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The eerie song of our seated host, weakened and ill from the ravages of smallpox and shunned by the townsfolk, transports us back to the 19th century. Her story is sad and tragic – a young girl attracted to the big city – Vancouver – by the lure of fame and fortune. She survived the Great Fire, but was cruelly cut down by an early death on cobblestone streets. A lost soul from the past. Such is the compelling story, one of several tales, spun during the haunted city tours by Forbidden Vancouver.

Reliving death in the city: smallpox ravages 19th century Vancouver on the Forbidden Vancouver Tour
Reliving death in the city: smallpox ravages 19th century Vancouver

The not-so-forgotten past of the Lost Souls of Gastown is brought to life by Forbidden Vancouver’s haunted city tours of the city’s first neighborhood, Gastown. The Tours employ local actors to recreate 19th century Vancouver through visits to the city’s longest running hotel, its first fire station, first building and first bawdy house.

Vancouver is a young city, only 128 years old, yet it is filled with mystery and gory history. Unsolved murders, a Great Fire, bawdy house madams and Klondike dames fill the slightly sordid past in the early wild west of Canada.

Vancouver is a young city of only 128 years, yet it is filled with mystery and gory history. A review of Forbidden Vancouver tour that brings past to life.
Gassy Jack Square. Apparently old Gassy wasn’t such a stellar Vancouver citizen after all

The tour will highlight some larger than life characters, including Gassy Jack (of the famous Square), Klondike Kate Rockwell, and John Bray. The latter was mysteriously shot several times in the head, yet lived for a few weeks before succumbing. His murder was never solved, though the Tour does hint at some possibilities.

The fall season is the perfect time of year to bundle up and learn more about Vancouver’s spooky past. You can choose from two different Forbidden Vancouver Tours; the Lost Souls of Gastown, or if you prefer the sordid history of booze and mobsters, the Prohibition City tour. There are special tour dates for Halloween and into November.

Disclosure: Thank you to Forbidden Vancouver Tours for hosting my walking tour. All opinions and views are my own.

Photo Credit: C. Laroye

Have you ever taken a haunted city tour? Share your experience below.

Claudia Laroye
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