Academy Employee:Jan Michaels (anon)

Interviewer: Anita Perron

Date:   January 27, 2002

Location:   Academy Theatre, Lindsay Ontario

Interviewer's note: This interview was conducted by taking notes and is paraphrased.


How long have you been associated with the premises?

Since June of 2001.

What kind of shape is the plumbing in and has there been any noise attributed to the plumbing or heating?

There is much noise attributed to the plumbing and heating, for example the boiler and radiators.

It would also help to know the circumstances surrounding the beginning of these phenomena. What happened or occurred prior to this starting OR has it been happening since you became aware of the location itself?

It has been happening since and before I arrived. Mary and her husband lived here and Mary died as a result of  falling down the stairs.

Have you seen or felt anything unusual, corner of the eye movement or sounds that you can't explain? If so what?

Yes, in the office a feeling of someone standing behind me. In the 2nd row of seats I get a dizzy feeling, and in the lobby, in a certain spot I get a cold feeling, even when no air is coming from the vents.

With respect to the last Question, did anyone else witness this with you and if so, who?

Krystal also felt dizzy while standing in the 2nd row of seats. I also felt a caress on my cheek while on the bench in the lobby. Krys and Dee also happen to came to the same conclusion as I, that the male presence in the theatre likes me. (Webmaster's note: Krystal and I both got the same impression at the same time that the male presence was  very fond of Jan.)  Another employee also lost his wallet here a few years back and it was no where to be found. Of course you have to run around and try to replace everything. Much, much later, the wallet turned up in seat B13 out of nowhere. The same thing happened to a patron as well. The wallet couldn't be found and after quite a length of time (months) it turns up in a seat in the theatre.

Is there any room in particular you like or dislike and why?

I enjoy the Guild Room on the second floor, it is relaxing and welcoming. The boiler room makes me uncomfortable,  I hate it.

Have you heard any sounds, lights going on and off, door slamming, if so can you explain or rationalize them?

The entrance doors and stage doors have both closed on their own and they are heavy doors. They don't exactly swing on their own. It requires some strength to push them.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable alone and if so, why?

Yes in the office, I feel watched and uneasy, like someone is telling me it's time to go.

Thank you Jan, for your time.

Academy Theatre Manager:     Ray Marshall

Interviewer:  Dee Jessome

Date:   March 6, 2002

This interview was a delight to do, I barely had to ask the questions and sometimes Ray would answer a question I hadn't even asked yet. I wish all interviews were so easy.  This interview was recorded and is written verbatim.


What are your feelings with respect to psychic phenomena in general?

I believe in spirits, at least that is what I call them. I don't know where that came from but probably with some sort of belief in the afterlife or too many Walt Disney films. I think I want to believe in good, more friendly spirits as opposed to the nasty ones or the exorcist ones and that probably goes way back to when I was a kid and afraid of the dark.

How long have you actually worked there?

My first summer was 1975 and I worked the following 8 out of 10 summers. Then in 1985 I came on full time. I'm going into my 18th year full time.

Wow, that's a long time.

Yes, in this business it is a long time. I thought if I survived the first 5 years as a manager, I would make some sort of move but I like it here too much.

What experiences have you had in the theatre being direct experiences that have only involved yourself?

When I first came in 1975, of course, I was told the famous 'Mary' story by Dennis Sweeting who is the producer/director of the summer theatre. That was the story that he was told at some point in the late 60's. It is still the story I give on tour with the kids from the public schools so that is my introduction to the story or the legend of Mary the ghost. From that point on I was never afraid to be here by myself or lock up. I was told right at the beginning that Mary was our friendly spirit that took care of the place when nobody was here and when I came to understand how simple that was, I basically lived with that.

When I lock up at night or when I'm by myself there is quite a routine to locking up. One has to basically start in the lobby and lock the front doors and that way nobody can come in the front doors. I worry about vandalism, so I lock the front doors first then go down the right aisle; I check the exits on the right side or south side of the stage then I usually go backstage and I check the washrooms and dressing rooms for lights, costumes and stinky things. Then I go downstairs and check the basement, turn off the patio lights and check for running toilets and things like that and then I come back up and close the fire curtain and I bring the fire curtain down on the stage that separates the auditorium from the back stage. Then I come up the right aisle and as I'm walking up the right aisle I have always felt that there is some presence in the booth just looking down or being somewhat aware that I'm there. That is my personal experience with any sort of feelings or impressions or instinct.

