With its urban cemeteries, historic buildings, preserved cobblestone streets, it’s easy to see why spirits like to linger in Victoria. Take a self-guided tour of the 12 most haunted spots in and around the city.
British Columbia’s quaint capital gets praised for its old-world elegance, finely manicured gardens, and pedestrian-friendly streets. But in many circles, Victoria is also famous for its darker side.
Known to be the most haunted city in British Columbia, it’s a veritable maze of ghost hangouts. The paranormal activity is most often attributed to the city’s wild origins when fortune hunters packed saloons, pleasure house, and opium dens with a steady stream of customers.
The regular hangings, plethora of burial grounds, and apparent proximity to ‘ley lines’ may also contribute to the spirits who just can’t move on. And with Halloween fast approaching, the ghosts are said to be growing restless. Visit the following haunted spots in Victoria…if you dare.
Located at the northern edge of downtown, Victoria’s Chinatown is the second oldest in North America. While the Gates of Harmonious Interest was built to scare away evil spirits, it’s said several still slink through the passage and alleys. In particular, ghosts are said to haunt Fan Tan Alley – the narrow street that spans just a few feet in some sections. Formerly a haven for opium dens and pleasure houses, today the alley is home to quaint shops. Guess the ghosts haven’t caught on…
At the eastern edge of Johnson Street Bridge, Market Square has become known as a charming shopping district. With an open-air courtyard and unique boutiques, it still sports the same brick-and-beam buildings from its 1800s origins. However, back in those days, the shops were more of the brothel-saloon-gambling variety. Its former visitors are said to return occasionally, looking for another thrill.
Located in the heart of downtown Victoria, Bastion Square is nestled against the Inner Harbour. With its wide array of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and novelty shops, this tourist destination is a favorite. During the summer, its cobblestone steps buzz with artisan markets. During festivals, street performances frequent the square. And, throughout every one of its buildings and alleys, there’s said to be at least one ghost lurking.
In particular, the Supreme Court building was home to the city’s original jail and gallows – many the ‘guilty’ still rest beneath the foundation.
Cutting between buildings and onto Bastion Square, today Helmcken Alley is a pedestrian alley worthy of a romantic stroll. However, such was not the case in the 1850s, when the passageway was home to a jail for prisoners awaiting the hangman’s noose.
How do you take your sweet treats? If you like them with a dollop of maple syrup and a healthy dose of mystery, Rogers Chocolates is just the place for you. Located on Government Street, it is Victoria’s oldest chocolate shop. It was opened by Charles ‘Candy” Rogers and his wife Leah, who found that the regional maple syrup made a delectable addition to chocolate.
The couple often slept in the kitchen. Some believe they’ve never left. The mysterious handprint of a child on a mirror high above the door leaves one to ponder as to why the Rogers may still be around.
The most famous of all Victoria’s hotels, the Fairmont Empress has been a second home to many members of the royal family and dignitaries. It’s apparently also home to the spirit of a thin, mustached man who walks the halls with a cane. The man is believed to be none other than Francis Rattenbury, the hotel’s architect. He’s no doubt protecting his infamous work.
Apparently, Francis Rattenbury likes to wander. Because while he haunts the halls of the Fairmont Empress, he’s rumored to also walk the grounds of Victoria’s Parliament Buildings – arguably the city’s most famous landmark. Though having passed away in England, it’s believed he returns to the sites of his former glory to seek the recognition he never found in Europe.
St. Ann’s Academy
A former convent school, St. Ann’s Academy is now owned by the B.C. government. No one informed the nine nuns who remained buried on the grounds. Visitors have claimed to see their spirits roaming the grounds.
Beacon Hill Park
A jewel of downtown Victoria, Beacon Hill Park spans 200 acres. It’s also home to the Beacon Hill Doppelganger, who is said to have been a tall, tanned woman with long, blond hair. Sometime in the late 1970s, it’s said witnesses saw her standing on a rock near the Douglas Street entrance to Beacon Hill Park. For many months she was seen standing on the same rock with her mouth wide open, her eyes trained on the sky.
In 1983, the corpse of a young woman was discovered in a shallow grave beneath the same rock. The identity of the remains is a mystery to this day. But, once the remains were found, the ethereal presence of a similar woman was seen from time to time on the same rock.
Ross Bay Cemetery
Ghosts looking for a beautiful spot to call home hit the jackpot when they choose Ross Bay Cemetery. The stunning burial ground sports winding carriageways, magnificent marble grave sites, towering trees, manicured plantings, and exquisite views of both the mountains and ocean.
In keeping with the Dunsmuir family name, Robert Dunsmuir commissioned the Craigdarroch Castle to be built in the 1890s. The expansive estate features hand-painted and stenciled ceilings, lions’ heads, and exquisite garlands. The home is so exquisite the family apparently didn’t want to leave. Though the current owners do not acknowledge that the castle and surrounding grounds are haunted, visitors have occasionally reported hearing strange music and the sound of a woman’s feet running.
Now home to the Royal Roads University, Hatley Castle was originally built for James Dunsmuir’s family – the spirits still rumored to haunt its halls. That hasn’t stopped the castle from appearing in many films and television series, most notably the X-Men series.
More Victoria Adventures!
There’s more to Victoria than the Fairmont Empress and Parliament Buildings. While both of these iconic landmarks are certainly deserving of a visit, B.C.’s quaint capitol is loaded with Instagram-worthy destinations.
When you have just a day to soak up the majestic beauty of Victoria, B.C., don’t let a second go to waste. Hit the streets. Immerse yourself in the culture. And, don’t forget your camera. You’ll want it on this photo walk.
This 24-hour birthday fly away will give you, your friends and your family a taste of Victoria’s rich history, cutting-edge technology and rocking good time vibe.