The Ghosts of the Fireside Grill

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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.

The Thatch/Maltwood House, 1979. Courtesy Saanich Archives

“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.”

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

 

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8 comments

  1. I need to go there next time I’m in Victoria.
    Craigdarroch is usually my go-to place but this one looks and sounds very interesting!

  2. Growing up in Victoria I remember this place well … first as the Thatch, then the Maltwood Museum and eventually the Fireside Grill. Over the years I’ve been there for educational presentations, a wedding, and many lunches and dinners. The meals have never disappointed me.

  3. Back in the early ‘90s a civil servant named John Adams began moonlighting by offering guided tours of Victoria cemeteries. He’d regale participants with tales of murder, mayhem and tragedy—some with subsequent alleged ghostly hauntings—involving various graveyard occupants.

    Adams soon began writing heritage articles for The Times Colonist and creating specific ghost tours that included buildings as well as cemetaries. He became so busy that he apparently took early retirement from the provincial government, becoming the go-to guide for Victoria walking tours…many of a spooky nature.

  4. Good evening, I am trying to find information on the old Multwood “Thatch House”. My grandparents were actual caretakers of this beautiful house for at least a couple of years in the early to mid 60’s. We are not certain of the dates, but I do remember being snowed in one Christmas during this time – it took almost a week before the roads were plowed out and we were able to drive out of the Multwood property.

    My Grandparents actually lived at the house during this entire time and were caretakers of the entire property. My Grandfather worked during the evening (I think as a custodian or security guard at UVIC) and my Grandmother would be at the house by her self. She had a big German Sheppard that stayed with her, because she got a little nervous at nights – Valla made her feel safe (perhaps the ghost of Katherine Multwood was walking about?) I remember that the museum pieces of John and Katherine Multwood were carefully displayed in the main room (living room) off of the kitchen and hallway. There was a tiny little library off the main hallway that looked like a jail cell……I also remember a display of a Knight’s armour, standing next to the entrance of the library…..

    My mother and I are visiting the old Multwood House tomorrow, and going for dinner at the Fireside Grill. I have requested a tour of the property and will be interested in seeing how much I remember is actual fact, or the memories of a fascinated little girl.

    I would really love to be able to get any other information that you may have uncovered in your research. Thank you.

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