There have been other staff members and volunteers who have their different stories right up to seeing somebody laying on the stairs going up to the third floor, which are the famous 'Mary, I fell down the stairs in the early 1900's' story, which aren't the original stairs, by the way.

The history of this building has always, and this is what is special about the story that I was told in 1975, is that she is an inviting spirit. She helps not only taking care of the theatre, but she invites people that have been here to come back whether you are working or watching the show, whether you are volunteering or whether you're just passing through. I know we are not full every night. We only had 6 sell-outs in 2001 over 12 months but I don't mean that she brings in people off the street; what I mean is she is our source of satisfaction or contentment. In some small way people enjoy working here.

I can understand why.

You can talk to a 16 year old who just ushered last night, she said "what else can I do?" or "can I come back and do something else?" Then you talk to a 60 year old who just fixed one of the seats last Friday and says "let me know when I can come back". I mean very few people have walked up to me and said I never want to come back in here again [laughing]. So something has to take credit for that. It's not just the staff; it's not just the previous staff, because I worked with them. It's not just the guys who ran the theatre back in the 50's. I'm sure the aura and the essence of this theatre has always been very positive and I think, I don't know.....you know, where does that come from? It's not the bricks and mortar and it's not the leather seats, it's not the smell. It's a combination, maybe, of all those things. We feel in our element. Even before it was red, black, gold and white [the colours the theatre has been painted] it's always had an inviting feeling.

Have you ever personally, seen any apparitions?

I probably haven't. Yes I have sat still long enough and I've certainly been up the ladder by myself, so there have been lots of opportunities for her [Mary] to jump into my back pocket.

Have you ever seen any corner of the eye movement?

Umm, in the booth, yes.

Everything seems to come back to that booth. That's interesting.

When the place is fully lit too. I mean I don't do this lock-up thing in the dark and you know, I've had a few times where people have said, "I've left something in the booth" [the booth is on the third floor] or  " I've left something on the third floor" and I go [laughing] well you're coming with me, so there is two of us going up the stairs. Some people say "well I left my purse backstage", and that's not a problem, we just go back stage and do that. But whenever the third floor's involved after the show, after the audience has left, I usually say come back tomorrow and I'm not the only one with that story. The third floor seems to be a fairly powerful location for that feeling.

I tell the kids, and the kids really want to be spooked, when I'm talking to them, this isn't the spooky kind [of ghost]. This is the sort of hand out, offer of good will; let me show you to your seat kind. At least that's the way I've lived with it all this time.

We've had lots of things disappear, my keys; my full set of keys disappeared for a full two week period, then one of the temp guys who was here in the summer, was sitting in the front row and reached down, and I had checked every logical place including the seats, and he looked down and said "are these yours?" then he threw them up to me, so I credit Mary. I always credit Mary for all the good stuff, but I very rarely blame her.

Prior to our alarm system being installed we have only had two break-ins over 25 years and I think that is due to Mary. Since the alarm system there has been tons of false alarms but it's been because of human error. The curtains are blowing in front of a motion detector or something like that but since the alarm we've never had a break in.

We've had scripts go missing. One of the cutest stories is in the far office downstairs, farthest from mine; there was a script that was sent up from New York, I can't remember his name now. It was all marked up by the author with his notes in it; it disappeared. We took the office apart literally piece by piece and about a week later Di [an employee] looks where she thought she put it and it was right there. We figure things are borrowed and then returned.

Have you ever felt anything unusual in the office downstairs, as others have?

Can't say that the downstairs has ever rattled my chain, I don't know why.

When we were here we did pick up in the office downstairs and especially on the third floor.

There used to be a crawl space, well not a crawl space, it used to be 5 feet deep and in 1964 when the lobby was renovated, we didn't have a lobby originally, we had a center entrance and there was no downstairs offices or anything so they built the lobby and took out the two stores on either side. We had a front-end loader right in the lobby digging out the basement and making the basement deeper then the lobby appeared above that. So the history on the basement is really, as far as offices or usable space, has only been since 65 or 66. But there was a 5 foot crawl space down there which meant, who knows what was going on down there. I'm still waiting for something, but other people have definitely felt things downstairs but I'm sort of still waiting for that.

Have you ever had any experience near the boiler room?

