The Spookiest Properties in North America (including Nanaimo)

October 19, 2012 at 12:56 PM

The Spookiest Properties in North America
(including Nanaimo)

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." - H. P. Lovecraft

whaley-house-haunted-house.jpg                                                                                  (Whaley House – San Diego, CA)

As Halloween fast approaches, I thought that it might be interesting to take a look at some of the spookiest properties in North America.  I have heard creepy stories from clients who have lived in haunted homes. Their tales of having bed linens ripped from their bed while sleeping, to hearing laughter and voices have been enough to convince me that it would cause me a sleepless night or two if I had lived there.

As a young man, I remember a friend of mine who owned a property on the outskirts of town in Dawson Creek.  He had heard strange complaints from previous tenants about headless ghosts and blood appearing on walls, but he chalked it up to crazy tenants wanting to break a lease.  He had a buddy who had multiple tattoos, rode a Harley, liked to fight, and was just an all-round “tough guy” who was looking for a place to stay.  The tough guy picked up the keys and headed his new home to begin the next chapter of his life.  LESS THAN 24 HOURS LATER, (it was actually 2AM), this hulking career criminal packed up his belongings and checked himself into a hotel for the night.  The next day, he dropped the house keys off to his friend.  He had been so terrorized by whatever he had witnessed in the house, that he said he had felt safer in prison.  I always wonder what happened to that house and how many tenants have moved in-only to move out a short time later!

What about Nanaimo’s haunted places?  Nanaimo’s oldest building, the Bastion (which is over 151 years old) is famous for its haunting tales. One of the Bastion bagpipers has admitted that he has heard footsteps and sounds like furniture being moved above him – even though the building was empty.  Even the Bastion supervisor has stated that she has heard voices and whispering while she was all alone, and then came across a cannon ball rolling around the floor out of its casing. A tourist from Oregon admits to hearing laughter coming from seemingly nowhere while visiting the famous Bastion!

Many paranormal investigators cite other unique properties in Nanaimo as places of ghostly presences.  The former Tourist building at Beban Park is supposedly haunted and also the old Franklyn Street Gym. A few years ago, there was a large home on Strickland that was said to be home to a lot of paranormal activity and there were signs posted that it was under video surveillance at the entrance to the property.  It ended up being demolished in a fire, and may people said that there were family photos still found on the ground and the smell of smoke could be still be detected.

The Banff Springs Hotel (located in Banff, Alberta) is said to be home to a blocked off stairway and is haunted by a tragic bride.  According to, “ a missing room, rumored to be locked forever to contain the family of ghosts that inhabits it, give rise to multiple tales of hauntings and eerie events in this historic and beautiful chateau hotel”.

The Whaley House (in San Diego, CA) is considered to be one of the most haunted houses in the United States. It once housed several different businesses, a court house, and at different times, the scene of a hanging and a suicide. The house was turned into a museum in 1960 and visitors to Whaley House have reported seeing the ghost of the man who was hanged, the former owner of the house, and a woman wandering down the halls. People travel from far and wide to see this historic building and the mysteries inside.

The Winchester House (located in San Jose, California) has a story that is almost a story too spooky to believe.   According to Wikipedia, “The Winchester Mystery House story begins and ends with ghosts. In 1881, William Wirt Winchester, founder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, passed away. He left behind his wife, Sarah, who had never quite been the same since her only child died 15 years earlier. Shortly after his death, Sarah visited a medium to contact her dead husband. Reportedly, William Winchester told his wife that there was a curse on their family. William’s inventions had taken countless lives, and the ghosts of the dead were coming for Sarah. William’s ghost informed Sarah that in order to stay alive, she had to go West, find a spot, and start building a home. If she ever stopped building, William warned, she would die. Sarah settled in San Jose and began building on a 162-acre parcel of land. She kept carpenters and architects at work every single day. From 1884 to her death in 1922, Sarah built constantly. Eventually the house grew to approximately 160 rooms and is referred to as a “labyrinth.” There are useless features, such as stairs that go up to the ceiling, and it has been said that it’s nearly impossible to find your way around. Some say that the ghosts who followed Sarah Winchester to the home can still be seen there today. The house is now a California landmark and guided tours are offered.”

It is always fun to go on haunted house tours, even if you are just interested in the history of a city.  Often times, old homes and buildings seem to have stories just dying to be shared with an audience.  Halloween is a great time to visit some of these spooky spots.  Of course, if you are like me, that won’t be happening any time soon.  My beautiful wife celebrates her birthday Oct. 31st and each year, our Halloween tradition involves getting dressed up and going out for dinner with friends.  If you happen to see Tina Turner and John Lennon, or perhaps Minnie and Mickey Mouse enjoying dinner out in Nanaimo, it will probably be me.  I prefer the less spooky things on Johanna’s birthday!

Warmest Regards (and happy birthday Johanna),
Brian McCullough

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