Vancouver Ghost Tour
I took the Ghostly Vancouver Tours’ Ghost Tour of Gastown in June 2019 when I was visiting my youngest daughter Charlotte. The guides name was Anuar, and he gave an excellent tour. It has many ghosts, for a city that is just over 150 years old. It lasted about 90 minutes.
First, he started by giving an history of the city.
The first non-native settlement in the city limits of Vancouver was about 1862 at McCleery’s Farm, in the vicinity of what is now the Southlands area.
Lumbering was the early industry along Burrard Inlet, now the site of Vancouver’s seaport. The first sawmill began operating in 1863 at Moodyville, a planned settlement, the Hastings Mill
A former river pilot, John (Jack) Deighton, set up a small saloon on the beach about a mile west of the sawmill in 1867 where mill property and its “dry” policies ended. His place was popular and a well-worn trail between the mill and saloon was soon established – this is today’s Alexander Street. Deighton’s nickname, Gassy Jack, came about because he was known as quite the talker, or “gassy”. A number of men began living near the saloon and the “settlement” quickly became known as Gassy’s Town, which was quickly shortened to “Gastown“. In 1870, the colonial government of British Columbia took notice of the growing settlement and sent a surveyor to lay out an official town site named Granville, in honour of the British Colonial Secretary, Lord Granville, though it was still popularly known as Gastown (which is the name still current for that part of the city).
The new town site was situated on a natural harbour, and for this reason it was selected by the Canadian Pacific Railway as their terminus. The transcontinental railway was commissioned by the government of Canada under the leadership of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald and was a condition of British Columbia joining confederation in 1871. The CPR president, William Van Horne, decided that Granville was not such a great name for the new terminus because of the seedy associations with Gastown, and strongly suggested “Vancouver” would be a better name, in part because people in Toronto and Montreal knew where Vancouver Island was but had no idea of where Granville was.
Under its new name the city was incorporated on April 6, 1886. Two months later, on June 13, a spectacular blaze destroyed most of the city along the swampy shores of Burrard Inlet in twenty-five minutes. The Great Vancouver Fire, which destroyed the city, was eventually considered to be beneficial, as the city was rebuilt with modern water, electricity and streetcar systems. Things recovered quickly after the fire, The first regular transcontinental train from Montreal, Quebec arrived at a temporary terminus at Port Moody, British Columbia, in July 1886, and service to Vancouver itself began in May 1887
The Tour began at Waterside Station. Were The Canadian Pacific Railway ended and the were the City and its Port got its growth.
Our first site was at the sharp end of the J W Horn Building built just after the fire. It’s unusual thin triangular shape is due to the street set up before the fire. Up to January 2018 it was a Antique store with some edgy Occult things called Salmagundi West. at the time of the tour it was a hardware store.
The Manager of the store Anna Banner one afternoon after she closed the shop, approached a small cabinet, in which was a locket. Drawn to locket, when opened mist came out of the locket. This mist went up to the ceiling. Seconds later a cast iron kettle that was secured to the ceiling came crashing down. The line holding the kettle up had been untied.
The large basement has most of the hauntings. Voices heard, dark figures seen, including man in full brimmed hat. Patricia a medium worked in the basement. She was in the storage room, having lunch when she felt a heavy presence behind her. She tells this presence to back off. She then describes this spirit to the then owner Anne. Five foot 11 inches slim not unhealthy slim, glasses, thin grey beard, short grey hair. She got the impression his name was Gerry. The previous owner Lynn had given Anne the shop before she died of cancer. Her husband Gerald helped Lynn occasionally run the shop until he too died. Anne was the only person knew his nickname was Gerry. She believed he was still popping into the store after his death.
Final story from this site also comes from Patricia, little room where she did her readings by the workshop. She was reading Tarot cards with Anne’s daughter a female voice was heard counting numbers. The tour company did research into the building and the first business to occupy the building was an accountancy firm. That room was used by the accountants.
The next stop was on the junction of Cambie and Water. This is the location of the famous Gastown stream lock. Built in 1977 city when the city was remarketing Gastown. The mechanism no longer run-on stream but electricity, as the heat effected sizes of the parts making them inaccurate. The hour and the quarters operate the steam driven whistles. This was also the site of the original saw mill; this was discussed in detail.
We moved on, to the junction of Water and Abbott to the Lamplighter Pub. Built in 1899, one of the oldest pubs in the city. There has been Poltergeist activity, one time after closing a glass came off the rack and was fling across the bar to smash on the floor.
Old Spaghetti Factory. This is a restaurant with an old Vancouver trolley car put inside when it was being built in 1969. It has a number of tables for diners inside it. The trolley car came with one of its old conductors as a ghost. Seen often by diners in the trolley. This ghost has been seen in other locations in Gastown, and on one occasion photographed. Another ghost in the building is that of a little boy. First seen in 2010, by a female member of staff. After the restaurant was closed, she heard the boy giggling behind her. He was dressed in Victorian style clothes. He runs across the restaurant and hides under a table. She looks under the table and the child is now facing her. Instead of eyes he has deep black holes. She ran to the manager explaining what she saw and then resigns on the spot.
At a later time, a medium held a scène in The Old Spaghetti Factory. She said there was a portal at the back of the restaurant where the spirits came through. She contacted the spirit of the little boy and discovered his name was Edward.
