Gate Night Mischief at Hibben’s

When I grew up in Winnipeg, the night before Hallowe’en was customarily known as “gate night,” when bands of teenagers too old for trick-or-treating went around egging houses, streaming rolls of toilet paper through trees, putting all sorts of disgusting things in mail boxes, and in general behaving in ways that were sure to charm the neighbourhood.

I never learned why a night featuring pranks was called “gate night,” and I’d forgotten all about it until I read this notice today about Hallowe’en mischief at Hibben’s book store in 1898:

(Daily Colonist, November 6, 1898, p. 5)

It seems that “gate night” was a thing in Victorian Victoria too, only they meant it literally.

On Hallowe’en, citizens weren’t on the lookout for cute little kids coming through the gate for candy as much as for gangs of “roughs” who actually came for the gates, or fences—whatever they could get their hands on:

(Daily Colonist, November 3, 1900, p. 6)

Similar reports from Vancouver, New Westminster, and other BC communities show that the pranking could get pretty carried away:

(Vancouver Daily World, November 2, 1888, p. 1)

Happy Hallowe’en!