Do the ghosts of the Cariboo Gold Rush still haunt us to this day?
That’s the question the paranormal investigators of Beyond the Haunting sought to answer this year as they travelled up the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail. Along the way, they filmed their experiences for a two-part documentary entitled Haunted Gold Rush, which premieres this Sunday on T+E.
“It’s something that came about because people had called us to that region. In the Fraser Canyon, with the floods, fires and the pandemic, there’s been an unearthing of paranormal activity,” paranormal investigator Leanne Sallenback said. “We were called to specific areas to experience what people were seeing, so it wasn’t your typical girls’ road trip. We looked at history through a paranormal lens.”
Sallenback, a Cariboo local, makes up one-third of Beyond the Haunting, along with her elder sister Corine Carey and their childhood friend Kelly Ireland. Paranormal activity has been part of their lives since they were all children, Sallenback claimed.
When Carey was three she survived a car accident and saw her first spirit who told her everything would be OK. Afterwards, Sallenback said her sister continued to hear and see spirits, which concerned their parents.
“There was a turning point when our grandfather had passed and he gave a ton of messages to Corine that all came true. At that point everyone (in the family) realized this is real and what she experiences is a very unique gift,” Sallenback said. “I was younger so when I had my first experience I was all in, I didn’t suppress it. I immersed myself in the supernatural and paranormal from the beginning.”
Ireland said she had empathic abilities from a young age. However, she never acknowledged them until she met Sallenback in high school. The two became friends and while at first, she was skeptical, Ireland came to believe in the supernatural as well.
“I started to actually think about it and after I started hanging out at their house I met Corine and started to see their dynamic and her abilities,” Ireland said. “Then they took me to haunted locations and I was an observer witnessing what was going on. After going in enough times I started to realize these physical sensations and whatever was occurring with the spirits was happening with me as well.”
Both Ireland and Sallenback agreed what they do is important. Oftentimes, encounters with the paranormal are treated with skepticism and ridicule by the general public. Ireland said they instead treat these encounters seriously and offer people validation and comfort.
As they travelled from Yale to Barkerville, Ireland said some “pretty wild” things happened. One of the most intense was in the Clydesdale Barn at the 108 Mile Heritage Site. Sallenback said they had an encounter with a spirit who “may or may not” have wanted them there.
Ireland said that having a film crew from Small Army Entertainment along for the ride made the trip extra special. Typically she said they film their encounters themselves and bringing a crew added a fun new dimension to their investigations.
“It’s honestly like you’re walking inside this hidden layer of history. We’re stepping back in time while staying in the present day, it’s a wild experience,” Ireland said.
Sallenback said Haunted Gold Rush is the first documentary to explore the history of the Cariboo Gold Rush from a paranormal angle. During the documentary, she said they interact with spirits in real time that lived through the history they explore. If audiences enjoy their special, Sallenback said they’d like to make another one in the future.
“As three girls from B.C., it’s very exciting for us to be able to feature something like this from our own backyard,” Sallenback said. “Being able to do this with Corine and Kelly, back-to-back investigations, and do a documentary absolutely made me realize why we’re doing it and the impact we can have on spirits and people’s lives.”