Ghost stories describing a Lady in White emerge from cultures all over the world. From Thailand to South America, Australia to Russia, a lone woman’s spirit wearing a white flowing dress has been described, and re-described, over, and over again. According to Wikipedia contributors, what is consistent in most of these tales “is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband, boyfriend, or fiancé.” This classic White Lady phenomenon is also said to only occur in rural or secluded spots, as well.
These specific qualities are what apparently differentiate “White Lady” tales from the countless other stories told of female-apparitions who are dressed in white gowns. In fact, these rigid requirements effectively disqualify many women-in-white-apparitions found on Vancouver Island. Victoria, for example, reports several non-rural spirits wearing white dresses. The rest of Vancouver Island can add a few more women who don’t quite meet the criteria, as well — including one lonely maid who even appears without her head!
…a tale, of course, for another day…
Strictly speaking, however, according to the rigid rules of qualification set out by these same sage-like-non-attribution-quoting Wikipedia contributors, Vancouver Island only has two White Ladies. Interestingly, both of these stories hail from the Greater Victoria area.
The first White Lady would be the April Ghost, believed by many to be the spirit of Doris Gravlin. This story has been covered extensively in other places, and will be included in my book Spirits of Vancouver Island, but it basically goes like this: Gravlin’s body was discovered strangled and beaten near the ninth hole of Oak Bay’s super-elite golf course; her estranged husband’s apparent-suicide remains were found shortly thereafter. Ever since, a woman in white has been seen in the vicinity, often looking out at the water where her husband’s body had once been recovered. At night, she is reported to be barefoot and wears a white dress, often described as wedding-like. Huge volumes of people have claimed to see her spirit, which is often now dubbed “the April Ghost”. Sometimes, whole groups of people have seen her at the same time.
The second haunting meeting these criteria is the White Lady of Thetis Cove. As described in the video attached, the White Lady of Thetis Cove, View Royal, is associated with the nearby Four Mile Pub, which was established in 1858 by Peter Calvert. According to the story, the young woman was Peter’s sister, or his sister-in-law through marriage. She was married to a sea-captain who was away on a long voyage. Due to circumstance, the woman was staying with the Calverts back when the Four Mile roadhouse was still young. She’s said to have made the short stroll down to the beach of Thetis Cove almost daily, often standing on the rocks and staring out to sea. Before her husband returned, however, the woman became ill and passed away. Much later, the grandson of Peter Calvert said that the lady was his “great aunt”. Not understanding the context of how that particular term was used in those days, or the customs at the time of the tragedy, some later speculated that the woman must have been an old lady when she died. This would have been unlikely. The spirit that has been reported has always been said to be a young woman, as well.
Either way, the White Lady of Thetis Cove was often seen over the next several years. This eventually resulted in the people of View Royal naming the place “White Lady Beach.” She has been seen less often in modern times, and the name has changed again, but she’s still believed by many to haunt the beach.
Like other white ladies, the woman accompanies a sense of loneliness and loss. Her dress is long and wispy, and her hair flows loosely about her. She’s lost in her own world, it is said, for she does not interact with those that have seen her. In fact, she doesn’t even appear to notice them. During storms or bad weather, she is said to stand on one of the points, looking out towards the open water beyond the small cove’s rocky shore.
The inn she once stayed at is significant as well. After a long and winding history, Graham and Wendy Haymes bought the nearby Four Mile Pub in 1979. They eventually restored it to its former glory. Touched by the tale of the White Lady, the Haymes commissioned a stain-glass window to be made in her honour as a part of the inn’s restoration process. The beautiful artist’s rendition of the White Lady of Thetis Cove can still be seen in the pub to this day. To further cement the building’s connection to the lady’s apparition, both the pub and the restaurant serve a hot drink called the White Lady, as well. It’s made with coffee, Bailey’s, and Frangelico.
Despite her connection to the inn, the White Lady of Thetis Cove is said to only haunt the beach; but that’s okay, as this officially makes her one of Vancouver Island’s true White Lady ghost stories indeed.
As an additional point of interest, it should be noted that the staff of the Four Mile Pub has reported several other spirits attached to the building over the years. Some of these tales are shared on their web page and are more than worth the visit!
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,