Status: Former Colonial Fort; Former Courthouse and Jail; Execution Spot; Heritage Area; Public Alley
This site got it’s name from being the where the original Fort Victoria and bastion established by the Hudson Bay Company was built.
Previous to European colonization the Aboriginal peoples who lived in what is now Victoria’s Inner Harbour believed the land occupied by the square was cursed and filled with evil spirits.
The former courthouse and jail once occupied this area and executions by hanging were held here.
In the 1960’s a group of downtown Victoria businessmen got together and transformed the square into a shopping area for Victorians and tourists alike; which it remains today.
It is considered the heart of the haunted downtown as nearly every building bordering it has at least one story of a ghost. Many of the buildings are considered some of the most haunted in the city.
Haunted Locations and Paranormal Activity
When I was a teenager Bastion Square was known as the place where Satanic cults and those practicing Black Magick would recruit new members. Sounds like an urban legend but I was approached after dark by more than one sketchy individual looking to bring people into a cult practicing the dark arts.
It is also said to be frequented by vampires looking for willing victims to feed or turn.
The Former Courthouse
This building was also formerly the Maritime Museum of British Columbia.
Completed in 1889 this building was the British Columbia Supreme Courthouse until 1962. The gallows for hanging criminals was located just outside.
The executed inmates who weren’t claimed by family were buried on site. Their remains are under the square near the courthouse to this day.
The ghost of the city’s infamous hanging judge - Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie - is seen gliding down the main stairway. Visitors have also reported unexplained bangs and crashes; disembodied voices and screams; phantom footsteps and the feeling of not being alone.
Garrick’s Head Pub
A Victorian style pub that’s been at the Government Street end of the square since 1867. In the good ole days many people stopped in for a drink before attending public hangings nearby.
The pub is said to be haunted by Michael Powers – a former owner of the pub that was murdered over a century ago (the case remains unsolved) – he is most often seen near the fireplace on cold winter nights. There are rumours of other ghosts but no details about them that we could find.
Wind Cries Mary Restaurant
This restaurant – which has amazing reviews and a better reputation – is said to be haunted by 2 ghosts. A man named Brady and a woman named Lady Charlotte or Churchill were supposed to meet at the restaurant, but Brady got in a fight on the way there. His opponent smashed a bottle and slashed Brady’s throat killing him.
Both of them now are said to be spending eternity together at the place that brought them happiness. They are said to announce their presence by the strong smells of cigar smoke and perfume. Much more rarely there have been reports of seeing their apparitions in the restaurant.
Legend says a guard was escorting a prisoner through this alley in the 1850’s – this was before the courthouse was built but apparently there was already a jail – and decided to teach the inmate a lesson in respect. He beat the prisoner to death.
Since then, people have reported seeing the apparition of a man in shackles walking through the alley. The phantom sound of chains being dragged is also reported.