Haunted British Columbia

This week we travel to two major cities in the province of British Columbia, Canada—Victoria and Vancouver. Both cities lie on the southern west coast, close to the state of Washington in the United States. But there the similarities end.

Quaint Victoria, located on the tip of Vancouver Island, is considered more haunted than any city in the province. Why? Some say it’s because of the 6000 years human beings have lived in the area and the ghosts left behind from so many lives. Others say that ley lines beneath Victoria create strong magnetic forces that not only attract spirits but also magnify their energy.

Modern and young, Vancouver has an ebullient vibe that belies its ghostly past. Vancouver is known as “The Hollywood of the North” because of the many movies and television shows that have been filmed there.

The Ghost Architect of Victoria

British Columbia’s Parliament Building as designed by Francis Rattenbury via Wikipedia.

British Columbia’s Parliament Buildings are haunted by many ghosts. But the most famous ghost to walk the halls of the Parliament Buildings is Francis Rattenbury, the architect who designed many of the buildings in Victoria in the 1890s, including the Parliament Buildings. Though successful in Canada, he was brutally killed and buried in an unmarked grave in England. Here is his story…

  • Rattenbury served as an apprentice to learn architecture–no formal education.
  • Designed the Legislative Buildings in Victoria and won a prestigious award.
  • Was known to be egotistical and arrogant.
  • In 1923, he left his wife and two children for a 27-year-old woman who had been married twice before. Most of his clients and business partners turned their backs on him because of the way he treated his first wife.
  • Rattenbury and his young wife moved to Bournemouth, England. Not long afterward his wife became lovers with their 18-year-old chauffeur.
  • In March 1935, Rattenbury was found in his sitting room. Someone had bludgeoned his head with a carpenter’s mallet. The blows were savage enough to remove the back of his skull and send his false teeth flying. He died four days later. The chauffeur was found guilty of the murder, the wife was acquitted of being an accessory after the fact, but she committed suicide a few days afterward. She stabbed herself six times in the heart with a dagger and then threw herself into the River Stour at Christchurch.
  • Despite Francis Rattenbury’s outstanding career, he was buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery close to his home in Bournemouth. In 2007, 72 years later, a headstone was erected as a lasting memorial, paid for by a family friend.

Why It’s Supernatural

  • A committee clerk was so frightened by the sight of a figure in a black cloak floating along the hall that she had to be escorted out of the building by security.
  • It is believed egotistical Rattenbury has returned to haunt his most famous edifice to seek the recognition he craves, as he remained unknown in England.

Go There:

501 Belleville St, Victoria, BC V8V 2L8, Canada, Victoria, Canada

The Fairmont-Empress Hotel

The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC

The Fairmont Empress is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria. It was also designed by Francis Rattenbury. This hotel graces the harbor where the Victoria Clipper comes in from Seattle. You can enjoy high tea there or stay in one of the more than 400 rooms—if you dare…

Emily Carr via Wikipedia.

Why It’s Supernatural:.

  • A thin man with a mustache and cane is often spotted by guests and is assumed to be the ghost of Frances Rattenbury, who died a horrible death and was buried far from his beloved buildings.
  • A maid has been seen on the sixth floor still cleaning after her death.
  • An old woman knocks on the doors of guests, asks for help in finding her room. She leads guests to the elevator and then vanishes.
  • Emily Carr, B.C. most famous and beloved Canadian writer and artist haunts the hotel’s pub. Carr died there in 1945 when the hotel was used as a private hospital. She sometimes opens and shuts doors and plays pranks.

Go there:

721 Government Street, Victoria, BC, Canada

The Restless Nuns of St. Ann’s Academy

St. Ann’s Academy via Wikipedia.

St. Ann’s Academy was built in the mid 1800s by the Roman Catholic Congregation of Women the Sisters of Saint Anne of Lachine, Quebec. It was a boarding and day school as well as convent and novitiate. Many nuns were buried on the grounds in their own cemetery from 1864 through 1908. These nuns were exhumed and moved to the a new plot in the Ross Bay Cemetery in 1974.

In 1973, the sisters sold the property to the provincial government of British Columbia. For a few years it was used as office space until it needed so many repairs that it had to be closed. Years of public debate on what to do with the building went by. The sisters, perhaps the original founders, were so concerned that their ghosts began to be seen at the front of the building.

Or some think the ghost nuns are looking for their graves.

Eventually, the interior of the building was gutted, rebuilt and opened in 1997. Most of the the building was leased to the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, a use consistent with the Sisters’ aims. The rest of the property is used as an venue for concerts, weddings and interpretive center.

There is also a rumor that Thomas Hooper, the architect of St. Ann’s, killed people and had them poured into the foundations to give his buildings “souls.”

