History

The Bent Mast History

At Five Corners, where Simcoe Street meets Toronto Street, there stands an imposing building. Facing west, the structure sits in the triangular lot formed by those two roads as they meet at Menzies Street.

Construction on The House began in 1884 – forty year after the first settlers arrived in Victoria, and just twenty-two years after the incorporation of the city of Victoria. The House was a year old when the “last spike” of the Trans Canada Railroad was pounded in and it was in existence during the second Louis Riel Rebellion.

The area known as James Bay was originally called Beckley Farm because the land was used by the Hudson’s Bay Company to grow valuable vegetables. The old Hudson’s Bay Company building (now a flower shop) still stands on the corner or Menzies & Simcoe Street.

John Chandler, an accountant for the Hudson’d Bay Company, had The House build for his wife Lizzie, who was a school teacher from The Maritimes, Only a year after construction of The House was completed, he Chandler’s moved out of The House they had spent the last four years building. There are differing stories as to why they moved: taunting from small boys, stolen chickens, a small pox scare… The story which we like is that Lizzie did not like that the kitchen was in the basement at the back of The House. She was not going to live in a house where, because they had no servants, she had a lug food and dishes up and down the stairs.

bentmastBetween the bar and the main dining room is an opening in the wall which exposes the old timbers of The House. To be the eighteen or nineteen feet long that they are, and given the age of The House, the wood must be at least two hundred years old. The stair-rail was bought in by steam ship from California and was thought to be of mahogany. As it turns out, it is god pine with a dark mahogany colored stain.

One story has The House having the first, of at least one the very first, flush toilers in Victoria. Who knows what important politician or well-heeled person may have taken advantage if its convenience…perhaps Emily Carr, who lived just up the street on Government Street?

Rumour has it that The House was a brothel in subsequent years, what with it being so close to the docks. And in the years leading up to its incarnation as a restaurant, The House has been a room house, then derelict, then infested with drunks and drug addicts. The upstairs of the first restaurant (there have been four before The Bent Mast) was used as an erotic art gallery.

Jerry Seto and Kate Thomson opened The Bent Mast together in 1995. After and enigmatic fifteen years of co-ownership, Jerry passed away suddenly on December 30th, 2010. Ownership has since stayed in the family, and has been passed on to Jerry’s parents and siblings. We feel that Jerry has never ¬†really left the home that he loved, and that he still resides here, keeping a watchful and caring eye on us all.

Ghosts:

There are supposedly at least three spirits residing in The House, One is a happy child who stays on the stairway and upstairs. Another is a cranky, but harmless, old man who started in the basement of the front of the house but has since moved on to the kitchen and has been quite mischievous in knocking things over or hiding the odd item. He has also been spotted upstairs.

The third is the most encompassing: an elderly motherly women who started on the stairwell and upstairs, and has since spread throughout the main floor, especially the bar area. She is the one who gives The House its nurturing, compassionate and caring feeling.

Ghost Encounters:

There have been many… but a few of the major ones include:

A server heard a little girl laughing in the upstairs office, but the restaurant was empty at the time.

A customer’s daughter was playing on the stairs one day and her mother noticed she was talking to someone. When the mother asked her who she was talking to the child said she was talking to the little girl.

ghost at bentmastA customer walked by the office (which was dining room at the time) and noticed and old man dressed in a suit with a vest and a big gold pocket watch hanging from his vest. The customer came down and asked the server who the old man was that sitting upstairs, and why he was dressed so old-fashioned. The server knew that no one had gone upstairs for a while and that no one was sitting in that room and when they went upstairs to check he was gone.

A server picked up the phone in the bar area and dialled a co-workers number one night and noticed that the line was full of static. After the first ring, a dramatically calm and husky female voice said “There are a lot of people here.” Then the phone rang again and when the ringing stopped the second time the voice said “I’,m in the other room.” The server promptly hung up the phone.

We looked through the video tapes one night to try to find out who had graffiti’d the upstairs hallway. At 12:01 Am the camera caught the image of a bright, bowling ball sized orb appearing at the top of stairs suddenly. The orb then floated around the corner and squeezed under the office door. It then proceeded to zoom to the right, through the office wall, and into the staff bathroom where it was lost from the cameras.

Read more Ghost Stories about the Bent Mast:

Then & Now The Bent Mast

The Haunted Pub

It felt almost like someone was in with me

The ghosts of James Bay

Why is Victoria so Haunted, Haunted Locations in Victoria

Every Place has a story by Eve Lazarus

Eating Out: The Bent Mast