Canned Chills in Ghostly Steveston

Statue outside of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston BC

Statue outside of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Photo: John Lee

The following article was contributed by Vancouver travel writer and Lonely Planet author John Lee (@johnleewriter)

Halloween is creeping up on us like a stealthy sprite with a disembodied head. But one Lower Mainland attraction is doing more than most to lure those who love nothing better than scaring themselves witless.

Clinging to the mist-fingered waterfront at Steveston – a boardwalk fishing village in Richmond that’s lined with heritage buildings and tasty seafood restaurants – the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site is about to creak open the door on its annual Halloween tours.

Running October 27 and 28, an unholy host of Fraser River phantoms will guide nerve-jangled guests through the innards of the once-working fish cannery. One of the region’s most popular industrial museums, these ghostly residents crawl from the woodwork every witching season to tell spectral tales of former workers who lived – or otherwise – during the bustling plant’s heyday.

Operating from 1894 to 1979, there are plenty of stories to tell. And your hosts are the perfect ghouls to do so: Lucy Lid Girl, Patty the Patcher and – most frightening of all – the Manic Mechanic are on-hand to regale visitors with stories of their own untimely ends, at the same time as explaining the tough jobs most workers endured while toiling here.

Spooky yet informative, the always-popular tours run Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. Saturday’s 1 p.m. tour is especially aimed at young children. But if you want to be frightened out of your skin, the final tours on each day promise to be “extra scary.” In other words, you can expect to be screaming like a banshee on your way home.

Booking ahead – through the website or by calling 604-664-9009 – is recommended for this poltergeist-popping Halloween experience. Tours cost $10 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $5 for children (under-6s are free). But whichever day you come, don’t forget: not all ghosts are Casper-friendly and looking behind you is always recommended.

If you can’t make it to the cannery’s chill-tastic Halloween weekend, it’s also open daily throughout the year for regular visits. For a taste of what it’s like here without the ghostly presence, here’s my short video:

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