Uncovering the Ghosts of the Plaza

Writers seeking help from community for Interactive performance in November.

Sarah Smith and Sadie Forbes hunt for ghosts in the Plaza Hotel's furnace room.

Sarah Smith and Sadie Forbes hunt for ghosts in the Plaza Hotel's furnace room.

There’s no doubt that the 100-year-old Plaza Hotel on Government Street has a few ghosts inside. Just ask Sarah Smith.

Smith’s nine years as a bartender and server at Monty’s Showroom Pub have offered her a first-hand look at the bowels of this historic hotel, which has changed immensely since it was built as The Westholme Hotel in 1911.

“One of our bouncers refuses to go down here anymore,” says Smith, as she gives me the tour of the dark and enigmatic space. “Things just keep moving around.”

Long-time patrons and employees share numerous accounts of ghost sightings and mysterious happenings in the space on a regular basis and now, with the help of burlesque dancer Rosie Bitts and research assistant Sadie Forbes, the Ghosts of the Plaza will come to life.

The three ladies are writing an interactive performance about the ghosts, both literal and figurative, of the Plaza Hotel, which is due to close over the next few months and be redeveloped by Vancouver-based GMC Projects Inc.

“We’re losing a really iconic place,” says Smith. “It’s the end of an era.”

While Forbes has had some success uncovering information about the hotel at the provincial archives and through other sources, she’s seeking help from the community in the form of stories about the space, whether they’re about the Westholme, The Century Inn, or any of the many pubs, bars, coffee shops and more that occupied space in the four-storey building.

Funded in part by the Victoria Spirit Committee in conjunction with Victoria’s 150th anniversary, Ghosts of the Plaza is scheduled to premiere in early November.

Anyone who is interested in telling their story can reach Forbes at 250-588-7233, by email info@ghostsoftheplaza.com, on facebook (facebook.com/GhostsOfThePlaza) or at ghostsoftheplaza.com. M

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