Elysse Gnauck has always been interested in scary stories and paranormal activity, and when she decided to start a podcast sharing real Canadian paranormal stories, the first place she looked was Quesnel.
The Alberta-based stay-at-home mom started the Real Scary Podcast in July. She used to work in video editing and wanted to do something creative that she could do on her own time. She listens to a lot of podcasts, and she couldn’t find anything that featured real paranormal stories from Canada, so she decided to start her own.
The first episode of Real Scary Podcast is about haunted objects and features the Mandy doll from the Quesnel and District Museum and Archives.
“The Quesnel Museum is the first place I emailed,” said Gnauck. “To me, [Mandy] is a really iconic paranormal icon in Canada. Lots of people who are interested in the paranormal hear about her.”
Gnauck says museum and heritage manager Elizabeth Hunter was quick to get back to her and give her a lot of great stories about Mandy and about the experiences museum visitors have had with the doll.
Gnauck recalls when she was younger, she would always ask her parents to buy her books of ghost stories, and she read about the Mandy doll in one of those books.
“She looks like the epitome of a haunted doll,” she said, with a laugh. “It was cool to hear from the museum. There are definitely theories, and there are a couple of stories out there that I wasn’t able to prove. She was exactly what I thought of when I thought of the stories I wanted to tell.”
Gnauck says she loves finding out the history behind weird and different things like the Mandy doll.
“I love hearing that, as well as the experiences people have in these places,” she said. “I love researching why they have these energies.”
The Mandy doll was donated to the Quesnel Museum in 1991, and Gnauck says it has been described as “Canada’s Annabelle” — in reference to the haunted doll in The Conjuring Universe.
On her website, Gnauck tells a story that was not included in the podcast episode about a woman attempting to film Mandy. Her camera light would go off and on every five seconds or so, but it worked just fine whenever she tired to film any other exhibit. The woman went home and tried to put her video tape in the VCR, and it became jammed.
When Gnauck asked Hunter if there were any other items in the Quesnel Museum with strange stories behind them, she heard about two other objects that have affected people in strange ways.
Gnauck says Hunter told her about a mother and son visiting the museum and telling staff that the baby walker in the Hoy exhibit gave them a really strange feeling.
“The really weird thing is they said they felt it at another spot in the museum, but they didn’t link it,” said Gnauck. “[Hunter] realized this is where the walker used to be displayed. There’s no way they would have known that, as they had never been to the museum before.”
Gnauck found out that another time, a paranormal investigator was in the museum and noticed there was an incorrect badge on the hat of the mannequin wearing a WWII nurse uniform in the back gallery. He jokingly called out that the soldier should know better than to be out of uniform, and then the nearest emergency exit flew open very dramatically. Gnauck says it was strange for everyone because there was no wind, and Hunter told her the door was latched.
Gnauck has not seen the Mandy doll in person, but she is hoping to make a trip to Quesnel next summer to see the doll and the museum for herself.
Gnauck is doing a countdown to Halloween, which includes an episode about ghost towns, a two-part interview with Paul Busch of Cornerstone Supernatural this week and a two-part episode next week about unsolved mysteries with paranormal elements. Gnauck will release her first episode from Alberta on Oct. 31 and will be talking about a residential haunted house that she says is very active.
Gnauck hopes her podcast will help Canadians discover more about the country in which they live and might even help tourism in the places she includes in her episodes.
“For me, I’ve discovered so many places I’d never heard about and didn’t know the history of,” she said. “I’m hoping it will increase visitorship of some of these places.”
To learn more about Real Scary Podcast, you can look for them on Facebook and Instagram or visit realscarypodcast.ca. The website features a blog post to correspond with each podcast episode, which includes photos, videos and any evidence Gnauck has found to back up the stories.
The Real Scary Podcast is available on all platforms, such as iTunes and Spotify.