TransLink Podcast: Are there ghosts on transit?

TransLink Podcast: Are there ghosts on transit?

Greg Mansfield
Greg Mansfield in front of Waterfront Station. He is the author of the book, “Ghosts of Vancouver.”

Come behind the scenes with us as What’s the T: the TransLink Podcast with Jawn Jang reveals the voices and stories that drive Metro Vancouver’s transit system forward. Subscribe and listen everywhere you get your podcasts, including SpotifyApple PodcastsPocket Casts, and Google Podcasts!

It’s spooky season. Have you ever felt a chill as if someone was watching you? On this episode, we explore spooky stories and urban legends with Greg Mansfield, author of “Ghosts of Vancouver.” We’ll take you on a ride you won’t forget. Tune in if you dare!


VOICEOVER: Welcome to What’s the T, The TransLink podcast.

HOST JAWN: JANG: Hello and welcome to What’s the T, The TransLink podcast.


OK, I’m not actually going to sound like that for this entire episode, but hey, happy Halloween. My name is Jawn Jang and on this episode, we wanted to have a little bit of fun considering it is the spooky season, and explore the TransLink ghosts, ghouls and horrors, because nothing is quite as scary like the moment you realize you’re about to miss the last SkyTrain home.

[MICHAEL SCOTT FROM THE OFFICE]: Ohh God. No. God, please, no, no.

JAWN: Naturally, we have to start this conversation by asking you, the TransLink customer. Do you believe in ghosts? And, here is what you had to say about that.

THOR DIAKOW: Hey, it’s Thor. We’re out on the system today asking people if they believe in ghosts.


THOR: Why? What’s happened in your life to make you believe in ghosts?

INTERVIEWEE 1: Well, my grandma passed away, so I like to think that, you know, she’s still here kind of watching over me, stuff like that, yeah.

THOR: That’s lovely. Thank you. OK, great.

INTERVIEWEE 2: You know. No, not really, but. You know Halloween coming up anything can happen. Like maybe if you go to the graveyard or something or walking through the forest at night, you might encounter something kind of spooky.

THOR:  Conjour some spirits.

INTERVIEWEE 2: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Get a little the candle set up going. Yeah.

THOR: Yeah, the Ouija board.


THOR: Séance?

INTERVIEWEE 2: It’s like, yeah, I try to, like, talk to the spirits up there.

THOR: Do you, yourself, believe in ghosts?

INTERVIEWEE 3: I would like to, yes, I can’t say I’ve ever interacted with one, but I think it makes life a bit more fun if you do so, yeah.

THOR: Do you believe in ghosts?

INTERVIEWEE 4: I do. I see them, actually, I see them quite frequently. I I saw where I used to live. I saw a man and I described him to her. She described in someone else and she said that looks like my dead uncle that used to run a grocery store in that area and I’m thinking where the house was at like and I saw described into her and, uh, what’s her uncle? And I never would have known her uncle from that and was.

THOR: Was uncanny.

INTERVIEWEE 4: Yeah. Yeah. So that was creepy.

THOR: That’s amazing. How about you, do you believe in ghosts?


Ohh, of course I do. I’ve seen my grandmother. I’ve seen my mother. I’ve seen my father. I’ve seen my cats.

INTERVIEWEE 4: Yeah, I see my dad and mom a. Lot too.

THOR: So it’s comforting.

INTERVIEWEE 4: Yeah. Yeah.

INTERVIEWEE 5: Yeah, yeah.

JAWN: So it very much sounds like some of you truly believe in ghosts. And maybe you’re listening right now and perhaps thinking, I don’t know yet, maybe I’m on the fence. Well, what if I told you that some of Vancouver’s most haunted locations coexist with our public transportation system? Waterfront Station, for example, is one of the oldest buildings you can find in Vancouver, having originally opened back in the year 1914. And throughout its long history, sightings of spooky scenes and figures have been reported inside the busy transit hub. And so, producer Allen and I decided to meet with Greg Mansfield, the author of Ghosts of Vancouver, to explore what makes Waterfront such a spooky, haunted location. We took it one step further by recording. This interview inside the walls of Waterfront Station itself.

