There’s just something extra special about Victoria, BC – especially during the spooky season! While Victoria may be a peaceful place, beneath the shiny exterior, lurks a shadowy past full of tragic events, callous characters and grim circumstances–making it one of the most haunted cities in Canada! While Victoria has some haunted houses, you’ll also find plenty of haunted alleyways, castles, museums, cemeteries and more! There are so many haunted places in Victoria that we’ve rounded up the top spots where you can visit, listen to real-life ghost stories and get into the Halloween spirit! Whether you’re staying within walking distance to these sites in Victoria or farther away in Sooke, Sidney or the Cowichan Valley it’s worth the trip to wander through these areas!
There is one place in Victoria that has the most dense concentration of alleged hauntings and that’s Bastion Square, right in the heart of downtown. By day, this square is a picturesque cobbled, heritage square complete with patios, modern art installation and harbour view – but it wasn’t always this way. In 1843, the Hudson Bay Trading Company established a trading post in the heart of Camosun, known today as Victoria, right in the site of Bastion Square. Since then, the square has been the site of murders, hangings and prisoners and was later established as the beautiful pedestrian mall we see today.
45 Bastion Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1J1
This hip cocktail bar, the site of the long standing restaurant Camille’s is said to have two spirits Brady and Charlotte or Lady Churchill. As the story goes, the two were very much in love and one night, they were supposed to meet but Brady got into a raucous bar fight that ended in him being brutally murdered. Since then it has been said that they will come back to that spot to be together once again. When they’re around, waitstaff and patrons have reported experiencing a strong smell of cigar smoke and perfume.
1140 Government St, 69 Bastion Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1Y2
Since it opened its doors right at the entrance of Bastion Square in 1867, the Garrick Head has been a popular drinking spot for Victorians and remains so today! It’s reported that on cold nights, when the pub is quiet and the streets are dark, a man appears by the fire. Always with his back to you, you’ll look and he’s there, look again, and he’s gone. This man is said to be Michael Powers, the pub’s owner in the early 1900’s who was mysteriously murdered over 100 years ago…
Bastion Square has always been a place that drew crowds. But long before it was a beautiful pedestrian mall that drew crowds of visitors and locals to it’s patios and markets, it was the site of the city prison and drew crowds that were there to watch public hangings. These macabre displays would draw hundreds of people and while some of the bodies were identified and claimed for burial with friends and family, many weren’t and those people were buried right there, in Bastion Square. As time went on, these bodies have had buildings erected over them, some have even been recovered as construction took place. Helmcken Alley in particular was where the prisoners were led from the jail to the gallows and people have reported hearing rattling chains and seeing someone following them out of the corner of their eye if they walk through the alley at night.
Bastion Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1H9
It’s not surprising that one of the most haunted places is located right in Bastion Square! Built in 1889, the Old Courthouse was the first concrete building in Victoria and is said to be haunted by none other than “The Hanging Judge” (a moniker that may not have been entirely deserved) Judge Matthew Begbie, himself. In life, he was known for his no-nonsense approach to upholding the law in the early days of Victoria’s colonization and was reportedly a staunch defender of Chinese and Aboriginal rights. To all historical accounts, he was tough but fair in his rulings. He was also prone to hyperbole when it came to airing his opinion which may have been a way for him to disseminate the message throughout the Province that he, and the laws of British Columbia, were not to be trifled with. During his tenure, he held court for over 50 murder trials, 27 of which ended in the sentence of death by hanging.
Today, although the Courthouse is no longer a judicial building, it is reported that he frequents the halls and is known for keeping the other (many) resident ghosts, mostly former prisoners, in check. He regularly makes his presence known from beyond the grave, especially if he is unimpressed with a visitor’s behaviour and others have noted a man, similar in appearance to Begbie, standing behind them in pictures taken within the building. There have been reports that attempts to communicate with Begbie have been successful and people have witnessed incredible phenomena while using a spirit box.
Another spirit that is said to wander the halls of the Old Courthouse is known as “The Crying Lady”. Although this spirit doesn’t show themselves as often as Begbie, she has been known to present herself to unsuspecting visitors who have left the building in a hurry and are unable to shake an incredible sadness and tearfulness that can last for days. Others have reported that they have been suddenly overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry after visiting and not being able to explain why. Staff had dealt with strange phenomena that is attributed to The Crying Lady for years and on more than one occasion, asked paranormal researchers to come in to help after some particularly troubling, unexplained disturbances.
Besides these two prominent ghosts, there are reports that the spirits of guards, prisoners, and even children have been experienced by visitors. In 2014, when this building was the site of the Maritime Museum, and the Empress of Ireland exhibit was on display, the unexplained disturbances reached a fever pitch. The Empress of Ireland is known as the worst peacetime Maritime disaster in Canadian history, on the same scale as the Titanic. On a misty morning on the St. Lawrence river, the Empress of Ireland was on its way from Quebec City when it was hit by a Norwegian cargo ship and within minutes, it sank below the waves of the dark St. Lawrence waters. Over one thousand people lost their lives on that disastrous morning. When the Maritime Museum brought the exhibit to Victoria, it was an opportunity for the public to learn about this little known tragedy in Canada’s history. What they didn’t expect is that when a room that had been sealed for over thirty years was opened, it let loose something that began to wreak havoc on the museum. Pictures were reportedly thrown from the walls, artefacts moved and many visitors reported seeing poltergeist activity during their visits!
In 2015, the Maritime Museum moved to a different location and the Courthouse was closed to the public due to required seismic updates. However, you can still walk by the Courthouse in the wee hours of the morning, take a peek in the windows and see if you can spot one of these spectres!
2616 Pleasant St, Victoria, BC V8T 4V3
In the early 1860s Point Ellice House was the home of Peter O’Reilly, a prominent Gold Commissioner and Judge in colonial Vancouver Island. The home was then owned by the O’Reilly family for over 100 years until it was sold to the Province of British Columbia in the 1970s. Today, the home stands as a testament to the Victorian era in Victoria with unique trinkets from the past, engaging exhibits and unique architectural features. However, it isn’t just the home’s unique exhibits and historical importance that draws visitors today – this home is one of the most haunted sites in Victoria!
There have been sightings of a lady in a blue dress thought to be Kathleen O’Reilly wandering the halls and one story where a group of visitors were shown around the home by this apparition! Others have claimed to have seen objects move on their own, hear footsteps in the unused attic and even hear someone whispering “please don’t lock me in”. Brrrrr…..
Point Ellice Bridge, today more commonly known as the Bay Street Bridge, was the site of a massive street car crash in May, 1896, claiming 55 lives of the 140 passengers. During the annual Victoria Day celebrations, street car number 16 was full of passengers who had, moments before, been waving flags and singing songs on the Point Ellice Bridge when suddenly the wooden bridge gave way plunging the street car into the cold, deep waters of the Upper Harbour. Many were trapped in the car as it made its slow descent into the black depths, others were killed by falling debris and others, helpless as they watched the light of the streetcar grow dimmer and dimmer as it was swallowed by the sea. During the rescue efforts, Peter O’Reilly looked on from his home at Point Ellice House later recalling in his diary “Very bright sunshine – but a day of mourning – four divers still engaged in the endeavour to recover the bodies from the wreck of yesterday – vast crowds surround the fatal spot – boat launches steamers and a large derick [sic] constantly at work. 49 bodies taken out up to the present.” One of the neighbours even allowed for their property to serve as an ‘open-air morgue’ until authorities could deal with all the victims properly. The disaster had such an effect on the O’Reillys that an image of the collapsed bridge hung in their home for years after.
To this day, it retains the dubious honour of being the worst streetcar accident in North America. There have been many sightings, late at night, of a red light, exactly the same as the one that disappeared into the depths all those years ago, hovering just above the water.
913 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1X5
When it comes to Victoria’s list of family owned and operated businesses, Rogers Chocolates takes one of the top spots for longevity. In 1885, Charles Rogers opened a green grocer on Government Street in downtown Victoria. It was a popular shop, not for the fruit and veggies, but for the chocolates that Rogers imported from San Francisco. Rogers soon decided to make the chocolates himself and his first recipe was for the Victoria Creams that are still popular to this day. While Charles and his wife Leah were successful in business, they were worried about one of their sons who was troubled. Their worry was not unfounded as one day, on public transit, he decided to light some explosives. The prank backfired, literally and metaphorically – he was unable to get out of harm’s way fast enough and lost several fingers. In years since, long after the original family passed away, there have been several reports from staff at the original Rogers Chocolates location that a handprint will appear on the monitoring mirror that is installed in the shop. Not only are these mirrors intentionally placed on the ceiling and therefore, have to be accessed by a ladder but the staff noticed that the handprint was always that of someone missing several fingers. After each time the handprint was wiped away, it would appear again only a few days later.
Additionally, there are many reports of rocking chairs in the office moving on their own accord and in one particularly interesting incident, a customer had a chocolate thrown at their head after biting and replacing a chocolate sample that was’t to their liking.
500 Fisgard St, Victoria, BC V8W 1R4
In Chinatown, Fan Tan Alley has made appearances in movies and TV shows, and has thousands of people walk through it every year. It’s a very cool part of Victoria’s architectural heritage and has great shops to wander through. But many people also have reported that they have experienced being pushed quite hard while walking through this famous alleyway only to look around and see no one close enough to do so and no one looking at them as you would expect if you’d just been pushed off balance. Many historians believe that it could be linked to the story of a young man named Chan, who fell hopelessly in love with a popular entertainer of the time, a slave girl named Yo Gum who was owned by the wealthy and powerful businessman Yo Tang. Chan went to see Yo Gum one night and asked her to marry him, she couldn’t so the next night he gave her a vial of poison to kill Yo Tang and free herself to marry Chan. Yo Gum was far too scared to poison Yo Tang and refused to do as Chan had instructed. Chan watched as admirers of Yo Gum flocked to her apartment and in a rage he took a cleaver and as Yo Gum leaned out her window, beheaded her. Chan ran frantically through the streets and finally turned down Fan Tan alley where his path was blocked by dozens of men who had emerged from the gambling dens to stop Chan. Chan fought with all his strength, pushing through the throng, breaking free and running out the other end of Fan Tan alley. He was later discovered, sentenced and imprisoned where he hung himself. For Yo Gum, an elaborate funeral was arranged by Yo Tang where no expense was spared to try to prevent her spirit from getting caught in the world of the living. It appeared to have been successful as there have been no reports of hauntings in the building Yo Gum was murdered, but in Fan Tan alley, you might find yourself being pushed out of the way by the spirit of Chan as he forever attempts to run from his heinous crime.
1495 Fairfield Rd, Victoria, BC
Built in Victoria’s earliest days, the Ross Bay Cemetery is the final resting place of many of Victoria’s most prominent figures. It is widely known as one of Canada’s most haunted cemeteries and is said to have four resident ghosts, Isabella Ross, David Fee and an unnamed elderly couple, although there are probably many more. While it is discouraged to visit the cemetery at night, mostly due to vandalism, if you’re a respectful ghost hunter or just interested in the paranormal you’re more than welcome to visit in the evening. No matter where you’re staying in Greater Victoria, it’s worth the drive at night as there have been many successful phenomena caught on camera in the cemetery.
Isabella Ross was a Métis woman whose father worked for the Hudson Bay Company. When their family was moved to Vancouver Island, her father quickly became the Chief Trader in Command in Victoria and enjoyed an illustrious career. After his death, the family moved to a remote area on Pugent sound but it wasn’t long before Isabella moved back to Victoria and proceeded to purchase 99 acres of land, officially making her the first woman to be a registered land owner in Victoria. After her death, she was buried on her land at the site of the Ross Bay Cemetery and has been reportedly seen walking through the headstones.
David Fee was by all accounts an upstanding citizen who at 28 years old, was shot at close range on Christmas Eve, 1890 as he left midnight mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral downtown Victoria. At the time, people were shocked at the violent and public murder of a figure who was so beloved in the community. It would later be discovered that David Fee was the victim of misidentification and that the foreman who was supposed to be shot that evening, Thomas Deasy, was known to wear a white raincoat, the same type of raincoat that Fee was wearing that fateful evening. Buried at Ross Bay cemetery, he is now known to wander through the gravestones wearing the white raincoat that caused his death.
1110 Beach Dr, Victoria, BC V8S 2M9
Right after Bastion Square, the most well known haunting in Victoria is undoubtedly Doris Gravlin at the Victoria Golf Course in South Oak Bay. Doris was a young nurse in Victoria who met and fell in love with Victor Gravlin, the sports editor for a local paper. According to friends and family at the time, Doris and Victor loved each other very much but as time passed, Victor’s alcoholism worsened as did his treatment of Doris. One day in 1934, Doris left Victor and began a life of her own working as a private nurse to a wealthy woman in the area. For two years, Doris built a comfortable life for herself without Victor, despite his attempts to reconcile. Eventually Victor’s persistence wore her down and Doris agreed to meet with him on September 22, 1936. On that evening, she told her employer that she was going out for a walk and left the home wearing a pair of white kid leather shoes to meet Victor at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. She never returned. Five days later a caddy at the golf course discovered her shoeless body near the ninth tee as he was searching for a ball. When law enforcement arrived, it was determined that it was a homicide and the search for Victor began. It would be a month before a fisherman would discover Victor’s body along the same shoreline, tangled in kelp. On his person, they found Doris’ white shoes that were missing from the crime scene. Victor’s death was later determined to be a suicide as he was unable to live with himself for what he’d done to Doris. Since that night over eighty years ago, Doris’ spirit has been seen wandering the golf course alone during the very early hours of the morning. If you’re staying in Victoria, you can wander by the golf course on a spooky October evening and see if you can catch a glimpse of Doris!
835 Humboldt St, Victoria, BC V8V 4W8
Built in 1858, St. Ann’s was the very first Roman Catholic Church in Victoria. Thirty years later, in 1886 a girls school was added to the church and in 1910 the gardens and summerhouse were constructed. By the early 1910’s St. Ann’s was a successful all girls’ Catholic school with full enrollment and magnificent grounds. For almost fifty years, as the city grew up around it, the Academy remained a jewel in the Victoria architectural and educational landscape until its decline in the late 1960s. By 1974, it was sold to the Provincial Government to be used as office space but the magnitude of the buildings and grounds were impossible to maintain and it fell into disrepair. Eventually, it was condemned by the city of Victoria and boarded up. Years later, funds were allocated for a restoration project to bring the Academy back to its former glory. Today, visitors can visit and walk through the exquisitely restored interior and see what it was like in the early 1920s. With so much history in one place, it’s no wonder that there is so much paranormal activity in these halls! There are reports that phantom voices can be heard singing in the chapel, nuns have been seen gliding along the passages, children are often heard talking and giggling as you walk through the buildings and a particular priest seems to always be hanging around the kitchens. In one story, there was a meeting that was being disturbed by the raucous play of children down the hallway. One of the people in the meeting left and asked a staff member to see that the children be more quiet – only to be met with a confused stare. There were no groups of children in the building at the time and yet, the entire meeting had heard them. St. Ann’s, it seems, is filled with the spirits of the people that lived there and dedicated their lives to their faith. This is a perfect spot for guests staying downtown Victoria to head out for a nighttime walk past this haunted building and see if you can experience anything supernatural!
1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5
In 1890s Victoria, the mining and railway tycoon, Robert Dunsmuir, was one of the wealthiest men in the city. His dream was to build a European-style castle for his personal residence in Victoria and began construction on Craigdarroch Castle. Sadly, he passed away a year and a half before it was completed, leaving the project in the hands of his sons. Despite Robert’s passing, the Dunsmuir family was known for throwing lavish soirees for other prominent families in their incredible home. Today, staff and volunteers regularly report hearing whispers as they move throughout the haunted house and some have even reported seeing small objects moving by themselves. Others have said to smell burning candles and hear the piano being played but when they check to see where the smell or sound is coming from everything is in order. Some visitors who have taken photos while touring the castle have even said that there is an apparition of Joan in the photos when they look at them later. This castle draws thousands of visitors every year but in the fall, after the main tourist season is over, is the best time to visit! At this time of year, you’ll find that it’s quiet making it the perfect environment to take some photos and see if you can catch one of the resident ghosts on camera!
2005 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC V9B 5Y2
James Dunsmuir, the son of Robert Dunsmuir who took over construction of Craigdarroch Castle after his father’s death, began construction on his own castle in 1906. Modelled after the Edwardian castles of England, Hatley Castle was completed in 1908 and remained in the Dunsmuir family for thirty years. During their life, the Dunsmuirs loved the castle, it was James’ escape from public life, Laura’s dream home where she could socialize in style and had enough room for their growing family. When their eldest son, James Jr. was grown, he decided to leave the safety of Victoria and join the war effort but his ship was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland and sank into the water of the Atlantic. The loss broke the hearts of James and Laura; James was despondent for a time and thereafter was changed and Laura suffered from insomnia and terrible nightmares. James eventually passed away in 1920 in his Cowichan Bay fishing cottage leaving Laura in the castle until her death in 1939. Six months after Laura’s death, her daughter, Elanor passed away at the age of fifty. Shortly after, servants began to complain about unusual occurrences in certain rooms and feeling like they were being followed or watched. There were several maids who refused to enter rooms of the house alone. After the castle had been turned into a naval academy, there were many stories from cadets who say they were awoken by the sensation of someone pulling at their legs and when they awoke they would see a woman standing at the end of the bed pulling at them. Many believed that it was the spirit of Laura, still grieving her son and trying to save the young men. More recently, a visitor to the castle who was taking pictures later discovered that she had inadvertently taken a photo of what appeared to be a woman, who looks an awful lot like Laura, in an old fashioned hat on the stairs! When a local news outlet went to the castle to cover the story, they themselves captured a light phenomena on their cameras. You can see what looks a bit like a reflection floating towards and away from the camera for a few minutes before disappearing through a door. The technician interviewed said that while he can’t confirm that it is a spirit, the unusual sighting certainly isn’t a reflection as it would only move in a straight line before disappearing. Around the same time, another couple who came to visit the castle experienced some frightening phenomena after they returned home from their tour. They were awoken in the night by the crying of what they though was their own baby. But when they went to comfort the child, they found that their baby was sleeping soundly. This same occurrence happened for a few nights until the couple realized that the noise was coming from a baby monitor that wasn’t working! After contacting a psychic, they were told that the spirit of a nanny that had worked in the castle had followed them home. Like Craigdarroch, this castle draws crowds in the height of tourist season and slows in the fall. No matter where in Victoria you’re staying, this castle is worth a visit whether it’s to catch a glimpse of a ghost or just enjoy the beautiful grounds and architecture.
Every day, thousands of people drive down the tree lined Shelbourne St. without knowing that this popular thoroughfare is the site of a strange phenomena. Many people have claimed that around 2:00 – 3:00 am, they experience a time warp where suddenly, they are no longer driving down a paved, four lane road but rather a small, overgrown gravel road. As they continue to drive, it suddenly turns back to the paved, four-lane Shelbourne St. What makes this story so interesting is that this occurrence has been incredibly well documented by drivers over the years, many of whom are taxi drivers lending credence to this story. After hearing about this phenomena, historians found images of Shelbourne St. from the early days of Victoria and it is a small, overgrown, gravel road just as the drivers had described. Set your alarm and head out for a drive down Shelbourne in the wee hours of the morning and see if you can experience the Shelbourne St. time warp yourself!