The fog of Vancouver Island’s south coast obscures its share of ghosts.
Take the case of the passenger liner S.S. Valencia. In January 1906 she got lost in rough, foggy seas and hit a reef near Pachena Point.
Although the ship was within 50 meters of land, the crew’s attempts to launch lifeboats were mishandled and three of the boats immediately capsized, spilling their occupants into the sea. Another three boats launched but met a similar fate in the breaking waves.
One witness, freight clerk Frank Lehn, later described the scene aboard the ship.
“Screams of women and children mingled in an awful chorus with the shrieking of the wind, the dash of rain, and the roar of the breakers. As the passengers rushed on deck, they were carried away in bunches by the huge waves,” he wrote.
“It was a pitiful sight to see frail women, wearing only nightdresses, with bare feet on the freezing ratlines, trying to shield children in their arms from the icy wind and rain.”
More than 113 years later, it seems that Valencia and the 136 souls who lost their lives want to be remembered.
On stormy nights, there are still reported sightings of the ghost ship, with the dead crew reenacting the tragic events of that night. Those stories were stoked when, inexplicably, one of the lifeboats from the doomed ship was discovered in 1933. The boat was empty and adrift, but in perfect condition.
Another haunting on the same stretch of coastline, this time at the Sheringham Point Lighthouse, is remembered by Elania Bruton, the daughter of the last Sheringham Lighthouse keeper.
“The previous lighthouse keeper, a man named Fred Mountain died there and it seemed that he never left. Maybe he wanted to make sure there were no more disasters on his coastline,” recalled Bruton.
“One night, my brother looked down the hallway and saw a man in bib overalls come out of a bedroom, move down the hall and go into another bedroom. He rushed over to see who this stranger was, and the room was empty, and all the doors were locked from the inside.”
Bruton had her own experiences as well.
“I was in the basement when I heard someone come down the stairs. Two stairs always creaked and I hear those creaks and the footsteps as plain as day.”
The only problem was that Bruton was alone, with the doors locked. She searched for whoever was in the house and found nothing.
Bruton’s father, Jim Bruton, had his own experiences.
“My father had a package of razor blades that he kept them on the windowsill in his workshop and they were constantly being moved to the workbench,” Bruton said.
“He could put them back on the sill, leave the shop for a few minutes and return to find them moved again. I guess Mr. Mountain didn’t like them on the sill.”
The lighthouse keepers’ houses eventually burned to the ground, but Bruton still goes down to the lighthouse and wonders if Fred Mountain is still there.
“I think he’s still out there somewhere,” Bruton said.
“He didn’t seem inclined to leave.”