JAWN: Great, here we are at Waterfront Station. Yeah, it is one of the locations that you’ve written about in your book, the Ghosts of Vancouver.


JAWN: So I guess I’ll just cut straight to it. Like, what makes Waterfront Station haunted?

GREG: Ohh that’s a good question. Well they I guess the obvious answer is it’s riddled with ghosts. Why it’s riddled with ghosts is a very good question. And I would say my own speculation is that anywhere where you have an older building that has had literally thousands, if not millions of people walking through it over 100 plus years as this one has, you get all that, what psychics would call that, that energy, that psychic energy that builds up, but also you have to realize if you if you think that some ghosts are the spirits of people who have passed, and that’s one of the types of ghosts. And you have to realize that probably, many people have died here over the years. Either it’s because this was once a hotel, if you can believe.

JAWN: Oh, wow.

GREG: Yeah, 100 years ago when it was first opened, part of it was residences and part of it was accommodations for train travellers. So, you got to realize that when you have hotels and residences, people pass away. It happens all the time and also perhaps people just got passed away in the washrooms, or something, you know I don’t want to belabor the point too much, but another thing too is that we do have a theory or, or know that ghosts are also attracted to where there’s lots of people, they just like that energy. So perhaps someone just walked in and stayed.

JAWN: The average person I guess they don’t think too much about like, oh, this place is haunted. Until like something really obvious has happened to them

GREG: Right. Yes. Yeah. Well, the thing is to kind of address that is that most people coming through the station on a daily basis as a commuter, you know, we wouldn’t pick up on it. It’s, it’s late at night. It’s literally when security guards are walking around at 2-3 in the morning when most people are at home in bed and the station is empty. Where things have been seen, footsteps have been heard on the, on the stone floor, you know, on the flooring downstairs, and that’s when it gets picked up. Maybe they’re hearing things. It’s a big building, it’s night time. Maybe they’re hearing creeks and moans and runes. Well, no. They’re hearing more than that. And they’re seeing that they’re seeing actual apparitions that appear in front of them and then suddenly dissolve. So how do you explain that?

JAWN: Yeah, I mean to your point, during the day, there’s a lot of different things going on, the buses, cars coming by, the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So the noises maybe don’t get picked up and at night,

GREG: Yeah

JAWN: A lot of that disappears.

GREG: Or, or, you know, you could have literally a ghost as a full apparition, which is rare, I must add. But you could literally have a ghost walk in front of you, in the station as you’re busily hurrying on your way to catch SeaBus, or whatever. And it’ll look fully human, but it’s not. But you won’t know, right?

JAWN: Right.

GREG: Unless you try and walk through, which you wouldn’t do anyway, yeah. So, it’s kind of a silly point, but it’s at night when these security guards, they have the most experiences or early in the morning, as one of the stories in my book, we have an employee on the third floor. That’s where we are right now. It’s offices, right? Whereas in the in the day it was, there were rooms, residences and and so forth. Now they’re offices. So we’ve had some encounters with employees’ quiet hours when we first get in the morning, they hear crazy things, doors being wrapped on very loud and so forth. So that’s another kind of peak time.

JAWN: Well, the name of your book is The Ghosts of Vancouver.


JAWN: So when we come up with that idea of ghosts like the Hollywood version, and you know, the very scary, like, it really just wants to freak you out, maybe sometimes cause bodily harm, but that’s not what, real definition of ghosts are.

