Gastown is the oldest part of Vancouver containing vast amounts of history at every street corner. Though the majority of this history is significant and pivotal to the city, some of the darker pieces remain hidden on equally dark street corners. The Gaoler’s Mews is one such street that holds some disturbing and mysterious tales.
Gaoler’s Mews has its origins in the mid-1800s when the first building was erected along this small alley. It was also where the first jail in Vancouver was positioned until it was destroyed by a great fire in 1886. What truly makes this area so infamous though is the quaint courtyard positioned at its end. It was here that more than 40 people had their lives cut short in front of crowds who had gathered to see the hangman’s noose claim its latest victim. With so many tainted moments in its past, it is easy to understand why numerous ghost stories have developed around the Gaoler’s Mews.
Ghosts of Gastown’s Haunted Gaoler’s Mews
Being the past site of a Victorian-era prison, as well as where many executions took place, it comes as no surprise to learn that the Gaoler’s Mews is indeed haunted. Perhaps the most frequently sighted ghost along this street is that of a woman clad in a flowing black dress. She is often seen moving briskly along the cobblestone road behind the restaurants, headed directly towards an iron gate that leads into what was once known as Blood Alley. Although no one really knows the origins of this lady in black or how she came to haunt Gaoler’s Mews, many have speculated that she may be a grieving widow, having lost her lover to the hangman’s noose.
Another area of interest just mentioned here is Blood Alley. This is a narrow street that runs opposite Gaoler’s Mews and infamous in its own right. It gained the name Blood Alley after multiple butchers moved into the street and would fill the pavement with blood and entrails on the daily. The fact that this alley being flooded with blood was not out of the ordinary was used to the advantage of some murderous thieves. It is said that many murders took place in this area of Vancouver, being so easy to cover in the Bloody street. Because so many met their end in brutal and sudden ways along Bloody Alley, this is said to be another area where paranormal activity is common.
In addition to these ghost stories, there are some stores and restaurants along Gaoler’s Mews, which are also supposedly haunted. Poltergeist activity has been reported in some, others have frequent sightings of full-bodied apparitions or shadow figures and one site is believed to have a haunted toilet, interesting considering it was once the cells for the old police station.
Visiting Gaoler’s Mews
Gaoler’s Mews is a public space and open year-round. It is a trendy area of Gastown, being home to multiple upmarket eateries. Most ghost tours that are present in the area will pass through Gaoler’s Mews and they are recommended to truly get a feel for the dark atmosphere this area of Vancouver can often possess.
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