Nanaimo has been hit with some pretty heavy snowstorms this week, which is okay, as I’ve been tucked inside writing like a madman. As the deadline approaches to submit the manuscript for the Haunting of Vancouver Island, my excitement to share it with you has been intensifying. Some of these stories have been years in the making. A comment on my blog. A conversation with a stranger. A chance discovery in an old newspaper. I would watch a tale manifest slowly before my eyes. Not contrived. Not embellished. But viewed the way that it was meant to be viewed: organically and without hubris. I am a researcher, a newswriter, a collector of unconventional stories from across Vancouver Island. Who am I to say whether these things happened or not? A balanced, fact-heavy approach will make — in my opinion — a much more frightening read than anything else I could hope to create. “Let Vancouver Island tell its own story,” that’s what I say.
Of course, it is important to include the island’s better-known ghost stories as well. This week, I finished writing the chapter on the ghost ship Valencia. The steamship which sank in 1906 after hitting a rock beneath a remote cliff off the west coast of Vancouver Island. The ship took two days to sink. 136 people — not including unregistered children — died. Rescue vessels were unable to get into the shallow water to help any of them. 37 people survived on their own… none of them women or children. Sometimes referred to as “the Titanic of British Columbia,” the Valencia has been reportedly seen since.
Instead of trusting what others had written before me, I looked at the better-known tales like the Valencia as if they had never been told before — in a modern sense. In each case, I was surprised at how much had been contrived, and rewarded with details no one else had shared before.
I ended up with pages and pages of notes about the Valencia, articles from various papers (mostly from when the ship went down in 1906), and even the American commission’s report of the investigation into the disaster. Add to that the unexplained phenomena reported over the years, and the result is something I’ve become excited to share.
The manuscript for the Haunting of Vancouver Island is due January 15th, so I’ve had my head down and been working hard. I have to apologise for not being as active on social media lately as I would like. Hopefully, when you read the finished Touchwood Edition product in October 2017, you’ll be happy with the end result. Like I said, I’m really looking forward to sharing these stories with you 🙂
As Christmas looms, I also wanted to ask that you please take a moment to reflect upon the importance of the age-old tradition of telling ghost stories during the holiday season. Without you, your friends and family might be forced to live without them, which would be sad, because everyone knows this is the time of year for giving. Oh, and be safe out there too! Happy holidays everyone! See you in the New Year!
The Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre’s “Ghost Stories for Christmas”