Victoria is a popular destination for ghost hunters and anyone who enjoys a good ghost story. It’s the most haunted city in BC and paranormal activities take place year-round, but as Halloween draws near many of the city’s “spirited” attractions offer special programs for the annual Ghosts of Victoria Festival. Here, we offer a list of 16 great places to experience the haunted side of the city.
Ghostly Walks is Victoria’s classic ghost tour, exploring the haunted alleys and courtyards of Victoria’s Old Town. Until October 18 these popular 90-minute walks begin nightly at 7:30, with extra 9:30 tours on Fridays and Saturdays. Tours start at the Visitor Centre. Special Halloween tours take place nightly from October 19 to 31 at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30pm in the lobby of the Bedford Regency Hotel (1140 Government St.). No reservations needed. Call 250-384-6698 or check
www.discoverthepast.com for details.
Ross Bay Cemetery is a beautiful ocean-side Victorian cemetery where phantoms roam. Isabella Ross, once owner of the land, sits forlornly looking out to sea; David Fee, murdered one Christmas Eve, appears as white mist. The Old Cemeteries Society hosts tours each Sunday at 2pm and the annual Ghost Tour is 1 to 3pm October 28. No reservations needed. Call 250-598-8870.
The Maritime Museum is the favourite haunt of Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, the “hanging judge.” Dominating Bastion Square, many consider it Victoria’s most haunted place. The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily during September and October, with extended hours to 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in September. Ghost Tours will be held October 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 at 6pm. Call 250-385-4222, ext. 113 for reservations.
The Woman in Black is an old-fashioned ghost story that has played to sold out houses in London’s West End for more than two decades! Urban Arts Productions offers it this year at the Maritime Museum from October 18 to November 3 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. See www.urbanartsproductions.com for tickets.
Paranormal Investigations are not ghost tours, but real ghost hunts conducted by a team of mediums. These late night events (10pm to 3am) are held mostly in the dark, with events planned September 22 at St. Ann’s Academy and October 20 at the Maritime Museum. Numbers are limited. Check out www.beyondbeliefparanormalevents.com for details.
St. Ann’s Academy is a former convent school. The grounds (open daily) feature a walled orchard, woodland walk and beautiful Novitiate Garden. The restored chapel is open Thursday to Sunday, 1 to 4pm. On October 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 7pm, Voices from the Past explores life, death and unexplained phenomena at this 153-year-old historic site. Call 250-953-8828.
Craigdarroch Castle is open daily 10am to 4:30pm. It does not offer ghost tours, but has been the location for many spooky movies and plays. On selected evenings from October 10 through 31 it hosts Dracula, a live dramatic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic thriller. Call 250-592-5323 for details and reservations.
Ghost expert John Adams leads Ghost Bus-tours – two-hour coach tours past Victoria’s most haunted places – October 21, 22, 28, 29 and 30 at 6:30 and 9pm. The Old Cemeteries Society has run these popular tours for 18 years, with a different route and new ghost stories each year. Check www.discoverthepast.com or call 250-384-6698 for tickets and information.
Colwood Haunted Bus Tour with John Adams runs October 4, 5 and 6. The two-hour route will include visits to the Pioneer Cemetery, St. John’s Church, Hatley Castle and “Havenwood.” Tickets and information are available through the City of Colwood, 250-478-5999.
Pumpkin Art on the Avenue features more than 500 carved pumpkins including displays of the Royal Family, Wizard of Oz, the Beatles and more. View the carvings in shop windows, on Municipal Hall grounds and along Oak Bay Avenue from 5 to 9pm October 27 to 31. Check www.visitoakbayvillage.ca for details.
Haunted Horse-drawn Trolley Tours venture down dark streets in the most haunted neighbourhood on the West Coast. Victoria Carriage Tours offer daily tours in September and October, but have a special ghost tour at the end of October. Call 250-383-2207 for information and reservations.
From mid-October through October 31, Festival of Fear at Galey Farms includes the Corn Maze of Horror, Crazy Train, Madame Isabella’s and Carnevil, nightly from 6 to 10 pm. Check www.galeyfarms.net or call 250-477-5713 for details.
Haunted Places to Visit on Your Own
To explore for ghosts on your own at any time, start downtown in several Old Town shops, such as Rogers Chocolates and Old Morris Tobacconists. Tourism Victoria can also provide names of haunted restaurants, bars, hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Market Square, once the centre of Victoria’s red-light district, is now a restored enclave of heritage shops on trendy Johnson Street. Here the ghost of Charlie Kincaid wanders restlessly where his throat was slit by his girlfriend, Belle Adams, whose ghost often appears, then suddenly vanishes.
The majestic Parliament Buildings have many ghosts, notably Francis Mawson Rattenbury, the architect who designed them in the 1890s. He was murdered in England by his wife’s lover, but has returned to haunt the building that made him famous. Beneath majestic trees and crumbling tombstones at the Old Burying Ground on Quadra at Meares Street lie 1,300 bodies. The spectres of Adelaide Griffin who died in 1861 and “Soap and Water” Johnson who committed suicide in 1871 often glide among the graves.
Chinatown has many supernatural stories. Its secret tunnels are only myths, but its hauntings are very real. Feel the paranormal energy in Fan Tan Alley as you walk past its abandoned opium dens and gambling halls. The Victoria Golf Course on scenic Beach Drive is haunted by Doris Gravlin, strangled there by her husband in 1936. She appears as a white figure on the fairways, running quickly toward people and sometimes passing right through cars.