Culture

October 25 2017

Fact or Fiction? The Haunting of Gastown

 

Gastown is the oldest area in Vancouver and indeed the most haunted.

Whether a dark spectral yarn be solid as a rock or fluffy as a feather, one thing’s for sure: Gastown has a rich history filled with many a bizarre tale.

Believe what you will, here are six confirmed ghost sightings that will make even the harshest skeptic consider the possibility of ominous forces at play.

Lamplighter Pub – 92 Water Street

The Lamplighter Pub is quite possibly one of the most iconic drinking establishments in Gastown, if not Vancouver. Opened in 1899 and later receiving Vancouver’s first pub license, this well loved haunt is steeped in history. The ghosts of the past perhaps linger, to vicariously lean in on the good conversation, merriment and laughter that occurs nightly.

A tame poltergeist haunts The Lamplighter, usually around the bar area. One night, about an hour after closing, a bouncer found himself alone in the pub. As he turned off the lights, ready to lock up, he heard wine glasses clinking off each other sounding like a hand running along the them. Upon investigation, the glasses were perfectly still. The bouncer had absolutely no explanation for the occurrence.

There was an additional sighting where a server, completely baffled, watched an empty beer mug levitate from the bar counter, hover for a moment then drop to the floor behind the bar, smashing into pieces.

 

Packing House – 21 Water Street

The Packing House resides on what was once the old Sunnyside Hotel (built in 1874, it was reconstructed after the Great Vancouver Fire in 1886). In the early 1900’s the Packing House Building was erected to serve as the Swift Canadian Company’s meat warehouse and cold storage plant.

In 1969, the Packing House was taken over and renovated into a commercial office building. From 1978 to 1995, Punchlines Comedy Club was located here where top comedians like Howie Mandel and Robin Williams would perform. Eventually the club sold and became a popular nightime hangout called The Purple Onion Cabaret.

Fittingly, there’s a real prankster that likes to haunt The Packing House. The former owner of Punchlines Rich E, heard his name being called – he was the only person in the club at the time. On more than one occasion, Rich would open up the room in the morning and find freshly lit candles on the tables without any explanation as to whom had lit them or how, being that the club had been closed and locked overnight. Sound technicians reported hearing ghostly tapping and whistling coming from stage mics. Of course, no one was on the stage.

 

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Gaolers Mews

The Mews was home to Vancouver’s first jail around the mid 19th century. Destroyed in The Great Fire of 1886, a brick fire hall was built in its space. Around the back is a cobblestone courtyard, where apparently, a hangman’s scaffold once stood. In full view of gathering public, the noose was pulled tight many times over, taking over 40 people to the grave. The Irish Heather was originally located here (217 Carrall Street) before it moved across the street. There have been a number of sightings in the area. One is of a woman dressed in black, who many say is the widow of a misfortunate man hanged at the gallows. She has been seen behind the restaurant drifting along the cobble-stoned passageway where the hangings took place. She moves in a southerly direction, heading towards an iron gate that leads to Blood Alley. Once through the gate, she vanishes.

At one particular time, the men’s washroom on the ground floor of the Irish Heather was in need of repair. That night, the contractor assigned, was working on his own and had left his tools in the hallway outside the washroom. There was on one else in the building. When he went to grab a tool he needed, he realized they were all missing. Puzzled, he looked around and eventually found them neatly stacked by the front entrance.

 

Old Spaghetti Factory – 53 Water Street

Either spirits really like pasta or the building at 53 Water Street is considerably haunted. The Old Spaghetti Factory has several spirits who linger in and around the historic restaurant both day and night. 

The first sighting involves a tram conductor from the “Number 53” old trolley car that patrons think of as just part of the decor. Some say the conductor died in an underground collision beneath the restaurant, while others believe his ghost appeared when the tram was installed within the restaurant. Either way, many say that Old Spaghetti Factory staffers have spotted the ghost in full uniform inside the tram after the restaurant empties out in the evening.

Then there is the ghost that was spotted by a waitress, who saw a young boy running around the restaurant during her closing shift. She was so scared by the incident that she resigned on the spot. The same spirit has been also seen bending cutlery but when staff members brought it the attention of the manager, the previously bent cutlery had mysteriously returned to normal.

The other sighting was of a young girl sitting at the table near the front of the restaurant holding a balloon. A friend of the general manager claimed to have engaged in a long conversation with the ghost but when someone else approached the table, she disappeared.

 

 Orling & Wu – 28 Water Street

Once the location of a dusty, storied antiques market, the building at 28 Water Street has a rich history and an infamous ghost. One morning, the owner of the antique store was opening up for the day and when he entered, what he saw made him freeze with shock. The heavy, aged oak dining table and chairs, that stood prominently in the front area of the shop, were now completely upside down. Everything else in the store was untouched.

Originally the Grand Hotel, it was operated by a notorious crook by the name of Tommy Roberts. He was well known for emptying the wallets of many good-time seeking drunken loggers, all through deception and conniving. Mr. Roberts met his end in 1918, aged 42, when during a poker game gone wrong, he was shot to death. The image of an overturned table comes to mind when a frustrated card player has had enough. Perhaps old Tommy Roberts’ is caught in the deciding moment and doomed to live it over and over for eternity.

 

Salmagundi –

Stuffed with oddities, curios and trinkets of all shapes and sizes, Salmagundi’s on West Cordova is one interesting place. The building itself dates back to 1889. Perhaps it’s the location or maybe the resonance and secrets that the objects hold within them. Regardless, the owner has experienced a number of very weird paranormal occurrences that simply cannot be explained.

There is case of the antique glass cabinet that seemed to “greatly dislike” having anything within it touched. As the owner remembers:

I was standing next to another staff member and I opened a glass cabinet so that we could change the display inside. A blast of cold, damp air came rushing out, causing us to stand back. The strange thing was it was a warm day and the cabinet was lit from the inside so should have been warm. I don’t know what could have caused it. I’ve never been able to explain it. I’m pretty much a skeptic by nature, but there are things that have happened in the store that I just can’t explain. (Source: Daily Hive)