Though it sounds innocent, the Nanaimo Museum's lantern tour will uncover some dark tales from Nanaimo's history.
From dishing the dirty details on the axe murderer who slaughtered his family on Bastion Street to the hanging of a notorious robber on Skinner Street, program co-ordinator Aimee Greenaway said the tour is darker than their usual fare.
Rather than call it a ghost walk, as many tours in Victoria do, Greenaway said she wanted the tour's name to reflect the diversity of topics covered.
"We were on Trip Advisor and I've seen comments come up on the ghost tours in Victoria - which are really well established - and there were people that were complaining that they had gone on a ghost tour and didn't see any ghosts, therefore the tour sucked," said Greenaway with a laugh. "So I just want people to know what it is, which is a history tour with some ghost stories sprinkled in."
One of those ghost stories involves the tale of Peter Kakua, also known as Kanaka Pete.
"In the 1860s there was a man who killed his baby, his wife, and his mother and father-in-law downtown with an axe," said Greenaway.
Kakua was from Honolulu and came to the West Coast on a Hudson's Bay Company boat, as many Hawaiians did at that time in history, said Greenaway.
It was on an evening in December of 1868 that Kakua returned home from a night out drinking to find his wife packing up her things.
She was leaving him, and taking their baby. Her parents were there to help her pack.
He flew into a drunken rage and killed them with an axe, said Greenaway, after which he fled by canoe to Newcastle Island.
On his way out of town he told a friend named Tamalee what had happened, and not believing him, Tamalee went to the house and found the grisly scene.
The ghost stories begin to form around the saga of Kanaka Pete when Greenaway discovered a tale during her research, which she plans to relay during the tour.
Recounted in a 1953 issue of the Daily Colonist, it detailed how H. "Jim" Hawthornthwaite, a prominent MLA at the time, had witnessed a frightening apparition of a man in the living room of the house he was living in.
That house happened to be right in the area where Kakua had carried out the murders.
The tour will visit the site of the old house and details of Hawthornthwaite's ghost story will be revealed in greater detail during the tour, said Greenaway.
They will also discuss some of the ghost stories from Newcastle Island, where Kakua is buried in Kanaka Bay.
Other grisly stories on the tour include that of cult leader Brother XII and Henry "The Flying Dutchman" Wagner, the last man to be hanged in Nanaimo.
Stops will wind through various downtown hotels, the old provincial jail and the former foundry site, and yes, Greenaway will be carrying a lantern.
It takes place Oct. 18, 23, 25 and 30 from 6:30-8 p.m. To register call 250-753-1821. Cost is $15.
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