Did you know the Bastion Square area is the "Heart of Haunted Victoria"? This blog post offers a handful of ghostly tales about the square.
The Downtown Victoria Business Association acknowledges that its membership area is located on the unceded territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples, known today as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.
Bastion Square is a beautiful and historic space, stretching from Government Street to the waterfront. Its name comes from the Hudson’s Bay Company bastion and fort that once stood in that place. Bastion Square is often called the “Heart of Haunted Victoria” because virtually every building that rings the square is said to host a ghost or two. Even before colonial settlers arrived, indigenous communities believed this area had strong mystical powers.
Read on for some stories about this spooky spot in downtown Victoria.
Love and Loss – Wind Cries Mary
Wind Cries Mary is a beautiful restaurant, serving rustic foods in a comfortable and modern setting. Like many of the buildings in Bastion Square, it is also said to be haunted. Two ghosts, in particular, are seen, a man named Brady and a woman called Lady Churchill or Charlotte. One night, the pair was supposed to meet when Brady got into a fight. His opponent smashed a bottle and cut his throat. He soon died of his injuries. People believe that in the years since then, they come back from time to time to relive happy times together. Supposedly, when they are around, you can smell cigar smoke and heavy perfume in the air.
Creepy Courthouse – The Former Maritime Museum
One building stands out from the rest when you enter Bastion Square: the old courthouse. Many know it as the former Maritime Museum of British Columbia. It was completed in 1889 and was designed by Hermann Otto Tiedemann, a German architect who also designed the original Birdcages buildings. It was used as Victoria’s courthouse until 1962 and the courtroom with its original judge’s bench, jury benches, and prisoner’s dock are still there. The city gallows in the 1800s stood right outside and some unclaimed bodies and bones of those executed remain buried beneath the spot to this day. While most buildings in Bastion Square are haunted, the old courthouse is said to be the most haunted of the bunch. A slender figure gliding down the main staircase has been seen and is thought to be the ghost of Victoria’s infamous “Hanging Judge”, Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie.
The Mysterious Murder of Michael Powers – Garrick’s Head Pub
Garrick’s Head Pub sits at the Government Street entrance to Bastion Square and has been a popular spot for a drink since it opened in 1867. In the late 19th century, Victoria’s jailhouse and gallows stood in Bastion Square. People frequented the pub before watching a public hanging. Like most buildings in the square, it’s haunted. In fact, it supposedly has a couple of different ghosts. One has been seen sitting by the fireplace on chilly winter nights and is thought to be the ghost of Michael Powers, former owner of the pub, who was mysteriously murdered over 100 years ago.
Alarming Alleyway – Helmcken Alley
Helmcken Alley leads to Bastion Square. The site, including the alley, was once the city jail. Some believe that one night in the 1850s, a guard beat a prisoner in the alley, killing him. People have heard the rattling sound of chains or even seen a man in shackles walking the alley and following them.