The Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts in Grand Falls-Windsor has an interesting history. It may also have a ghost.
The building began life in Montreal, as the Czechoslovakian Pavilion for Expo 67. The Pavilion was designed as a temporary structure by Czech architects Miroslav Repa and Vladimir Pycha, to be easily disassembled and reassembled.
In 1968, disassembled it was.
The Czechoslovakian government transported the building to Grand Falls, where it was reconstructed by the Newfoundland government. The building was officially opened as the Grand Falls Arts and Culture Centre in July 1971.
On July 12, 2005, the building was named the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts, in honour of actor and writer Gordon Pinsent, one of Grand Falls’ native sons.
The portion of the building that may be haunted is the Neala Griffin Theatre. The theatre was named after the prominent theatre and performing arts enthusiast Neala Griffin, who helped found the Northcliffe Drama Club in 1950.
I heard of the centre’s ghost story from a woman named “Aggie.” When Aggie moved to Grand Falls-Windsor several years ago, she joined the Northcliffe Drama Club. The club, she soon found, had its own stories, including the tale of a troubled former member.
“He apparently was quite involved for years with drama in Grand Falls,” says Aggie. “With the club, he did a lot of technical work for plays, lighting and sound.”
The man had died before Aggie moved to town, but stories continued to circulate that he had never truly left the theatre. After the man’s death, Northcliffe Drama Club members having to go to the theatre for rehearsals reported finding lights on, in what was supposed to be a dark theatre. Other members reported strange breezes in the building, and even a definite sense of someone being present, even when no one was visible.
It wasn’t long before Aggie had her own run-in with the drama-loving spectre.
“Well, one evening, I was at rehearsal, sitting towards the back,” says Aggie.
A friend and club member, “Mitch,” was sitting in the same row, about three seats away.
“Some of the actors were on stage getting ready to practise a scene,” she recalls. “Then I heard a voice behind me — an adult male, more middle-aged or older than young — sounding as if he was talking to himself. The words were indistinct, but sounded like he was criticizing the actors. I tilted my head and looked to see behind me, but there was no one there.
“Then I heard the talking again,” she says. “Mitch, sitting three seats down, also looked at me very strangely when the voice was heard, as if to say, ‘Did you hear that, too?’ Again, no one was sitting behind us.”
Mitch asked if she had heard the voice. He had heard what sounded like a man talking behind them, sounding like he was talking to the actors.
“We found out that the lighting technician who works there was not present at the time,” says Aggie.
According to members of the club, the deceased man had been in the habit, in life, of frequently sitting near where Aggie and Mitch had been sitting and frequently talked either to himself or to the actors rehearsing.
“Needless to say, we were both shaken.” says Aggie.
I would be, too.
Dale Jarvis can be reached at email@example.com.