A little, generally the downstairs [at the back of the theatre] it's the oldest dressing room. It's got walls that are just itching to tell you stories from the vaudeville days and when I talk about vaudeville to the students, when I do tours, I'm right down in the dressing rooms and I can virtually feel the gas lights and the makeup, the grease paint and some of the applause, I can almost hear it, like a mini sound track in my head, like it's 1885. That whole vaudeville period right up to the 30's. This place was not that active but it had some amazing stuff coming through. It was on the vaudeville circuit out of Toronto and Rochester, New York. So they would come across the lake and play Oshawa, Port Hope, Cobourg. They would come up here then they would end up in Orillia, Meaford because Meaford has an old theatre, and they'd work their way back down and everything was done on trains. These were professional vaudeville acts and we also had local vaudeville stuff. So that downstairs dressing room is just, to me, is just a buzz of history. Not necessarily of spirit or any kind of connection like that, but somebody is trying to tell me what happened back then, you know. It's almost as if it's like a newsreel going off somewhere in the distance or a little film. This was happening prior to WWI .

Like history replaying itself.

I like that part of history, like we did a show in 98 and it was based on Hy Meehan, one of the original owners and it was a WWI variety show with a splash of vaudeville in it and it was really special. It didn't sell very well, but it was really special because the director put his head together and got some background history on the family and some of the things that were done here and he was able to use some of the names. It was like really early Ed Sullivan stuff, it was really well done. He used all browns and earth tones in his colours just to make it look [didn't catch this part] almost and we had a good time with that. That's the only time that someone has tried to give me or give the audience something that might have been here at one time and I'd love for somebody to do another round of that or a student production maybe.

I'd love to see something like that.

Those shows back then were only about 45 minutes long. They would try to do three a night, like they would repeat the show 3 times in one night and charge 20 cents.

I remember 25 cents at the movies, that's stating my age isn't it? That's terrific Ray that is quite a bit of information. We are really looking forward to coming back in June to take another gander because that is one heck of a building!

Ya, it's pretty special and I think when it's all said and done and you took my job and Marion's job and added up the pros and the cons to a logical human being, we both would have been gone a long time ago because it doesn't make sense that we'd commit as much as we do with our lifestyle and our families.  I'm raising five kids by working here and it just doesn't make sense but there is something here. It's not just the age of the building, there is a whole mess of things that really make it happen and that's kind of cool. And it's not really explainable, it's like Christmas Eve, you just have a feeling about Christmas Eve and you just can't explain it.

I'm very lucky and I just pray that my family considers themselves somewhat fortunate [laughing] and they're hard challenged. Like why don't I do 9 to 5 or why don't I go work for a theatre that has a staff with at least the number we deserve here, like 6 people. With a theatre this size we should have 6 people here. I was here by myself for a long time from 85 to 96.

I know it's an inviting building, we are anxious to come back again. We are scheduled for June, but there is just something about it that invites you back.

I'll leave that open if you guys would like to drop in on a casual  'lets's take a drive and go see something' day, come back.

We'd love to. We'd like to come back and just sit and take it in.

We use to have a thing and this has sort of gone by the wayside because we've got different people doing things, but back when I worked summer stock which basically goes from 75 to 87 and then again for 3 or 4 years in the 90's because I was doing both jobs for a while, what would happen is you'd do 5 or 7 shows, or whatever, in the summer and the crew would get very tight and then we'd all say goodbye and all take off to different theatres across Canada. For the last couple of nights it would always be kind of tough, at the end of August or labour day weekend. Dennis [Sweeting] always used to say "before you go, sit in your favourite seat and just sit there, don't talk about next summer and don't think about coming back, just sit there" and most of us didn't understand what he really meant and I don't think some of them even heard him, but I did that. I'd do that on my last night here. I would sit upstairs and just sit there and enjoy it.

We will definitely enjoy coming back to do another investigation because we just seem to be drawn to the place and I want to thank you very much because our team had such a great time; they're still talking about it. (We were invited by Ray to come and see Kreskin on March 1, 2002. After the show we had the privilege of meeting Kreskin.)

Ya Kreskin was pretty cool.

We'll be in touch, thank you again Ray.

Note: When I first heard Ray's name it seemed awfully familiar. When we started speaking, I finally realized why; many years ago in a different town, Ray and I had attended the same high school.

We arrived at 12:00 p.m. in front of the theatre looking forward to our investigation. It turned out to be a mild beautiful sunny day, which fueled everyone to get to work. Steve crossed the street prior to the theatre manager, Ray's arrival to get a photo of the theatre. We watched laughing as Steve tried dodging traffic so he could stand out on Kent Street to get the photo he wanted.

