Do you believe in ghosts?
I do. One day walking home from Douglas College in New Westminster, I walked past Irving House Museum. As I got closer to the house, I saw a middle aged lady dressed in a long dress with a high collar sitting on the steps. As I stepped closer, she got up and started moving towards the large shrubs that surround the house, and she vanished. I kid you not, true story.
This got me interested in the history of the house. Who was that lady? it turns out that my first ghostly encounter was with Ms. Mary Irving, the daughter of Captain Irving, whom attachment to her childhood home reaches from beyond the grave.
So for your reading pleasure, I present you Haunted Vancouver, and here they are, my favorite Vancouver “haunts”:
Irving House Museum
The Irving House Museum was the former home of the Irving family from 1862 to the 1950s. Staff and visitors have seen the ghost of Captain William Irving, the man who built the house, sleeping in his old bed where he passed away. Sometimes, the imprint of a body can be seen on the bed. Footsteps can be heard for no apparent reason and some staff members have heard a voice calling their name. Several visitors have reported animal heads on display turning their heads.
Affectionately called “The Lady in Red” , in this life she was known as Jennie Pearl Cox, and she was a regular at the hotel’s ballroom in the 1930s and ’40s. She met her demise in 1944 and she’s been seen on the hotel’s 14th floor ever since. There have been several sightings by staff and guests, mostly of her going through elevators shafts that have been bolted shut decades ago.
I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting The Lady, regardless of my countless trips to Hotel Vancouver and the 14th floor.
This gorgeous Shaughnessy mansion, now owned by the UBC Women’s Club, is believed to be home to as many as seven ghosts. One, an older man in a World War I uniform, a woman who is seen weeping while standing by the staircase, as well as three others who are thought to be First World War vets who died when the mansion was a Veteran’s hospital from 1943 to 1960. One more is thought to be the head nurse from that period.
This building is most likely the most haunted building in downtown Vancouver. Several security guards have reported ghost sightings ranging form an old lady reaching out for help, to a young woman dressed in 20’s attire dancing by herself on the corridors.
Burnaby Art Gallery
Formerly Fairacres, this house was built by tycoon Henry Ceperley in 1909. When his wife Grace died, She stated in her Will that if the house was sold, the proceeds were to be given to the City of Vancouver for a playground in Stanley Park. Contrary to his wife’s wishes, Henry kept the money when he sold the house in 1922.
After several decades of different owners, William Franklin Wolsey, who was a wanted man in the U.S. bought Fairacres and started up a cult called The Temple of the More Abundant Life in 1954. There were reports of bigamy, incest and ritual abuse of children. He escaped to the U.S. in 1960 after his cult activities were discovered. From 1960 until 1967, this mansion was a dorm for Simon Fraser University. The City of Burnaby evicted the students in 1967 and decided to renovate the mansion for a new art gallery.
During and after the renovation, the ghostly activity and haunting began. There are sightings of a woman dressed in an white gown who strolls the halls and walks through walls. There is also the figure of a man in old fashioned clothing who stands at the top of the main staircase. These two ghosts are believed to be Henry and Grace Ceperley. The theory is that Grace walks the halls to protest Henry’s failure to honour her Will and her concern over the abuse of children when the cult occupied her home.
East of Glenbrook Ravine Park is the site of Woodlands School which was closed down in 1996. Opened in 1878 as the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, it was changed over to a residential school/home for the mentally disabled in 1950. Former nurses and health care workers reported hearing doors opening and closing for no apparent reason or children’s’ voices at night when the residents were sleeping. In 1970, the provincial government ordered all the headstones removed from the graveyard and sold to developers and unsuspecting homeowners. Many people who used these stones for walkways or driveways began to experience paranormal activity in their homes. Once the source was discovered, several people took the stones back to Woodlands for re-burial.