Spirited Pubs

By Glen Cowley


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They are old and hold mysteries. Stories sad and otherworldly are pressed deeply into the fabric of their being. They are the haunted pubs of Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea.
Numbering more than the nine listed here, they all have charms above and beyond a haunting presence to make them worthy of stepping through their doors.

Christie's Pub – 1739 Fort Street, Victoria
Carriage maker Eldridge Christie built “Sandolph” in 1898 in the Queen Anne style and it remained a residence until 1948, after which it passed through differing incarnations. Destined for the wrecking ball, the elegant abode was saved by a group of investors to become Christie's pub in 1986. Restored in refined Edwardian style, its walls hold vestiges of those who went before. From ghostly taps on the shoulder to eerie noises emanating from the attic and chilly auras, the past lingers, yet, in no way deters from the welcoming appeal of this impressively restored mansion. Mike, the bartender here since 1988, spoke of the female ghost that occupies one of the stalls in the women's washroom and occasions the pub proper; a contention supported by experience and psychics.

The Bent Mast – 512 Simcoe Street, Victoria
Built in 1884 by a Hudson Bay man, the years-worn walls have known use as a rooming house, brothel, student residence, erotic gallery and numerous restaurants. Known as the Bent Mast since 1995, its ghostly inhabitants are plentiful. Downstairs resides a grouchy old man who likes to move things around, while the stairway is home to two playful children known to have made themselves visible to children but otherwise annoy adults with their noisy ramblings. Upstairs resides a nice old lady who is believed to be the ghost of a former resident who was assaulted outside the building and subsequently died of her injuries. Add to these the rude gentleman in the red fedora and a smattering of entities keen on flipping items about and you have a haunted pub extraordinaire. The Bent Masts' philosophy has been to let the permanent residents have their space and all co-exist well in this most warm and inviting setting.

Four Mile Brew Pub – 199 Island Highway, Victoria
The fourth oldest building in Victoria, the Four Mile was built as a way station along Sooke Road. It has been rated one of the Top 10 haunted buildings in British Columbia and has known use as an inn, cabaret and even a brothel before police raids put an end to that existence. It languished until 1979 when it resumed its Inn ways. Today, the singularly impressive Tudor-style building rests impressively amid its tended grounds. The comfortable appeal now includes the unique offerings of a brew pub.

Its ghosts are many. Inside the pub, over the hearth, is a stained glass feature of a lady in white. A once-resident of the Inn, the White Lady is said to haunt the nearby shoreline, still timelessly waiting in vain for her husband, a ship's captain, to return. She is joined by a phantom customer who likes to leave his chair askew after visits and one Jake Matteson. Jake was the original stakeholder of the property in the 1840s, who, legend has it, kept a stash of gold hidden on the grounds. In the upstairs window, there is, on occasion, viewed a lady in a full length gown staring over the garden. The belief is she is Margaret, daughter of Peter Calvert, the original builder. To these folks are added tales of eerie footsteps, tapping teaspoons and items disappearing, reappearing and moving about.

Most poignant is the alleged presence of the spirit of Elizabeth Calvert, wife of Peter, who became a local healer respected by both whites and First Nations. Her healing aura is said to pervade the building.

17 Mile Pub – 5126 Sooke Road, Sooke
This old way station on the road to Sooke dates from the 1890s and the days of the Leechtown gold rush. One of four local roadhouses granted royal charters, it began life as the British Ensign. Its life later included incarnations as a school and home for religious teachings.

The ghosts of two former owners share the pub's space. Mrs. Mary Jackson ran the pub from 1910 until her death in 1941 and was followed by Edith “Ma” Wilson who oversaw the operation from 1941 until 1970. She passed away in her rocking chair in the main floor sitting room. The management of the pub subsequently remained with the Wilson family. Photos of both pub matrons adorn the walls and, it is said, one of them likes to sit by the window and watch the road coming from Victoria. The forever matrons are joined by the ghost, a friendly one, reputed to be the boyfriend of Mary Jackson, who either hung himself in the building or killed himself outside on the hill. The management is rebuilding a scrapbook on the pub's haunted history; the original having been stolen by a less-than-considerate customer.

The Bard and Banker – 1022 Government Street, Victoria
Drawing its name from the Klondike bard Robert Service, who once worked at this impressive legacy of Canadian banking, there are stories of unexplained shadows. Rumour is an unknown lady walks the building's second floor being, on occasion, seen at the window. A story, indeed, for the pen of the poet who walked these resplendent floors himself between 1903 and 1904. A stunning environment to savour a brew.

The Shoe Pub – 9576 Chemainus Road, Chemainus
The well-maintained Horseshoe Bay Inn has graced its locale since, at least, 1892, having begun its existence as posting house for horse and carriage, as well as a residence for sailors and loggers. There are stories of spirits that move things, play non-existent pianos, walk the hallways and occasionally play poltergeist. Some say it is the ghost of a former owner unwilling to move on, while others think it may the unsettled spirits of two Japanese men murdered by a racist mob. Whatever the source, the spirits are held to be friendly and are sometimes joined by a phantom black cat with white paws and white tipped ears.

Lantzville Pub – 7197 Lantzville Road, Lantzville
The time-honoured Lantzville Hotel and its pub have been holding court in the same spot just north of Nanaimo since 1925, and the age-worn walls have known a tale or two. The story began when Rosa Caillet, a recent immigrant from France, along with her son, Abel, started a new hotel in the small mining town. In 1932, she passed away, though the stern photo of her on the pub wall still has her overseeing affairs. Her ghostly presence is felt to haunt the hallways of the venerable old structure. Her beau, Jim Tweedhope, reputedly has been seen, jacket clad, standing at the bar.

A further story holds the antique bar hales from an establishment in Missoula, Montana, much favoured by Jesse James. If you ask nicely, you may be shown the filled-in bullet holes.

The Black Goose Inn – Ocean Beach Acres Resort, Parksville
Nestled amid the trees and a healthy stone's throw from the waterfront rises the themed Scottish hunting lodge, which was originally a home built in 1921 by famed architect Samuel McLure. Its visitors have included writer Rudyard Kipling and actress Faye Rae. The period-maintained interior is worthy of a visit in itself and is added to by the warm English-style pub service.

It may well be its two resident ghosts harken from the residence days. Andrew, the basement ghost, is a bit of a prankster given to moving things around and opening doors. The perceived spirit on the upper floors is thought to be that of a lady.

Heriot Bay Inn – Quadra Island
Located beside the ferry dock for Cortes Island, the Heriot Bay Inn has owned its spot, in one form or another, gazing upon the ocean, since 1895. In that year, Hosea Bull built the first inn, which succumbed to flames in 1912. Quickly rebuilt, it has remained in operation since. Unique and inviting, both inn and setting are worth a special trip.
Hosea may be gone, but at least two spirits hold closely to the walls. One is a sad lady seen to be knitting in a chair or wandering the halls looking for a man fated never to return. She is not without humour, however, being held responsible for moving furniture around. A second apparition, who walks the second floor, is more felt than visualized. He is thought to be the spirit of a man who was either murdered or was guilty of murder.

Other haunted pubs worthy of a visit for those of inquiring mind include: Six Mile Pub of Victoria, the Springwater Lodge at Miner's Bay on Mayne Island, the Crown and Anchor outside at Qualicum Bay on the Island Highway and the Breakwater Inn at Lund on the Sunshine Coast. All have their unique tales and apparitions.

In all, what better places to enjoy a brew and contemplate eternity!

FEBRUARY 2016 INSPIRED SENIOR LIVING

 

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