Photos by Just Chasing Rabbits
Why take an ordinary tour of a beautiful city when you can take a historical tour full of creepy stories? That's exactly what we chose to do during our short time in Victoria, Canada.
Our Alaskan cruise made a very short stop in Victoria, which seems to be normal for Alaskan cruises. Knowing that we only had six hours to experience Victoria, we began planning in advance, only to find that there weren't many suggestions online for cruise ship visitors after normal business hours. All the more reason to go on a haunted tour at dusk!
We became determined to make the most of our visit and be able to share this information with others. With the help of Victoria's Visitors Center, we completed our mission!
Because this was our first walking ghost tour, we really didn't know what to expect. We were very impressed to see groups coming out for their second or third Victoria's Ghostly Walks tour. That speaks so highly of the quality of the tour.
Here are four reasons you'll love Victoria's Ghostly Walks:
1. Wander through the streets of beautiful Victoria at dusk
We met our tour group just outside of the Victoria Visitors Center as the sun was going down. The timing of the tours really helps to set the tone for the darker, more unusual side of Victoria's history.
Historic buildings like the Empress Hotel and the Parliament building are impressive during the day, but are beautifully lit at night. I love that time of day where the skies darken and the street lamps start to glow.
PHOTO: Statue of Dr. Helmcken at the Helmcken House at the Royal BC Museum.
2. Learn the history of the city and the buildings in a unique, entertaining way
Our tour guide shared interesting stories as we visited various buildings in the area. We learned the history of Victoria and some of its well-known residents in a way that kept our attention.
Would we have ever stopped by these locations on our own? Probably not. The Empress Hotel is a grand hotel, and I would have probably taken a photo of it, but that's about it unless I was staying there. But, after Ghostly Walks, I wished we had time to go in and look around! I had a new appreciation for the building and a curiosity about its resident ghosts, including the architect, Francis Rattenbury.
The Helmcken House, located behind and part of the Royal BC Museum seems a bit hidden, and I probably wouldn't have visited during a normal museum visit. But, I found myself getting lost in the stories about people being buried in the garden, and I kept checking the windows to see if any faces were peering back at me.
Did you know that the Royal BC Museum is home to a haunted watch? Our next stop after our walking tour just so happened to be the Royal BC Museum, so you can guess what we were on the lookout for!
Also, just to prove the point that Ghostly Walks makes history entertaining, two boys around the age of ten were in our walking group. At the beginning of the night, they were totally interested in anything BUT the tour. By the end of the walk, they were glued to the side of our tour guide, asking questions, sharing stories. The best way we learn is by being entertained, by being interested. This is why we travel and seek out the amazing and the unusual... we have figured out how to learn and have fun at the same time!
PHOTO: Jason Stevens, our guide during our Ghostly Walk.
READ MORE: Mississippi's Petrified Forest: Walking Among Ancient Trees
3. The guides are true storytellers and experts on the area
The tour guides for Victoria's Ghostly Walks are all professional storytellers, historians, or trained actors. Our tour guide, Jason Stevens, is a trained actor.
Why is this important? Because anyone can tell a story, but the best storytellers make the stories come to life. We felt immersed in the stories! I really was checking out the buildings for signs of paranormal movement as I listened to Jason speak!
Also, if you have any additional questions, the tour guides seem to be happy to elaborate on any information.
While safety was really in our own hands, our guide helped immensely by guiding us through the streets, stoplights, etc., allowing us to walk together as a group, moving from one location to another.
4. You'll get super spooked! Goosebumps, anyone?
Last, but definitely not least, you'll get a good scare! To me, this kind of scare is the best. A genuine spine-tingle. No one will jump out at you, there are no parlor tricks or mirrors or costumes involved. I got goosebumps from the stories as we stood outside each building.
This has a lot to do with number three on this list: the fact that Jason is a great storyteller. I noticed some people in the group keeping a close eye on the windows and doors of the buildings while others would slowly start to step away, trying to distance themselves from whatever creepiness is still inside.
That creepy factor intensified as the skies grew darker. We ended our night at St. Anne's Academy (as seen in the title photo of this post) with stories of ghostly nuns as we stood between the building and a small cemetery. I just love watching grown folks get spooked! I think I had just as much fun watching the expressions of people in our group.
Have you done this tour? Which route did you take? Have you participated in a haunted tour in any other cities? Let us know in the comments below!
This story originally appeared on the Just Chasing Rabbits blog.