Sunday, October 24, 2010

Evidence @ The Giggle Dam Dinner Theater

Is the Giggle Dam Haunted? – Historical Facts & Evidence Found...
Hello everyone, it’s Kati of Vancouver Spooks Paranormal Investigations, checking in with you again. Thought I would provide an update to a most interesting investigation of the building at 2616 Shaunessy Street, formally known as the Port Theatre, and now known as The Giggle Dam Dinner Theatre.
I had an interesting interview with Bernie Pregler not long ago. Pippa of the Port Coquitlam Heritage & Cultural Society passed on a message from a member, who suggested we speak with Bernie about the Theatre, believing his father played a part in its history. She was right. So here is an update on the history of the Theatre:
1947 – Three men: Joe Pregler (born in 1905, from Port Arthur, Ont), Dave Kincaid (an investor from Lakehead, Ont) and Bob Miller (a furniture & woodworker – believed to have owned Paragon Woodworks), decided to go into a venture together and build a theatre in Port Coquitlam on a lot that was sitting empty on Shaunessy Street near McAllister. Across the street was the Pacific Stage Line Bus Depot (a website with information on this bus service:, which had a café and a U-shaped drive. At the corner of McAllister and Shaunessy was Hammond’s Garage.
1948 - Fraser Valley Investments Ltd (believed to be Joe Pregler, Dave Kincaid and Bob Miller) built Port Theatre, with Joe Pregler supervising the construction. Wood from 3-4 boxcars built to carry ammunitions to the allied effort in the Soviet Union during World War 2, was used in the building of the theatre by the contractor. This wood was purchased from Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. The building was opened in late 1948, called the Port Theatre, and was used as a movie house.

1949 – Joe Pregler moved his family to Port Coquitlam and purchased a home on Elgin Street. Bernie Pregler, son of Joe, remembers the day they moved into Port Coquitlam and stopped across from the Theatre. The movie playing was “Under the Tonto Rim” (a 1947 western) and as Bernie (coming from the big city) had a crew cut, young men standing outside of the theatre jeered at him making fun of his hair cut.
1949 – Joe, Dave and Bob hired Cam Bastito as Manager of the theatre. In the late 1950’s, Cam stepped down for an unknown reason, and Mr& Mrs Walter Lilly then took over the position as Manager. Both Mr & Mrs Lilly were of vaudeville background. They were quite a bit older than Joe Pregler, Bernie remembers, and information found via vital statistics show that Walter Lilly was born in 1880. Walter was known for haggling for movies over a drink or two, believed to have been an alcoholic and not in good health. Therefore, Walter would get only one good movie with a batch of bad movies. Maida McCallum Smyth (her father owned & ran a grocery store at the corner of Wilson & Shaunessy) sold tickets for the shows, while Elmer Canning with the projectionist. Bernie remembers his mother, Mrs Pregler, was the bookkeeper for the theatre. There were 3 changes of movie shows a week and 2 shows a day @ 7pm & 9pm. Movie tickets sold at approximately $0.25-$0.35 a show. Once inside the two front entrances was the lobby. A room to the left of the lobby was where women could take their babies and watch the show through a window. The theatre only had one staircase (now it has 2 in the main area, and 1 off the lobby), with 2 flights up to the projectionist booth, and a business office upstairs in the front of the building. Behind the movie screen was a huge empty space. The Port Theatre lost its lustre in mid-1950 due to the arrival of television, and ticket sales began to dwindle.
1956– It is not known who “Roberts Estates” is, as they are listed as purchasing the property from Fraser Valley Investments Ltd –in a November 23rd news article. (Is this the sale of Joe & Dave to Bob, or a later piece of information? – see Early 1960’s)
1958 – Bernie Pregler, son of Joe, moves out of Port Coquitlam but comes back in 1969. Bernie stated he had earned extra money after school by drawing the curtains open for the shows. In those days the curtains were handled manually.
Early 1960’s – Joe Pregler and Dave Kincaid decided to sell their interests to Bob Miller. This is believed to be in 1963 – as told by Bernie Pregler. The building sat empty for a time.
Mid-to late 1960’s – Bob Miller then sells the theatre to someone (unknown at this time) who re-opened the building as a soft core porn movie house. This ran into early 1970’s, at which time it closed its doors. Once again, the building sits empty, this time for more than a decade.
1965 – November 30th, Walter Percival Lilly passes away at the age of 80, in Vancouver. Not known is Mrs Lilly’s first name, therefore her date of death is undetermined at this time.
1966 – Joseph Harold Pregler passes away at the age of 60 in Port Coquitlam.
1978 – Archaeological dig at mouth of the Pitt River unearths thousands of native artefacts
1981 -1988 – Unknown date, the property undergoes renovation and one wall is knocked down with the boxcar wood going to a Maple Ridge theatre.
Early 1990’s – Unknown date as to when the Port Coquitlam Cabaret Ltd (David Lowe & Justin Roberts) purchased the property. They converted the movie theatre into a night club, which then gained poor reputation over the following years.

