By WILLIAM J. WRIGHT
Between 1896 and 1899, approximately 100,000 people left their homes for northwestern Canada’s Yukon in what is now known as the Klondike Gold Rush. Some were desperate men in search of easy money. Some were average folk merely looking for a shot at a better life. Many struck it rich, and just as many lost it all along a 650 km stretch of land known as British Columbia’s Cariboo Gold Rush Trail.
Over the next century, this history-rich area developed a reputation as one of North America’s paranormal hotspots. In HAUNTED GOLD RUSH, an all-new two-part documentary premiering on October 30 as part of T+E’s Halloweekend lineup, paranormal investigators Corine Carey, her sister Leanne Sallenback and Kelly Ireland mine the Cariboo Trail’s haunted history. Using their innate gifts and state-of-the-art technology, they unlock the ghostly secrets of one of British Columbia’s most romanticized and bloody eras.
Recently, the intrepid trio took time out from their supernatural pursuits to speak with RUE MORGUE.
Thanks for speaking with me today. HAUNTED GOLD RUSH is one of the most compelling paranormal documentaries I’ve seen. What attracted you to this project and what is it about this part of history that you find so interesting?
Kelly Ireland: I’ll start at the beginning! We are paranormal investigators. We have our own company called Beyond the Haunting Investigations. We go into people’s homes and businesses, to investigate for them to figure out if it is indeed haunted, to at least confirm what’s been going on for them and then also to, hopefully, get to the bottom of what’s going on. And often – usually – give them peace of mind. Like we’ve gone into a major hotel in Vancouver, and they were quite freaked out about what was going on. And a lot of the staff either quit or would just pretend that it’s not going on. We went in and we had some undeniable evidence. In that moment, it was so interesting to see their change in just even the way they stood and carried themselves. It was like this huge weight was lifted off of their shoulders to know that it’s okay. So we do that. But really all goes back and starts with Corine.
Corine Carey: As far back as I can remember, from the time I was 3 or 4 years old, I’ve had experiences that you couldn’t explain. And I would see people and hear things and know things that no kid should probably have known. My first experience with this that I remember I was in this car accident, and my grandma was very, very injured. And in the car, while she was unconscious, I’m in the front seat, waiting for help, and there’s this man there, telling me it’s going to be okay. And I can see him and hear him.
Later that night, I go home, and he’s there again, and I’m like, “Who’s that guy?” My parents are looking at me like, “We should take her back to the hospital…” But then it continued. And from that day on, I’ve never known any different. I’ve experienced things. I’ve seen things. I’ve communicated and heard things and passed along messages that I couldn’t have known. So fast forward a bit. And you know, you’re telling your parents these things as a kid, and the looks you got, the tests that I had to go get done, just to be sure everything’s okay. I learned pretty young to just not talk about it, right? It’s like, “It’s not there. It’s in your head. Stop talking about it.” When those tests came back completely fine, I just kind of suppressed any kind of experience I was having. It was terrifying as a kid not being able to talk to anybody about it … I felt like I was that kid from The Sixth Sense all the time … All of a sudden, I’m like, “Oh, I’m seeing something in my house,” which happened all the time. And then [Leanne] would start looking. I’m like, “What? You can see it, too?”
Leanne Sallenback: Corine’s older, and we shared a room when we were kids. So I’ve watched her have these crazy experiences. And I’m like, “Oh, my God! This is real! And then I had my first experience, and it was like, “Yes, I love this. I going to keep doing this. So I read everything, watched everything [about the paranormal], watched The X-Files – all that stuff. I was an open book where she suppressed it. We would go out and kind of investigate together or do stuff together. And then in high school, it was just kind of natural that Kelly came into it.
KI: So for me growing up, I wasn’t really exposed to any of these conversations. My family wasn’t really open to these ideas of the paranormal. They never talked about it. Looking back now, and through the past number of years that we’ve been doing this together, I see that I did have abilities back then. I met Leeanne in high school. We played volleyball together. And so she would talk about these things because she’s totally out there and always has been. I think it just kind of went in one ear and out the other for a while. But the more we hung out, the less it would go out the other ear, and it kind of started to stay and process a little bit. And then I would go over to their home, and I would see what was going on and their relationship and how they were open with each other about it. They’d play a game called “Spot the Spirit.” This stuff was just wild to me!
This judgmental voice that I grew up with was starting to get quieter. I was starting to realize that maybe there’s more to life than just the physical. So they started pulling me out and going to different haunted locations. The very first one was this local city hall in a really small town. I just kind of went into it as an observer very quietly, and just watched and took it all in. The more we went, the more I started to realize I’m starting to notice that I’m feeling things in my body, and I’m seeing things in my mind’s eye. Eventually, I started to say them out loud, and [Corine and Leeane] would say, “Oh, me too.” For me, that validation was so huge because it popped the lid off of whatever was going on with me. It just opened my mind.
LS: Fast forward now to HAUNTED GOLD RUSH. This is not you’re average girls’ road trip. We take the history of the historic British Columbia trail to a whole new level. It’s a different take on history, and nobody’s explained the Gold Rush Trail in this way. What we found was incredible. And all the voices we’re speaking for now, their voices were never heard. It’s a really exciting project.
CC: We’re all BC girls. We were all born in British Columbia, and we grew up in BC. So when we got older and started our investigation company, we’ve been investigating all over the place. In the last couple of years, we’ve had the pandemic. In BC, we’ve had massive wildfires that have destroyed towns along the Gold Rush Trail. We’ve had rain and floods that have washed away roads – roads that are still being rebuilt up the Fraser Canyon. We know that with all of that on top of the Fraser River being such a huge river, and water is a conduit for energy. All of that has unearthed something.
So we started getting calls from people and locations, dozens of locations along the Gold Rush Trail. They’re saying that the paranormal activity is intensifying. It’s now this hotspot. Things have shifted. We don’t know what it is, and they need help … This is our own backyard. Let’s do this … We come in, and now we’re like, “Yeah, let’s go see what untold stories in history are there. What about those people that didn’t strike it rich? Or didn’t make it to Barkerville in the gold fields?”
How is HAUNTED GOLD RUSH different from other investigations that you’ve done?
LS: It’s definitely tested us.
KI: I’ll be honest. It was the most intense experience for me ever … It was physically and emotionally exhausting, and the most affected that I’ve ever been anywhere in the world, and we’ve been to lots of places.
CC: One thing with the locations we were called to … we go in knowing a little bit about the history of the place. You talk to the witness who’s had the experience – who wants some answers. And we go in and we’re like, “Yeah, okay. We’re experiencing that. But who is that? It’s like, “Whoa!”
It surprised me how much there was at every location that we weren’t really expecting to encounter. And, you know, when it’s validated later, as you’ll see in the documentary on 30th, it was pretty intense to realize that this is not just one or two hauntings, there’s a lot of stories and energies and spirits that are still along that gold rush trail.
LS: The historical angle on this is so unique. We can all tell you different stories you probably don’t have time for – but the untold voices that came forward. History doesn’t tell you about all these people along the trail that actually have an amazing story, or they were forgotten about. We’re essentially adding something to British Columbia.
KI: Even in school, you look in the books, and [history] is always told from a certain perspective. I’m Métis, so going to school in the Canadian school system, I don’t think I saw the word “Métis” my whole schooling, even up until grade 12. Then, I went into university, and in my first year history class was the first time I ever read about anybody with the same background as myself. So I feel passionate about uncovering this history and connecting with the past in this way in order to be a voice and share the stories of these spirits whose lives mattered.
HAUNTED GOLD RUSH premieres on Sunday, October 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT during T+E’s Halloweekend programming event, happening now.