As you can see from my last post titled ‘How to Catch a Spider – Advice from Ros’, my friend Ros obviously has great powers over me. She sends me on these great adventures and I do what I’m told. I must be subconsciously scared of her or something because I always seem to do what she says. Recently she sent me on a wild-goose-find-the-haunted-well-chase, but that’s another story for another time.
I have a much better haunted story....
As she and I have an ‘appreciation’ for all things eerie, spooky and paranormal, she kindly advised me of a ‘seasonal’ event she saw advertised in the newspaper. As she lives quite a few hours away from me, accompanying me on this ‘investigation’ would be difficult so I was tasked this quest ALONE. The advertisement my friend Ros saw was not for a typical museum ‘tour’ of The Maritime Museum of BC, but for a ‘Haunted Hallways’ tour of the building.
The Maritime Museum of BC has artifacts and info from shipyards to shipwrecks, to discoveries to losses. Now that stuff is all well and good, and as traitorous to my British Columbian patriotism as this might seem, it’s just not my interest. But given the history of the building, well...
The building was first built as the Supreme Court back in around 1889. Back then when laws, thinking, and social graces where different, hangings were commonplace, and many of the convicted who were tried there were sentenced to death. But prior to that building’s existence, in its place was a jailhouse - complete with gallows. Hangings were a family event and bacon sandwiches and beer were served as refreshments. When the convicted was hung and the thrashing body stilled, “Who claims this body!?” was called out to the ‘audience.’ If no family member stepped forward to claim their loved one – which usually never happened for fear of association with such a derelict – the deceased was buried in the grounds of the jailhouse courtyard. When the jail was later torn down to make way for the Supreme Court to be built on top of the jailhouse, construction workers found skeletal remains. Finding buried bodies around Victoria was quite commonplace so the workers simply shrugged and continued building on top of the bodies (I’m no historian - this is just a brief summary- any errors in this recounting is mine). (For more info, visit http://bastionsquare.ca/bastion-square-history/interesting-facts/)
So back to my friend Ros and her special powers....
“You must go!” said Ros about the ‘Haunted Hallways’ tour.
“Should I?” I asked.
Silence on the other end of the phone was telling. The silent ‘duh’ urged me on.
So at 8pm on a Friday night I armed myself with a camera, an umbrella (like that would help – but it WAS raining, you see), my cell phone with 911 on speed dial, as well as packs of gum to gnaw on nervously, then headed to the museum.
Judge Matthew Baillie Bebgie sentenced the convicted to hanging. (Note: The Supreme Court as it was then didn't have 'gallows' - the convicted were sent to a jailhouse off site to meet their fate (for the locals, there was jailhouse complete with gallows by Hillside Shopping Centre)
But let me get back to the beginning of the night...
Before the tour started, early attendees were allowed to tour the museum. I had a quick peek around the exhibits then found myself in a room sporting a few pictures of ships. What held my interest was what was in the back corner.
I barely bent my knees to access a better camera-view of the wording, when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my ankle and then...
My camera seized up. The screen went fuzzy as you can see from the photo, and remained that way for the rest of the tour. I couldn’t turn the camera off or on and no amount of button-pressing could fix it. I resorted to using the camera on my cell phone – a risky move, at that – and my camera didn’t ‘fix itself’ until almost two hours later, right down to the minute from when it first ‘went funny.’ Even when I later got home and plugged it in to charge, it still wouldn’t 'fix' itself. I have never had a problem with the camera before; it was fully charged and was seemingly all right prior to the evening.
I’ll let you ponder that and make up your own mind...
I later told Christina about my camera, sheepishly admitting to the 'coincidence' of it all and brushing it off in a manner of 'I know I am nuts, but....'
She waved off my concern: 'Oh, that happens to people's cameras all the time here' - like this was a normal occurrence.
In the end, it was a MOST fantastic night - one I will never forget. I lived to tell the tale, my camera is fine, and I will continue to do what Ros tells me to do.
Oh - and my ankle is fine.
(Note: The museum is being moved to the basement of the CPR building, where the renowned ‘Wax Museum’ used to be. The museum’s last days residing in the historic building are numbered, so the staff are going all-out, hosting tours and sharing first-hand experience tales of their experiences in the building. Be sure to check them out at http://mmbc.bc.ca/about/contact-us/)
For more interesting facts about Bastion Square, Victoria, BC, where the building resides, please visit Bastion Square Info.
Thanks for reading!