February 22, 1994 (on or about) David Anthony Lowe hit William Ronald Rudy (a partner in ownership of the club, due to assisting PoCo Cabaret Ltd in purchasing the property) in the back of the head with a sledgehammer inside the Rumours Club. David wore protective clothing, used an area in the club that had floor drains, organ
ized the loan of a van, and then dumped the body in the forest of Harrison Mills area (Agassiz), where he claimed to have buried Rudy. Rudy had been living in an Aldergrove Motel at the time, and was reported missing around that time.
Since 1994 – the club went under numerous name changes: RPM, Confetti’s, Poco Cabaret, The Club, Rumours, and Rumours II.
December 9, 1995 – a 23 year old man was shot in the leg @ midnight in Confetti’s, believed to be a dispute between 2 men.
September 27, 1996 – William Rudy’s skeleton was found off Morris Valley Road @ Harrison Mills.
November 1996 – The city council revokes Confetti’s licence.
July 23, 1998 – Cory Hatter was beaten into a coma in the parking lot near Rumours II. Two weeks later his lungs filled with fluid and his heart stopped. He passed away. 2nd degree murder charges were laid on 4 men.
October 23, 1998 – The city council pulls the licence of Rumours II. The property is believed to remain vacant.
2001 – The property is purchased by a new owner. Sheila Sharma and her troupe lease the building to create the Giggle Dam Dinner Theatre. Sheila tells us that after they moved in, David Lowe stopped by to let them know as he understood the entire building, if they needed any assistance they could call on him.
End of 2001 – David Lowe is arrested. The Giggle Dam is
investigated by the police, checking the downstairs basement area as well as other areas in the theatre for evidence of the murder.
Week of April 30, 2002 – David Lowe confesses to the murder of Rudy, to an undercover officer.
April 2002 – David Lowe is charged with murder.
February 2004 – Murder trial resumes. It proves to be a 10 month trial.
August 7, 2004 – David Lowe’s defence files an appeal.
August 31, 2004 – David Lowe is found guilty of murder and is not eligible for parole for 25 years.
Now, to the evidence gathered during VSPI`s paranormal investigation of the Theatre. Sheila Sharma and Jon Lundquist, of the Giggle Dam Dinner Theatre, welcomed us and joined Mark and I during our afternoon of gathering evidence. After long review of all our audio and video tapes, and discussions over what we may have caught, we found two voices on our digital recorders of people who simply were not present with us. Their voices unexplained. What VSPI performs is known as EVP (electronic voice phenomena) sessions. That is, we sit down with our digital recorders and speak to and ask questions of, spirits that may inhabit the building. We then listen back to the recordings. The theory is that spirit voices can be picked up by audio recording devices, when we normally can`t hear them with our own ears. We have placed the two recordings in question in our website under the heading ``Findings`` and you are most welcome to go listen to them. (You`ll find our website information below.) We believe a man spoke to us, while we were discussing visiting the Essondale Cemetery in search of a woman spirit we encountered, and he remarked on this intention of ours, claiming he was going to be there. We also heard a woman`s laughter with Jon and I remarking how we just heard a laugh, yet the others in the area heard nothing. Both voices are quite shocking when you think of it. They were clearly standing next to us. Ok, that always puts shivers down my spine!
As for the female spirit I just mentioned to you all... How did we encounter her? VSPI sometimes uses unconventional methods of connecting with the afterlife. In this case, we used ``divining rods`` (otherwise known as ``dowsing rods`` - the theory that spiritual energy can interact with the energy of the rods), and simply asked the spirit(s) to cross the rods for a positive answer and leave them as is for a negative response. We use a meter which measures Electromagnetic Fields (the theory being the meter can pick up on spirit energy) to confirm any fluctuations at the time the rods are being used. We had several hits during our session. After several hours of talking out loud to the spirits, Jon, Sheila, Mark and I discovered we were speaking with a woman identifying herself as Maria. She described herself of Italian background, yet born in Canada. Her parents came from the old country. She claims to have been committed to Essondale (now known as Riverview-see old aerial photograph) by her parents due to mental illness after 1930. Maria went on to tell us she was raped by an orderly or doctor, bore a girl child in 1933, and then was murdered by this orderly-doctor in 1934 after the child was taken from her and sold. She told us she was 17 at the time of her death, and game to the Port Theatre looking for someone to help her. Maria said she has family still living, but she has no siblings. She believes her child is still living,
