The Gabriola Mansion- Haunted History

Summer at last!! The first weekend in July did not disappoint with warm weather sending out the call, BEACH TIME!

So Saturday morning I set out from Yaletown, down Davie Street to English Bay. The same walk I’ve made 100’s of times and I found myself asking the same question half way! What is the deal with that house?

I’m sure some of you are aware of the history of 1531 Davie Street but for those who aren’t, including myself, here it is in brief.

Known as The Gabriola Mansion, this home was built in a Victorian manor style among the fields of what is now known as the Westend of Vancouver in 1900. Designed by architect Samuel Maclure Gabriola was built for Sugar royalty, namely Benjamin Tingley Rogers of Rogers Sugar fame. At the time Gabriola was surrounded by other equally extravagant properties leading to the area being known as “Blueblood Alley”. Later numerous land owners including Benjamin Tingley Rogers migrated to the Shaugnessy area where Rogers set up home on a 10 acre estate.

In 1925 the property followed the trend of the area and was re-purposed into a 50 suite apartment known as the Angus. This was how it remained until the 70’s when it changed hands numerous times being rebranded as one restaurant or another including a short period where it was known as “Romanos Macaroni Grill”. During this time the property fell deeper into disrepair and following a fire in 1998 it was listed for demolition. Thankfully one of the last 3 remaining Westend mansions and what’s often regarded as one of Downtowns most beautiful properties remains standing to this day. What the future has for the Gabriola Mansion is still unknown but thanks to an A-listing heritage status it is not going anywhere any time soon. Some of the possibilities include an expansion to Joe Fortes Library subdivided with a restaurant so with any luck we all may be able to enjoy the space as it should be enjoyed in the not too distant future.


But you didn’t think I would forget the good stuff did you? Numerous legends surround the infamous property including possible shady dealings of the sugar mogul that saw Al Capone as a regular house guest of the Gabriola. It’s also said that there’s a secret underground tunnel that runs from the property to a nightclub known as Maxine’s Hideaway that was used for bootlegging and prostitution running during Vancouver’s prohibition time. To top it all off there is tales of numerous ghost sightings on the property however that may be a more appropriate blog post for October.

What is your take on the future of the Gabriola Mansion? Would that be a great site for a modern condo tower or is it a valuable part of Vancouver history?

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