Haunted by the Michelin Man: Former owner recounts spooky experiences in N.W.T. bar

Linda Duford doesn’t believe in ghosts. But the former owner of Hay River’s Back Eddy restaurant can’t deny some of the strange things she’s seen in her business over the years.

Linda Duford tries to remain skeptical but says she can’t deny what she’s seen

Some of the things Linda Duford has seen in Back Eddy restaurant are ghostly visions, a man in a white puffy jacket she describes as the 'Michelin Man,' unexplained flashing lights and a phenomenon she describes as 'the clouds.' (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

Linda Duford doesn't believe in ghosts.

But the former owner of Hay River's Back Eddy restaurant can't deny some of the strange things she's seen in her business over the years.

Duford's family bought the restaurant, which had been in business since 1974, in 2000.

It wasn't long after that she started to hear things go bump in the night.

The first time Linda Duford experienced a supernatural experience at her restaurant, she heard a loud crash beyond a set of swinging doors. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

"I was just terrified," said Duford.

"It was a large crash on the swinging doors and it just literally knocked me to the ground with fright."

She said she never looked to see if anything was there because she was too scared.

It was in 2004 when Duford and her parents saw something pass through the restaurant. They are all pretty sure the vision they saw was the building's previous owner — he had worked in the building for about 50 years before he died.

The man in the puffy coat

And then, there's what Duford calls the "Michelin Man."

In 2006, she says, a man from Fort Resolution died. He was too big to fit in a casket, so the people who transported him to Hay River wrapped him in a big white sheet.

It was around this time she and her father saw a rather large, ghostlike man appear near the restaurant's door. She said he looked like the Michelin Man, because he was wearing a big puffy jacket.

Linda Duford says customers have experienced unexplained events too. One night, the lights started flashing above a pair of customers and Duford couldn't fix it. They moved, and the flashing stopped. When they moved again, it started up again. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

The ghost seemed to return the next night, to play some pranks on two women at a table near the bar.

"These lights started strobing like a strobe light and I went and tried to turn the light off," said Duford, who said she tried, but couldn't fix them.

The women grew tired of the flashing lights, but as soon as they stood up, the flashing stopped. When they sat down again, the flashing lights started back up.

If I'm here past a certain hour I start listening and looking and I go home.- Linda Duford, former owner of Back Eddy restaurant

The women grew nervous and sat across the restaurant.

"Then we found out these two ladies were related to the man who passed away," said Duford. "So we always thought the Michelin Man was [the man from Fort Resolution.]"

Other sightings include the shadow of a tall cowboy floating above the ground with no feet and what Duford refers to as "the clouds."

She said sometimes when you look in the restaurant's mirrors it looks like there are clouds inside the restaurant, but when you look into the restaurant there's nothing there.

Duford tries to remain skeptical.

"But I can't deny the fact that I'm of sound mind and body, and that myself, and other people that I've known, have actually seen [things]," she said.

She's grown accustomed to the fact she's going to sometimes experience things she can't explain in the building, but says there are still moments she gets freaked out.

"If I'm here past a certain hour I start listening and looking and I go home," she said.

Duford and her sister recently decided to sell the bar, and it closed last weekend. But the doors won't be shut for long.

Back Eddy will reopen on Thursday under the supervision of a new owner.