I’ve lived here my entire life and had no idea such a historic place existed right in the middle of one of our higher end districts. The little community of Oak Bay, in Victoria, BC, boasts wonderful architecture, scenery and ocean-side features. It also is home to some of our oldest ghosts.
We’re visiting The Tod House today. It is widely believed to be the oldest house in Western Canada finished in 1851. The home is constructed with local heavy timber featuring pegged and dovetailed construction, which is rather rare to our area.
Today the beautiful heritage home sits in the heart of Oak Bay on a normal sized little plot. Surrounded by other historic and heritage buildings, it blends in with its surroundings making it a place you could drive or walk past without a second thought. At the time is was originally built, however, it would have been situated deep in a dense forest on the outskirts of what was to become Victoria proper.
The white picket fence and the fine details that ensconce the front porch make for a nostalgic scene. With the smallest amount of imagination, one is transported back 150 years to a time when the land was untamed, and people were busy trying to establish and create this burgeoning community.
Rumors persist today that allude to the thought that underneath this storied house lies a series of tunnels that lead to the beach. From where this house is situated, those tunnels would have to be complex and extensive, if this is indeed a true story. Word has it these tunnels were used to run contraband back and forth from the house to boats anchored in the Oak Bay harbor. At the time this all would have been happening, this entire area would have been fairly uninhabited making this a perfect location to get in and out with the booty.
Now, these stories are all rumors and are unsubstantiated. With that being said, I have spoken first hand to people who have seen themselves similar tunnels in other buildings in the Oak Bay district, adding some credence to the entire notion.
Numerous other stories persist regarding hauntings, as well. It is widely believed that the home is the source of several spirits, with the following story running most people’s blood ice-cold.
One day in 1952, Col. Evans was installing an oil furnace. He hired workmen to dig a hole in the yard to place the storage tank. After digging about 7 feet deep, one of the workmen made an unusual discovery. Though badly deteriorated, there was no mistaking he had uncovered skeletal remains. The Colonel asked the workman to finish digging up the bones, but they demanded an exorbitant amount of money to finish. The Colonel ended up excavating the skeleton himself. The remains were human, but the head was missing. The Colonel had the skeleton examined by an anatomist who believed the body to be that of an Oriental or First Nations Woman. He believed the bones had been encased in quick lime to dissolve them.
BCHeritage.ca has a terrific site with some further details on the house for those who may be further interested in the stories.
Quite honestly, we were pretty amazed to come across this wonderful old house given how long we’ve lived here. This entire story really goes to show how enthralling history is and how much of it can sit just below our awareness. We’ve been on ghost tours of the city before and they are incredible experiences. The thing is, though, these are all stories today but back then these were real events that happened to real people.
Our deep love and fascination of our area only grows when we find such wonders.
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