TORONTO, Sept. 12, 2022 – Ghostly tales of an armless man on a horse; the mysterious disappearance of missing children—these are just two of the ‘ghost stories’ surrounding Toronto’s historic Howland Inn and the reason that Mind Reader Jaymes White chose the inn as the location for his annual Victorian séance. Hosted by White, the seances are held nightly from September 30 to November 26. It’s the seventh consecutive year that White has held the seances, and the event has sold out every year.
“The reason I picked this inn as a location is because of its age and everything it has been through,” says Jaymes White. “It survived the floods of 1850 and 1876, and a huge fire in 1915 that burned down everything around it. It also survived Hurricane Katrina in 1954 where 81 people lost their lives. The weirdest ghost story I have heard about this inn involves an armless man who lost his arms during the war, and he would ride up on a horse, wearing a cape. He was a regular at the tavern and he used his teeth to drink, and it would make a clangy sound. After he passed away, many people reported that they hear this clangy sound as if he is still there.”
The historic venues change each year, as do the events that happen at the nightly seances.
“We normally focus the evening on the haunted location itself, but at last year’s Eatonville Séance, the focus was a collection of old toys called The Campbell Collection,” explains White. “Something happened that night that I have never experienced in my life. It was pitch dark in the room and suddenly this shadow-like figure appeared that was blacker than the black of night. It just loomed there. Several of the participants reported seeing it and feeling an eerie presence. There was an old lamp in the room that wasn’t plugged in, and although we didn’t see anything at the event, the camera footage of that night shows the lamp turning on and off!”
Asked if guests at the séance wished to connect with a loved one who has passed away, White says the focus is more on the venue and its history, but spirits from the past often send messages in mysterious ways.
“At my first séance years ago in Ottawa something strange happened,” recalls White. “We paired up a random guy and girl who did not know each other to conduct one of the exercises I often do. The two were divided into separate rooms. The guy was given a chalk board and asked to write down the first thing that came to his mind. Once on her own, the girl started to cry. I asked her why she was crying, and she explained that her father had passed away recently, and she felt his presence, as if he was protecting her. The guy then joined us. I asked him to show us what he had written on the chalk board. It said ‘Teddy Mr. Cuddles’. The girl looked stunned and told us that Mr. Cuddles was a Teddy bear that her father had given her just before he died. The guy had no way of knowing this. Try to explain that!”
Last year’s Toronto séance featured a once in a lifetime experience
At last year’s Eatonville séance, James recalls a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I call this the Scissor Story,” he starts. “One woman said she was at the séance because she believed there was a demon or unwanted force in her house. She told us that her internet wire was cut and believed a demon cut it with scissors. At the end of the séance we pushed back our chairs and under this woman’s chair there was a pair of scissors! She picked them up and engraved on the scissors was her pin code and password she used for her internet and online banking. She just lost it. She and everyone else was blown away. I can’t explain it either. The chances of something like that happening are one in two million.”
Asked if White ever gets scared at these events by the paranormal occurrences, he answers: “I try not to think about some of these things that can’t be explained. And nothing weird ever happens to me, so no, I don’t get scared.”
Asked to rate the ‘scare factor’ of his seances, with 1 being not scary at all and 10 being scared out of your wits, White answers: “If you look online at the reviews, many participants say things like it was ‘the scariest moment of my life’. It depends on the person—for many people it’s a 10. I encourage people not to think of it as scary and to come with an open mind and to participate. If you participate, you are likely to get something out of it. It’s a unique one-of-a-kind experience that is different every night as what happens is an extension of you. It’s a group of people who come together and bond somewhat for two hours as they see things they could never experience elsewhere.”
Jaymes White is a mind reader and professional profiler for Ontario police departments
White refers to himself as a Mind Reader, but he is also a professional profiler and much sought-after guest speaker.
“I work with police departments all over Ontario who hire me to help train detectives on how to profile a person,” states White. “You need to know who you are dealing with so you can ask the questions in the best way to get answers. I am also hired by universities to give lectures on how to improve memory.”
White was about six or seven years old when he discovered he had a special gift of being able to read people.
“My gift is that I see psychological clues and use my intuition and notice patterns of behaviour. I developed my gift on my own by buying dozens of books on mind reading and psychic abilities. I also kept hundreds of books, like diaries, of things that happened, and when I am doing guest lectures, I often refer to my books. I kept my gift to myself until I was about 20. I am an introverted person which isn’t good in the entertainment world but was good when it came to honing my skills. I took an acting class in Ottawa where I learned how to feel comfortable in front of an audience.”
The audiences at his nightly seances are up to 18 people who, as you can imagine, gather in a room as White talks about the history of the historic house. “I focus on the audience and give them a bit of history of the venue. At the Howland Inn séance I will likely tell them a bit about the story of the children who disappeared and how their bodies were discovered between 1836 and 1838 and talk about the rumours surrounding their disappearance. I try not to give too much away, including names, but ask the audience to tell us if the name of someone stands out.”
At the Victorian séance, White uses several proven techniques, including the use of a Ouija board, to encourage participation from his audience (and perhaps those from beyond).
“The séance is all about the audience and the venue, and as the audiences are different each night, and so are the experiences,” explains White. “The audience is the star of the experience. I just use techniques to connect them to the location. The venue also changes each year, so although we have a lot of repeat guests, it’s a new and exciting event night after night, year after year. We sell 2,400 tickets each year and it’s an experience those 2,400 people won’t soon forget!”
Tickets are $66.66 per person. To book tickets for the Toronto séance (and to see some ‘unexplained footage’) from last year’s séance, visit JaymesWhite.com.
by Laurie Wallace-Lynch