Showing posts with label ghosts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghosts. Show all posts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

#Folklorethursday Great Balls of Fire and the Goats of New Perlican

I recently scanned a booklet titled "Ghost Stories and Legends" that was produced by the Lower Trinity South Development Association. Because of our recent work on The Goats of New Perlican the following story peaked our interest:

Great Balls of Fire 

One evening as Mr. Ryan was returning home from New Perlican with a sac of flour for his mother, he stopped on Spicer's Lungers between Turk's Cove and New Perlican to allow his goats to take a drink. Out of the corner of their eye the goats noticed a small light, almost like a ball of fire, approach from out of nowhere. Leo soon realized what had caused the goats to become restless. He saw this light as it came closer and got smaller when it neared him. The fire ball crossed the road and suddenly disappeared out of sight. The two goats began to run and when they reached home they were shivering with fear. It has been said that this ball of fire is a spirit who watches over the people of the community. It is not known whether the spirit is good or bad. 


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Living Heritage Podcast Ep025 Charis Cotter on Kids, Writing, and Local History

Charis Cotter is an award-winning children’s writer, actor, and storyteller who has worked extensively in schools telling Newfoundland ghost stories and encouraging students to collect local ghost stories from their communities. In 2013 she published The Ghosts of Baccalieu, a book of traditional ghost stories by students from Tricon Elementary in Bay de Verde. Her latest storytelling presentation, The Ghosts of Grates Cove, is an hour of ghost stories from one of the most haunted places in Newfoundland, Conception Bay North.

We discuss Charis’s work as an author, how she teaches children facts through games and fun, school programs, and ghost stories.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stories and Superstitions of Bay Roberts

Throughout the month of October I spent a great deal of time working on our current collection project on the folk culture and beliefs of the Bay Roberts area. This involved traveling to and from Bay Roberts to visit and interview long-time community residents. During these visits I queried them on everything from what it was like to live there in the old days, the remedies they used when doctors were scarce, and some of the unusual or ghostly stories they were told as children. Needless to say, while the project is not yet complete, the people of Bay Roberts have been so enthusiastic and welcoming that our growing body of material is already richer than I could've expected.
Mr. Gerald French of Bay Roberts, in his home behind Cable Ave.
My most recent visit was with a man named Gerald French who was born and raised on a property just behind Cable Avenue (which is now a registered heritage district). His father was a caretaker for the Western Union Company, so Gerald had many memories to share about what life in and around the cable office was like. He is also a great storyteller and recalled a few ghostly tales he was told as a child. One of which took place on the dark streets of Bay Roberts, Barnes' Road to be exact, before the days of the street lamp. A man was out walking and it was very dark, so he cursed out-loud, wishing for a jack o'lantern to appear and light his path. All of a sudden, a large light appeared in front of him. It gave him such a fright, that he ran the rest of the way home. I've now heard many such stories, most taking place in the days before the street lamp came to town. As Wilbur Sparke's explained, "A man once said to me: 'I'll tell you about the ghosts. All the ghosts left when the electric lights came.' Now that's an interesting bit of psychology."

Despite the apparent demise of the ghost story telling tradition (due to the proliferation of the street lamp), a recent trip to Ascension High School offered us many a spooky tale. Indeed, of 35 students in Mrs. Welsh's grade 10 English class, most had a ghost story to share with us that they had heard from friends or family. Below is a story told by Jesse Rideout about a ghost-fisherman giving his friend a helping hand from a watery grave. 

I've also been interested in collecting superstitions from the people I visit. Mr. French offered this one, which he still believes in to this day: "You didn't like a black cat crossing in front of you. And the crows, even now if we're driving, we'll cross at the crows. Just put your finger like this..." He then took a finger and crossed the air in front of him. "Lots of time when we're out I'll say, 'They'll say we're nuts, b'y!' " His wife Eliza assured me that it's true. When he's driving in traffic he'll say to her, "Eliza, cross out that crow will you?" He says it every time, he doesn't miss a crow.

Another superstition that involves making a cross with your finger came from Greta Hussey's book "Our Life in Lear's Room, Labrador." Greta is another person that I interviewed for this project and her book is filled with old superstitions, remedies, and traditions. The one I found most fascinating is that in the Hussey family, when a hand or foot would fall asleep, they would make the sign of the cross on the bottom of the foot or the palm of the hand. I suppose it was meant as a cure for numb appendages.

A few other good luck/bad luck superstitions were offered by Olivia Bradbury from Ascension High. She said: "Cross your socks when you take them off before going to bed to prevent bad dreams."  And: "Exit through the same door you entered from on Fridays, or bad luck ensues." Olivia also reiterated Mr. French's belief that crows are indeed, very bad luck to see.

This project is going very well, and I hope to find more stories, cures, remedies and superstitions before the fall season is up. Please feel free to be in touch with your own, no matter where you are from in the province:


 Paula Roberts wrote in and said that she too crosses out single crows. It seems if just one crow crosses your path it's considered bad luck, but two or more have a whole different meaning. Here is a rhyme she learned as a child about crows and luck:
"One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a kiss,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a story that's never been told." 

Thanks Paula!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Ghost Ship Called the Blue Jacket

In preparation for Halloween, I've been listening to some spooky tales that I've recently had the pleasure of recording in and around the Bay Roberts area. Here is a clip of 92 year old Greta Hussey of Port de Grave talking about when her father saw an infamous ghost ship called the Blue Jacket. Greta is a fantastic story-teller and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with her.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thrown blood and stolen luck - a Newfoundland superstition

Recently, I came across this quote linking blood and luck:
"The settlers had many superstitions and were obsessed by a belief in the presence of ghosts. It was common to hear of a man, who, while rowing across the harbor, had seen a phantom French ship, with many soldiers aboard, also crossing. Others had seen an Indian ghost following them from one settlement to another. Their superstitions were legion and I shall mention only one. During the seal hunt if a successful hunter saw anybody throwing blood out of his boat into the boat of another, a fight was sure to follow because the hunter believed that his luck was being stolen."
- from J. Morgan, "Recollections of Harbour Deep," September 1957, page 5, Atlantic Guardian Vol 14, no 9

Has anyone come across this folk belief before? If so, drop me a line at

- Dale Jarvis

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Paranormal in Heart's Content

As a folklorist, it isn't every day that you get to hear a good ghost or fairy story, but then on some days, people will tell you two or three. Doing fieldwork for the Heart's Content heritage district this past Wednesday, a few residents shared some of what they know about the paranormal in Heart's Content. Art Cumby had a wonderful fairy story to share, along with a photograph of himself hanging out with the other boys he knew as a child. You'll find him standing up, wearing a striped shirt. He and his friend Art Button (also wearing a striped shirt) were just 11 years old when this happened to them:

Gina Balsom, on the other hand, has been working as an interpreter at the Cable Station historic site for several years. She explained that while she has never had any strange experiences or feelings in the old building, a few visitors certainly have. Here is what Gina had to say about working in a supposedly haunted space:

Thanks to Art and Gina for sharing their stories. In fact, I'm always looking for a good ghost or fairy story. If you know of any from the Heart's Content or Bay Roberts (my next heritage district destination), please drop me a line at