– October 23, 2010
BOO! Ah, autumn. I love it! The leaves… the smell… the pumpkins… the little ghouls! Halloween is one of my favourite events of the year, with a bit of something for everyone. Now that my son is getting to an age where he gets it (wear this, knock on door, say “tickoteet”, present candy holding device and be rewarded!) I’m started to realize how fun it can be. With a 150+ years history, New Westminster offers a lot in the way of creepy spots and stories, outside of the knowns like cemetaries. With that in mind, I present seven spooky spots here in Hyack Town, in no particular order. Feel free to add yours in the comments.
1. Galbraith House
When I first moved to New Westminster, I lived only a few short blocks away from this fantastic building. I used to walk home from college and eye it suspiciously as I passed. I am fairly certain something watched me from its highest windows. Today, it houses one of my favourite spas, has conference rooms for rent (hello, theme wedding?), I credit witnessing its restoration as the catalyst for my developing interest in the preservation of New Westminster’s old buildings. Here it is, today – decidedly less spooky but still amazing. I’d imagine a Halloween Party in there could be some serious fun.
2. Boot Hill
I ran across this website some time ago, and find Deborah’s well thought out and well researched collection pretty amazing. Boot Hill is the name of the cemetery for the forgotten folks who died at the BC Penitentiary. These are the people with no family to claim their bodies and so they were buried, with only numbers to mark their lives. I find Boot Hill poignant and sad, and very, very spooky. This cemetery doesn’t really exist – although the piece of land is owned by the City of New Westminster, and a fence is around it, you cannot access it without trespassing, and unless you have a legend, you have no way of knowing where any of the buried are as the headstones are only numbers.
3. The Free Mason’s Hall
There is this culture of mystery and spookiness that surrounds the Free Masons. I know many Masons, and I know their current tagline is something along the lines of “to be one ask one” so today they are an open and welcoming group. Their website alone is a huge wealth of historical info. But still. Free Masons have such a long and storied history, and there is so much weird secretive urban legends surrounding it, that it’s hard not to get a little shivery when walking past the building. One expects Tom Hanks to jump out of the building with some sort of secret code to crack.
4. That Tunnel Under 8th Avenue at Richmond Street, in Massey Heights
Just tell me that’s not creepy as all get out?
5. The former Railroad Station (now the Keg Restaurant)
I’ve been told by more than one person that has worked at the Keg that there is no doubt this building is haunted. Supposedly, the sounds of footsteps can be heard with regularity as staff are closing up and no one is upstairs. It’s an amazing building, with an interesting history. The Great Fire destroyed the original railroad station, so this is the replacement. Here is a little article about it’s architectural history. I keep hearing tell of tunnels under downtown New Westminster that start at the Railroad Station… I just wish I could get confirmation. Regardless, my imagination rates this place “spooky”.
6. The BC Gas building on 12th Street
To be honest, I love this building. I’d truly love to have the opportunity to walk through it, dirty though it may be. But, when I asked a number of people for spooky spot suggestions, this one came up a few times. Perhaps it’s the chain link fence or the scrubbly shrubs poking their way through the concrete surrounding the building. Perhaps it’s the odd way the paint has chipped. Perhaps it is the non-action and the marching of time that prevents this building from waking up. But it slumbers, and it spins legends and spiderwebs with each passing day.
And here’s a link to the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society with a great article about why this building is in danger – so much so that the Society has deemed this the number one most endangered heritage site.
7. Poplar Island
Poplar Island is a beautiful little slip of land that you see if you look past Kruger toward Queensborough from most anywhere along Stewardson Way or the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood. Here’s a gorgeous photo of it by Flickr member boybleu.
The Georgia Straight ran a great article a number of years ago about the history of Poplar Island. It rates its own Wikipedia page (entertaining since ALL the rest of New Westminster combined seems to be mashed on a single concise page), and there is a nice article on Rhonda Larrabee, the chief for the Qayqayt, the New Westminster First Nations band for whom Poplar Island is a traditional burial ground. But it’s uninhabited by living people. Which in my book means it is likely inhabited by not living people. Spooky.
I’m sure there are many more spooky spots in New Westminster. What’s on your list?
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