Do you believe in Bigfoot?
British Columbia — in particular Vancouver Island — has long been a place of legend, mythical creatures and spiritual traditions. As TED and TEDActive attendees return to Vancouver and Whistler for TED2015: Truth and Dare, we decided to dig into some of the hidden secrets of British Columbia to prepare them for the most unexpected of adventures.
After all, what goes better with a little “Truth and Dare” than some myths and ghost stories?
Vancouver Island, just off the coast of Southwestern Canada, is said to be the home of the legendary Bigfoot. Researchers, folklore experts, “investigators” and organizations like the “Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization” all contribute to the myth around Sasquatch, the “ape-like man”. Those who argue that Sasquatch is real point to evidence like eyewitness descriptions and descriptions (or even photographs) of Sasquatch tracks. The creature is described by its height, long arms and physically threatening mannerisms by some accounts.
Not sold on Sasquatch? Other mysterious creature sightings in the area have included a massive sea serpent, known in legends by the name of Ogopogo, Caddy or Klamahtossaurus, that swims through underground tunnels between neighboring lakes.
There are also the jack-a-lopes. Jack-a-lopes are best explained by an infection called Cottontail Rabbit Papilloma Virus (CRPV), which is contracted by rabbits and causes them to grow horn-like tumors from their heads. It is not entirely unlikely, in fact, that you may come across a jack-a-lope somewhere in your travels!
Beyond mysterious creatures, Vancouver and Vancouver Island are also known for their ghost stories. Towards the end of the 19th Century, Vancouver Island and Vancouver were important ports for production and export of coal. Numerous workers died in the mines and experienced accidents in Vancouver’s harbors, leading to rumors of ghosts and ghost ships full of drowned sailors along the coast. A number of the eyewitness accounts of supernatural activity link ghostly figures back to specific accidents in mines, in town, or in the harbor, claiming that the spirits of those who died in the area continue to haunt it.
Nearby Newcastle Island Park is known for being the “most haunted island in the Pacific,” based on numerous legends including the legend of Kanaka Pete, a Hawaiian axe murderer who killed his wife, daughter and in-laws. Legend claims that he was buried in an unmarked grave and continued to roam the beaches long after his death.
One town in particular seems to have a larger collection of ghost sightings than most: Nanaimo boasts stories of mid-19th century women floating down staircases in the buildings where they were murdered, and a ghost child was seen bouncing a red ball on multiple occasions. Despite its history of paranormal activity, Nanaimo has since transitioned to be known as the “Bathtub Racing Capital of the World” and part of the “innovation island,” offering opportunities for new tech start ups to grow in the area.
While you’re exploring British Columbia this week (perhaps after all the events we have planned for you!) we dare you to explore some of these haunted sites or share a few ghost stories and folk legends with the friends you’ll meet at TED and TEDActive!