GREG:  Yes and no. I mean, ghosts can have a go at you. If they want to. Some ghosts have more energy, if you will, than others. Some are more able to manipulate objects and things. Some have been known to scratch people, but you know they’re truly evil things that are depicted in Hollywood, such as ghosts killing you or, you know, I don’t know, playing really horrible tricks and so forth. That not the case. There seems to be some kind of, you know, again, I’m speculating about, you know, what some people would say is the unspeculatable kind of thing, for one of a better word. But our speculation is that they cannot really hurt us. There’s some universal law, but because they’re crossing into our realm, from wherever they are, they can’t really do any damage to us and thank goodness, right? I mean, they can’t really interfere in our world, but yeah, some people on ghost investigations have been scratched. I haven’t. Heard them, seen one, but generally no, nothing really to be scared of, other than the surprise.

JAWN: Yeah, I get that. A short walk away, it’s the old Hotel Vancouver and I’ve heard.

GREG: Yep.

JAWN: Many people saying like there is very recognizable characters, the certain same characters that come through.

GREG: Yes.

JAWN: With many different people saying like they were wearing the same clothing, they all look the same so there seems to be consistency in that way.

GREG: Yup.

JAWN: Would you say here at Waterfront there might be some of those same, like, characters that maybe are around here hunting?

GREG: Yes, yes. Yeah, there’s, you know, there’s several different classifications of ghost, if you will. We’ve just talked about entities. That is what we think are spirits of people who have passed, and for some reason their consciousness still can exist in our realm, and they can, you know, appear and so forth. But there’s also another class called imprints where we think that’s not conscious. It’s more of a slip in time and space. So, for example, there’s a ghost here at Waterfront, who is, she wears a flapper dress from the 1920s, so about 100 years ago, and she was seeing, gosh, about 20 years ago, for the first time, I think, at least as far as we know by security guard up there on the West side where they used to be a ballroom. And this security guard was walking down the hall late, late one night when it was the station was closed and quiet. You know, and he heard this 1920s dance music. You know, that really old-fashioned Sound of Music, not rock’n’roll. And he heard this, and he was walking down the hallway, he saw this woman, carol wedding, dancing in the hallway. And she was wearing the flapper style hat and the beautiful sequin dress, you know, on high heels, dancing. And he thought, what the heck is going on, right? As he walked further along the hallway, the music stopped and she vanished. So, I think there’s a good chance she’s an imprint. So, there’s a slip in time. Maybe she was doing that exact action 100 years ago in 1923, and for some reason he glimpsed, a little glitch in space-time where she’s doing the same thing over and over, but she’s not conscious.

JAWN: Right.

GREG: Having said that though, kind of an update I’ve had recently from my friend Lydia of Ghostly Vancouver Tours, is that that same ghost was seen on the main floor walking down the hallway behind the restaurant, so maybe she is conscious.

JAWN: Oh, OK. If I were to see that particular imprint, that wouldn’t scare me. So much as it would be just fascinating to see that particular imprint.

GREG: Yeah, wouldn’t it? I guess it’s a little shocking if you’re doing a round as a security guard at two or three in the morning and you see that and you think, and it disappears. I’m sure it’d put a chill up your spine, but still, it is fascinating and this is what fascinates me, is that how does that work and why?

JAWN: Right, right. In your experience, you know you, you you’ve spoken with many different people who either are psychics or people who have a connection, and are able to identify where the spirits might be, like, have you heard of any on the system, on the transit system taking buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus, or any of them?

GREG: Yes, I have. As you’ve mentioned, lots of good friends who are psychics or, or there’s my friend Amanda, she’s a fellow paranormal investigator. We go investigating together, and she also runs New Westminster Ghost Tours. We’re starting that up soon.


