“Hotel Paranormal” series producer Sarah Zammit has enjoyed listening to the stories shared by those willing to revisit their views of the unknown.
Season 2 of T+E’s show, which features Dan Aykroyd as its narrator, is set to premiere on July 2. The team at Saloon Media has finished production on the episodes that involve unsettling moments experienced in hotels, inns and B&Bs.
“I really like curious people; people who question things,” Zammit said during a June phone conversation. “The contributors were open to having their belief systems changed and they were open to questioning their understanding of how the world works.
“We don’t have the answers,” she added. “Coming back to the season, I thought that we would cover the same range of stories, but some of the storytellers got to me and their experiences were so, ‘How did that happen?’”
That level of curiosity ties into the theme of belief in ghosts, as T+E commissioned a survey of over a thousand random Canadians in May about their paranormal beliefs.
The Ipsos poll also revealed that 10% of Canadians have spent the night in a haunted hotel.
Generationally, it highlighted that Gen Xers (55%) and Millennials (52%) are likely to believe in ghosts, followed closely by Gen Z (49%). Only one in three Boomers (33%) said they believe in the preternatural.
Geographically, Albertans (57%) are most likely to believe in ghosts, followed closely by the Maritimers (50), Saskatchewanians/Manitobans (49%), Quebeckers (48%) and Ontarians (42%). Just over one in three Canadians are skeptics, with another 20% of Canadians on the fence.
Toronto medium Deborah Louise Levin was brought on board to interpret the data and was excited by the fact so many Canadians have experienced the paranormal and share a belief in it.
“There are a lot of frequencies and a lot of interesting things you can dial into and the collective unconscious is something everyone can tap into,” she said during a June phone call.
The devil in the details for her was how so many younger people (45%) are embracing means of communication, such as Ouija boards.
“The Ouija board, although very hokey looking, is a very useful tool,” the 54-year-old said. “A lot of people ask, ‘Can you contact a demonic entity using an Ouija board?’ Well, there’s a lot of demonic people running around the planet, you don’t really have to go out of your way to contact evil.”
Joking aside, Levin shared her belief that we’re not the only plane of existence.
“There are parallel existences, or two or three, and you can tune into them. However, you need to do that — great — and are you going to be in contact with something not-so-nice? Possibly,” Levin said. “You don’t have to communicate back.”
Not that Levin is advocating for the use of Ouija boards, but she is advocating for being open to the existence of another realm.
Canadians may freely admit to believing in the paranormal when asked for an anonymous survey, but in public, they tend to be more reserved. But strike the right conversation and tales of the uncanny will be unlocked. That’s what Zammit said she learned when she was associate producer of “Paranormal Witness” in 2011.
“I did the show ‘Paranormal Witness’ over a decade ago, and that was when I first understood how pervasive the belief was,” she recalled. “I tell people I’m working on the show and … wherever I was, every single person had a story.
“It lives right at the surface (and) it’s never talked about,” Zammit added. “But yet, if you didn’t bring it up, it wouldn’t be talked about.”
The range of stories from around the globe is what drew Zammit into this season. The first episode airs on T+E on July 2 at 9 p.m. It features three stories that include a hotel connected to a former prison in Scotland, the infamous Jefferson Hotel in Texas as well as an English seaside inn.