Friday, October 28, 2011

A Chilliwack Ghost Story - Part Two

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

After a two week quiet spell the Duryba ghost started pounding again Friday putting to an end speculation that the hammering would stop when the water table rose once again. - you see, the Duryba basement is flooded at the time.

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
Who's There
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 Stephen
That 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 Arnett

We 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...

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Chilliwack Ghost Story - Part One

The "Thing" began its incessant pounding on the exterior walls of 150 Brooks Ave. Chilliwack in October 1951. It was so strong that it shook the building. Inside this home lived Anna Duryba, who formerly worked doing domestic jobs around the town, and her 14 year old niece, Kathleen.  The niece had moved to Chilliwack in May from Saskatchewan to be her aunt's companion.  They were convinced that someone was playing a prank on them.  They did not believe in ghosts.

A quick check around the home found nothing that would explain the banging.

The pounding continued, sometimes with the ferocity of a jackhammer boom - boom - boom for as long as an hour at a time.  Day and night the violent knocking kept them from getting a good rest.

Five weeks later Anna Duryba had lost 20 pounds and women were suffering from a mental strain, few can imagine, that was when the local Chilliwack Progress newspaper got hold of the story.

A bit about the property, this wasn't some sort of Gothic mansion or chilly castle rather it was almost the opposite. The property was a small little house with four rooms and a simple asphalt shingle siding exterior.  It stood on 4 acres of carefully tended raspberry canes and was close to another Brook's Ave. home owned by Anna's brother Alec Duryba.

November 25, 1951, The Chilliwack Progress

Alec tells of one eerie experience: "We heard it banging one night and I ran outside.  I ran outside and looked around and couldn't see anything. I turned around and just then I felt sort of a wind go by me but I could not see anything."

Other times Alec and his niece would try and catch their tormentor in the act.  "We run outside when we hear it." he said.  "Nothing there.  Then we hear it on the other side of the house and we run around there - nothing there either.  Sometimes we go in opposite directions around the house but we never see anything."

Kathleen adds "I heard him once and ran to the window. I yelled "Go ahead, do it again, you silly fool." Right away I heard it again - bang - bang - bang - right under the window.  I was standing right there and see there was no one there."

Alec adopted a tougher strategy "One time I fired my shotgun twice into the raspberries." "I thought that might scare him away but right after that I heard it again". "I was standing there right in front of the window and I could hear it and the window rattling, what was I suppose to do - shoot the gun into the window?".

Day and night the pounding continued, spot lights were installed, the house was surrounded by neighbours but as always nothing was seen. Possible culprits such as an electrical problem or something wired into the service of the dwelling were tested by shutting off the power - but the knocking continued.

In a search for an explanation, Anna seemed to remember a man dropping by and asking her how much she wanted for the place. "We told him it wasn't for sale but he said he wanted to buy a little place and he liked this. He came back another time when I wasn't home."  Reader please always use a Realtor®.

November 28, 1951, The Chilliwack Progress

Reverend W. J. T. Clarke, pastor of St. Thomas Anglican Church suggested that the strange happening at 150 Brooks Ave. Chilliwack might be the work of a poltergeist. "Strange noises and objects moving through the air - in this case stones* - are the most common. Usually, there is little damage done and there is no apparent logical reason for it all." Rev. Clarke said.  He went on "The inexplicable occurrences are usually associated with one person. When that person leaves the scene, the happenings usually stop."

A deputy sheriff, Al Edwards became the special investigator of this case and was posted every night in the house.  He said, "No explanation has so far been made as to how the noises in the home are caused.  These bangings have occurred as many as 30 times in a single night and have been heard by people standing within six feet of the spot.  The bangings, violent enough to shake windows visibly, move rapidly about the outer walls of the house".

A host of natural causes were considered including, radio station, aircraft beam transmissions and possible subterranean effects from minerals and the nearby mountains without success. Hundreds of spectators began to turn up on the street and the driveway to 150 Brooks Ave. Chilliwack was blocked off.

Kathleen, was taken to Vancouver both for her health and to test this notion that the work of a poltergeist was the cause of the strange knocking, window tapping and window breaking.  For three weeks the Thing was quiet.

Check back by October 28th for the conclusion of the Chilliwack haunting.

       *  All members of the family had by this time  been struck by small stones.

  • The Chilliwack Progress November 25, 1951
  • The Chilliwack Progress November 28, 1951

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mount Cheam's Peak View

As mentioned in a previous post living in the Chilliwack* area comes with the added bonus of incredible natural beauty right at hand.  There is always something interesting to see or visit.  A week ago, I took a hike to the top of Mount Cheam, the most revered mountain in the eastern Fraser Valley but unfortunately my camera ran out of battery power.  I was able to take some shots from the top with the camera of a generous fellow hiker.  It was a remarkably clear day and some hikers said that they could see the ocean.

This is the view from the top of Mount Cheam at 2,112 m (6,929 feet) looking westward over Agassiz and Chilliwack. You can see Harrison Lake to the right, the muddy Fraser River the town of Agassiz through the centre and Chilliwack and the Cheam ridge to the left.  Please click on the picture to make it larger.

Mount Cheam View © Stephen Mullock
Mount Cheam I have recently learned from a reading of "Sepass Tales Songs of Y AIL MIHTH" means high. The notes in this book tells how the English ear has turned Mount Tsee-am (meaning high) to Mount Cheam  (pronounced Chee - am).  Many times locally I hear it pronounced She - am.

Of course, hundreds of pictures were taken on this hike - that is the beauty of a digital camera isn't it. That is, so long as it has power.

Here are a selection of some other photographs taken by myself and others, I hope you enjoy them.

Hermann Hikers on the Mount Cheam peak ©
Stag © Helle Hansen  
Mount Baker from Mount Cheam © Stephen Mullock
Stephen Mullock & Lady Peak © Helle Hansen

Imagine living here...

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chilliwack* Real Estate Market Analysis and Review: October 1, 2011

This post looks at the relative strength of the Chilliwack* residential real estate market in the month of September 2011.  This "armchair analysis" of mine uses data from the Multiple Listing Services of the Chilliwack & District and Fraser Valley real estate boards. Each real estate market is comprised of a number of neighbourhoods and reviews of specific properties should involve the services of a real estate professional member of the REIBC or a Realtor®.

My credentials are fairly simple, over 30 years real estate experience in the Chilliwack real estate market and an active curiosity.

Chilliwack* Single Family Detached Housing Sales Report for September 2011

For Sale: 6432 Wilson Road - New Price

MONTH Sales Average Sale Price Days on Market Active Listings
Sept 2011 116 $333,000 77 1078
Aug 2011 127 $349,000 78 1128
Sept 2010 104 $313,000 66 n/a

NEW - Median Sale Price of Chilliwack* Single Family Detached Homes: September 2011 - $331,000

Median Price of Active Chilliwack* Single Family Detached Real Estate Listings: October 1, 2011 - $379,900

There are a number of areas I regularly explore and the first is one that answers the question "How is the market".  A few years ago, I realized that seasonal influences impact the Chilliwack* market and so comparing sale numbers with those of a month earlier only told part of the story.  In the present situation we see that September 2011 had 116 single family sales down from 127 in August.  This may seem bad but we expect sales to taper off this time of year.

A better measure is one that compares sales volume with a 10 year average for the month.  Looking at the previous 10 year of Septembers we can derive an average sale volume of 135 for the month of September.  So the September 2011 was operating at about 86% of that average (116/135).

A level of comparative sales volume similar to that in August 2011.

2011 Market Strength

Single Family House Monthly Unit Sales as % of 10-Year Monthly Sales Average

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sept
2011 85% 91% 75% 70% 68% 93% 74% 86% 86%

What's happening with single family house prices?  The market for single family houses in the Chilliwack* area remains in Buyer Market territory with a sales to listing ratio of about 11%.  This applies downward pressure on prices and we see that the average sale price did slip from $349,000 in August 2011 to $333,000 in September 2011.  I would once again caution relying on this information for a specific property as not all types and neighbourhood rise and fall at the same rate.  If you are interested in determining value employ the services of a real estate professional with a local knowledge and expertise.


Chilliwack* Strata Housing Sales Report for September 2011

MONTH Sales Average Sale Price Days on Market Active Listings
Sept 2011 40 $223,000 61 591
Aug 2011 64 $211,000 86 553
Sept 2010 31 $210,000 70 n/a

NEW - Median Sale Price of Chilliwack* Strata Homes: September 2011 - $229,000

Median Price of Active Chilliwack* Strata Real Estate Listings: October 1, 2011 - $215,000

September 2011 was a disappointing month for the sale of strata homes (apartments, townhouses, duplexes) with only 40 sales compared to a 10 year September average of 61. Inventory levels have shot up as a result.


On August 25, 2011 the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2011 third quarter housing forecast which calls for a moderate growth in sales for the coming year, but at a rate still well below activity levels recorded in the previous decade. Page two of the document deserves a closer look as it breaks down the province into the 11 real estate board areas that serve it and their specific results. From this table it is easy to understand that while as a province, home price might be increasing, this is due almost completely to the heated markets in Vancouver and the western Fraser Valley.

This is a great time for those in Vancouver and the western Fraser Valley take advantage of this price arbitrage by selling and then buying in another part of the province - I hear that properties in the eastern Fraser Valley are pretty nice.

Imagine living here....

Featured properties as of October 1, 2011
1645 No. 9 Hwy. Agassiz - $249,900
34856 Marshall Road, Abbotsford - $529,000
6432 Wilson Road, Agassiz - $599,000

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.