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Fraser Canyon history dredged up in dark and stormy tour

Kelly Pearce (right) led a tour through the Yale Cemetery on Saturday night, while
Kelly Pearce (right) led a tour through the Yale Cemetery on Saturday night, while 'spirits' told their stories about pioneering life in Yale.
— image credit: Jessica Peters/ Observer

It may be a worn out, old literary cliche, but it really was a dark and stormy night last Saturday in Yale.

Heavy rains blacked out the night sky, and kept most people safe and warm at home.

But a few brave souls packed up their umbrellas and gum boots to explore the Yale Cemetery — in the dark, in the rain, and just a few nights before Halloween.

The tour was part of the Creepy Crawl at Yale Historic Site, and it lived up to its name. The group set out from the site in a van to meet up with a host of spirits waiting at the cemetery.

Kelly Pearce led the charge, holding a large lantern and narrating the tour in character, as one of the many souls that could be haunting the historic area.

A few people held lanterns, others walked by the light of small candles along the rugged and steep terrain of the cemetery.

Pearce and a host of other actors told of terrible tragedies that occurred in Yale in the early settler times. There was the story of the four-year-old boy whose father took him to work one day, only to have the boy hit by a train and killed. His is just one of the many grave sites the tour explained, from the Teagues to Ned Stout.

At each tombstone, a "spirit" told their story. While some were sad or intriguing, others offered a glimpse into local history and folklore.

The Creepy Crawl was popular in 2009, the first year the historic site held it. But the event was only just back this year for the second time, said Deb Zervini, manager at Yale Historic Site. And it couldn't have happened without the assistance of people and organizations all through the canyon, she added.

The actors were actually Hope secondary students in costume, and the van and driver were from Fraser River Rafting. A paranormal group investigating Hell's Gate Airtram even stopped by early in the evening to share some stories with staff and visitors.

"Quite a few volunteers from our (museum) membership helped with the set up, too," Zervini said. The museum was set up in fun haunted house, and the historic church was eerily lit by candles for those who dared to enter.

While Halloween is a great time to dredge up ghost stories, the colourful history of the Fraser Canyon always makes for good storytelling. The Yale Historic Site is now closed to the public for the winter, Zervini said they do cater to large groups (over 10 people) when planned in advance.

The site will reopen in the spring with their annual Strawberry Tea event. In the meantime, to learn more about Yale's history, visit historicyale.ca.

news@ahobserver.com

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