PSICAN - Paranormal Studies and Inquiry Canada

Ghosts, Hauntings & Related Phenomena

Written by Matthew James Didier
Yankee Jim
PSICAN prides itself on trying to stay within the confines of our home country... but sometimes, a paranormal report has more than a glancing brush with "home" and we throw caution to the wind and post it up for you to read.


Such is the case with one of America's most famed haunted houses... Whaley House in San Diego.


It wouldn't shock us if most of the ghost enthusiasts reading this article have heard of the Whaley House... it's been covered on multiple television programs and extensively looked into by the late Hans Holzer who referred to it as, "possibly the most haunted house in America".


The story, which you may or may not know, of who the ghost might be centres around a hapless French Canadian named Jim Robinson... or, "Yankee Jim" as he was called because of his love for his temporarily adopted country.

Trouble is, although many people (at the time of reading this,) may think rampant xenophobia and laws upholding those fears is a relatively new thing with some of our neighbours to the South, it isn't... and 1850's San Diego was rampant with the need to blame "outsiders" for it's troubles.

Enter Jim Robison... would-be prospector and general devil may care fellow from Canada who made the error of, in those times of troubles, stealing a row boat. Apparently, Yankee Jim was toodling about the bay when he was spotted by a nervous captain who figured the Canadien was en route to becoming a very low rent pirate... and captured the dangerous offender.


Jim was held and eventually tried for grand larceny (they figured his theft was worth over $1,000 at the time... which in today's money, would be the equivalent of stealing a platinum plated rowboat with golden oars!) and he was convicted and sentenced to death by what is generally thought to have been a kangaroo court where the judge was rather intoxicated.


A gallows was built on the site of the present day Whaley house and Jim was hung... legend has it they'd built the gallows too short and Jim dangled and slowly strangled to death in what took almost forty-five minutes. Thomas Whaley watched the botched execution... and oddly enough, bought the land the deed took place on.


He erected a house and loved to tell his children and grand-children that the main archway of the home was in the exact spot of Yankee Jim's gallows....


It is said that "Yankee Jim" is not a terrible phantom in the home, but more a playful poltergeist... who likes to mess things up a bit and especially plays havoc with the local park rangers (perhaps because they represent the law?) and although there was an attempted (and failed) exorcism by Thomas Whaley, he (again according to legend,) apologised for trying and lived in relative harmony with his resident spirit.


"Yankee Jim" and his trial and execution are historical fact... but we have been unable to find a general witness to his apparition. In fact, a ghost of a little girl is more likely to be "seen" there then a tall French Canadian... but still, it's a legend... and a little history... and a tiny bit of Canada in San Diego... even if it's just a poltergeist of a man wrongfully hung to "make a point" to outsiders.


DVD - Haunted Houses, History Channel/A&E, 1996
Holzer, Hans - Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, 2004 -1579124011


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