The ghosts of Eatons’ and Sears’ past may be long gone, but when the lights go down at Regina’s Centennial Market, not all the shoppers have departed.
It’s something Deborah Mathias, a channeler who hosts the ghost tours, has picked up on since working in the building.
“I’m wondering if I’m waking them up. There’s a lot of energy when you’re channeling spirits,” she said, during a talk through phone lines one crisp February afternoon. “When we’re doing tours, the spirits will say they’re not happy.”
The building in the Warehouse District was built in 1918 as the home of Eaton’s, then during the 1980s, Sears moved in. They closed up in 2017, but some of the dregs of retail past — and even before the construction of the market — have been left behind.
Located at Broad Street and 7th Avenue, the Centennial Market now houses individual merchants selling their wares. Deb’s Cozy Cove happens to be one of them.
Mathias arrived in Regina in 2008 looking for a fresh start. She had kept her inner vision of spirits suppressed for years. While living on Beaverdams Road in Niagara Falls, Ontario she experienced some unexplained phenomenon.
“We belonged to a really strict church, and at that time I hid my gift from everybody in that church,” she recalled. “When my daughter was 19, I was doing a psychic party … and she saw a male presence in the house.”
It wasn’t until August 2017, after Sears shuttered the then outlet centre, that she became more intimate with the spirits that resided within the building’s walls. That’s because she had a booth at the building when transitioned into a marketplace.
Mathias is candid when discussing the more prominent spirits.
“We hear spirits all of the time,” she admitted. “We have reports on a regular basis.”
Including one spirit who likes to move the vacuum cleaners of one of the caretakers from one room to the other side of the building.
Another instance had a local merchant getting harassed by invisible assailants, all because they took something that didn’t belong to them.
“(The spirits) took something and threw it at one of the vendors because she took their cabinet from downstairs to upstairs,” Mathias said.
With the gift she has, that’s no longer kept secret, Mathias said she is able to get an image of those who haunt the empty retail outlet.
There are 10 spirits she has names for. Stevie and his father Joe and mother Mary. There is Emily, who is suspected to have died in the elevator shaft. Gus, Wyatt, Ashley, Steve, Tony and a young boy who answers to Scotty.
Staff at the building have also uncovered the original office of the store’s manager. Now open to the public during ghost walks, it’s the most common location to funnel all the resident spirits into one location.
“It was locked up for 60 years. We call it the CEO’s office. That’s the room where we conduct a lot of the investigations in,” she said. “It has the original door that goes on to the roof and our goal is to get that door unsealed, so we can go from tower to tower.”
The elevators also seem to be a place of interest. It is alleged one of the man hanged himself in the building’s freight elevator shaft. In addition, there was an accident where one young woman was killed when the elevator crushed her.
It’s that same freight elevator that paranormal investigator Cory Nagy and his team encountered strange happenings while investigating the building in the past.
Nagy is the lead investigator Paranormal and Supernatural Team (P.A.S.T.) Saskatchewan. They have conducted multiple investigations at the century-old building, including one in October with CBC reporter, Bryan Eneas.
Nagy was introduced to the building by a former co-worker Chrysta Garner, who’s husband Shawn is the property manager.
P.A.S.T.’s first investigation featured a walkaround with Tara, the team’s resident psychic. They refrained from disclosing the building’s history to her, but every few moments something would draw her back to the aforementioned elevator.
It is here where they had a mildly spooky experience. They passed the elevator and the doors were closed. Now they were the only two people in the building at the While touring the former train tracks, as at one point there was a train station on the property, and it was also the first location of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, when they were called the Regina Rugby Club, Nagy and his medium.
They walked back past the elevator doors and they were wide open.
“When we were walking around, (Tara) kept talking about the freight elevator. I knew there was a death in the elevator shaft,” he recalled. “I said, ‘I’m going to make the elevator the last stop of the tour’.
“We’re standing above the existing train tracks — where the rugby club started. As we were coming back through. The elevator doors were wide open,” Nagy added. “(Tara) believes it is the one woman who passed away in the shaft.”
The initial response was not one of shock, but of interest. For Nagy, it was one of the first instances of paranormal activity.
“Every once in a while, we’ll get something we can’t explain,” he said, noting nine times out of 10 the situation is explainable. “We’re just trying to filter out. Getting rid of doubt. Getting rid of the reasons.”
An example of that would be during another investigation which had Nagy and partner Matthew Lay in the CEO’s office. Lay works as the team’s occultist.
“When Matt and I were investigating the president’s office, he did a portal opening there just to give them a blessing,” Nagy said. “We were asking it to light up our K2 when we heard loud footsteps running up the steps.
“We both jumped because we both heard it.”
The noise was caught on camera and has left them still scratching their heads, even if the K-II EMF meter didn’t pick up any anomalies.
Now, with every haunted location there is always one mystery still left to be solved. As Mathias digs deeper into the history of the property, there is another inaccessible room that has yet to be unlocked. It allows access between the two towers.
Part of the cost for the ghost tours at the Centennial Market ($25) is to help raise money to repair any structural issues with the room and obtain access to it.
What’s up there? Nobody is sure, but another ghostly sound emanates from the suspected storage loft.
“We hear an old record player playing,” Mathias said. “We can hear it at night, the music, playing in that room.”