Fall is here and Halloween is on its way, which only means one thing: it’s time to get spooky. Dressing up and watching scary movies is fun, but there’s nothing like seeking out the real thrills in life. Victoria is widely known as the most haunted place in British Columbia, and for good reason. Nearly every building has a spooky story attached to it. Here are just a few of Victoria’s best spine-chilling spots.
1. Ross Bay Cemetery
Photo by @maribethhaines
When someone asks where the best place to find ghosts is, the answer will likely be a cemetery. The Ross Bay Cemetery in particular is beautiful. It’s by the water, and it has a very peaceful vibe. However, there do exist rumours of the undead residing among the gravestones. One woman in particular, Isabella Ross, is said to haunt the grounds. Isabella was the first registered female landowner in B.C., and she owned the land where the cemetery now sits, hence the name “Ross Bay”.
Other notable graves are those of famous artist Emily Carr, BC’s first governor James Douglas, and Billy Barker of gold rush fame.
Like any infamously haunted place, Ross Bay Cemetery will give you chills if you go later in the day. Everything just seems to get spookier at night. If you’re too nervous to go in person, an online tour is available – but where’s the thrill in that?
Enjoy your visit to Ross Bay Cemetery, but remember to be respectful of the people buried there.
Admission fee: free
2. Shelbourne Street
Shelbourne St. is a regular city street during the day, but people have reported experiencing a sort of “time warp” late at night, usually while alone. The cityscape becomes a rural countryside, unrecognizable to the person. They sometimes see or hear carriages rolling by, or the surrounding houses appear older. Don’t let this put you off driving down Shelbourne, though. The experiences usually don’t last long, so if it happens to you, don’t be afraid.
Admission fee: free
3. Fan Tan Alley
Head on down to the oldest Chinatown in Canada and find this tiny tourist attraction. Famous for being the narrowest alley in Canada, Fan Tan Alley is a unique treasure trove of boutiques.
Fan Tan has a dark legend behind it, involving the murder of a girl named Chan. A boy didn’t take being rejected by her well (does any boy ever?) and killed her in a crime of passion. He ran to hide in Fan Tan Alley but was eventually caught. He hung himself in his jail cell, and now he haunts the alley. You can read the full story told here.
Admission Fee: free
4. Pioneer Square
From 1855 to 1873 Pioneer Square was the main burial ground of Fort Victoria. Now located at the edge of downtown, it’s an inconspicuous looking memorial park. People sit at the benches, talk to friends, and take pictures of the fall leaves. If you believe in the paranormal, and you’d like to encounter it, this place is a good bet. Pioneer Square is the final resting ground of 1,300 people, and it is said to be haunted by several of them, including the very classic apparition of a woman in a white dress.
Admission fee: free
5. Fort Rodd Hill
If you prefer exploring to just standing around, waiting for ghosts, then make the trip up to Fort Rodd Hill, an old coastal artillery fort. You’ll be making your way through old gun batteries and command posts, and standing in the same spot where people stood hundreds of years ago. The most interesting feature is the Fisgard Lighthouse, the main attractant for tourists.
Fort Rodd Hill isn’t known for its ghosts, but being in the most haunted city in BC, it isn’t a stretch to say that some spirits would reside there.
Admission fee: free until January 2018 (Get your free Discovery pass here)
6. Bastion Square
In the heart of downtown, between the waterfront and the Bay Centre, Bastion Square is one of the most haunted places in BC. Innocuous at first, the square gets creepier the more you learn about it. One of the possible reasons for increased paranormal activity in the square is the jailhouse that used to sit on top of it. Prisoners who died there and were unclaimed were simply buried on site, and they are still buried there to this day.
This was the place I felt the most nervous in, despite it being the most populated. I felt like I was being watched and felt especially uncomfortable near Helmcken Alley, pictured below, where it’s said that a prisoner was beaten to death.
Admission fee: free, but bring money to spend in the square’s stores.
7. Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations. The building was established in 1890 and was originally home to the Dunsmuir family. The castle has four floors, as well as a tower, that can be explored any day of the week, between 10 a.m and 4:30 p.m.
The house isn’t advertised as haunted, but there have been weird occurrences that can only be explained by a supernatural presence. Hints of ghostly presences can be found if you look (spy a Ouija board on the couch by the pool table.) Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, the house maintains an eerie feeling throughout. You will be pulled through time and get lost in the overbearing grandeur of the castle.
Admission fee: $9.25 for students, $13.95 regular
8. Hatley Castle
If you’ve already been to Craigdarroch Castle and want more, Hatley Castle is your next stop. Hatley, like Craigdarroch, also belonged to the Dunsmuir family. It now serves as the administrative centre of Royal Roads University.
Many people flock to Hatley because of it’s use as a set in movies like Deadpool or TV shows like the CW’s Arrow. However there have also been reports of paranormal events. One story says that a maid committed suicide at Hatley Castle and haunts it still.
Admission fee: $18.50
This is just a short list of popular spots, but you’re in Victoria, so your ghost hunting adventures can be endless.You can even get guided ghost tours, so you don’t have to do all the navigating by yourself. Where is your favourite spooky spot in town? Let us know so we can all be scared together!