Continuing the long tradition of scaring ourselves shitless on Halloween, we climbed Montreal’s enormous and supposedly haunted Mount Royal cemetery to hunt ghosts on acid.
We thought it’d be a good idea to bring a professional paranormal investigator with ghost-detecting instruments to help us test the theory that malevolent spirits and late-night body snatchers roam the mountain cemetery at night. Our odds of finding evil spirits also seemed better if we went during Satan’s favourite holiday, Halloween.
Our friend Steph dropped acid an hour before heading to the cemetery gates where we planned to meet the ghost hunter, Jonathan Vandal. Unsurprisingly, it was everyone’s first time meeting a complete stranger in a cemetery at night. We would later learn, however, that our paranormal investigator enjoyed roaming graveyards alone regularly and that he often encountered other solo cemetery walkers in the dark.
Steph told us that the acid was kicking in as we approached the front gate. We asked her if she was mentally prepared to encounter screaming ghost babies dressed in dirty grey orphanage nighties from the 20s, and she said, “I’m super freaked out, but also sort of excited to see them.”
We were startled by a dark figure that popped out of the woods as we walked past the gate. A man ambled over silently and then asked in a high-pitched, creaky voice, “Greg?” It was our guy.
Steph was really freaked out, but when he pulled out his ghost meter she seemed pretty stoked.
Operating on the premise that spirits exist on different wavelengths, the meter detects changes in the electromagnetic field that suggest ghosts are nearby. There were three flashing light reading levels: green for safe, orange for caution, and red for danger. When we asked Jonathan if he’d ever seen it hit the danger zone, he said he hadn’t yet…in that particular graveyard.
Steph thought that “Jonathan seemed like a kid in a playground, smiling and talking giddily about how the ghost meter worked. He also liked to wander off when he thought he saw something weird in the distance, which made it super spooky right off the bat.”
At first, she had a difficult time following the ghost hunter, saying, “I would see him go off into the darkness and do his own thing and that freaked me out. So I’d have to go off on my own with that gadget, which I didn’t take seriously but thought was cool. The green light shooting out was super funny, but it never turned red. I really wanted it to though.”
Our first encounter with something legitimately freaky happened during our walk up this nearly pitch black path. We snapped as many photos as we could, trying to catch whatever was making weird noises up in the trees. But no luck.
Steph swears she heard wood creaking and a little girl giggling: “It sounds like a coffin opening. It doesn’t sound like a tree. That giggling is also way too childlike.”
Steph was terrified and said that everything seemed like we were in a movie: “This totally isn’t real. Before it was just fun and games compared to how real it got right there.”
She got more and more visibly freaked out as everyone discussed what we thought those noises were. We all came to the conclusion that there might be other people in the graveyard. Eventually, we were freaking each other out about grave robbers and body snatchers, who seemed much scarier than ghosts and demons.
As it got windier, Steph got creeped out because she felt and saw the wind passing through the graves and heading towards her. She realized that she was connected with all the corpses lying in the ground around her, saying, “I felt their vibes going through me and swirling around.”
We brought along a Ouija board and scouted good spots to use it while Steph continued to try to make the ghost meter turn red. Our photographer, Jordan, double-checked the Ouija rules on his phone and found a disclaimer that read,“Do not use Ouija boards anywhere near graveyards or where violent deaths have occurred because you might open portals to spirit worlds and attract malevolent entities. Especially in graveyards, where the spirits tend to walk around lost and confused.”
Steph suddenly wasn’t down for playing at all and suggested that we wait until we got back to her place: “I feel like if any spirits are going to connect with anyone it’ll be me, because I’m tripping out. And I believe in that shit.”
We eventually said portals be damned, and sat down on the grass to play anyways.
We started asking questions like “Are there any spirits around us?” and, “Are we safe?” Unfortunately, no spirits answered. But at least Steph hallucinated pretty hard: “I was tripping out on the board itself. Everyone kept talking about portals, so I was picturing it as a portal. That made me super set on not messing up. Like, if we didn’t do it correctly, we’d get stuck in the spirit world. Or, if we didn’t say goodbye to the spirits when we took our fingers off the board, I might be more susceptible to getting stuck with ghosts all night just because I was on acid.”
We eventually lost patience with the game and Steph started focusing on the board itself. She said the lines looked like they were shooting stars and that the letters were glow-in-the-dark and 3D. It was at that point that Jonathan, our ghost hunter friend started talking about some really dark shit. Like, how his paranormal investigations customers often had mental problems, and how one of them talked about killing himself because he didn’t have a girlfriend. Steph thought it was too much for her to hear and whispered to herself, “Good vibes, good vibes.”
When we got up and started walking, Steph noticed Jonathan had thrown on some eyewear and asked if they were special ghost hunting goggles. He said “No, they’re just normal sunglasses. I’ve never used them before to look for spirits. Just experimenting with new things.”
At that point everything was just so weird and scary that everyone started giggling. It was partly a nervous reaction to walking through the ultra-creepy section where a lot of children were buried, and also the ghost hunter recounting stories of seeing children’s faces lurking in trees at other cemeteries.
The higher Steph got, the more she stopped to check out the view of Montreal’s north end. She seemed to really like the lights, saying that the city looked like a miniature decorative Christmas town. “But,” as she then added, “without Christmas vibes.”
She liked smelling the flowers to see if they were fake. This one was. She found out that none of them smelled much like anything: “It’s weird sniffing someone’s grave. Just kind of awkward.”
Steph found that when she was beside Jonathan, her hallucinations were super creepy. “Every time I focused on what he was looking at, it turned out to be super disturbing. A lot of tombstones looked like they were made of maggots. But when I looked at what Jordan thought was cool, it was super colorful and interesting. I was really sensitive.”
She said she felt like she was in a Tim Burton movie. “Everything was totally cartoonish, like Claymation. Everyone was cartoon characters. Nothing made sense. I wanted to describe it but I couldn’t. It was so crazy I just had to stare at everything.”
Lots of famous Montrealers are buried up there, but we only found the tomb of some Canadian brewers. Steph thought the Molson tomb was really cool but was also super creeped out walking up to it: “I was scared to touch it because it would have made me too connected. I actually didn’t want to touch anything.”
All the heavy vibes shifted positively as Steph found a pile of leaves in the middle of the path: “I was having lots of fun with the leaves. It felt so weird getting them stuck in in my shoes. Then I was like, whoah! Was I just being way too noisy in a cemetery? I better not anger these ghosts!”
Then, all of a sudden, Jonathan said that he had to go. He promptly turned away and walked into the darkness like he knew exactly how to get to the exit. We were pretty deep in at that point.
Steph felt that the way he left was eerily similar to how he had first approached us earlier at the gates, causing her a bit of paranoia: “I totally thought he was still chilling in the graveyard after he walked away, like he’d never leave. Maybe he even lived there.”
She continued to think about Jonathan: “He looked like an alien, but there was also something innocent about him. Maybe it was the way he laughed when he saw us getting scared, but something was super twisted.”
Jonathan was definitely one of the most mysterious people any of us had ever encountered.
We found our way out of the cemetery shortly after and headed back to my apartment to inspect the photographs to see if we’d captured anything supernatural.
We found something strange: Jordan doesn’t remember taking the photo above. He said he checked each photo after he took one and would’ve deleted it right way because it’s blurry. He also says in order to have added this much exposure into the shot, he would‘ve had to hold down the button for at least ten seconds.
I don’t know enough about photography to speculate on whether Steph got her picture taken by a ghost or if this snap is the result of a weird camera glitch. But if weird spooky shit starts happening to me in the next couple weeks, the first thing I’m doing is deleting that photo off of my computer.
Photos by Jordan Henri