Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Ghosts of Salmagundi West...

Circa 1935 - Cordova & Cambie (photo courtesy VPL Archives)
By now most Vancouverites have heard of, visited, and even experienced the spirits of Salmagundi West, a curio shop in the city’s Gastown area.  The incredible eclectic collection of unique items Anne Banner sells in her shop, help lend to the entire “paranormal” claim.  Salmagundi West may also resolve some of your “I don’t know what to get so & so for Xmas” troubles.  If you have not dropped by, please do so @ 321 Cordova St West.  Tell them VSPI sent you.

For Vancouver Spooks, this shop is certainly one of mystery and chills.  However, during our first investigation (end of July 2014), an early evening one and not the usual overnight exposure, we did not collect paranormal evidence to prove the claim of “spirits”.  This doesn't lend to the fact that some team members had personal experiences, which cannot be presented as proof.

The basement hallway, leading away from the emporium towards a small staircase and bathroom, ending at an exit to the alley, is of main interest.  Walking that hallway gave me goose bumps.  Not because of the different claims of ghostly encounters, but because I truly felt someone nearby.  As I came closer to the end of the hallway (at the stairs), I saw in my mind’s third eye an Asian fellow in baggy pants, a bright red shirt underneath suspenders, wearing a bowler hat and sporting a bushy moustache.  I kept hearing a voice reach out to me, “I am here! I am here!” as if he was announcing himself.  I walked up the staircase slowly and stood still to take in his energy.  He had been hurt with blood running down the side of his cheek.  Then, in a flash of a millisecond, he was gone.  The chills were gone.  The air, once alive with messages and electricity, fell flat.  I was left wanting more information.  What was this man doing there?  What did he want?  Only to be recognized?  Did he need help?  Was he going to be OK?  Was he stuck?  What, who, why?  Questions raced through my mind.  On a side note, Lesli (my wife and co-investigator) felt that perhaps a line up of bodies or people was in energy form or residual energy in the same area.  Could it have been connected to the big Vancouver fire in 1886 that devoured Gastown?  Perhaps.
During the weeks following our investigation, I worked hard on extensive research of the shop’s past.  Through use of online resources, the Vancouver Public Library, nearby Used Books shops and our new friend, Tom Carter (a local artist and author), I found valuable information to present to Anne Banner (owner) and Patricia Cosgrave (medium) on the day of VSPI’s reveal.

2014 - Today, Cordova & Cambie (photo VSPI)
The shop had been occupied by a variety of businesses and retailers; from real estate agents, money brokers, and teamsters to hat cleaners, tailors and delivery agents.  Some stayed only a year, others for more than 5 years.  Never-the-less, the shop experienced change overs regularly.  History shows the area went through different changes as well.  Cordova Street (West and East) was a huge hub for shopping in the 1890’s.  Then the area experienced the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in 1901, anti-Asian riots in 1907, visit of
Duke and Duchess of Connaught in 1912, the Komagata Maru incident of 1914, prohibition in 1917-1921, and major recessions and depressions in the late 1890s, 1919, 1923, and 1929.  With changes of the area, the shop underwent different types of tenants and owners.  In recent years, a partner of a previous owner died of a stroke.  He would spend time in the shop’s basement, and Anne believes he may be one of the many spirits in visitation, protecting his space.  That previous owner, Lynn Brown, (who created Salmagundi West) passed on a few years later, in 2012.  She may also be in visitation, popping in to see how things are going.

VSPI was asked back to the shop to perform an overnight investigation in November.  We were excited to take up the challenge.  The problem with gathering evidence is that our recorders pick up voices out on the streets and in the alley.  Cars driving by, Gastown’s Steam Clock tooting off every 15 minutes (recently removed for repairs), pedestrians talking on the sidewalks, upstairs inhabitants moving things, and even dumpster-divers chatting with others, can be heard clearly on all recordings.  Therefore, all audio and video gathered was corrupted.  We were hoping during early morning hours, before the majority of the city wakes, we'd gather better evidence.

We’ll blog about the newest investigation after our evidence reveal for the shop’s owner & employees.

Let us know if you have had experiences within the shop!  We’d love to hear about them!

Happy Hauntings!

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