I hadn’t lived in Vancouver for two months when a co-worker told me about Blood Alley and Gaoler’s Mews located in Gas Town. Every time I asked someone what was behind its sanguine name, the stories became more lurid: as the site of a number of butcher shops, when the shop owners rinsed their floors at the end of the day, watery blood would flow into the street; at the turn of the 20th Century, the alley allegedly became known for it’s several fatal payday muggings; it was where public executions were conducted. Of course this place would catch my writer’s imagination
Since then, I have visited Gas Town on many occasions, but never was successful in discovering either street. Today, when I decided to take a computer break, the sun was shining, so trying to find Blood Alley seemed like a good way to get some exercise and fresh air.
I looked it up on the internet and the map I referenced told me it was between West Cordova and East Hastings Streets in downtown Vancouver. I also saw pictures of Blood Alley which included an official street sign saying “Blood Alley Square”. After wandering around for awhile and once again not being able to locate the lurid (and now it would appear elusive) street, I asked for directions.
It was a good thing I did; while Gaoler’s Mews was readily marked, Blood Alley was not. I walked up and down the lane several times before I gave up trying to find a sign to take a picture of. If there was one, I’m going blind. Even without the sun shining, I don’t think it would seem haunted or scarey. One source, The Vancouver Sun, claims that its original name was Trounce Alley, (after Trounce Alley in Victoria, BC) and that it was renamed in the 1970s.
Even though the stories of muggings and executions and butcher shops are just tall tales, searching for Blood Alley was a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. And I made it home just in time; it started to cloud over as I was heading back to my computer and rain stormily about five minutes once I got home.