Dying to be scared? Up the fear factor and visit one of the city’s haunted sites. Here are some unnerving spaces to add to your to visit:
Bastion Square and Helmcken Alley
Easily the most haunted part of Victoria. Each building and alleyway around historic Bastion Square has a ghost or two. The old Supreme Court building is said to be the most haunted, as it was built on the site of the city’s jail and first gallows. Many of the men who were hanged in the tree beside it still lie buried beneath its foundation.
Market Square and ChinaTown
Market Square and Chinatown have many stories of ghosts and the supernatural. Their secret tunnels might be myths, but their hauntings are real. The ghosts here long ago frequented the saloons, brothels and gambling dens that lined Johnson Street, Victoria’s once infamous red light district.
In Chinatown, feel the paranormal energy in Fan Tan Alley as you walk past its abandoned opium dens and gambling halls, but feel safe under the Gates of Harmonious Interest which are decorated with symbols to scare away evil spirits.
Ross Bay Cemetery
Ross Bay Cemetery has the distinction of being the most spectacular Victorian cemetery in British Columbia. Its winding, tree-lined carriageways, magnificent tombstones with poignant epitaphs and the distant views to the Olympic Mountains make it a memorable place to visit. The cemetery is noted for several resident ghosts, including Isabella Ross (the first woman in British Columbia to own land, whose farm stood where the cemetery is now).
British Columbia’s Parliament Buildings are haunted by many ghosts, most notably Francis Rattenbury, the architect who designed them in the 1890s. His body rests uneasily in an unmarked grave in Bournemouth, England, where he was savagely bludgeoned to death by his wife’s lover. It is believed Rattenbury returns to haunt his most famous edifice to seek the recognition he craves.
Hatley Castle and Gardens
Hatley Castle, a 565 acre Edwardian estate, looks charming and colourful with sprawling gardens and a stately facade. The property is said to be haunted by ghosts of the Dunsmuir family who once owned it.
The Fairmont Empress is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria. The apparition of thin mustached man walking the halls with a cane is thought to be of the building’s architect, Francis Rattenbury (he gets around!).
A maid has been seen on the sixth floor still cleaning after her death and guests have reported an elderly woman in pajamas knocking on their door. When guests try to help her find her room, she leads them toward the elevator before vanishing.
Craigdarroch Castle does not acknowledge that the building may be haunted, but rumours persist. An apparition of a little girl has been reported by staff, as well as the image of a maid. A woman’s feet have been seen running down the stairs and music has been heard, while its source remains a mystery.
Rogers Chocolates at 913 Government Street is a National Historic Site. It is also Victoria’s oldest and most haunted chocolate shop. Look for the ghosts of Charles and Leah Rogers, the founders, who often slept in the kitchen of their old store and who reputedly never left.
The Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites was built on the site of the historic white mansion of Miss Victoria Jane Wilson and her family.
Soon after opening, the staff began to notice a nicely dressed, old-fashioned lady at the main floor bar — now Clive’s Classic Lounge — who would promptly vanish in front of them. Guests would sometimes be delayed when Victoria Jane would ride up and down the elevator with them, stopping at each floor.
St. Ann’s Academy
Deeply concerned about what would happen to the school they erected, the original sisters of St. Ann’s Academy couldn’t leave and have been spotted in front of the building with troubled expressions.
They had seen the building fall into disrepair after they moved out and to this day don’t believe that the honour of housing the Ministry of Education will last. It was also rumored that Thomas Hooper, St. Ann’s architect, killed people and had them poured into the foundations to give his buildings “souls.” When taking a stroll past the buildings, their eerie presence is undoubtable.