Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

October 31, 2010

Dinner and a Ghostly Walk in Haunted Victoria

Since it's Halloween, I'm going to post these pictures of the night of October 21, 2010, when Moriah & I did the Ghostly Walks tour.  

I met up with Moriah for dinner at The Noodle Box on Douglas Street.

As I mentioned, I forgot to shoot my meal when it arrived, so I shot the take out box instead.

Another cool painted orca near the Visitor Center on Government Street.
 Waiting for the tour to start, we took advantage of the photo op from above the Causeway.

Our guide, Jason, showed up at 7, and the Ghostly Walks started at 7:30.  He had a walking stick with a skull head on the top.  We first stayed on the terrace above the Harbour in order to see the area he was going to talk about.  He started by telling us a brief history of the area.  The Songhees First Nations people were the original residents, but of course were pushed out by the white exploiters....erm, I mean explorers... and settlers.  One such exploiter was William J. Pendray, who showed up in Vic in 1875 and proceeded to clear sacred Songhees land for his soap factory.  The Songhees have a tradition of putting their dead in boxes or blankets and hoisting them into trees so the spirit would be sure to leave the body.  Pendray cut the trees down and dumped the bodies into the harbour.  The Songhees across the water paddled over, and tried to reason with Pendray and warned him that he'd be sorry if he continued to desecrate their ancestors in such a way.  Pendray continued with his soap factory, which promptly burned down the day it was supposed to open.  His home also burned down that night, and his wife reported that she was being chased out of the house by demon shapes in the fire.  Apparently she was so frightened that she never uttered another word and died 3 months later.  He moved to the mansion that is now known as The Gatsby Mansion, which is a currently a restaurant and hotel.

Pendray rebuilt a new factory on the site of the burned one.  He had pipes in the ceiling for sprinklers.  One of the pipes came loose, swung down and smashed him in the head, killing him instantly, and as Jason said, "It was a closed casket funeral."  One of his sons also killed himself with a bullet to the head.  People who stay in the Gatsby Mansion's honeymoon suite are often frightened by a floating head in their room.  It happens so often that the staff always keeps one room in reserve, so that when a guest asks to be moved, they are moved with no questions asked.  The Laurel Point Inn is built on the site of the old factories and guests also report feeling cold spots and seeing things in the shadows, having their stuff rearranged, or they wake up in the middle of the night to find the TV on.  I need to make it a point to check out the Inn next time I'm in town, but I am not sure if I'm brave enough to stay there.  ;-P

Jason also mentioned, to my utter surprise, that the hotel I was in, the Grand Pacific, was designed by a Feng Shui master, at the request of the Asian owner who was having it built.  He knew about the paranormal activity on that side of town and wanted to ensure that the spirits were not going to scare his guests.  That's why the front doors of the hotel are on either side of the sweeping, curved glass windows, not directly in the middle.  The columns in the lobby aren't lined up, and there are lots of curves and turns within the hotel.  

We next went across the street to the Empress Hotel.  Construction began on the Empress in 1904, it opened in 1908, and the wings were added around 1910 or 1914.  It was in the little garden on the Humboldt Street side, and directly below the hotel that we learned about the little old woman who'd moved there and who occupied a room there.  She died in her room in the early 50's.  Years later during renovations, they opened the 6th-8th floors and needed to put an elevator shaft in, so they used the old lady's room for the elevator.  Now, guests on that floor sometimes see an old woman who asks them if they can help her find her room, but when they go out in the hall to assist the woman, she disappears.  Other people have reported seeing a man with a mustache who bears a resemblance to Francis Mawson Rattenbury, the architect who designed the Empress and Parliament.

We continued our walk up Humboldt Street and learned about gruesome murders that took place in the area during Victoria's rough and tumble days of the late 1800's.  The next stop was at Rogers Chocolates, in Old Town. Moriah had checked out the tour itinerary in advance, and she brought some Rogers Chocolates with her for us to share during the stories!!!  Wasn't that a brilliant idea??  The ghosts of Charles and Leah Rogers haunt their old chocolate shop.  When the shop started making milk chocolate versions of the Rogers' original recipe, the staff would come in in the morning to find all the milk chocolate candies squished on the floor. Only the milk chocolate.  They actually had to have a seance  to assure the Rogers that they had to change with the times in order to stay successful.  The staff would also come in to find trays or things moved or adjusted.  

Our next stop was around the block back on Government Street.  The buildings have shops on the ground floor and living space above.  In the 50's a woman was living above one of the shops, and was startled to see a man staring at her from the window across the street.  It freaked her out.  She'd close the drapes, but every time she'd peak out, he'd be there.  It went on night after night.  Her friends even saw the man, and they made a police report.  The cops checked it out but found nothing.  The building across the street from the woman's place was the old Victoria Bank and a man named Robert Service worked there, but he was a poet.  He would sleep in the vault at night for security purposes.  I'm not 100% sure of this part of the story, but I think Jason said that one stormy night in Jan. 1904, he heard voices and crept out of the vault to see who was in his bank.  As he was going through the dark room, he bumped into something and when he looked to see what it was, it was a body.  He then noticed that the room was filled with them, all recently drowned as they were wet and cold and frozen in terror.  That was the night that the Steamship Clallam sank in the storm, off Vancouver Island.  52 people drowned and washed up on the shores, and the bodies were being taken to that building b/c I think it also housed the morgue.  It scared him to death, and he went to the Yukon to the gold rush era, where he penned his poems.  He's known as The Bard of the Yukon, and he died in 1958.  That old bank building is now The Bard & Banker Scottish Pub, because Robert Service was both a banker and a bard.  It is now thought that the ghost the old lady saw was that of  Robert Service, who returned to the building after his death, the scene of the most terrifying night of his life.

