Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Do you believe in ghosts?

Haunted officer’s club?

Have you ever been to the Old Stone Butter Church, the long abandoned and decrepit structure just off Tzouhalem Road in Duncan?

I’m not a superstitious kind of fellow but I have to say that visiting the structure, a dilapidated old Roman Catholic church that was built in 1870, on a cold and dark October day in 2016 was a creepy experience for me.

Stories of ghosts following people home, strange sounds within the church and eerie feelings of being watched while wandering around the property abound.

In fact in 1931, Ripley’s Believe it or Not did a story on the church stating that it was never officially used and that every worker who helped build the structure died mysteriously.

However, the church was actually used for a brief 10-year period until the new St. Ann’s Church at Tzouhalem was constructed in 1880, and the contention that all its builders died mysteriously has never been substantiated.

But it’s still quite a spooky place and if you want to get into the Halloween spirit over the next few days, it’s a good place to check out, especially if you were to visit at night.

I like to think that I base my beliefs in science so I’m not one to believe in ghosts or superstitions.

But there have been a number of incidents in my life that have made me scratch my head in wonder.

When I was in university, I worked at the Crow’s Nest Officers Club which was located on the waterfront in downtown St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland.

The club was opened during the Second World War for naval officers who operated from St. John’s to blow off some steam and have some much-needed fun.

It was needed because these guys were part of the convoys that kept Britain alive during the dark days of the war when that country stood almost alone against Nazi Germany.

A lot of them died in the cold Atlantic Ocean during the war and I had heard stories about the club being haunted by some of them when I began working there.

I, of course, didn’t believe a word of these stories and I spent a number of years working there without anything happening to question my beliefs.

But one night when I was working late, something happened that has stuck in my mind ever since. It was about 11 p.m. one night and I hadn’t seen a customer or another living soul for hours, so I took the opportunity to do some school work in the dining room just below the lounge area.

I suddenly heard someone with heavy feet running across the floor from one end of the lounge towards the bar at the other end of the room.

I was mystified because the steps to the lounge were right next to where I was sitting and it was the only way to get to that room, and nobody had passed by me to get there.

I began thinking that it must have been a customer from earlier in the evening who may have passed out behind one of the big leather chairs in the room and I had missed him when I went to the dining room, thinking I was alone.

But as I opened the door to the lounge at the top of the stairs, the two old cats that made the Crow’s Nest their home shot between my legs faster than I have ever seen them move and charged out the front door.

I went into the lounge not knowing what to expect but, after a thorough search armed with a golf club, I found nothing that could have run across the room. The cats, who regularly slept on the bar right where the footsteps were heading, finally came back the next afternoon, but stayed away from the lounge for some time afterwards.

I have no idea what I heard that night and often assumed that I had imagined the whole thing, but what happened with the cats was real and others were aware that they had disappeared for a period of time, which was not characteristic of them.

Maybe we should keep an open mind about these things.

Happy Halloween everyone.