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Monday, October 29, 2018

A Chilliwack Ghost Story


Let Me Rest for a Spell © Stephen Mullock

In the spirit (as it were) of Halloween back in 2011 I did some research on a Chilliwack haunting and included them in this blog.  Seven years later, the power of the internet,  I have received some additional information to complete the tale - thanks to a neighbour Ron Arnett. Thank you Ron.

The complete tale 

 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 could 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.

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

Sources:
The Chilliwack Progress November 25, 1951
The Chilliwack Progress November 28, 1951


A Chilliwack Ghost Story - Part Two 

It is late 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 hiding 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....


HAPPY HALLOWEEN



Chilliwack Halloween Joke 1951 - 1952



Knock, Knock
Who's There
  
Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, KnockKnock, Knock, Knock


Sources:  All quotes may be found in the articles of The Chilliwack Progress as dated above in the article.



A Chilliwack Ghost Story - Part Three

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...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Agassiz, Pretty in White

Agassiz, BC February 2018 ©


Agassiz looks pretty under a recent and rare February snow. Already the melt is on, the streets and sidewalks bare. Just the yards remain covered, for now. Soon the sun will complete its work but for the moment the snow serves to accentuate the beauty of this place.

Located on the north side of the Fraser River some 125km east of the Port of Vancouver, Agassiz is a sleepy little spot of some 5000 souls. It like many towns it was built along a railway line. On summer days you might be lucky enough to see a CPR Rocky Mountaineer speeding past on its way to the far off Rockies. If you give it a small town wave of friendliness sometimes a watchful passenger will respond in kind. It's a nice moment shared with a stranger. Hello. Goodbye.

Overlooking Agassiz in her magnificence is Mount Cheam. She is a beauty. The stuff of stories and legend. A few of these can be discovered in this blog. If you are interested just type “Mount Cheam” into the search box.

The houses in the picture are not for sale but many elsewhere are. As a local area real estate agent I am willing to help you find these gems and give you a feel for the place.

Imagine living here....



Thinking of selling your local property, I offer competitive rates and local service.

Let’s get started.


Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist 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) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Steller's Jay and the Bering Strait


"This bird alone," Steller wrote in 1741 "proved to me that we were really in America." 

Steller's Jay is a remarkable bird, similar to the eastern Blue Jay in form but the body of Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri,  is a silvery blue and it's head darker, around here, the eastern Fraser Valley, the head is black.  It has longer legs and a finer beak than the Blue Jay.  It is only crested jay west of the Rockies and is the provincial bird of British Columbia. 

I wish I could tell you that it is a wonderful songbird but its voice is more of a squawk, a threatening scold rather than a thrill.  It flies around with an attitude much like the man for whom they are named.




Steller's Jay is named for naturalist, Georg Wilhelm Steller.  Steller was part of a great Russian endeavour, in 1741, under the leadership of Vitus Jonassen Bering to, in part, map and discover a route from Russia to America. 

Georg Wilhelm Steller was a great naturalist but he was also, apparently, overbearing, arrogant, insensitive to the feelings of others and hypersensitive to any slight that might be directed towards him. Although often correct, his shrill, demanding delivery ensured his views were regularly ignored. Much like how we endure the squawk of our Steller's Jays as they fly about. How ironic. In the end, he was neither loved or respected.

The Bering expedition did find America but it proved to be a horrific journey forcing the survivors to the edge of human endurance.  Bering and many others never make it home.  


Some fifty year later, British mariner, Captain James Cook named the strait between Russia and Alaska - the Bering Strait.

I previously wrote about the Bering expedition in a post called "Steller's Jay and the Tragic Bering Landing".

Recommended reading is the new book "Island of the Blue Foxes" by Stephen R. Bowen, 2017 Douglas & McIntyre Publishing.

Steller's Jay is also known as Mountain Jay, Pine Jay and as a Long - Crested Jay. For me, I wish it could be renamed, that exciting movement of colour from silvery blue to black invites to my imagination a more appropriate name the "Stellar Jay". 


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