Ray arrived and opened the front doors to let us into the lobby where we proceeded to unpack equipment and begin our investigation. Upon setting up the equipment, everyone was given a questionnaire and clipboard to record their impressions, and told to go forth and wonder. I asked the team not to discuss their questionnaire or their impressions until they were finished. Ray left us with a one of the employees, whom I will henceforth call Jan Michaels.

Each team member was asked if they had prior knowledge of the paranormal history of the theatre and if it affected their perception during their walk-about. They were also asked for their first impressions. Seamus and Lisa having been past employees of the theatre noted that their prior knowledge and attendance did opinionate them somewhat. Lisa noted that the first thing she noticed was the familiar smell of the theatre, having been there before. The first impression of each team member was as follows:

Steve: to go straight to the control room.
Anita: grand, old, elegant and proud
Krystal: very grand inside theatre
Dee: very quiet, seemed out of character, theatre had a feeling of stepping into the past

Besides the obvious name of Mary (which the theatre is associated with) such names as Thademus, Harry and Joe sprang to mind by some. Please note that we have no facts to base any of these names on, however we will look into newspaper clippings and history etc. to see if there are any matches, although we realize that names such as Harry and Joe  run a pretty good chance of being matched even randomly.

There seemed to be a collaboration with respect to the 'feeling' that the theatre projected which ranged in description from boredom and foreboding, feeling down to patience, boredom and waiting.  Subconsciously, I suppose an empty theatre would promote such feelings. You would expect energy and bustle in such an atmosphere.

Lisa was not comfortable in the balcony area nor the women's washroom downstairs but can attribute this to a fear of heights and a childhood fear respectively.  Steve had a strong dislike for the electrical room downstairs, but cannot state a reason other than smell. Seamus was very uncomfortable in the crawlspace underneath the stage. We all agreed this could just be the atmosphere that a crawlspace seems to emit no matter where you are.

Krys felt a little shaky while on and behind the stage and actually felt something on the stage with her at 1:20 p.m. causing her hair on her arms to stand on end. She also mentioned in her report that she experienced goose bumps while sitting in the seats looking at the stage (seat #19) with a very heavy feeling, in the balcony. She remarked that it seemed like something heavy was sitting in her lap. Oddly enough this same seat comes up in my report also. She also felt that she had company in the ladies room in the form of a woman and actually felt that a man possibly had a hold on her.

The office downstairs also raised some issues amongst the team. Jan, Seamus, Anita, Krys and I went into the boiler room at different times while wandering by ourselves and each one of us had the same reaction; not to enter it by ourselves. After discovering that we each had the same fear when we began to debrief, we decided to visit the boiler room together. The reaction was immediate and simultaneous, there was a distinct presence in the back right corner of the room and it was rather unwelcoming. If a voice had said outright to "get out" none of us would have been surprised. Two of us, we realized later, had come up with the same description of whatever or whomever didn't want us there. The similarities in the description of this man included; an unclean, miserable man that smelled of stale cigarettes and booze, a fellow with a very nasty disposition.

Activity perceived as strange was experienced by almost everyone in one way or another and at times by all of us at the same time. I experienced a presence behind me while I sat in seat D19 in the upper balcony of the theatre at 12:48 p.m. It is interesting to note that at the same time Seamus thought he saw movement behind me while standing on the stage. I also noted movement above the back of the stage on the catwalk, although there were no others that witnessed this.

There was banging heard by all of us as well as the sound that a metal door makes when you push on the bar to open it. We all heard it at the same time as we were debriefing at the stage. While we attributed some of the banging to old pipes, which heat the building, the metal door bar sound was distinct and could not be reproduced.

Three video cameras were set up at the beginning of the investigation. One was set up just outside the control booth on the third floor, one on stage right and another just off the stage on the north side of the theatre. It is interesting to note that while we were all together during the interview and debriefing meeting something happened that caught the attention of Anita, who was sitting on the stage beside a video camera. She looked at the camera viewer and said "there is someone up in the control booth and we are all here, come and see this". Jan, Anita, Lisa and I stared at the camera viewer in amazement. Sure enough there was the shadow of a person standing in the control booth looking down at us on the stage, but we couldn't see it if we looked directly at the control booth instead of at the camera viewer. The video camera had approximately almost half of its battery left when our attention was called to the camera, however about 30 seconds later the battery went dead. Several moments later Jan called our attention to the control booth again and there was the shadow again, only this time we didn't need a camera viewer to see it. It was quite clear with the naked eye.

