If you think Halloween is cancelled this year, you don’t know Gastown. There is a dark history woven into the fabric of this neighbourhood and many spirits haunt its streets. Tread lightly, Gastown is not for the faint of heart.
Old Spaghetti Factory
The Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown is infamous for paranormal activity. Many lost souls wander its halls, but perhaps the most notorious is the tram conductor. Thought to be the conductor at the helm of Trolley 53, staff report seeing the man in full uniform as the customers file out at the end of the night. Customers who dine in the trolley have said they felt a chill down their spine while enjoying their pasta. It’s rumoured that the man died after two trolley’s collided, and his soul remains tied to Trolley 53.
Don’t worry, the tram conductor is in good company with the other specters who call the Old Spaghetti Factory home. A naughty little man with flaming red hair is said to call out staff by name and spook women in the restroom. A woman also reportedly had a full conversation with a little girl holding a red balloon who has looking for her mother.
Perhaps the most bone-chilling sighting is a boy named Edward. One night after her shift, a waitress spotted a boy running around the restaurant. The boy hid under the table and she followed, only to find that Edward’s eye sockets were empty. Suffice to say the waitress never returned to work. Since then, many people have reported seeing Edward, and staff believe he is responsible for bending their cutlery.
The history of Gastown doesn’t get grimmer than Gaoler’s Mews. The site of Vancouver’s first jail and a hangman’s scaffold where over 40 people were hanged, Gaoler’s Mews has a sordid past at best.
The now L’Abbatoire use to be the Irish Heather pub before it moved across the way in 2008. I’m sure that it’s unsurprising that an area with a dark story like Gaoler’s Mews has a few ghosts or two.
A woman dressed in black, most likely mourning the loss of one of the 40 executed, can be seen making her way along the cobble stone. She makes her way to the gate leading to Blood Alley and then vanishes, without a trace. Staff of the Irish Heather reported seeing a woman in white as well, calling out the names of the employees just to disappear a second later.
A man dressed in black, thought to be a spirit from when Blake’s Coffee Parlour, formally situated in Gaoler’s Mews, used to house a saloon and brothel in the early 1900s. The man in black would linger between a wall dividing Blake’s and Irish Heather, where a door use to be.
A tale seemingly pulled right from the movie Poltergeist; Irish Heather’s staff reported some strange happenings in their second storey loft. Staff often felt a presence coming from the tables situated in the loft. A few men came by the pub to do some renovations and heard banging coming from upstairs. When the went to check out the racquet, all the chairs and tables had when tipped over or on their backs.d
Before Waterfront station became the busy commuter hub it is today, it was the terminus station for passenger trains built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1915. Apparitions are no stranger to Vancouver’s busiest station; security guards and commuters alike have reported many strange sightings of ghosts and sounds of footsteps in the empty station at night.
During his night shift, a security guard noticed a young woman dressed in a red flapper dress dancing to 1920s jazz. When he approached the dancing woman, she vanished along with the music. Another security guard walked into an empty room in the Northside of the station, happening upon a sorrowful woman who glowed white. She reached out to the security guard only to have him run in the opposite direction.
If you have nerves of steel and the first few sightings leave you unfazed, how about the story of Hub Clark, a brakeman who met his maker slipping on the train tracks. He was knocked unconscious and was runover by an on coming passenger train, separating him from his head. There are reports of Hub Clark roaming the tracks and other parts of Gastown, perhaps looking for his head.
This is just a taste of the many blood curdling tales Gastown has to offer. For more, check out ghostofvancouver.com or forbiddenvancouver.ca.