This is Helmken Alley at eleven o'clock yesterday night, a squalid and ghost-infested little hole between buildings where all manner of dark things have occurred all around and nearby. Prisoners beaten and murdered. Hangings. Suicides. Mysterious bodies unearthed in the foundations of buildings.
And recently it seems, a number of folk have also taken a whiz here. Grim.
So what was Spider Girl and friends doing in such a place you might ask?
Well, we were listening to local historian and talented storyteller John Adams tell us unearthly tales and spooky legends on one of Victoria's nightly ghost walks, a walk which took us from the Inner Harbour where the Tall Ships are visiting--- past the very-haunted Empress Hotel, past haunted walkways, haunted restaurants, haunted hotels, and even haunted chocolate shops. We concentrated on the Bastion Square area.
It seemed as if every building had a tragic story or a tale of passion and woe, indubitably ending in a resident spirit or two. Even the pub we'd had dinner in (The Bard and the Banker) was rumoured to be haunted by the poet Robert Servicewe found out afterwards.
Victoria is often billed as the most haunted city in British Columbia. Easy to believe that (or not believe I suppose, depending on your level of skepticism).
In fact, a four-day paranormal conference is being held here just next week. I'm predicting a imminent rise in spook-based tourism.
As for me, I'm quite interested in the possibility of ghosts. Although I've never seen a ghost, enough things have happened that have raised the hairs on the back of my neck to make me go hmmmmmm in a thoughtful fashion. That, and I was raised with many, many family ghost stories which I would bug my dear old great-auntie to tell again and again.
Aside from the Ghostly Walk walking tour (which I'll recommend as good for both exercise and entertainment),this weekend in Victoria took me from the haunted fairways of Victoria's golf course to the peaceful lanes of Ross Bay Cemetery to eating samples this morning in the delicious chocolate shop that was on the ghost tour the night before.
Saturday afternoon my dear friend Tai drove me out to the golf course where one of Victoria's most famous ghosts resides. It was a glorious summer afternoon out there on the manicured green where I briefly trespassed (most assuredly not being a member of any golf club whatsoever). I wasn't sure where the notorious seventh fairway was located, but if we were anywhere nearby the ghost of poor murdered Doris, she was lying low. Apparently she can be quite a startling spirit to observe--flying around in the air and even walking right through cars on the road we came in on. No such luck this day.
Next we went to the very old and beautiful Ross Bay Cemetery. It's my favourite kind of cemetery with mossy mausoleums and tall, leaning moss-covered gravestones. Not like those soulless modern places where evey marker has to be flat as a pancake so that the ride-on lawnmower can sail over without a fuss.
It's rumoured to be haunted of course. But the only unusual thing we saw was an extraordinarily approachable crow that lit in a tree right beside us and studied us closely as we looked at the graves.
This morning, after Tai once again showed off her mysterious powers at finding a parking spot in the hideously crowded downtown core, we retraced some of the steps on the ghost-tour. We revisited the yucky haunted alleyway, purposefully walked along a street where a ghost has supposedly shoved a few people into the path of traffic (yep, we laugh in the face of danger, uh huh), didn't get shoved...
We also had a delightful conversation with an employee of the Maritime Museum (the former site of the coutroom of Matthew Begbie, the "Hanging Judge"), which is known as a place just chock-full of grumpy ghosts.
He was one of those folks that starts out the conversation seeming to call the whole idea of ghosts "ridiculous nonsense" and then goes on to qualify that statement by mentioning all the times things have mysteriously levitated across the gift shop in front of multiple witnesses. Including himself. Heh. :)