Several weeks ago I asked my dad if he wanted to go on the Vancouver Haunted Trolley Tour with me. He’s a fan of local history and even wrote a historical newsletter for the local community centre for several years. I’d heard great things about the Haunted Trolley Tour, and this year it included a visit to the Vancouver Police Museum which is the old city morgue. We certainly weren’t disappointed!
The two hour tour began downtown with a spooky host in a decorated trolley. There were three trolleys all taking different routes through the city and ours went to visit the Vancouver Police Museum first. We passed several downtown landmarks which our host pointed out and told stories of hauntings and true tales of death and treachery. Very well narrated!
The Hotel Vancouver is haunted by the Lady in Red, and the Vancouver Art Gallery, which used to be the Provincial Courthouse, is plagued by William C. Hopkinson, who was murdered during a court session. When we reached the Vancouver Police Museum, we were treated to a narrative autopsy which included very visual descriptions. Our spooky tour guide told us to take note of some of the displays at the Police Museum, two of which were tales we had yet to hear. We received passes to return to the Vancouver Police Museum as there is so much to see and we had to return to our trolley.
We continued throughout town, learning about prohibition, the Depression, rum runners, opium dens, Spanish flu, and all other seedy details of Vancouver’s history. One of the stories in the display at the Police Museum is about murder by milkshake. A woman inexplicably got more and more sick while she was in the hospital, even though the doctor’s couldn’t find anything wrong with her. It was finally discovered, during her autopsy, that she had been slowly poisoned with arsenic. Her husband had been slipping it into her White Spot milkshakes nearly daily!
On route to Mountain View Cemetery, our host told us about Janet Smith who died under suspicious circumstances in Shaughnessy, not far from where I grew up and my parents still live. We were also told about another creepy-looking house nearby which has very malevolent spirits. I always thought my best friend’s mom was making up those ghost stories just to freak us out when we were kids. Our spooky host also told us about the sad fate of SS Princess Sophia, eluding to the fact that she passed away due to the steamer sinking.
At Mountain View Cemetery, we visited the 1919 edition which included the graves of Joe Fortes, Vancouver’s first lifeguard, Janet Smith, and two victims from the SS Sophia. Janet Smith’s grave marker was erected by the Scottish Society with a lovely engraving. On the way home, we learned about the first person supposed to be buried in the new Horne and Jones additions at Mountain View, who ended up in the intersection of what is now Fraser and 33rd. We also learned about Vancouver’s grisliest murder of a family by their eldest son, the murder weapon of which is on display at the Vancouver Police Museum.
We heard so many stories that evening, both true and paranormal including ghosts in the Orpheum and Vogue theatre downtown. There were so many tales I can’t even remember them all! It was well-worth the cost and a very enjoyable two hours. Just because I’ve given a relatively full account doesn’t mean you’ve experienced it. There are so many stories I left out because I can only recall pieces. Highly recommended! I even got chills a couple times during the evening.