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • Ghostly nuns are often seen on the grounds in the early morning.
  • An eerie presence is experienced when walking around the building.
  • Dark figures in doorways.
  • Mysterious singing at night.

Go there:

835 Humboldt Street, Victoria, BC, Canada

Riverview Hospital Hauntings

Riverview Hospital via Atlas Obscura

This old psychiatric hospital was opened in 1913 and was still in operation until 2012. At one time, Riverview Hospital was known as Essondale Hospital, named for Dr. Henry Esson Young (1862-1939) who was a major player in establishing the facility. The site is now used for movie/television productions such as: Saw, Watchmen, Smallville, The X Files, and Supernatural. Riverview Hospital is the most filmed location in Canada.

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • Film crew members and security guards see shadowy figures, apparitions of former patients and staff, a phantom dog, strange lights, and objects moving on their own.
  • Some hear disembodied footsteps and voices, doors and windows banging, and patients’ bells ringing in empty wards.

Go there:

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

The Headless Worker at Waterfront Station

Waterfront Station via Wikipedia.

Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1915, Waterfront Station housed restaurants and a dance hall on the west side. The east wing contained full-time residences and lodging for travelers. Waterfront Station is now a major hub for all public transport. The east wing has a restaurant and the rest is used as office and storage. 

What It’s Supernatural

  • Security guards and other people who work there have reported apparitions and poltergeist activity.
  • A ghost of woman in 1920s flapper dress dancing alone to music has been seen.
  • Many report seeing a glowing white, sad, older woman.
  • Three old ladies on station bench appear as if waiting for a train. 
  • Phantom footsteps are heard.
  • The ghost of rail worker Hub Clark, decapitated while working in 1928, has often been spotted.

Go there:

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Dark Side of Burnaby Art Gallery

Burnaby Art Gallery via Wikipedia.

Burnaby Art Gallery started off as a private residence constructed in 1911 for businessman Henry Ceperley and wife Grace and designed by British architect R.P.S. Twizell. The elegant Craftsman home is surrounded by beautiful gardens and grounds and overlooks Deer Lake. After the deaths of the Ceperleys, the city of Vancouver bought the property and used it as a tuberculosis ward until 1939.

Later, an order of Benedictine monks moved in. Then in 1954, a cult led by William Franklin Wolsey, took up residence there. The cult became known for bigamy, incest and child abuse. Wolsey, on the run from the law, ended up fleeing to the United States in 1960.

Next, the home became a fraternity for students of Simon Fraser University. They abused the already rundown building and claimed they couldn’t sleep because of paranormal activity. In 1966 the Municipality of Burnaby bought the mansion with plans to renovate it and use it as a gallery as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations. The renovations unleashed an increase in paranormal occurrences. Psychics and mediums that have visited feel the presence of monks, tuberculosis patients, a malevolent male and other unknown spirits.

Burnaby Art Gallery is featured in the book Haunted Museums and Galleries of Canada, by Andrew Hind

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • Employees experience phantom footsteps, drops in temperature and have reported tools being moved.
  • Grace Ceperley is seen in and the halls, invoking feelings of peace and tranquility in onlookers or sadness and loneliness. Grace was known for her love of children, and the suffering of innocents apparently prevents her from resting.
  • Employees have heard the sounds of children crying in despair. One ghost is a girl about ten years old, whose sadness is felt throughout the building. These spirits are thought to be the victims of the sadistic cult leader. 

Go There:

Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

The Many Lives of Hycroft Manor

Hycroft Manor via Wikipedia.

Built in 1911 for General Alexander Duncan McRae and wife Blaunche, this 20,000 square foot, thirty-room mansion was donated to the government in 1942, when it became a veterans convalescent home until 1960.

In 1962 the University Women’s Club of Vancouver took over the mansion and restored the home to its former glory. It is now used for private events, weddings and a Christmas craft show. Hycroft Manor is also a favorite set for filmmakers and television production companies.

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • Seven ghosts making noisy disturbances have been reported in the hallways.
  • An older gentleman in WW1 uniform has been seen. Many believe the apparition is General McRae.
  • Visitors report seeing the ghost of a well-dressed lady, mostly likely Mrs. McRae. 
  • A woman in a nurse uniform has been seen.
  • Three ghosts of veterans, The Pranksters, open and close doors and mess with the lights.

Go There:

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Published by Patricia Simpson

Patricia Simpson is an award-winning author of paranormal and fantasy fiction.

2 thoughts on “Haunted British Columbia

  1. This was such a brilliant read. I had no idea that places like Waterfront Station and Burnaby Art Gallery are haunted. I wouldn’t go near the old psychiatric hospital, it looks so creepy 🙀 thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva


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