John Adams has been telling Victoria’s ghost stories to eager fright-seekers for 20 years. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Ghostly Walks celebrates 20 years of Victoria’s spooky history

Discover the Past prepares for busy ‘spine-tingling’ Halloween season

Under the light of the buzzing street lamps, a Ghostly Walks group stands beneath the Market Square sign, creaking on its hinges in the crisp autumn wind.

As the last of the day’s light disappears from the sky, the group learns about the murder of Agnes Bings.

On Sept. 29, 1899, Bings missed the last streetcar home after a day of work at the Pilgrim Bakery – located in what is now Market Square – and decided to walk across the railway bridge to get home. She was found dead in a Jack the Ripper-style murder on the west side of the bridge (where the Johnson Street bridge now stands).

Her more than a century-old unsolved murder might be why she never left the area, says ghost tour creator John Adams. Her ghostly figure has been seen in Market Square and standing near the spot where her mutilated body was found.

READ ALSO: Ghostly walks showcase Victoria’s haunted past

Adams has been operating Ghostly Walks for two decades, providing a macabre antidote to Victoria’s cheery summer tourism. The Ghostly Walks run year-round, but tour guides are now ramping up for October, when the public’s appetite for morbid stories from Victoria’s dark history skyrockets, drawing locals and tourists alike to the company’s nightly Halloween ghost walks.

The annual Halloween tours always start in Market Square but venture into new, bone-chilling territory every year. Running every night from Oct. 11 to Nov. 3, this year’s tour-takers will learn the ghostly past of the area around Bastion Square, China Town and the harbour near the Johnson Street bridge – one of Agnes Bings’ favourite haunts.

In past years the 90-minute tour has covered everything from the ghost in the Broad Street bordello, the haunting in Helmcken Alley and the ghost of Belle Adams, who was reported to have slit her boyfriend’s throat.

Adams says there’s no risk the company will run out of ghost stories any time soon. In 20 years he, his son Chris and the other guides have collected more than 500 ghost tales and dug deep into some of the city’s most infamous crimes.

Adams uses newspapers, letters, diaries and other historical sources to dig into ghost stories and sightings, hunting down the significance of certain locations or people. Each tour typically contains around 15 different ghost stories, and new ones are frequently added to the collection, especially around Halloween.

“It helps that we have been at it for a long time, we’ve been collecting ghost stories for decades,” he notes.

READ ALSO: Discover Victoria’s haunted past with Halloween-themed walking tours

But not all of the company’s walks are so spine-chilling. Discover the Past runs daytime history tours too.

“I really enjoy telling stories,” Adams says. “Whether they’re history stories or ghost stories, I really enjoy it. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

Outside of the Halloween season, fear-seekers can choose from a few different Ghostly Walks, taking in spooky stories on downtown treks or hearing the eerie history of St. Anns Academy and Beacon Hill Park.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Significant donation adds to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s most ambitious fundraising campaign

Townline’s $600,000 donation helps purchase new 3 Telsa MRI for Royal Jubilee Hospital

Cherry Bomb Toys, which houses the National Toy Museum of Canada, has had a rough year

The property that’s home to Cherry Bomb Toys is listed at $2.6 million

Resident mistakes screaming teens’ late-night plunge for an emergency

Big week for Oak Bay Police who respond to rampant theft in Oak Bay, host Polar Plunge

Victoria hotel proposal threatens Old Town conservation, advocates say

Height requests defy historic district’s guidelines

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Higher costs should kill Trans Mountain pipeline, federal opposition says

Most recent total was $12.6 billion, much higher than a previous $7.4-billion estimate

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they’ll meet with ministers if RCMP get out

Federal minister in charge of Indigenous relations has proposed a meeting to diffuse blockades

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Most Read