Settling spirits in the Callaghan 

Spooktacular Story 2

click to enlarge features_featurestory2.jpg

If you pause for a moment in the Callaghan Valley, stop to reflect and soak it all in, you can almost hear the world quietly breathing in and out... if you listen closely enough.

There are snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, waterfalls, old Western Hemlocks towering up to the sky, grizzly bears, wolves, black-tailed deer.

And a luxury wilderness lodge right in the middle of it all.

It's a haven for backcountry adventurers making their cross-country and skin tracks on high.

More than 30 years ago Peter Vandenberg was a young Whistler carpenter working on that lodge.

It was March. Still the thick of winter in the Callaghan, the nights drawing in fast.

The days passed in a blur of work and the nights offered a welcome respite.

Peter's temporary digs were a bedroom on the second floor. His friend Ken slept in the neighbouring room.

That March night Peter woke suddenly though no sound pulled him from his slumber, no nudge stole his sleep.

And there it was, in his room.

He saw it right away.

It was fuzzy, its outlines not quite defined. But Peter knew what he was looking at, though he had never really believed in ghosts before.

It was a man, dressed in white in a jacket with lapels, like a uniform. He moved when he saw Peter looking at him, turning back towards the stairs. Then he was gone.

Gone. In an instant. But not before searing himself forever on Peter's memory.

"That was just a moment in time, really," he says simply of what he calls the "spectre."

It didn't scare him, didn't leave him breathless and restless and worried.

It simply... was.

Peter didn't know the story at the time of the Callaghan's lost pilots. But he knows now. And he believes whole-heartedly that he saw one of them that night.

The night of the spectre's appearance was March 22, the same day that First Officers James Miller and Gerald Stubbs of the 409 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force crashed in the Callaghan Valley decades earlier in 1956, never to be seen again. Alive, that is.

They were on an instrument flying practice flight in a T-33 Silver Star, setting off from their base at Comox on Vancouver Island. They were supposed to be back on base within an hour and a half, keeping within a 160-kilometre radius of the air force base.

Bad weather changed everything. And for almost 20 years there was no sign of them.

And then... clues began appearing.

The canopy of their plane was found in 1974.

In 1998 the fuselage was found, about one kilometre from the lodge.

Two years ago, the remains of a helmet.

Speaking of Halloween, Spooktacular Stories


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • The end of monolithic learning

    21st-century learning is coming to a school near you
    • Sep 10, 2015
  • When soft meets hard

    What happens when women meet the muscle of a gnarly mountain-biking trek? They ace it.
    • Jun 12, 2016

Latest in Feature Story

  • On thin ice

    The first circumnavigation of the Arctic's Ellesmere Island is Jon Turk's victory in a lifetime of pushing the limits
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Sweet 15: The Whistler Writers Festival grows up

    Early growing pains were never enough to derail the little writers festival that could
    • Oct 16, 2016
  • Sightings in the sky

    In August, scientists documented a mysterious signal from 94 light years away. Is it an alien lifeform, or can such signals or sightings be explained away?
    • Oct 9, 2016
  • More »

More by Alison Taylor

© 1994-2016 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation