The amount of reported hauntings in Victoria is so overwhelming that our two post coverage is just scratching the surface! In part two, we’re covering all the haunted places and ghastly ghost stories around Victoria, outside of downtown!
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. If you’re staying nearby at Beach Drive Manor, Craigdarroch Executive or Manor Suite off Rockland, 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!
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 at Barkley Manor Executive, you can wander by the golf course on a spooky October evening and see if you can catch a glimpse of Doris!
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. Even if you’re staying as far away as the Oceanside Lodge on Saanich Inlet in north Saanich, 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.
- 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.
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 it’s 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. Just a short walk away from Beacon Hill View Condo, James Bay Studio Stay and Seaglass Suite in James Bay, this is a perfect spot for guests to head out for a nighttime walk past the grounds or go visit in the day and see if you can experience the supernatural!
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. After the castle had been built, his wife, Joan and children remained in the castle until Joan’s passing. Even after Robert’s death, the Dunmuirs were one of the wealthiest families in Victoria, throwing lavish soirees for other prominent families in their incredible home. Today, staff and volunteers regularly report hearing whispers as they move throughout the castle 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, it’s the best time to visit no matter if you’re coming from Metchosin at Arbutus Hill or if you’re staying around the corner at Manor Suite off Rockland or Craigdarroch Executive. At this time of year, you’ll find that the castle is quite quiet which makes it the perfect environment to take some photos and see if you can catch one of the resident ghosts on camera!
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. Modeled 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. Whether you’re staying just a few minutes drive away at Station Villa Executive, Nature’s Gate Executive or Camden Green Mews or as far as Pendray House at the top of the Peninsula, this castle is worth a visit whether it’s to catch a glimpse of a ghost or just enjoy the beautiful grounds and architecture.