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Nickell 'caught' the 'ghost' of Mackenzie House (pictured) in Toronto during the early 1970s when his investigation discovered the haunted footfalls on the staircase were being caused by nothing more than a late-night cleaning crew in the building next door Questioning the supernatural is important, he said.
A ghost could be the result of sleep paralysis, the traumatic grief of losing a loved one and the power of suggestion.
He has a theory, though, about why people remain fascinated with the paranormal.‘People do have very human needs. When they’re in grief, they have trouble coping with that,’ said Nickell, who’s authored numerous books on the paranormal and served as a character consultant on the 2007 horror movie The Reaping.
His father was an amateur magician and taught him some of the tricks that he knew Nickell often performed magic tricks and sold magic kits in toy stores, as seen in these undated photos at Simpson's department store in Toronto.
He did his last shows as a professional stage magician in 1973 because he began work as a private investigator Nickell’s first séance was in 1969 in Toronto for a CBC documentary called Houdini in Canada.