One of the best read and most entertaining pieces published in the Cowichan Valley Citizen in 2016 was on the old Stone Butter Church, which many consider to be haunted.
The story was picked up by VI Free Daily, which, like The Citizen, is published by Black Press, and was popular reading around Vancouver Island during Halloween.
The long-abandoned stone structure at the top of Comiaken Hill, located just off Tzouhalem Road in Duncan, has long been a source of fear and curiosity since it was constructed in 1870 and used for just one brief decade.
The Roman Catholic church was constructed by missionary priest Father Peter Rondeault and called the Stone Butter Church because Rondeault paid its builders with funds raised from the sale of butter from his dairy herd on a nearby farm.
Stories of ghosts following people home, strange sounds within the church and eerie feelings of being watched while wandering around the property have abounded pretty much from the beginning.
In fact in 1931, Ripley’s Believe it or Not did a story on the church stating that it was never officially used and that every worker who helped build the structure died mysteriously.
However, the church was actually used for a short stint until the new St. Ann’s Church at Tzouhalem was constructed in 1880, and the contention that all its builders died mysteriously has never been substantiated.
But why let that get in the way of a good ghost story, especially when reports of strange sightings and sounds at the church continue to this day?
With a cold wind whistling through the windows and doors of the deteriorating structure making mournful sounds, and with rain beating on the roof replicating the noise of scary creatures running right at you, it’s easy to understand why many people become spooked when visiting the site.
John Adams, widely recognized as a foremost authority of haunted sites in Victoria, has visited the Stone Butter Church dozens of times over the decades, although he has never personally experienced any supernatural events there.
But he said it has all the ingredients to make it a place where many believe other-worldly events can occur.
“It’s built on a rock on a hill overlooking salt water and surrounded by mountains, similar to many other places that many consider as haunted,” Adams said.
“It’s also built on native land where sacred sites are not supposed to be disturbed.”
As well, Adams said many people believe there are invisible energy fields around the planet that some can detect and identify as special places, so they tend to build structures like churches on them, and unusual occurrences can be experienced there.
“It’s also often said that places, like churches, where events of special emotional significance, including weddings and funerals, are held over the years might bring back the energy of people associated with it,” he said.
Whether it’s actually haunted or not, the Stone Butter Church has been capturing the imaginations of people for decades and will continue to draw the curious.