1110 Beach Drive, Phone: (250) 598-4321
In September 1936 Doris Gravlin was strangled by her husband Victor. Dragged across the seventh fairway at the Victoria Golf Course. Her body was hidden under a pile of logs on the beach. The Victoria Golf Course is famous for its beautiful seaside setting. Its has fine golf and the ghost of Doris Gravlin who has made frequent appearances since her murder.
Often seen beside the seventh fairway or in the vicinity of the beach, she takes on many forms: a gliding figure in white, twinkling lights, or a pulsating globe of light. She sometimes plays havoc with motorists who drive past the golf course when she crosses the street and even enters their cars–sometimes by passing right through their windshields. A sudden, cold wind and a general sense of foreboding frequently accompany the appearance of Doris. The ghost of Doris Gravlin is one of the stories featured in the Creepy Canada TV series.
This write up is by Ronald Wolf
1110 Beach Drive, Victoria, B.C.
Things or those who go bump in a Canadian night are not limited to buildings. They can in fact haunt just about anything or anywhere they chose. This world is their playground or in this case, their golf course – Victoria Golf Club, located at 1110 Beach Drive Victoria, BC, which was established in 1893. It is the oldest golf club in Canada and is still on its original site, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Municipality of Oak Bay.
The club is home to some 1,150 golfing and social members. The 35,000 sq. ft. clubhouse was completely renovated and updated in 1993. It is open year-round and offers a wide range of casual and fine dining facilities for receptions, large dinner dances and other special events. Some of these events might just be of the paranormal kind.
On September 22, 1936 Doris Gravlin a 30-year-old nurse went out for a stroll one night by her separated husband Victor, a hard-drinking journalist husband. It’s not clear as to why they were out for a late night walk on the 7th fairway but one thing is certain. Her body was found under some logs severely beaten and strangled by the hands of Victor. Victor committed suicide by taking a stroll into the ocean.
A caddy at the club found her body five days later, while Victor’s body exactly four weeks later, was found floating in a bed of kelp just off the shore of the golf course with her shoes in his pockets. With the discovery of Victor’s body, the case was officially closed as a murder-suicide.
“Her ghost is considered the most frequently seen ghost in this area. People who go ghost hunting will probably look for her ghost”, stated *John Adams of Ghostly Walks tours, Victoria BC. “She appears as a figure in white moving very quickly towards you and then veering away and suddenly disappearing or running circles around groups of people and then basically pinning them inside her circle. She sometimes appears as a large globe of light which will move and fly up over you. She sometimes appears as a figure that runs and flies up in the air. She has been seen ever since her murder in 1936.”
About a year ago, grandparents had their grand children Billy and Lisa (not real names) visit from out of town. John (not real name) took his grandson Billy fishing down by the rocky sea shore. John received a fish hook in the head and the two went to the emergency ward at the nearby hospital.
Billy informed his grandfather that they forgot the tackle box. Later the four of them grandpa, grandma and two grandchildren went out to retrieve the box. After the two men got the box, they saw a figure in white heading towards them rather quickly. Suddenly the figure jumped up and flew over them. They then saw the figure running towards the edge of the golf course then looping back towards the car.
By the time they got back to the car Lisa was in hysterics since she had seen the figure as well. The grandparents knew who the figure was and all four seen the ghost, explained Adams.
If you ever play the seventh fairway call “fore” twice. Once for the people you can see and once for those that go bump in a Canadian night.
*John Adams, one of Victoria’s foremost historians and storytellers, who has been leading ghost tours through the alleys and haunted places of Victoria since 1970. He has appeared on the TV series Ghosts and Ghoulies and on OLN’s Creepy Canada. The tours are conducted by John and his team of expert guides.
And TC 2008 Article by Dave Obee
She is still with us, they say, stopping traffic with her haunting stares. Doris Charnock Thomson Gravlin was just 30 years old when she suddenly disappeared in September 1936, along with her estranged husband Victor. A few days later her body was found. She had been killed, suffocated to death on a golf course.
But, if you believe in ghosts, Doris has been seen many times since then, on or about the Victoria Golf Club links where she died.
Victor’s body was found in the water next to the golf course almost a month after his wife’s body was discovered. Unlike his wife, he is really gone.
It is only fitting to note, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the British Colonist, that our newspaper was part of the story. Victor Raymond Gravlin had worked as the sport editor at the Daily Colonist for about 10 years. He left the newspaper in 1934, two years before he and his wife died.
Doris Gravlin was born Doris Charnock on Sept. 13, 1906, in Manor House, Blackburn, Lancashire, England. Her parents were Walter Charnock and his wife Charlotte.
