The Fireside Grill is situated on a ley line that runs down West Saanich Road, through Wilkinson Road, toward the Four Mile House—a reputedly haunted inn—to the Portage Inlet and Esquimalt Harbour. This story is an excerpt from Sensational Victoria.
Tim Petropoulos, co-owner of the Fireside Grill since 2000, is a self-described skeptic when it comes to ghosts, but even he can’t discount all the sightings and odd things that have happened over the years and the first-hand accounts from his staff.
“I spend so much time here at night and during the day that it feels like somebody is with you all the time,” he says. “I just shrug it off, but I know some of my staff are believers.”
Architect Hubert Savage designed the Tudor Revival house as an English-style tea and dance room in 1939.
War-time rationing and gas restrictions quickly killed off the Royal Oak Inn and the business was sold to John Maltwood from England, who sought a fitting home for his artist wife and their large collection of antiques.
Katharine believed in the occult and wrote a book about her discovery of the Glastonbury Zodiac in 1927. This Zodiac, she believed, plays an important role in occult theories and is essentially the signs of the zodiac formed by features in the landscape such as waterways, roads, streams, walls and pathways.
The Maltwoods added a two-storey studio on the north side for Katharine which connected to the main building by a passageway from the minstrel’s gallery.
The Maltwoods renamed the house “The Thatch.”
Katharine died in 1961 and rumour has it that she was buried on the property. John left the house and art to UVic in 1964, and it operated as the Maltwood Museum until the university sold the property to the District of Saanich in 1980.
Staff say that the inn is haunted by Katharine’s ghost and that of a little pug dog. One staff member reported several sightings of Katharine as a white silhouette with a little dog by her side.
Having a ghost isn’t a bad thing for a restaurant, especially one that’s not mischievous or malevolent. But there have been incidents.
When the house was owned by the University of Victoria, caretakers would be called about alarms going off and things going missing.
“I haven’t found anything missing or changed or moved,” says Tim. “But it’s a restaurant and it’s being used all the time. I probably wouldn’t notice if the cutlery was upside down.”
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