Mine staff and TV crew have haunting experience
Thursday, 21 July 2016. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze
Jeff Richards and Michaella Shannon of the TV show The Other Side explore the Bellevue Underground Mine. Photo by Francis Laliberte
Mine staff and TV crew have haunting experience
By Brad Quarin
Everyone likes a good ghost story.
Showcasing Crowsnest Pass mining history, Bellevue Underground Mine is back in operation and offering tours to locals and visitors.
Staff of the Bellevue Mine recently offered a unique tour to the paranormal investigators of The Other Side, a TV show running on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
The episode, airing in the fall, will put Bellevue Mine in the national eye.
“You wouldn’t believe the things that were happening in the mine,” says Ron Hruby, vice-chairman of the museum. This particular episode of The Other Side digs into mysterious and possibly supernatural phenomena in the mine.
“It was quite interesting,” says executive director Elaine Hruby, who was initially skeptical.
Treasurer Rudy Pagnucco says spooky anecdotes at Bellevue Underground Mine go back to its opening as a museum.
In the early 2000s, mine manager Wendy Davies was underground when her lights suddenly went out, and she heard a person whistling.
“It almost sounded like a waltz,” Wendy says. It gave her a scare.
On tours, children have been known to point and say, “Look, Mommy, there’s a miner!” Elaine says. People also report hearing birds and people talking.
Elaine and Ron experienced something strange themselves in 2013, when the museum had just acquired a mine whistle.
While on a tour, Elaine and another woman heard a whistle, and Elaine figured Ron, who was outside, had set it up. When she saw Ron later, she commented to him on how good the whistle sounded, only for Ron to reply that he agreed and ask her when she had set it up.
In fact, the whistle was still on her desk, she says.
Rudy has his own brush with the unexplained, as he once gave a tour to a group when he felt a tap on the shoulder.
“I looked around, and there was nobody there,” he says. “It was weird.”
This may not be surprising given the long and ominous history of the mine, including the Bellevue Underground Mine Disaster of December 1910, which killed 31 men. This event was commemorated at the museum in June 2014.
One of the men killed was Fred Alderson, a rescuer from Fernie who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after giving his respirator to another person. There is speculation about whether or not Fred still resides in the mine.
In May, The Other Side crew visited the Bellevue Mine in person, speaking to the staff and looking around the museum.
Elaine wasn’t there at the time, but producer Murray MacDonald emailed her shortly after about the possibility of filming an episode there.
“At first I thought, I don’t know if I really want to do this,” she says.
It’s not the first time people have inquired about investigating the mine. Staff have even received requests from people who want to camp underground overnight — something the museum doesn’t allow.
Elaine hadn’t heard of The Other Side before but, upon doing some research, found it had been running on APTN for two years and that the investigators seemed “dedicated” in their work. The crew also promised not to disrupt the regular tours.
“I still didn’t think that we would see very much,” she says.
The Other Side’s investigators visit haunted places around the Prairies and always incorporate an aboriginal aspect. This investigation began with spiritual advisor Tom Charles giving a blessing on the mine.
Elaine went into the mine with two investigators and the camera crew. They used a machine called an Ovilus, which would receive questions and then display answers on a screen.
Ron says the answers are “generated” from surrounding energy, provided by the spirits.
“It’s unreal. You have to be there,” he says.
He asked questions and received responses that he says would take a good deal of mining expertise to answer — beyond what most lay people possess.
At the end of day, it was agreed that the spirits of Bellevue Underground Mine are friendly — and big fans of the modern tours, Elaine and Ron say.
They received a staff and a blanket to protect the spirits, and expect a video before the episode airs.
Elaine Hruby, Ron Hruby and Rudy Pagnucco show the staff and blanket they received as gifts from the show’s paranormal investigators. Photo by Brad Quarin
Read more in this week’s online edition here.
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From the July 20, 2016 print edition of Shootin’ the Breeze.
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