GREG: And she tells me and she told me this a few years ago about a spirit that gets on SkyTrain in New Westminster. So, this person gets on at Columbia Station and he gets on SkyTrain. And you can imagine late at night, this is just before SkyTrain, you know, stops running for the day. Is that, what, 12? 12:30? So, it’s late. It’s around midnight and he gets on and the one or two people on the car with him notice him get on and he sits down. And then, you know, they look away and then between the time the train leaves Columbia Station and gets to New Westminster Station, so headed, you know, westbound. So, they look back at where he had sat down, and he is gone and they can’t see him. You know, he look up the train and then to the other cars and he is just nowhere to be seen. So that is, ghost on, wary of, actually on SkyTrain. But again, the question is, is that a conscious entity, or is it an imprint of this fellow who got on there and who knows when? 1997? And for some reason in space-time, there’s a rift and suddenly you see him?

JAWN: That moment was just captured for whichever reason, right?

GREG: Yeah, exactly. Who knows? It’s just. All part of the mystery wrapped in the Enigma right.

JAWN: It’s kind of fascinating to think about because, especially the early morning rush and then the late afternoon rush, yeah, everyone’s trying to be polite, and especially in today’s age, nobody’s really making eye contact with other commuters. You might notice, like, oh, somebody sat down on diagonal from me or across from me. And then you look back and they’re gone.

GREG: Yeah, yeah. And you don’t want to stare, right? The last thing you want to do is, of course, your eye will follow. We’re all people, well sure, my eye following you, and you see them sit down, and if they smile at you, you smile at them. But you look away, right? Because staring it would not be nice. Right? And so, you know, in this case, they look away and they do something quickly and they look back and he’s absolutely gone.

JAWN: We’ll take a quick break right now, back with more spooky stories on What’s the T, the TransLink podcast.


JAWN: Welcome back to What’s the T, the TransLink podcast, I’m Jawn Jang. In conversation with Greg Mansfield, author of Ghosts of Vancouver, the 41 haunted places around Metro Vancouver, and Greg, we’re talking about ghosts and hauntings across the public transit system in Vancouver. I’m not an expert. I can’t definitively say that this is, or is not real, but there does seem to be some sort of a consensus just to remind our listener that no matter what, these spirits, these ghosts, whatever you want to call them, they can’t hurt you. But they sure can scare you.

GREG: They can be scary. I’ll talk about if you don’t mind. There’s a sort of a semi-famous story here in Waterfront Station where there was a security guard about 20 years ago, who came up and I’m just trying to think what floor he was on, but he came up to one of the empty offices here, I think on the fourth floor, not sure, but he came in and everything was dark. So, the hallway lights were out, the office lights were out, naturally, and he had his flashlight and he went into a large, empty office. And, he was walking around just checking things out. And he saw the spirit of a middle-aged woman and she was glowing like she was phosphorescent. And she approached him. As he stood there, you know, stupefied and, kind of, “who is this person?” Right? And she reached out to him and it freaked him out. And he was very, very scared. It was such a shock for him that he ran. He just ran and he went downstairs. But, he was so traumatized by this that he painted a painting of this woman.

JAWN: Interesting.

GREG: Which is to this day in the station.

JAWN: It is?

GREG: It’s in the basement. And I know that from the security guards talking about it. So, he painted it and said I’ve seen a picture of the painting. So, a photo of the picture and, she’s a middle-aged lady, but she’s dressed fairly in fairly modern clothes, you know, almost from the 70s or 80s and, he was he wanted to get this out of the system, so he painted it and he donated it to the station. And it’s still here. But there’s a kind of a funny tale around it. And I don’t know if it’s the stuff of legend. Which the trouble with ghosts and legends, they often get intertwined, and so it’s said that if the painting is ever taken away from Waterfront Station, weird things happen, such as the power goes out or weird electrical disturbances. So the security have put the painting back. It’s in the basement. You can’t access it. You can’t see it. Only if the security guards with their keys and building maintenance see it in this room.

JAWN: What are some misconceptions you would want to clear up when people say, you know, ghosts exists here in Vancouver? They might be at Waterfront Station or elsewhere. You know where old, old buildings tend to exist and certainly like Gastown’s just steps away from here. So, what are some common misconceptions that people have that frustrate you when you hear them?

