West Shore has rich haunted history

West Shore has rich haunted history

Ghosts can sometimes be seen roaming the halls of Hatley Castle

From the outside, the mountainous walls of Hatley Castle loom tall, but deep in the depths of the castle lurk supernatural figures.

One such ghost who can be seen wandering the halls of the Colwood castle is that of a famous Victoria family.

The castle was originally built by James Dunsmuir, who served as premier of B.C. and lieutenant governor, and his wife, Laura in 1909. The couple had a number of children, including the youngest son, Jim, who was nicknamed Boy Dunsmuir. Jim was just 21 years old when World War One broke out.

Fed up with waiting and eager to fight for his country, Jim quit his local regiment, got on a train to New York City, and boarded the RMS Lusitania bound for France. But just off the south coast of Ireland, the vessel was torpedoed by a German submarine. Thousands of men lost their lives, including Jim, though his body was never found.

Back at Hatley Castle, James was heartbroken by the loss of his son. He would spend the nights pining away in his study, located on the ground floor of the castle, endlessly playing a record called Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight. Equally upset about her son’s death but fed up with the music, Laura stormed into his study one night and broke the record.

James passed away shortly after. It is said he may have died of a broken heart from losing his favourite son.

To this day, workers have seen or heard strange noises coming from the castle, and in particular what used to be James’ study.

Some say they’ve heard music playing, shuffling footsteps and the sound of cupboards being opened and closed, as if someone was pacing back and forth looking for something.

Walking Tour – Online Commercial from realist films on Vimeo.

The ghost story is one of many on the West Shore and across the region that historian John Adams has collected over the past three decades.

Adams runs Ghostly Walks, a walking tour that explores Victoria’s haunted alleyways and gruesome past. While the tours run year-round, Adams normally sees an uptick in people around Halloween.

“Some people really do like the adrenaline rush of being frightened, that’s why horror movies are quite popular. The mystery is very much a part of it,” Adams said. “People like the idea of a good story, especially if it relates to someone they know, it becomes more compelling. People like the thrill, the drama, they like to get spooked.”

During the tours, Adams also tells the story of a number places in the West Shore that are supposedly haunted, including Fort Rodd Hill and the neighbouring lighthouse.

When it comes to the Dunsmuirs, the story doesn’t end with the death of James and Jim.

Jim’s mother, Laura was always convinced her boy wasn’t dead and that he would one day return to the castle. After her death in 1937, the family dispersed and the Canadian government acquired the castle, turning it into Royal Roads University.

When the college first opened, Jim’s room and surrounding areas were turned into dormitories for young cadets. But according to Adams, many cadets were too afraid to venture up there and go to sleep. Many reported seeing the ghost of an old woman, presumably Laura, who would stalk the dormitory and stand at the foot of every bed to see if one of the cadets was Jim.

When the cadets were sleeping, if Laura’s ghost couldn’t see their faces, she would slowly pull back the sheets.

“Workers have seen ghostly presences, especially in the lower level which used to be the kitchen,” Adams said. “Certainly there are lots of presences there.”

While Adams said many ghost stories have been well documented, some blur the line into urban legend, and it’s up to participants to decide what’s fact or fiction.

Ghostly Walks Halloween Tours run at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. starting from the gate at Market Square (560 Johnson St.) For more information visit ghostlywalks.com or call 250-384-6698.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

Colwood

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Saanich is giving local businesses a break by waving renewal fees for 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich waives business renewal fees for 2021

The municipality raised $48,000 from businesses licences in 2020

The Sooke school district has filled all spots for their French immersion and nature kinderagarten programs in 2021-2022 school year. Regular kindergarten registration is still open and available. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke school district gets surplus of nature, French immersion kindergarten applications

Not enough room for almost half of nature kindergarten applicants

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read