By Molly Lorette, Peak Associate
Frequently, the notion of a “haunted place” brings to mind images of decrepit old houses, abandoned hospitals, or perhaps decaying castles along a stormy coast. While I could certainly see myself choosing to haunt such a place given the choice, I can’t imagine many ghosts have the luxury of meeting their forever home in a place predisposed for dramatics.
As a matter of fact, rumours of hauntings span far further in context, as well as closer to home in proximity, than one might expect. Here are a few haunted locations local to Vancouver that have managed to captivate my imagination.
Originally opened in 1941, the Vogue Theatre is well loved as a live performance venue. I can personally say that I’ve seen some of my favourite artists perform within its walls, and partaken in a few too many drinks as I’ve cheered them on. Unbeknownst to me, however, a spirit may have been in attendance as well.
It has been said that a ghost of unknown identity haunts various locations within the Vogue. Though he has been sighted on the audience-level occasionally, primarily he is spotted within the working areas of the venue, including the stage, the projection booth, the catwalks, and the basement hallways. A narrow corridor has even been nicknamed the “Haunted Highway” by staff members due to the paranormal activities experienced there, as well as the generally creepy atmosphere the area possesses.
One of my favourite fun facts to tell friends when the topic of ghosts arises (surprisingly frequently) is that there are two locations of the Old Spaghetti Factory that are supposedly haunted. I suppose I can’t blame ghosts for wanting to eternally stay for spaghetti dinner, that garlic butter bread is to die for! One of the two haunted Spaghetti locations is in Gastown, and actually hosts four spirits within its dining halls.
The most notorious of these spirits is the ghost of a uniformed tram conductor in the trolley car situated in the restaurant. While a few differing theories exist to explain his presence, he has nonetheless been spotted after hours once patrons have left.
The second ghost is a mischievous red-haired ghost who resides in the kitchens, allegedly following employees and calling them out by name! The third ghost is a young boy who has been spotted running amok between tables after hours, even bending cutlery. Finally, the fourth spirit is that of a little girl holding a balloon near the front of the restaurant. While she appears to be harmless, the image of her would personally terrify me.
From approximately the late 1880s until the 1950s, a series of grand railway hotels were built across the country, designed to service the guests of the cross-country rail service in luxury. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, constructed between 1929 and 1939, served as Vancouver’s premier destination after the closure of two preceding Fairmont locations. Given the multitude of guests coming and going over the years, perhaps it is no grand surprise that the hotel has attracted some mysterious guests from the other side.
The structure is said to be haunted by a lady in a red dress who is frequently spotted on the 14th floor and the ground lobby. Interestingly, these floors are the only remaining floors to be linked by a dummy elevator shaft. It has been theorized that this spectre is the spirit of a Vancouver 1940s socialite, Miss Jennie Pearl Cox.
She was said to attend a great number of parties within the hotel, and loved it so much that she chose to permanently check-in post-mortem. She has been spotted many times throughout the years by a myriad of guests and employees, even making the news back in 2017 when she was caught on camera. To be fair, if my broke self were to be invited to party it up in such a lavish hotel, I don’t know if I would be keen to leave anytime soon either.
Now used primarily as a SkyTrain station, Waterfront Station has existed far longer than TransLink. Built in 1915, it has since hosted several creepy spirits, as well as phantom footsteps heard throughout the building.
Once, a guard of the station encountered a 1920s flapper on the west side of the building, dancing to jazz music. Apparently, once he approached her, she vanished.
On the Northwest end of the structure, another security guard encountered the spectre of a glowing, older lady, looking rather mournful. However, much like the flapper, she vanished once the guard got too close.
The last two ghost stories are what happen to fascinate me the most, the first of which is the tale of a spectre of another old woman who appeared before yet another security guard on patrol in the old kitchens. However, after this encounter he began to see her in mirrors and windows, even in his dreams. He then developed an uncanny urge to paint her.
After the painting’s completion, his ghostly stalker ceased, and the painting was hung in the kitchen. Now, if anyone is to move the painting from its location, the person that does so will be haunted with similar images as the original painter until the artwork is once again reinstalled in its rightful place.
Also, it has been said that a headless worker holding a lantern has been spotted outside the station and along the tracks. It has been theorized that this may be the spirit of Hub Clark, who died in 1928 when he slipped on a wet track, unfortunately knocking him out cold and rendering him helpless when a train came speeding along and decapitated him.