GREG: Yeah. Well, yeah, one of the, and a lot of these misconceptions have been brought up by television programs. You know, the TV shows more around the paranormal investigation programs. A small number of them are actually quite good. They’re actually quite honest, but a large majority of them hype it up for the television and to get you scared and to make good entertainment, right? Fair enough. But they purport to be real, but they’re not. And so, some of those shows will hype it up and they’ll lead you to believe that all ghosts can hurt you. That many, many ghosts, if not most of them, are demons, if you will. And that’s just not true, it’s just the opposite. The majority of these things are passive, the majority of them don’t want to hurt you. Maybe they’re stuck in our realm, and they don’t know how to move on. They’re in a sort of an endless loop that they can’t help but, you know, stay in. And so that bugs me when you hear, “ohh yes, and it was a demon and it was, and it was really evil.” And OK, that’s rare and you know, it’s unlikely that it’s a demon. If something bad is happening, like a ghost has enough energy to throw stuff at you, or scratch you. It’s probably the spirit of a person who’s passed on, and they’re angry. You know, ghosts have emotions just like we do and many of them, I think when they pass, they carry those final emotions with them. Were they sad because they were being murdered or had had to go out to die? Were they angry because they were being attacked? And some of them are angry and they’re stuck and they want to get your attention, or they don’t like you being in their space and they will go for you. But again, they can’t kill you. They can’t seriously harm you, right? I haven’t heard any stories I real life of that happening.

JAWN: Well, I mean, all of us tend to have an irrational fear or two, but for me, I hate flying.


JAWN: And there’s that irrational fear like this might be the last flight I’ll ever have right?

GREG: Of course, and I hate heights and, that you know, I’m probably not gonna fall, but yeah, same thing.

JAWN: Just because we know the facts. Doesn’t mean it hurts us really.

GREG: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

JAWN: To your point, I see what you’re saying.

GREG: Yeah, but don’t be scared. Be fascinated. Umm, if you experience something. Investigate it. Check your senses, were you’re drinking at the time? Hopefully not, but be open minded. That’s all I have to say, you know, and I’ve got lots of friends who are scientists, you know, doctors and engineers and so on and say, “Oh, there goes Greg again with his ghosts.” You know, it’s all BS. But I say to them, “Guys, look, we don’t know everything.” Science does not know everything, we’re far from knowing everything. Based on the anecdotal evidence, and some of its made-up, a lot of people make this stuff up for attention and I think I have a pretty good sense of who does that and who doesn’t. But there’s a good, maybe a 1 to 2% of the stories that are real. They’re true, the people aren’t making them up. It’s just what they experienced and they’re telling you. It’s like, “It was super weird and I can’t explain it.” And some of those people I talked to, I’ll say, “
Oh well, could it have been this?” And they’ll say, “Oh, yeah, it could have been, I guess.” Like, I don’t know, electrical failures and issues, you know, but I’ve seen a shadow figure. It wasn’t a figment of my imagination. This was last year. It was the real thing. I was shocked when I saw it. I couldn’t believe I’d seen it, but these things are up there.

JAWN: For people that want to check out Ghosts of Vancouver and find out more about the work you’ve done. Where can they find more information?

GREG: Yeah, absolutely. Well, the I have a website and it details some of the locations from the book. So that’s

JAWN: Whether or not you actually believe in ghosts, the spooky season makes it a fun opportunity to let your imagination run wild, especially when you find yourself waiting for the SkyTrain in one of Vancouver’s oldest buildings like Waterfront Station. And who knows, maybe the next time you take your seat on the bus or on the SkyTrain, you may realize the person that was sitting across from you just moments ago, has vanished. My thanks to Greg Mansfield, author of Ghost of Vancouver, for his expertise on the subject, producer Allen Tung, for his tireless and haunting work behind the scenes, and Taylor Wagner, who provided the inspiration for this episode.

My name is Jawn Jang, happy Halloween from all of us at Trans Link and until next time have a safe trip.