but does not know where. Maria also stated her body was buried on the Essondale grounds. VSPI performed an extensive search of Essondale records as well as Woodlands records and found no grave markings for a Maria who died in 1934; however, it is thought her family may have claimed her body and buried her elsewhere.
Maria also advised us of the spirits who reside at the Giggle Dam. A dark man, known as possibly William or Bill, and that he was murdered. He appears to be angry and may be one to make noises, throws objects at staff, push people, and appear as a shadow man. She also says a woman of the vaudeville days, who is looking for her red shoe, protects the staff from Bill but doesn`t like to talk to many people. Now are these spirits truly there? That is the true question. Without further evidence we had to decide on what comes next.
VSPI sat down with the Giggle Dam staff to provide our recommendation and course of action to take:
The Giggle Dam is believed to have unexplained activity but it’s not enough to support a “haunting”
A follow up investigation is recommended
So what does this mean? At this time we cannot say the theatre is haunted, but we are convinced something is going on in the building. The Giggle Dam has agreed to have VSPI back for an overnight investigation, at a date yet to be determined. We are excited to be going back! The theatre certainly has history, and is such a large building. The people working there are warm, welcoming, and happy that we found some sort of proof that they are not crazy.
For the full story and more information, you can check a few places online: an interview with Kimmie Jae of Reign Radio. Jon and I talk about what the investigation was like and the evidence gathered. (The recording can also be found on the VSPI website under “Findings”)
And our website @ – the two Electronic Voice Phenomena’s has been placed on our “Findings” page.
I wish to thank the Port Coquitlam Heritage & Cultural Society for their incredible help with the research, and for inviting me out to the meeting in October. That was fun! Thank you Pippa and members, you’ve been amazing! We’ll definitely keep in touch with our progress on this case.
I also put out a huge thank you to Kimmie Jae for introducing us to Jon of the Giggle Dam, and to Sheila for allowing us to enter and perform an investigation. We look forward to coming back!
So members, VSPI will be back in the new year to update you as to what our follow up investigation has presented to us. Hopefully we’ll contact the spirit known to frequent the stage, and gather more evidence of William who seems to be angry, and the woman seeking her red shoe. I wonder where that shoe disappeared to.
If anyone has information to help us fill in the time line gaps, don`t hesitate, contact me immediately @ or simply go to the VSPI website and use the contact form.
If you have any stories you wish to share, or would like VSPI to come out and investigate your home, check out our website and contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
Till next time, I wish you a happy haunting!
Sincerely, your friend,
Information: “Historical Atlas of Vancouver & Lower Fraser Valley”- Derek Hayes; The Port Coquitlam Heritage and Cultural Society (Poco Heritage), the Vancouver Public Library; a book: “Port Coquitlam, Where Rails Meet Rivers” – Chuck Davis; & an interview with Bernie Pregler.


  1. There is a series on Netflix called Psychic Investigators. I watched an episode last night where Bill Rudy's fiancee hired psychic Laurie McQuarry when Bill initially disappeared. Her finding were spot on up to and including where Bill's body was! You should watch it. I bet you are right that his spirit is not at rest.

    1. Hey Libby, thanks for your comment. Yes, VSPI & the GD Crew has seen the episode. We attempted contact with the medium but we're not successful. We are going back in shortly with a medium and sensitives to see what more we can find as there are more spirits involved than just Mr. Rudy. We'll of course update our website & blog with new evidence. It's such an exciting theatre to investigate!-Kati