Cruising on the west coast of BC Columbia is great, we have so many options for destinations! Whether you like to explore and try new anchorages or marina’s, or circle between your favourite spots, have you ever wondered about the history of where you are? As you sit in the cockpit with cocktail looking at the shore, have you ever thought if there’s more to the location than meets the eye?
The west coast is rich in history, some in which is good history, some maybe not so cheery. As you go cruising this year, take a deeper look at where you, you may be surprised what you find out. From some digging around, I’ve found nine destinations that are known for some dark history and consequently being haunted! I’m sure there are many others, these are just the ones I’ve found so far. If you’ve stumbled upon an anchorage with some haunted history do share!
Bedwell Harbour Yew Tree, Pender Island
Bedwell Harbour is a popular cruising destination. Between Poets Cove Resort offering amenities and Beaumont Marine Provincial Park, there is lots to do at this popular anchorage.
One of the more unique offerings of Bedwell Harbour are a few Yew trees. Yew trees have poisonous red fruit, and in some cultures the tree is associated with death.
The story goes, one of the Yew trees is haunted by the spirit of a First Nations Woman who died at the base of the tree and then was buried there. There has been reports of suspicious poltergeist activity at the base of the tree.
Herriot Bay Inn, Quadra Island
The Herriot Bay Inn was built in 1894. Coming from the water, it’s the only pub in the area, making it a popular stop for people in fishing, logging and in the trades. In the summer, Herriot Bay Inn is a place to get fuel, inexpensive moorage, and a bite to eat. Herriot Bay is not a common port for summer cruisers, unless you are heading to Desolation Sound from Campbell River, it is out of the way.
The story goes that many years ago a bar fight sparked between a number of local fishermen and an unknown logger. The bar fight got out of hand and the unknown logger was killed, but no body was ever found. Both Inn guests and staff are known to experience spiritual encounters, such as screaming, and hanging out of windows.
New Castle Island
New Castle Island is known as a popular summer destination. The park is a common spot for cruisers to stop over on their way north to Desolation Sound. The park offers mooring balls, moorage, garbage drop off, great hiking on the island, and of course is a short dinghy ride to the popular Dinghy Dock Pub.
The island has seen a lot in its day, and is known as one of “the most haunted islands on the west coast”. Many people have died on the island. Coal mining was done at one point on the island and many people died in the mines, as well as a least one person who died when it was a smallpox colony. In addition to these spirits, the beaches at dusk are known to have the spirit of axe murder Peter Kakua. Peter Kakua murdered his wife and infant child.
Peter was charged with murder and hung. Because of his descent (neither caucasian or Aboriginal), he as not allowed to be buried in the city burials. Peter was buried on the east side of New Castle Island, but then years later his coffin was unearthed when a company’s as digging for another coal mine and he was moved.
Valdez Spit, Valdez Island
Sometime in the 1960’s a reporter spent the night on a haunted beach. The reporter claims to have woken up to an Aboriginal man dancing on the beach.
Pachena Point, Bamfield
In 1906, the SS Valencia sank off Pachena point. Over 100 people died in this tragic incident. The west coast has claimed many ships over the years, but this is one is one of the most, if not the most tragic ship wreck incident. Since the sinking, there have been sighting of the ghost ship SS Valencia by other boats. In nearby caves, a tender full of skeletons has also claimed to have been found.
Keeha Bay, Bamfield
Keeha Bay is only 5 km from Pachena Point, the location of the sinking of the SS Valencia. Keeha Bay beach is also to be known for a First Nations burial ground years ago. Over the years people have witness strange things in the bay and at the beach.
Gallows Point, Protection Island
Gallows Point is the location of Nanaimo’s first hanging. The point has changed names over the years, from Tide Staff Point, Execution Point, to now Gallows Point. Spotting of the ghost of two men hung for murder have been seen over the years.
Shoal Bay, East Thurlow Island
A man who was improperly buried is seen to be wearing cork boats wandering the island.
Owen Bay, Sonora Island
The story goes that the original settler on the island disappeared and was never seen again. Over the years anchored boaters have strange encounters in the bay. Encounters range from hearing oars in the water when there’s been no boat, footsteps walking on someone’s boat at night, the noise of chains falling in the woods, to a candle seen in an old shed ashore.