Please, gather ‘round, for a spooky story that diverts from the types we often tell. While the spirit of philanthropy is rich in our history, this Halloween we share one where the spirit itself has a story – straight from our offices on Simcoe Street in Oshawa.
The year was 2017 and important work was being done to ready our new office for the Foundation team. A century home, many wondered if the walls could talk.
For one Lakeridge Health employee, the history of the home came to life in an unexpected way. Kerri, a planning coordinator with the capital and redevelopment department was responsible for managing the property, keeping the project on task and checking on the home weekly.
“The first time I walked in that house I was alone, or so I thought. That was the last time I ever did it without someone by my side,” remembers Kerri. “I distinctly remember feeling the weight of someone nudge me. I felt the hair stand up on my neck and arms.”
From that experience followed many. Kerri, and a number of other employees and third-party contractors, continued to feel the influence of someone, or something.
Nudges, chills and even sounds are among the long list of things shared by those who entered the house.
Ryan, a site superintendent, confirms the rumours are true. “We always shut the double doors to one of the second floor rooms before we left for the day and every morning we’d come back and they were open. Once I was standing at the bottom of the staircase removing wallpaper and, out of the corner of my eye, I swear I saw a person walk from the bathroom to the kitchen. A lot of our team members wouldn’t work in the house alone, or after dark.”
Ask around and you’ll hear a variety of opinions from those who have worked on the home. From ‘it’s just their imagination, it’s an old house’, to ‘I won’t step foot in that place. It’s haunted’.
At the time, Kerri was skeptical but the experiences couldn’t be ignored. “I never believed in this kind of thing,” says Kerri, “but what I felt was undeniable. I would leave items in certain spots only to see them somewhere else the next time I came. I was the only one with a key to the home other than security. There’s no other explanation”.
After a few unexplainable moments like these, Kerri began to think a friendly spirit may be present. She reached out to some contacts and through a series of visits, she learned the tenant had a name: Arthur.
A search ensued to find more about the history of the house but little information turned up. Previous owners confirmed that the old house had its odd quirks. Little information existed until a Foundation staff member sat down with one of our Hospital volunteers to chat about the impending office move.
“When I learned the Foundation would be working out of that old house it brought back so many fond memories,” says Lynda Hatfield, volunteer with the Auxiliary of Lakeridge Health Oshawa and Foundation donor. “That’s the Schofield’s house! I played there as a child.”
Quickly a story came to life of a loving family living just around the corner from the Hospital and a connection that had been under everyone’s nose the whole time.
Lynda shared that she often spent time with the Schofield’s nanny ‘Aunt Mabel’, and remembers many days spent in the home. Mabel was hired to care for Joan Schofield, who later married Arthur Kent.
It suddenly occurred to Lynda that she still had a pewter tea set gifted from the family. Lynda happily passed the tea set on to the Foundation.
When renovations were done and the Foundation team moved in, one of the first items to be displayed in the dining room area, now boardroom, was the tea set.
Not a nudge, sound or unnerving feeling has been reported since – even during late nights when the team is working hard on events and projects.
Ask any Foundation team member and they’ll share that there certainly is an energy radiating through each room. But it’s not what you think! These days the feelings are ones of excitement as we all work together – staff, donors, volunteers and the entire community – to help put our Hospital at the forefront of health care in our province and country. We’re partners in this journey, all of us, even those on the other side!