Next stop is Maple Tree Square were there is a statue of Gassy Jack real name John Deighton born in Hull. Finding himself on Pacific West Coast hearing stories of gold, which he doesn’t find. He opens a bar for the other prospectors, called the Globe Saloon after Shakespeare’s theatre. He goes away for a weekend holiday. He leaves it with his business partner, who is American. It is the weekend of the 4th of July. The patriotic business partner gives away drinks on the house. Jack comes back to find himself ruined. He hears of the Hastings Mill on the site which is now Vancouver. Takes a canoe and his last barrel of whisky. He finds the mill is dry (no alcohol) so he sets up his bar outside the boundary of the mill. It is a roaring success. A community builds up around the mill and the bar. John becomes rich and powerful. The name Gassy Jack came from John’s endless gossiping’ which was known as Gassing at the time. He became the unofficial Mayor so they named the town, Gastown after him.
Around the corner in a little alley is Gaoler’s Mews. In the nineteenth century there was one constable Jonathan Miller. Used to live on a site in this alley, which housed the first jail in Gastown. It was more of a shed, than a jail where he would lock you by the ankles. No judge in city, so prisoners had to wait for the visiting judge to trial them. There were also problems with the local tribes. He wrote for assistance, as he feared for this life working alone. After the fire a new building was build with housing for 5 extra officers and a courtroom.
In Gaolers Mews, were the L’Abattoir French restaurant is now used to be Irish Heather, Irish Theme pub. When the pub was being set up a contractor was working at night. He heard sounds coming from a room he had just left. He found the lamp swaying and the items he had left on the table now on the floor.
At a later time, the manager of the pub was working on the books when he heard heavy boot steps and sounds of dragging chains and clinking chains. He looks down the hall to see what is causing all these sounds, there was nobody there. His Wife would also hear her name whispered to her while she worked above the bar. This is still happening to this day, but only to female staff. Could be related to a female figure seen in the alleyway. The Woman in Black.
The Woman in black is mainly seen in blood alley nearby. Which was our next location. Originally called Trout Alley, it was always locally known as blood alley. This is due to the fact, that it had been the site of several butcher’s shops. The butchers pulled their live stock out into the alley to slaughter them. People walking up and down Carrall Street would see blood flowing out of the alley, so it was renamed Blood Alley. The other reason it was called blood alley, as it had a reputation for muggings some of them violent.
The Alhambra Hotel high class hotel, was around the corner. It supplied all its guests wanted including the services of “Ladies of the Night”.
If they needed an abortion, they could not go to a doctor, but had to turn to the butchers of blood alley. The woman in black is seen gliding down bent over as if in pain. A lady on previous ghost tour suffered abdominal pains while being in this alley, only for them to go away as she left. She said she was a medium she put this down to the spirit pf the lady in black.
We moved on to Dominion Hotel open in 1925 (above the Gas Lighter Pub) as another high-class hotel. It is now a pub and during the conversion from a hotel, the contractors were replacing flooring in the building. They found a second layer of floor underneath. In the middle of the main room, they discovered on the second layer of flooring, there is a pentacle has been drawn. As they rip up this flooring they get to the site of the pentacle, they find a box underneath. This is about the size of a coffin. They decide not to open the box but put the flooring on top. Someone now lives in that room with the box underneath. Bodies have been found in walls in Gastown over the years, this could be why they decided not to open the box.
The next stop was by the rail lines at the Waterfront Station. This is the story of Hub Clark a railway brakeman, working on a train one rainy night in November 1928. He slipped off a freight train onto the track. Knocked unconscious he lay there until a passenger train ran over him cutting off his head. On dark wet nights railway workers have seen a figure with a dim light, if they look harder, they see he has no head. This Vancouver’s most famous ghost story.
Next, we went to The Landing, as a wedding was underway inside, we could not go in. The Landing was built as a big warehouse for the gold prospectors in the early 1900’s. Now house microbrewery and pub plus offices and small shops. A new concierge was working the graveyard shift saw a woman in white in the building, as the doors are looked, he goes to find out who she is, and she rises her arms. He notices at this point that she is soaking wet, water is dripping off her. She cackles at him; he turns his head to check the front door. When he turns back, she is gone and all is left is a pool of water. He tells his manager about this in the morning. The manager said “I think you have met our Lady in White”. Some say see as a woman whose husband went to sea and drown, or she went to sea herself and drowned.
The last site was behind the Waterside Station. The station is the third on this site the previous two being destroyed by fires. This one was built in 1915. Many changes to the building have happen during and since WWII. Recently the night manager was working in the station hallway, when he heard 1920 ragtime music. There is no sound system in the Station. He then sees a woman materialize wearing the clothes of 1920’s flapper. She dances down the hall and round the corner and disappears. The next story is about a security guard seen on the CCTV a balloon moving ahead of the guard at the same speed. The guard does not seem to see the balloon, and when he is about to catch up with the balloon it stops. The guard then moves out of shot without seeing the it. After he is gone the balloon then follows him.
The final story at the station involves the subbasement where the public are not allowed, it is all locked up. The security guards will go down there from time to time. One of them turns a corner and sees an old woman. The light is on her face, which has an expression of terror on it. Their eyes lock, he can now see the woman is screaming. He turns around goes and clocks out of the building. He goes home and tries to get some sleep, but for the next two weeks, he sees her in his dreams. Not only in his dreams, but he sees her face everywhere. He is a talented amateur artist and decides to paint her portrait. He hangs the portrait near were he saw her, and the face stops haunting him. Now days the portrait has been moved, it has been moved downstairs by the rubbish bins. A female security on here first night goes down to the bins and sees the portrait. She knows that there is sometime weird about it. This guard was into the occult and the paranormal. She decided to mark the hands and face of portrait to seal the ghost into the portrait. Since then, there has never been a sighting of that ghost.
That was the last story of the tour.