Otherworldly Advice: Seeking Answers through Psychics and Mediums

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I can guarantee you that you can find at least one psychic or medium in any Canadian city. Ottawa is no exception. It makes sense. Humans are constantly wondering (and obsessing) about the future. We want validation that we are on the right path. We also want to believe that there is something beyond this life and that our deceased loved ones are at peace.

I understand the skepticism and I will admit that I’m prone to it myself. After taking a psychology class in university, I learned how remarkably complex the brain is. Suddenly things that teenage me would have deemed supernatural could easily be explained by science. For example, the sensation of waking up with the feeling of a spirit holding you down is actually just sleep paralysis. It is also quite normal for people who are experiencing grief to have bereavement hallucinations where they see their deceased loved one.

Despite all of these scientific explanations, mediums are something that I can’t easily rationalize. Some will argue that the psychic uses the power of suggestion or relies on vague statements that can be applied to anyone. In some cases, this is probably true. However, I’ve witnessed psychics deliver messages with such specificity and accuracy that it forced me to contemplate the possibility of it being real. While some claim that mediums are taking advantage of those in mourning, it’s important to remember that people deal with grief in different ways. If someone finds comfort in the belief that they are hearing from a departed loved one, perhaps the validity behind the message matters less.

If you’re looking to meet with a psychic or medium, Ottawa has a wide variety of practitioners to choose from, all with different areas of interest or expertise. Some may focus on connecting with the deceased, while others may connect with angels or spirit guides. Be sure to do a little research and find someone who you think will best help you find the answers you seek.

If cost is a concern, Algonquin College’s Student’s Association periodically hosts psychic fairs. I decided to attend the most recent one on October 19. While the set up was less than ideal, and the sessions are only approximately ten minutes, the whole event is free. One young woman left her session with tears running down her face. I overheard her explaining that she connected with her grandfather. Say what you want about mediums, but those tears were real.

Whether you seek to connect with the beyond or are looking for some reassurance that you’re on the right path, speaking with a psychic or medium will almost always result in some form of self-reflection and that, in my opinion, is never a bad thing.

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Michelle Savage is a second-year Professional Writing student at Algonquin College who is hoping to turn her love of writing into a career. When she’s not buried in a book, she can be found on her yoga mat, on a hiking trail, or exploring one of Ottawa’s museums.

Locked in for the Night: Ottawa's oldest jail is the city's hottest haunted hostel

The Carleton County Gaol still steadfastly stands in downtown Ottawa, but instead of inmates, the jail now hosts guests looking to spend a haunted night in the city’s oldest prison. The hostel is on Lonely Planet’s list of world’s spookiest buildings—with good reason.

William James Topley. Library and Archives Canada, PA-012371

William James Topley. Library and Archives Canada, PA-012371

Starting at $72 a night, hostel guests at the Ottawa Jail Hostel are granted the privilege to sleep in cells with bars still intact, with the last working gallows in the country just a short way from where you lay your head (though Canada removed capital punishment in 1976) and a few spectral cellmates to keep you company.

The history of the building is as compelling as it is tragic. Built in 1862, the jail didn’t have glass windows to protect from the elements, and the result was an undocumentable number of inmate deaths. The cells were built to allow the acoustics to bring any whisperings to the guards, which may explain some of the eerie experiences guests have shared.

This, however, doesn’t explain the experience of a group of German tourists. The guests were upset that they hadn’t run into any spectral beings and asked for a refund from the front desk. During their exchange, a drawer from the register behind the counter opened, and a single coin rose slowly until it reached eye level. After briefly hovering, the coin dropped back down. The Germans left without their refund.

Floating coins, disembodied voices, and rattling windows lead to an uneasy night’s sleep, but they’re not the only paranormal phenomena the old county jail has to offer. Perhaps its most famous—and sinister—claim to fame, is the execution of Patrick James Whelan.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a member of Parliament and Father of the Confederation, was assassinated in April 1868. Within 24 hours Whelan was arrested, and though there remains reasonable doubt to whether he was the murderer, McGee’s relationship with Sir John A. Macdonald ensured his sentence was swift and final. Despite two rejected appeals to higher courts, Whelan’s fate was capital punishment—death by hanging.

William James Topley. Topley Studio. Library and Archives Canada, PA-027438

William James Topley. Topley Studio. Library and Archives Canada, PA-027438

After spending ten months in the jail, on February 11th, 1869, Whelan swung. 5,000 people came to watch. As they lowered the hood to cover his head, he said his last words: “I am innocent.”

Whelan requested to be buried in Montreal, but officials decided his remains would occupy an unmarked grave on the jail’s grounds. Guests describe a spectre appearing at the end of their beds holding a bible, and many believe it’s Whelan expressing his displeasure about his final resting place.

Whelan wasn’t the only inmate buried on the grounds. Due to the inhumane conditions the jail offered, countless inmates perished there and their bodies—and possibly their spirits—never left.

At 75 Nicholas Street, the hostel is conveniently within walking distance of several of Ottawa’s most iconic attractions, including Byward Market and the Rideau Canal. The price is affordable—but your stay might cost you a good night’s sleep.

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Emily Beckett is an enthusiastic geek and writer who spent her childhood summer nights poring over Canadian ghost stories with only a flashlight and nylon tent to protect herself. She is fascinated by the chilling events that lend themselves to the birth of alleged spooky encounters—despite her scaredy-cat status.


Emily Beckett

Emily is an enthusiastic geek and writer who spent her childhood summer nights poring over Canadian ghost stories with only a flashlight and nylon tent to protect herself. She is fascinated by the chilling events that lend themselves to the birth of alleged spooky encounters—despite her scaredy-cat status.