By the way, if you want to read a chilling account of the night the Clallam went down, click HERE.  Whoever wrote it really paints a terrifying picture of what happened that night.

The next place he took us was a small and quaint locked courtyard, called Camille's Courtyard.  Jason had a key for it though, and led us inside.  Moriah and I sat on the edge of a cement planter.  To our right, was a window and inside is Camille's Restaurant.  I can't remember the specific story details, but for the fact that it involved a couple deeply in love, her name was Camille, who met there or lived there or had an affair there or something.  The table we were looking at is one where diners have reported smelling cigar smoke and perfume.  When they ask the waitstaff what's going on, the waitstaff suggests that they set another place setting on the table.  If the people say no, they generally end up having a bland, cold, conversationless meal and/or date.  But if the people agree to the extra place setting, the wine flows, and the laughter and fun is nonstop.  

While in Camille's Courtyard, Jason also told us to look up at the top floor windows in the wall behind him, and which we were all facing.  I had already been looking up there.  All during the story about Camille's, my attention was drawn to those 3 darkened windows looming above us.  He told us that there was a very malevolent spirit reported to haunt the top floor, especially the center window.

Just as Jason mentioned the center window, I shot this picture, using my flash.  It lit up the ceiling through the windows.  When I got home and downloaded my pics to my computer, I was really surprised to see these 2 dark but translucent looking shadows on either side of what is the center window.  Please click on the picture to see a larger version, because the shadows are very visible. 

I wrote to the Ghostly Walks people and emailed them my picture.  This is the response I got:
Hi Joanne,
Your photo of the building in Camille's courtyard is interesting. I have two thoughts about it. The first isn't very exciting - you said you were sitting on the cement planter in the centre of the garden... the dark shadows might be leaves from the tree. Barring that, I have no other explanation for them! Keep searching through your photos and you're bound to get something! Thank you for sharing the photo with us!
Happy H(a)unting,
Ghostly Walks

I'd also thought it could have been the leaves in the tree that was in the planter that we were sitting on.  But I was also zoomed all the way in, so the leaves wouldn't have been in the shot like they'd have been if I hadn't zoomed in.  Besides, the explanation of leaves is so dull, isn't it?  I prefer to think that I got a shot of a ghost.

Next we went to Bastion Square, which is the site of old Fort Victoria, and Helmcken Alley.  The jail and gallows were located there and so the area is very active with the sound of rattling chains, footsteps and someone dressed in prison clothes is seen there.  Normally I've entered Bastion Square from Govt. Street, but to be honest, I've never spent much time in there.  There used to be a summer Arts Festival and I would check out and purchase local art, but I never ventured into the alleys off the Square at all.

This is a well, where a young boy fell to his death in the early 1900's.  It's been reported that a child's voice can be heard coming from it.  I think Jason said that the well was eventually covered over and when this building was being built in the 70's, the well was found and incorporated into the design of the building, which is on Helmcken Alley too.

Next we approached a small tunnel, leading from the Alley, which is reported to have a malevolent presence that dwells in it, and the homeless won't even camp there even though it provides shelter. It is believed that a prison guard caught and beat a prisoner to death in this part of the Alley. I didn't feel anything when I went through it, but I can tell you that people don't seem to have any problem using the tunnel as a bathroom...What amazed me is that I have walked past that alley and tunnel so many times on my various trips, and never noticed it. 

We'd just gone through the tunnel and were about on the sidewalk, when I spied this in the dark corner of the wall.  

We finished the tour in this dark room that was done up with skull candles and all kinds of great, spooky stuff.  Low lighting too.  Jason had us all take a seat and he told us a few more stories, and about the body that had been discovered in the foundation of the original building that stood there, and he pointed to the back corner of the room which was lit softly.  It was the perfect way to end the tour.  

As we exited the room and out into Bastion Square, this cute scene was set up near the door.
If you ever visit Victoria, I cannot recommend this tour enough.  I took the one that covers the Empress, Gatsby Mansion and Parliament, and while that was interesting, this part of town has way more paranormal and ghostly activity.

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2010

Inner Harbour

After I left Fisherman's Wharf, I walked back to Inner Harbour on the Waterside Walkway.  

Inner Harbour & Empress Hotel

I love this glass tiled orca.  It's been in the city since my trip in 2004.

Outside a souvenir shop on the Causeway, below the Visitor's Centre.

This is the pedi-cab guy that started playing the "Rocky" theme while starting to pedal up the hill.  I love how the tourists in the back seat are smiling and waving at my camera.

I Was There!

Nootka Court

One of my fave souvenir shops, Nootka Traders

Nootka Court

This is one of my fave views in the city, and I see this in my dreams a lot, whenever I have a Victoria-themed dream.  It appears so often in my dreams that I actually remembered to take an actual photo of it.  It was taken on Government Street x Courtney Street.

October 27, 2010

On the Waterside Walkway to Fisherman's Wharf

Looking back at the Empress Hotel and the Victoria Clipper that I had just taken.
Arbutus tree.

Johnson Street Bridge

Pretty foliage

This is some kind of crazy cedar tree.  I've never seen them anywhere else but in Victoria and Vancouver Island.

Looking back at Inner Harbour again

Laurel Point Cannon

Harbour Ferry

I love murals and I love orcas.

An inviting trash can.

Barb's Fish n Chips, a floating restaurant


...Where Buoy Meets Grill....

Nom nom nom nom

Fisherman's Wharf


Phone booths.  Not sure why this pic is so crooked.

Fisherman's Wharf Park.