Of course we all were ecstatic that we had caught this on tape. Finally hard evidence on film! Well lo and behold if we weren't shocked when we finally watched the video that night. Absolutely nothing on the videotape. This, however, has happened to us before. On ghost road we caught an orb on tape that was huge and saw it when we played the tape the first time. When the tape was played again for someone that wanted to see it, it was no longer there. We ran the tape several times, but it just wasn't there.
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Steve's Take:

The day was perfect for an investigation. Even though it was winter, the weather that day was amazingly warm with clear skies. Of course this brought on the happy feelings of spring and doing investigations outside along with other summer activities enjoyed by all Canadians after the winter freeze up. We were all in an upbeat mood and joked and laughed all the way to the Theatre. Unbeknownst to all, this would change unexpectedly later in the day.

Arriving at the Academy Theatre in Lindsay, you again get the impression that architecture has lost something in the modern times as you look at the building from the outside. There is a certain appeal that has been lost to time and I hope someday will return. As we entered the building, the mood was still lively. Upon entering the theatre, my thoughts turned to the investigation as did the others and quietness overcame us all as we wandered around the building. About half way down the isleway I got the impression to look up. I saw nothing on the balcony and there was nothing in the view window of the control booth but I decided to go upstairs and check out that area first. In entering the lobby and proceeding upstairs, I had the choice to go to the balcony or go father up which I did. Going through the narrow staircase to reach the control room was quite cramped and the temperature was frigid since there was no heat upstairs at this time. Entering the control room produced no feeling but since I had had the impression to go up, I decided to put one of my camcorders in the room outside the control room. Dee had decided not to tell me where to place the camcorders as I usually ask her where I should put them since she is the sensitive. I think this is a decision on her part to help me along in developing and understanding impressions that I receive but have yet to understand.

Two other areas where I got impressions were in the front office area in the electrical room, which Jan also stated that she doesn't like. It was similar to the impression that I received. The other area was in the main seating part of the theatre in the back corner. I was trying to see if I could get orb pictures by taking a roll in each corner of the theatre and as I was doing this, I suddenly got a strange feeling in back of me. Krystal at the same time said that she seen something behind me as she was on the stage at the time facing me.

Now to the remark about the upbeat mood that we were all in. As the investigation progressed which took about 3 hours, we were all quite quiet and walked around as if we were supposed to be respectful and dignified. Our talk was always low mirroring the level you might hear in a library and even the opening and closing of doors was done on a respectful level. This atmosphere was quite different from the Du Maurier Theatre in Toronto were the mood is upbeat with some of us dancing and singing on stage. There you couldn't help yourself, as this was the feeling that the spirits wanted you to embrace. The spirit presence in the Academy appears to want the atmosphere of respect and dignity.

After about an hour and a half we decided to go outside for a break and fresh air upon which the upbeat and lively mood returned along with a spirit presence that was detected by Dee and Anita to be a happy spirit that had drank a few to many spirits. Upon returning to the theatre, the subdued feelings again returned.

As for the photograph in question that I took in the main part of the theatre. As I have stated before, I take many pictures consecutively and this one was no different. There was nothing on the other pictures that had any glare or reflections and this one is the final one in a series of six pictures with Lisa in it. If there had been a reflection front Lisa, why didn't it show up in the other pictures? Also, if it were dust, it would have an oval appearance since it's almost in the middle of the picture. Out of the thousands of pictures I have taken, this one perplexes me the most at this time.

If I'm unable to reproduce this picture upon my return to the theatre, it may be my proof of the next world. Will it be yours??
Academy Interviews

Academy Theatre, Lindsay, Ontario
Founded in 1999
This antique can be viewed in the lobby of the theatre.
The inside of the theatre. Steve caught this orb in the middle of the room, however it is possibly a reflection of the lens or from one of the lights in the room. We do not endorse the theory that orbs are spirit manifestation or ghosts.

January 27 2002


Dee Jessome, Anita Perron
Steve Dietrich, Krystal Perron
Seamus  McCann, Lisa Canivet-McCann
Jan Michaels (employee)


Fair 44 F, Partly Cloudy
Winds: SW 10-15mph

Moon Phase