Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Old Friend And A Haunted House

I was reading the local newspaper the other day and as I turned to the obituary page, my eyes fell on a notice announcing the passing of Bill. William C. Brown had been a lawyer in our community for almost 50 years. He was also a friend of mine and a real character.

He always had a story. One in particular stands out in my mind.

Being a lawyer, of course, Brown had his hand in a lot of things including real estate. For a time, while he was administering the estate he lived in the old McFadden mansion on the eastern outskirt of Blind River. It's on the edge of the North Channel and is really quite nice.

Anyways, Bill told me that the place was haunted by the spirit of McFadden who was a lumber baron during the glory days of Blind River. According to Bill, old man McFadden had been an accomplished piano player and would often entertain visitors with his playing. Bill said that while he lived there, he would hear the sounds of piano music and that, on occasion, he would see some sort of apparition, that he said looked like McFadden himself. The place is now the Anishnabie Naadmaagi Treatment Center.

I was writing for a newspaper at the time and Bill was so adamant about the voracity of his story that I took the risk of making a real ass of myself and called the treatment center. The manager told me that indeed, there were occasions when he and other members of the staff had heard piano music. He pointed out that the place did not have a piano. Unlike Brown, he had never seen an apparition, but told me that some people have claimed to have.

He knew that I worked for the newspaper, but was not reluctant to talk about it.

Anyways, a few days after the story appeared I received a call from the director of Elliot Lake Detox. He said that he had enjoyed my story on the McFadden 'haunting' and wanted me know that there were odd occurrences at his facility also. He told me that years ago, when the place was a bar they discovered the original owner in his home dead. It was never determined whether it was accidental or a suicide. I checked it out and sure enough that information was true. Anyways, He claimed that sometimes at night the staff would hear strange sounds coming through the ceiling. The sounds of heavy steps and thumping noises. He suspected that it might have been the spirit of the former owner unhappy with the present day function of the place. That story also appeared in the newspaper.

Later, the director told me that he had received a phone call from the Sister who was at the time the CEO of both the Elliot Lake St. Joseph's Hospital and the Oaks Treatment Center, directing him not to have any more conversations with, “that fellow from the newspaper”.

I will miss Bill. I was blessed to have known him.