Ghost Stories of Old Victoria

Old Chinatown.

 (In the spirit of Ed Mooney’s wonderful ghost stories and history challenges,  here is a little local history. )

chinese lotus

Fort Victoria was one of the last outposts of the British Empire (established by the Hudson’s Bay Fur Trading Company), and as with all frontier towns  had its’ share of colorful characters and lawlessness. At the end of the 19th century Chinatown had opium and gambling dens and the rest of Victoria had it’s share of saloons and brothels. The Royal North West Mounted Police (now known as the RCMP) kept order.

Many Chinese immigrants laboured on the railroads and in the mines of coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir. Though they were an industrious and family oriented people, they were not well treated and their working conditions were usually less than ideal compared with those of European Canadian employees.

The Gate of Harmonious Interest at the entrance of Chinatown

very beautiful Chinese piece

mirror
A Ba Gua

The Chinese have a great respect for spirits. In Chinese belief, most ghosts are malevolent and it is very important not to disturb them. Unfortunately, everything usually does. Any change in dynamics,  including moving house or redecorating, all need the flow of wind water or feng shui to restore harmonious balance. The ba gua mirror captures the energy of evil spirits and prevents them from harming the living. The eight segmented design of the ba gua is based on the divinations of the Book of I Ching and of yin and yang.

Nevertheless, ghostly footsteps can still be heard in Fan Tan Alley – a narrow passageway between two streets leading into the Chinese District.

fan tan

So we come to the story of Ah Chung. In 1889,  a seventeen year old Chinese boy was employed by the Tommy Burnes American Hotel on Yates street as a bed maker. One day he did not show up for work, and shortly thereafter the news heard on the street was that the police were looking for a young Chinese boy in connection with a grisly murder. The owner notified the authorities, suspecting they might be looking for his employee, Ah Chung. The Hotel was searched and the distraught Ah Chung was found hiding in a coal bin, covered in dried blood. He was arrested and later committed suicide in jail.

Ah Chung had fallen in love with a beautiful teenage prostitute who worked in a sing song parlour on Fisgard Street. He begged her to run away with him and find a better life. He even gave her a vial of poison to kill the owner of the brothel so she could escape. The girl declined his suit, either because she felt it was too dangerous or else because Ah Chung was penniless. Nothing he said could persuade her. Eventually the spurned Ah Chung became enraged at such loss of face. He enlisted the help of a friend and went to visit her. At some point and somehow, the friend grabbed the girl by her long hair, stretching her neck over the window sill. Ah Chung then pulled out a fish cleaver he had taken from the hotel kitchen and cut off her head.

chinese apothecary2
confessions of a Victorian Lady

After his death, Ah Chung was not given the proper Chinese rites and there is no record of his burial. Is it any wonder his ghost is restless and angry!

sing song
“the flower smoke room” or “tea and morphine,” and “chasing the dragon”

Through the years many people have claimed to hear the echo of  running footsteps in the alley through which Ah Chung is said to have fled after the murder and an owner of the bubble tea shop on the corner has claimed to frequently hear heavy steps walking across the upper floor of the building when no one is there.

chinatown at turn of century
Mural on Fisgard St. of Victoria’s Frontier Chinatown

afterward:

a sing song parlour  was a brothel

Flower smoke room: basically an opium den with decor

This was one of the stories on John Adam’s Ghost Tours during the month of October.

In North America, Victoria’s Chinatown is second in age only to San Francisco’s.

Chinese have the best ghost stories – along with Japanese ghost stories.  As anyone who has seen the modern film “The Grudge” or ” The Ring”- both based on old Japanese folk tales will know, -these malevolent spirits can never be exorcised nor is there ever any reprieve – just a resignation and certainty of a torturous long and horrific fate.

39 Comments Add yours

  1. robert87004 says:

    You have that so right, Chinese and Japanese movies based on old tales can be pretty darned awesome. Love them, will look for these two. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. don’t watch alone!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting legendry. Love the photos too. 🙂

    Like

    1. thanks so much Robert – I love those spooky tales and there is another I just added!! lol it’s the time of year!!

      Like

  3. Peter Nena says:

    I came to know about those coal mines for the first time in Stephen King’s Desperation.

    Every culture has had ghost stories. Isn’t it weird? That some things have been experienced by the entire humanity. I have heard plenty of ghost stories from all over Kenya, and beyond. When I was little, there were so many of them from so many people, that I ended up scared of the dead. I still am. Though a little. I think they are just standing there, looking back at me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you Peter- like the Chinese we must be very respectful and not anger them!! I love ghost stories but will not watch a scary movie if I am alone at night!! My mother used to recite this old Scottish prayer- “From ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night- Good Lord preserve us!” It was funny but I still think about it!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Peter Nena says:

        Ha ha! I love that prayer! “things that go bump in the night”!! Wow! Spooky prayer! Nice!!

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      2. I just wrote a little story about it !! Glad you like it Peter- something to scare children lol!!

        Like

      3. Love it, and the music. I closed my eyes and like a lot of Irish and Scottish music you could feel hardship and the call to back home in it. Or maybe my old Irish head is just imaging it. That a grand Scottish prayer, I recall my grandfather telling me ‘the scariest thing you’ll meet in life, is your own imagination’ and i have a great imagination.
        Stay save my friend ☘️

        Liked by 1 person

  4. jannatwrites says:

    Fascinating story of Ah Chung. A little eerie… I wouldn’t want to encounter bus angry spirit that’s for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nor I Janna!! thanks for reading!

