s brother who apparently did not come home from the “war”. And the niece was Charlette not Kathleen as my older sister went to school with her. The Duryba brothers apparently bought the property together not sure when. But as the story goes after Alex’s brothers demise Alex wanted his “sister-in-law” off the property. However Anna knew she was entitled to her husbands part of the property. The houses were already there when we moved in 1952. They were like twin houses one on each side of the land. The Duryba’s were either Russian or perhaps Ukrainian as my Grandfather could converse with Alex (he was not a nice man). In the end Alex was found guilty of shenanigans or mischief and faced fines for setting up some sort of contraption to tap on the windows etc. Anna even got a couple guard dogs(before the RCMP nailed Alex)but all they did was bark all the time.Alex also would shoot at Anna’s house with a sling shot from his front porch as the homes were right in line with each other. Big news back in the day even the Vancouver Sun had written something about it…….Ron ArnettWe lived in the big house(158 Brooks) now 46510 Brooks.We moved there in 1952 until 1957. I was in grade 2 at the time we moved in...
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