Dalnavert Museum offers candle-lit ghost tours in Winnipeg

Dalnavert Museum will offer three Halloween tours this week that focus on the Victorian era's obsession with ghosts and the supernatural.

Nighttime tours of historic house reveal Victorian fascination with supernatural

Dalnavert Museum, a Victorian mansion in downtown Winnipeg, is offering three Halloween-themed tours this week. (Marjorie Dowhos/CBC)

Dracula, The Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde — all characters we associate with Halloween and all creations of the supernatural-obsessed Victorian era.

Winnipeg's Dalnavert Museum is summoning forth that Victorian fascination in a new series of guided tours that will titillate both lovers of ghost stories and history, said tour guide Vanessa Warne, an associate professor with the University of Manitoba's English department.

"We get a lot of what fuels our fears from the Victorians," said Warne.

"[They lived] very close to questions of death, mortality rates [were high]...a lot of people had a close connection to death."

Seances were common in the Victorian period, as well as wearing mourning clothes for months and keeping tokens of departed loved ones, such as hair, she said. 
Stained glass, such as this window, will be lit from the outside to create a ghostly ambiance during Halloween tours at Dalnavert Museum this week. (Dalnavert Museum)

Dalnavert House, built in 1895, is an ideal venue in which to travel back to the spooky era. The home of former Manitoba premier Hugh John Macdonald, the son of Canada's first prime minister, is entirely furnished in late Victorian style.

"We have very limited lighting around the house to show some interesting shadows and textures," said Warne. "Our beautiful stained glass is lit from outside, so it glows." 

Once lights are turned off at Dalnavert, a completely different look comes over the house, said Warne.

"I've seen how the beautiful shadows that get cast over the museum change it. We wanted to give people a chance to come in and see what only insiders normally get to see," she said.

Visitors this week will learn about the fortune-telling games popular at Halloween 150 years ago, and enjoy treats from the time, including candy apples and cider, she said.

The tours are family-friendly but vow to remain "appropriate to the season."

Three tours will be offered at Dalnavert Museum, 61 Carlton St., all at 7:30 p.m.: Wednesday, Oct. 28; Thursday, Oct. 29; and Friday, Oct. 30. Tickets are $16 plus tax.


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