Bishop Seghers’ apparition is one of Vancouver Island’s most terrifying visages. He is said to appear in full priest attire, gliding across the cathedral’s floor from out of the shadows. Instead of a face, or hair, or flesh of any kind, however, the priest has a bare-boned smiling skull set upon his shoulders.
Waves of people arrived in Victoria during the gold rush of 1858, numbering in the tens of thousands: Americans, Australians, Polish Jews, Italians, Chinese, Eastern Canadians, Britons, Hawaiians (Kanaka), and others. Many of the people were only passing through, but thousands of opportunists following the prospectors stayed at the fort, turning Victoria into a city overnight. Drinking establishments and brothels sprang up everywhere. A jail soon followed. Then came the places of worship.
The Quadra Street Cemetery was located beside a small church. Most of Victoria’s first prayer houses were little more than temporary gathering places. Grander buildings followed in the decades to come. The still-standing synagogue on Pandora Street was built in 1863, making it the oldest in Canada. The Presbyterians also had a congregation as early as 1866, but didn’t complete the still-used St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church until 1889. The Anglican Church of Our Lord was built in 1876 and is still used today. Chinatown’s first Tam Kung Temple was built that same year. Many more churches would be constructed in the 1890s, including the Catholic’s new St. Andrew’s Cathedral (not to be confused with the similarly named Presbyterian church).
St. Andrew’s Cathedral was believed to be haunted as early as 1890. Construction had only just begun on the new cathedral, when a lone gunman shot and killed an innocent man—David Fee—as Christmas Eve Mass was letting out. According to court records, during the subsequent trial, the defendant’s lawyer argued that his client had mistaken David Fee for “a ghost.” The site was believed to be haunted by the murdered bishop buried there.
The above is an excerpt from my new book The Haunting of Vancouver Island, courtesy of TouchWood Editions.