Skip to content

Behind Bars: A neighbourhood pub with a spooky story to tell

History and heritage at Christie’s Carriage House Pub in Victoria

By John Atkinson

Christie’s Carriage House Pub is a remarkable neighbourhood haunt — pun intended — boasting a rich history, trailblazing character and a ghostly tale.

Originally a house built by horse-drawn carriage maker Eldridge Christie in 1898, the pub still has a 1905 Rockaway Coupe hardtop carriage on display at the front entrance.

Majestically restored in 1986, the inside of the pub is dripping with high Edwardian fashion, including dark wood, stained glass, brass rails, a patterned ceiling and fireplaces.

Head bartender Mike Gavas, who has been working at the pub since his late ’20s — over 30 years — also revealed the compelling ghoul story.

“The second night I worked here, I was coming out of the office closing up and routinely checked the washrooms. As I got to the bottom of the stairs I could tell the women’s washroom door had opened — after I’d just checked it — and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

“This happened continuously and I later heard from different psychics that there were cold spots in the women’s washroom. So after a while the consensus was that a girl was haunting the women’s washroom. Until one day, about 10 years ago, a lady from Minnesota came into the pub and said she used to live here.

“She took me for a tour of the pub and as we walked by the women’s washroom she froze. It turned out her 11-year-old brother, Dion, had died of painful leukemia in the room when it was a bedroom. I didn’t tell her, her brother was walking the halls, but now it all made sense.

“It still goes on to this day. And now when I leave I say: ‘Goodnight Dion.’”


Christie’s pub opened for business in August 1986, with Lyndon Helm — of Helm’s Inn fame — the original major owner.

“Lyndon had the controlling interest at Christie’s and refused to get off the phone until I came in for an interview,” recalled Gavas. “We then worked together to give it some structure and organization.

“It was also a Molson house with just four taps. And that was the infancy of the cottage/microbrewery. This was the original multi-tap place. We went from four taps to 40 taps over a couple of years. We were also the first pub to carry Phillips beers.

“We also had to get a state-of-the-art draft system (to replace the CO2 system). I did that against Lyndon’s wishes, but he eventually relented and it all exploded in a good way. We became the distributor to Vancouver Island and just distributed/shipped to ourselves.”

The pub was then sold in 2002 to Jim O’Brien, who brought in general manager Brock Carbery who is now part-owner with Gord Hahn.

On the menu, Christie’s stands out for its 33 different taps, the signature being the Crannog Back Hand of God stout (they’re the only place on the Island that serves it), its multitude of cocktails and having “the best Caesar salad in town, the best fish & chips and a Reuben sandwich to die for.”

I sampled the Caesar salad and fish & chips, which both hit the spot, washed down by a pint of the Crannog stout.

Gavas reflected on his best memories working at Christie’s — being there for big sporting events and working with his children.

“I’m a big sports fan, so watching any Stanley Cup final and working while it’s on is memorable. I also get to work with my kids, which is pretty cool. My daughter worked here for seven years, and now my son works here.”

Meanwhile, Christie’s draws in the crowds with its themed nights and VIP system.


“We now have Sixty Watt Trivia on Monday nights which is amazing, live bands on Saturday night (various genres) and the open mic Sunday Night Kitchen party with an east coast theme,” said Gavas.

“Then we have a VIP system with 2000 customers-plus registered and they get a 3.5 per cent points card on what they are spending on food. We also constantly give out gift cards for different charitable functions.”

Gavas added to what he loves about his job.

“I get to go to a pub, socialize and get paid. It’s an amazing location in town and I get to live in Victoria. Plus I’m in pretty good shape. Brock and his family are also probably the nicest people you could ever meet. They are great employers and ensure the staff become part of the fabric.

“We have 30 staff in total — including the excellent Grace Miron and Nathalie McIntosh — and always treat them well. So many stay for a long time.”

To learn more about Christie’s Carriage House Pub, visit

READ MORE: Penny Farthing: A timeless English oasis in Oak Bay’s heart