Photo by: Style Group

Photo by: Style Group

Interview by Felicia Mancini

For nearly two decades, Haunted Hamilton has hosted historically thrilling tours, events and paranormal investigations and sold out galas.  Canada’s Spooky Queen “Spooky Steph” Dumbreck is the Award-Winning Columnist, TV/Radio Host and Paranormal Investigator behind it all. We caught up with Steph to talk about her unique career and find out what she thinks about the portrayal of paranormal experts in modern horror films. 

Q: When did you realize you had an interest in horror and the haunted way of life? 

The strange and unusual have always been aspects of my life and a constant curiosity, but not to the extent you would think. It was as natural for me to see my Ukrainian Grandmother, my beloved Baba, turning over her playing cards to forecast her future, as it was to watch her whip up her perogies and cabbage rolls in the kitchen. Like a window to the other world, but only meant to be opened and seen by those who truly understand it. I was at a young age where I wasn't ready, so she "shooed" me away while she cast her tarot-like cards. The supernatural, the paranormal, ghosts, spirits and specters, whatever people call it, I was surrounded by it. It was natural for me to watch the women in my life speak to spirits and commune with them as if they were simply another welcomed presence in the room. This all changed for me and I was ready to finally start experiencing the obvious hints from the other side for myself, but for that to happen, it took a life-defining, scary and earth-shattering moment for me to begin to see things clearly.

Q: When did you realize you had a special talent and connection with the after world? 

It wasn't until just recently where my "enlightenment" has reached new heights and understandings, but I suppose deep down i have always known that perhaps I do have a special connection with the after world. I wouldn't necessarily call it a "talent" as the paranormal is an unproven field that is ever changing in a world where many of us, by choice, can't fathom to imagine what lies beyond this existence. This has often been a struggle, but also a personally enriching pursuit. My basis moving forward is to continue my research with an open mind, a balanced heart, zero ego, and a healthy sceptical approach, based on scientific theory and law. It's the only way to prove to myself, my peers, my colleagues, Haunted Hamilton fans, and the rest of the world, that once all logistical routes are exhausted, and if then, we are still left standing with a reason to push on and believe there is more to us after we die, then i aim to do so as honestly and respectable as possible."Free Spirit, Open Mind, Good Heart"  

Q: How would you describe what you do and what city you live in to people that have never been to Hamilton or on one of your tours before? 

Haunted Hamilton is unique in itself that it allows guests from all over to come partake in a new, honest experience. Remove society labels such as age, size, skin colour, esoteric beliefs, religious labels, political stances or personal preferences, we WELCOME ALL! Anyone and everyone who shares a similar goal to simply reach out and touch history in a fun, unique way will always be welcomed by us with open arms. 

Q: What makes a good event? You guys have been known to take over the Halloween season in Hamilton with your galas. What is next?

There are many crucial keys to hosting a successful event. First and foremost, you ALWAYS have to remember who you are doing this for. What do Hamiltonians want? What locations are most asked about? Then you take that one step further and ask yourself, how can you bring this cool experience to them in a logistical, safe and fun way. I have spent almost 20 years building relationships with wonderful friends, colleagues, venues and organizations from all over Canada and the U.S. that help me put on some pretty spectacular events. Halloween is obviously our biggest and busiest season, but we do have some epically huge announcements coming your way very soon! We promise that Halloween will NEVER be the same again in Hamilton, but we may need a little extra time to pull this one off, so stay tuned for a very big Haunted Hamilton announcement to be revealed soon!

Q:There is a lot of representation of paranormal investigators and experts in horror films especially as of late - how accurate is it and what do they absolutely get wrong? 

This is a great question and I’m very glad you asked. Paranormal Investigation is an often misunderstood field. I founded Haunted Hamilton back in 1999 when the field wasn't as popular, and definitely not as saturated. Over the past 20 years, I have sat back and watched the media take control over the supernatural world like never before. I often hesitate to talk about the sensationalism involved in the shows you typically often see nowadays. It's actually quite sad, because in essence, when you remove the "shock-value" from this, you're left with something much more interesting and sometimes life-changing. This is the part that the tv shows miss. Maybe one day I can show the world how it's really done, and trust me, I have lots of ideas, but until then, I always like to remind paranormal enthusiasts to not always believe what you see. It's cool that tv shows can explore the scarier aspects of paranormal investigation, but in actuality, when that facade is stripped away, you'll realize that there is nothing more satisfying (and creepier!) than standing in a truly haunted building by yourself, for yourself and using all 6 of your senses to tap in. 

Q: Common misconceptions about your job? 

The biggest misconception about my job is that I’m probably always out chasing ghosts or hanging around living the "spooky" lifestyle.  Half the time I'm devotedly working away on my laptop on the nitty-gritty details of getting these events up and running. Usually, the pre-planning is far more time-consuming and exhausting than the actual event itself! Much of my time is spent driving around the City (HONK if you see the Spooky mobile!) running from one meeting to the next. 

Q: What do you love most about what you do? 

The best part about running Haunted Hamilton is that it allows me to bring real history to life, up close and personal in a unique way like no other. I am an avid historical enthusiast. Always have been, always will be. If i'd like to be known for anything in this lifetime, it's for bringing history alive for future generations to explore and appreciate. In times such as this, I take comfort in the fact that we can all look to our past to learn from our experiences, understand where we come from and celebrate those who shaped our City. #KeepHISTORYAlive

For more on Steph and her brand HAUNTED HAMILTON please visit www.haunted-hamilton.com to #stayspooky


Read Spooky Steph's Award Winning Columns at: