The site of numerous alleged hauntings, a boys’ school during the Great Depression, and the filming of a 1970s made-for-TV horror film, the building commonly known as the Qualicum Heritage Inn is an important landmark in Qualicum Beach. Considered one of Vancouver Island’s most haunted buildings, it has stood empty since 2008 and is awaiting its next incarnation as a trendy condominium.
The Qualicum Beach Inn was built in 1937 as a boys’ college. The college had taken root when a man named Robert Knight wanted to open a boarding school in Qualicum Beach, and he did so with the help of the former headmaster of Victoria’s Collegiate School Aubrey Muskett. Initially, the school was known as the Qualicum Beach School, and when it was founded in 1935 it had only nine students. During this first year the school ran in a rented house, but in 1937 the seaside residence, later known as the Qualicum Heritage Inn, was built. In 1949 it was renamed Qualicum College.
By the time the 1960s came around, the school’s enrolment had increased to about 70 students, most of whom resided at the college. Despite this growth, the school closed in 1970. Its playing fields were divided up for housing, and the college building itself was repurposed as the Qualicum College Inn.
It was at this stage in the building’s existence that the notorious drama surrounding it began. In 1977, the inn appeared in a TV drama, It Happened at Lakewood Manor. Appropriately––when considering the later reports of hauntings––the drama was a horror film. The plot concerned an old lakeside hotel at which an infestation of poisonous ants runs rampant. Also known as Ants or Panic at Lakewood Manor, the film scores a whopping 5/10 on IMDB.
Numerous hauntings have been reported over the years, with people reporting everything from disembodied voices to objects moving on their own. The apparitions of three figures have been continuously reported: those of a man in full uniform, a little boy, and a woman. The fourth floor was said to be especially haunted, and voices have allegedly been heard crying, moaning, and even chanting. Room 453 (later 459) was reported as being particularly afflicted with hauntings. In this room, a man’s voice was often heard, people reported seeing furniture move on its own, and one guest even proclaimed to have had their blankets pulled off of them by an invisible force.
In 2007, the inn was deemed a Municipal Heritage Site, but only one year later the building was boarded up, and it has remained closed ever since. Currently, this heritage building is awaiting its transformation into Qualicum College Heights, and although the project remains unfinished, many condos have already been sold. It remains to be seen if the reports of hauntings will continue once the building once again changes form…