      Like

  5. DG MARYOGA says:

    Fabulous photos strongly sustaining the gripping ghost story,dear Cybele!The vanishing point of the Fan Tan Alley is mysteriously appealing to the viewers and helps them get deeper into the story.The side light on the red door pleasantly moderates the suspense.Beautiful light on the mural which depicts interesting cultural scenes.John Adam’s Ghost Tour must be really exciting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so pleased you enjoyed!! I love local ghost stories! thank you my friend!

      Like

  6. I am reading this before daylight and it is chilling, especially with the haunting music. Well done you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Sherry- very pleased you like the tale!

      Like

  7. In the words of Unvle Benny, ‘Bloddy Marvelous’, I am a huge fan of Asian Heritage and Lore. As always the images are outstanding. And I really enjoyed the tale of Ag Chung.
    One thing that always suprised me about the Chinese/Japanese relationship with their dead, They show so much respect for them, yet it seems to be out of fear than reverance?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are right!! Fear is a main component with ghosts and that it is so easy to p— them off. lol. So pleased you liked this one.

      Like

  8. Maverick ~ says:

    Wonderful images to compliment a good ghost story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so glad you enjoyed it!!

      Like

  9. Brrrrrr….freaky! Your photo of the alleyway looks like the set for many movies! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it does doesn’t it! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Amy says:

    What a story… Thank you for the video link, beautiful! 🙂

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    1. Glad you like it Amy!! The music is lovely!!

      Like

  11. Fan Tan Alley really does look very spooky. 😯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it is at night!! brrhaha! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great Ghost Story, and terrific images to accompany it!

    Like

    1. so pleased you like this true ghost story!! Thanks Deborah!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love true Ghost Stories! I blame my Dad. When we were kids we camped, and hiked in the back-country nearly every week-end. He would tell ghost stories around the campfire every night much to my Mother’s chagrin. She was afraid we’d have nightmares. 🙂
        We have a “true” ghost story here in town. The Ghost is still here actually, and there have been many reports of it through the years. You may have read about it. In Sunnyvale, CA at a Toys R Us store?

        Years ago this whole valley (Santa Clara Valley) was largely agricultural, and farming. When I moved here with my parents as a girl it was still covered with flowers, walnut, cherry, and prune orchards. Silicon Valley was just beginning. My dad relocated us here to be part of the industry that supported NASA and Hi Tech. He was a Machinist.
        I used to walk through a walnut orchard to and from school from grade school all the way up to High School. I digress, sorry!

        Well, in very early days of this valley’s history (1900’s) there was a young drifter passing through and he worked here and there doing labor for farmers. He stopped at a farmer’s place in Sunnyvale and was hired to do odd jobs around the farm. The farmer had a daughter, and the drifter fell for her, and she for him the story goes. The drifter was out in the orchard chopping wood one morning and cut himself pretty bad. He lay there next to the chopping block waiting for his love to come as she always had to bring him lunch, but she didn’t come on this morning or afternoon, and he bled to death. Today the property houses a Toy R Us store. For years, and years there have been tales of toys being played with, toys knocked off the shelves and no one is there, and bikes being ridden, or sent up the aisles with no one driving the bike!

        Famous Physics have been there and this the tale they have heard from the young drifter. He’s waiting for his love to come find him, and he’s not leaving until she comes.

        I’ve been to that store many times, and have never seen or felt anything, but my son’s buddy worked there one summer and said it all true, he’s seen stuff coming off the shelves, and toys being played with and no one there.

        I believe in ghosts so I believe it, and the story you shared here. TMI? Probably. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. you must write a post on this one! Marvelous story. He sounds like a playful ghost! lol I love ghost stories and kids rather like being scared. Walt Disney knew this. Good memories of your Dad! Glad you like the story Deb.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. sheldonk2014 says:

    Hey cybele
    Just dropped by to say hello
    Great piece
    That first one
    As always Sheldon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. many thanks my friend!!

      Like

  14. Love that rich green glow you gave your first image here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Robert. It was lit up!!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Adrian Lewis says:

    Good post, Cybele, good stuff! I have no idea what ghosts are, but know that they must exist, simply because so many people have experienced them. Years ago, I was eating in a pub with someone who had been seeing ghosts all of her life and, on seeing her tighten and the colour drain from her face, I asked why. I can’t remember the exact words now, but something like: “What is it? There’s something here! What do you mean, where? Its standing right next to us …”. That she was dreadfully shaken there was no doubt. And, a little later in the evening, a toddle called her parents over to the see the little doggie in the empty room, but there was nothing there. I would love to see a ghost, I have been out looking for them – but I wonder, if I succeeded in my quest, whether my feelings would be of fear or curiosity. Adrian

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have to confess I did see one once and it scared me!! I will tell that story sometime. who knows, are they like an imprint on the invisible fabric of time and space or are they actual entities. Some hauntings are so repetitive it’s like a rewind or some such but then there are tales of more malevolent ones or ones with a message!! ( like the ghosts of Christmas in A Christmas Carol!!) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Sue says:

    Ghost story aside, your wonderfully textured image of the red door, and the nicely atmospheric one of Fan tan alley are great

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so pleased you like it!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sue says:

        I did!

        Liked by 1 person

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