Haunted B.C.: Ghost stories from around the province

Vancouver Island’s ghost ship

Did you know B.C. has its own legendary phantom ship?

On Jan. 22, 1906, the S.S. Valencia took a wrong turn while sailing from San Francisco to Seattle. The ship, carrying 173 passengers, attempted to turn around near Pachena Point on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

After hitting a rock, the ship began to crumble.

Shanon Sinn, author of the book The Haunting of Vancouver Island, told CKNW, “It was horrific. There was errors made by the captain as far as getting people off the ship.” He notes approximately 50 to 60 people died during the launch of the lifeboats.

There were only 37 survivors.

In 1910, the Seattle Times began reporting that sailors were claiming to have seen a phantom ship near Vancouver Island that resembled the Valencia. Some even stated they saw the ghostly ship crash into the same rocks where the Valencia had sunk years prior.

LISTEN: Did you know that B.C. has its own phantom ship? Sometimes called “the Titanic of the West,” sailors have reported seeing the Valencia long after it sank off the coast of Vancouver Island in 1906. Niki Reitmayer has the story.

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Ghostly gunshots at Fort Langley

Local folklore has it that you can still hear a ghostly gunshot and a scream coming from Fort Langley, B.C.

In the 1800s, a First Nations man named Louis Satakarata dit Rabaska worked at the fort. He married a local woman, who his father allegedly did not approve of. A physical confrontation broke out between father and son.

“Later that evening, the men of Fort Langley heard a gunshot from across the water,” said Aman Johal, a Langley National Historic Site interpreter. Louis had committed suicide with a musket on McMillian Island, located across the river from the fort. A group of men retrieved Louis’ body and “upon seeing her husband’s lifeless body, his wife let out a scream.”

Johal said that event haunts current residents near the fort to this day. He told CKNW that the local RCMP “will get reports from the residents along the waterfront in the middle of the night claiming that they hear a gunshot from across the water.” He said shortly after, RCMP then receive complaints from residents, “claiming to hear the screaming of a woman coming from inside [the fort].”

Vancouver’s famous Lady in Red

Have you heard of Vancouver’s most famous ghost?

Known as the Lady in Red, the ghost of a woman in a formal red dress is said to haunt Vancouver’s historic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

It’s believed the apparition is that of Jennie Pearl Cox.

“Pearl and her family attended a Christmas ball here at the hotel in 1939,” said hotel concierge, David Reid. “She had a beautiful red gown made for it. It was her favourite dress and the one in which she was buried.”

Cox and her family were regular visitors of the hotel prior to their deaths in a 1944 car accident.

“Once their spirits left their bodies, they all knew where they wanted to return. And so they took up residence here at the Hotel Vancouver to relive all their wonderful times for all of eternity.”

Over the years, staff and guests of the hotel have reported seeing Cox and her family.

Reid noted that on one occasion, after checking in a couple returned to the front desk to complain that their room was already occupied by a “beautiful woman in a red dress.”

Murder at the Vancouver Art Gallery

What do the Komagata Maru, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and a murder have in common?

In 1914, a ship called the Komagata Maru transported a group of emigrants from Calcutta, India to Vancouver. The ship was denied entry and was ultimately forced to return to India.

William Charles Hopkinson was an Indian police and immigration officer who worked as an interpreter for passengers of the Komagata Maru.

On Oct. 21, 1914, Hopkinson was shot and killed outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, which was formerly the provincial courthouse. He had been at the courthouse to testify in the trial of his informant, Bela Singh, who was charged with two counts of murder. His assassin, Bhai Mewa Singh, was concerned Hopkinson’s favourable testimony would aid in a verdict of innocence for Bela Singh.

Local ghost stories state that Hopkinson’s spirit haunts the top floor of the art gallery. His footsteps have been allegedly heard throughout the building.

LISTEN: In the days leading up to Halloween, we’re checking out true crime, real history, and local ghostly folklore around the province of British Columbia. In this instalment, CKNW producer Amir Ali connects the Komagata Maru incident with the murder of an officer involved in the case.

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