When Doris was just nine years old, in the spring of 1916, Walter Gravlin died. Charlotte had a married sister living in Victoria, so on Dec. 9, she and Doris boarded the Northland in Liverpool, heading for Halifax. They arrived there on Dec. 18, 1916, then set out for Victoria by train.
How long they stayed in Victoria is not known. By April 1918 they were living in Vancouver. On April 12, Charlotte Charnock married a motor mechanic, Robert Thomson, at the home they shared on Arbutus Street in Vancouver.
Soon after that they moved to Victoria, and Charlotte resumed her career as a nurse.
Doris was working as a sales clerk when she met Victor Gravlin, the man who would become her husband. They were married in Victoria’s Temple Hall on March 8, 1929.
Victor had been born in Victoria on Oct. 23, 1899, the son of Herbert Thomas Gravlin, who worked as a paper hanger — interior decorator, basically — and the former Elizabeth Kenny.
He had two sisters and three brothers.
Victor was active in sports, which led to work as a sports writer.
At first, everything seemed to be going well for Victor and Doris, and their son Walter was born in Victoria on Dec. 23, 1930.
In 1934, however, Victor “was taken ill,” accordingly to the newspapers of the day. He spent several months in hospital and never regained the robust health that he had previously enjoyed.
At about the same time, Doris and little Walter moved in with her mother and stepfather, Charlotte and Robert Thomson.
Doris started working as a private nurse.
When he got out of hospital, Victor went to live with his parents on Oak Bay Avenue.
On the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1936, Doris left her place of employment, an apartment on Beach Drive in Oak Bay.
About the same time, Victor left the home of his parents.
The following Sunday, photographs of both Doris and Victor appeared in the Colonist under the headline “Missing since Tuesday.”
“Victor Gravlin and his wife, Doris Gravlin, missing from their respective homes since last Tuesday, are being sought throughout Greater Victoria,” the newspaper said.
The Colonist described Victor as weighing about 135 pounds with medium build. He had a nervous temperament, the paper said. Doris was described as having auburn hair and large brown eyes, and was wearing a knitted dress, blue coat with silver buttons, and a grey hat.
Late in the afternoon that day, golf caddy John Johnson, who had been searching for a lost ball, found the body of Doris. It had been covered with brush in a secluded area of the course.
Police said they were still looking for Victor. There had been reports, they said, that Doris and Victor had been seen together on Foul Bay Road near Runnymede Avenue at about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, walking southward. There were also reports that a scream had been heard at about 9 on Tuesday, with the sound coming from the golf course.
Doris was missing her shoes, her hat and her coat. Police scoured the golf course looking for evidence, enlisting a corps of Boy Scouts to help. They tried bloodhounds as well, but the passage of time had left much of the trail cold.
A coroner’s jury was assembled, with members James Macrimmon, Edwin Brown, George Burnell, James Adamson, Edward Wilkinson and Michael Heppell. The jury determined that Doris had been strangled to death by “person or persons unknown.”
Apparently Doris had been beaten before being strangled. Some bruises on her body had apparently been caused when her body was dragged to its hiding spot.
Oak Bay police issued a warrant for Victor, naming him as a suspect in his wife’s death. That meant, the Colonist said, that police probably believed Victor was still alive. The newspaper also suggested that Victor might have left the city disguised as a woman. That would have helped explain the Doris’s missing hat and coat.
Police distributed several hundred circulars noting that Victor Gravlin was wanted for murder, but in the days that followed, they had no luck finding him.
On Sunday, Oct. 26, four weeks to the day after the discovery of Doris’s body, a local man using a boat to look for golf balls found Victor’s body in the water next to the golf course.
Norman Le Poidevan contacted police, who used the man’s boat to bring the body ashore.
Victor’s body was fully clothed. In his coat pockets, police found Doris’s shoes. That closed the case. Walter, the son of Victor and Doris, stayed with Doris’s mother Charlotte and her husband Robert Thomson. The Thomsons ran a sanitarium on Montrose Avenue, then a health centre on Glanford Road in the Royal Oak district.
Little Walter Gravlin took the name Robin Charnock Thomson. In 1949 he went to Sandhurst Military College in England, and never returned to Canada. Before he died in October 1994, he was in charge of public transport in the Midlands.
On Oct. 1, 1936, Doris’s body was shipped to Seattle for cremation, something not yet possible on Vancouver Island. Ten years later her ashes were interred in an area of Royal Oak Burial Park reserved for cremated remains.
She is at rest there, in theory at least. In the years since her passing there have been dozens of sightings of a ghost next to the golf course. It’s believed the ghost is Doris, although another thought is that it might be Elizabeth Gravlin, still upset that her son Victor was blamed for the death of Doris.
One of these days, maybe someone will ask her for ID.