After compiling a couple of articles concerning Victoria B.C. and things to do, museums, shopping and dining, I thought it would also be interesting and entertaining to address Victoria’s ghostly nature. Victoria is the second most haunted city in North America, New Orleans being the first. As I was on one of Victoria’s “Ghostly Walk” Tours (leaves from the tourism building across from Empress Hotel), I learned that Victoria’s Inner Harbour, back in the 18th, early 19th Century, was the site of a huge First Nations burial ground, along with long-drowned totem poles built for elders who had passed on. The legend goes that since the city is surrounded by salt water, the salt water acts as a kind of conductor for the spirits to permeate more thoroughly within the city. There are many, many sites, indoor and outdoor in Victoria which have reportedly been “haunted” or tour guides or tourists or citizens have had their own unique experiences. I will mention a few that were discussed on the ghost walk tour, in Barbara Smith’s book, and some of my own personal experiences.
Rogers Chocolates, in downtown Victoria is said to be haunted by its original owners, from back in the 1800’s. According to staff reports, the two owners did not originally make milk chocolate, and when Rogers started making it more readily, staff would find trails of milk chocolate strewn on the floor in the morning, after the place was locked up all night. They would also find spoons or ladles placed in higher-to-reach places by no one in particular.
I’d like to share a couple of my own experiences. I was dining at the intimate James Bay pub “The Bent Mast” one evening, enjoying wonderful food and live entertainment, and I had to use the restroom. The dining room is downstairs, and the restrooms are upstairs. As I was heading up, I felt off-balance, like the steps were trying to tip me over. When I reached upstairs, there was a storage room with lots of toys and large plastic ponies. The shadows cast on them seemed particularly dark and looming. When I reached the restroom, I felt very dizzy, like there were stars in front of my eyes (and I hadn’t had anything to drink!), and then the door next to the bathroom slammed twice in succession. No one else was up there with me, and there was also a draft, and the door did not lead outside. When I returned downstairs, again the floor felt like the floor of a “funhouse” where it tries to tip you and undulate underneath you. The staff at the Bent Mast are generally very accepting that there is a family of ghosts living there, and they even write about them in their menu.
I had a similar experience at Christie’s Irish Pub, except this time, I was upstairs in the ladies bathroom and I still felt dizzy, but it’s like there was something behind me, looking at me from behind in the circular mirror. I felt compelled to keep looking behind me.
I’ve never actually “seen” anything or anybody in particular, but I know there are many, many people who have, or at least, claim they have.
One summer evening I was driving around the James Bay area, and started heading further out on Dallas Road (along the water). I was getting close to the golf course (where there is a tale of a white-clad lady who haunts the golf course), and it got darker and darker, to the point of the air seeming like thick velvet in front of me. Not only was the visibility bad, this feeling of “don’t drive anymore through here” overwhelmed me and I immediately did a u-turn and went back to James Bay, where it was lighter.
One of the oldest structures in Victoria is Craigdarroch Castle, built, I believe, in the early 1800’s, which is worth a visit simply for historical interest, but it is also known for its Dunsmuir family, who are known to still inhabit the castle.
Now, I’m neither a cynic nor a firm believer, but I did not go out of my way to try to feel these responses, and I don’t consider myself sensitive to psychic or paranormal activity. However, these feelings I had were noticeable, which makes me think that our earth and all of its dimensions are more complicated than what our naked eye can see.
However, I highly recommend the ghost walk tour (there are many different ones throughout the year), even if it is simply historical information you’re after, because that aspect was thoroughly covered by our tour guide. The website is www.discoverthepast.com and click on “Ghostly Walks.” Adults are $13, Students/Seniors are $11, and children 6-12 are $8.
I hope you can take pleasure exploring some B.C. history, and experiencing the spooky side of Victoria!