Was That Really Elvis Spotted Having A High Tea In Victoria?
Who’d have guessed that the city that we visit for high tea and whale-watching, where they bang out a few laws to keep us in line and drain our wallets of tax money, is the most haunted city in all of Canada?
Well, I didn’t. I just go for the view and the great dinners. Yes, Victoria, home to our parliament buildings, The Empress Hotel and their traditional high tea, (apparently the English are jealous 'cos we’re much Englishier than them. I know Englishier isn’t even a real word; I just invented it!) and more ghost sightings in all of Canada than your local haunted house on All Hallows Eve.
Actually the parliament buildings and The Empress Hotel are where some of the spookier denizens hang out. Both were built by Francis Rattenbury. He was found later brutally slain in his home, by either his mistress or her young lover. Neither confessed. Never recognized as a great architect, he’s buried in an unmarked grave and it's reported that his ghost has been seen in both buildings, still craving the recognition he deserves.
The Empress also boasts of an elderly lady dressed in pajamas who knocks on hotel doors and leads guests to the elevator before disappearing, and a maid so dedicated to her work she still polishes the china to this day. Very stiff-upper-lip service.
But the fun doesn’t end there. At the Chateau Victoria it has been reported many times that staff in Clive’s Classic Lounge have tried to wait on a distinguished old-fashioned lady sitting at the bar, and that the elevators sometimes stop at every floor without anyone touching the buttons. The hotel sits on the site of a former white mansion once owned by Miss Victoria Wilson.
And you can’t even have a relaxing game of golf in this city without ghosts yelling "Fore!" and barging their way through. Usually in April, at the Victoria Golf Course -- the second-oldest golf course in North America and the oldest golf course in Canada -- people have spotted Doris Gravlin wandering the course. She was strangled here by her husband in the spring of 1936. Yes, some people take their golf very seriously and heaven help you if you touch their balls.
In Bastion Square, where the pubs, markets, and hustle and bustle of tourists hang out, it's reported that in nearly every alley and building after dark you can find ghosts hawking their wares. Hey, they’re even open to haggling and they’ll throw in a finger or two to sweeten the deal.
In Market Square, once the red-light area of Victoria, near Johnson Street, you can still find someone to give you a good time for a screaming good price in a dark alley. Even lovely Beacon Hill Park claims the ghost of a woman seen around sunrise, who was murdered nearby.
St. Ann’s Academy, a former convent, still houses the original cemetery with several nuns buried there. In the wee hours of the morning nuns have been seen patrolling the grounds. Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most famous painters, has been seen at her home on Government Street and the James Bay Inn. Looking for that last scene for another famous painting?
Many more ghosts have also been seen in Chinatown, Langham Court Theatre, Ross Bay Cemetery, and Hatley and Craigdarroch Castles. No, you won’t find these in the tourist brochures. Pioneer Square, built over a former cemetery housing more than 1200 bodies, also reports lots of ghostly unrest.
Roger’s Chocolates, located on Government Street, is the oldest chocolate shop in Victoria and one of the first in Canada. The couple worked all hours, slept in the store, and have been sighted there on many occasions. Apparently they have quite a sweet tooth and haven’t left yet. Oddly though, high above a door near the front, a child’s handprints can be seen.
And to answer the question, with all those ghosts running around, yes, Elvis has been spotted so many times eating at Nautical Nellies on Wharf Street, a block from the Empress, that they're inventing a dish in his honour of chicken, banana and peanut butter to add to the menu. Guess they want to keep him coming back to belt out renditions of Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog on full moon nights.
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And coming from Books We Love in the Spring.
A penitentiary is a dangerous place and into the world of the criminal enters a saint. Well, bearing rattles and guardian beasts, the native born find him a saint. To the rest he's more nuts than a squirrels winter stash. There's a god asleep, awakening. Humans that seek justice and a sprite that needs justice from humanity.
So what makes you want to break into one?
You can ask Charlie, but he ain't telling.
And if he did you wouldn't believe it in a dozen lifetimes.
Come enter, the madness this spring.
Or check out this upcoming book signing with me and Suzanne De Montigny