Showing posts with label supernatural. Show all posts
Showing posts with label supernatural. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

“There were ghosts around Goat Cove" - Interview with Ruth Bugden

Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Memory Mug Up
Ruth Bugden, interviewed by Tanyan Ye

Born in 1944, Ruth Bugden has been living in Portugal Cove all her life. She grew up here, got married, and now her whole family, including three children and five grandchildren, are all living in this area. Her maiden name was Allen. Her father was born a Harding but raised by the Allens, and her mother had a similar story—she was born a Squires but raised by Piccos and then married to an Allen. That is because in the past adoption was more common and less regulated, as Ruth said, “Back then, you didn't have to go through any red tape. If a child needed to be looked after, somebody took it and that is the end of it.”

Though she grew up in Portugal Cove, she went to school in St. John’s. This explained why she does not have accent of the community, which she felt a little regretful. When she was three years old her whole family moved to Windsor Heights for a while where her father worked in a farm. That is why she went to school in the city instead of in Portugal Cove. When she was about ten her family moved to where they are living now, but she did not want to change school. Besides, if she continued going to the school in the city she could take bus but she would have to walk if she changes to the school in the community. Therefore, she finished her school in St. John’s.

During the interview she shared with us many interesting supernatural stories, some of which were what she herself or her mother experienced. When asked why her mother and herself tended to be more sensitive toward those things, she told us her mother used to be a healer, who was believed to be able to cure small diseases, or as she put it, “keep the warts away.” She also explained why she was able to cure people: “One of the things they say, if you never saw your mother…My mother never saw her mother. She was born and taken right away.” She herself was a caulbearer. As she said, there is a lot of superstition about caulbearers. “[it makes you] safe at sea, and you will do great things. So, I don't know what great things I have done. And other superstitions too about having special power, whatever.” She said, laughing and teasing that she believed she had special power.

She also shared with us her memories of the old days, such as dinner theatres. She was a leader of the girls’ group in the community, and they used to play a lot of those theatres. When she was teenager, the girl’s group was very active; they did a lot of volunteer work, organized parties for the senior, etc. She also talked about the transportation, family life, and school life back then. As a person living in the community for her whole life, she is familiar with stories circulating there as well, which she willingly shared with us as well, such as the love story of Fanny Goff. From her memories and stories, we can see how much the life in the community has changed; yet, the lovely parts of the old days remain, at least in our memories.

“There were ghosts around Goat Cove which is in the area of Beachy Cove School. And at some point at around 12 in the night you aren't supposed to be able to get through over that but my dad came, you know, courting my mother, said he purposely walked that way at 12 but he never did see anything. However, I have a mother that's been very, very sensitive toward these things and had a few experiences. She at one time visited who she called Granny Talker, and I wish now I knew exactly where it was but, she went to stay at Granny Talker's house, and when she got into the bed, she, just got into bed, and they closed the door, and, God, and these hands came out at her throat and she screamed. And the old lady came back in, talked to her for a moment and said ‘Don't worry my dear it is not coming for you.’ And, she found out after that somebody had died there or got murdered there or whatever, so. There's few things like that, there's few little things.”

“I have a couple of experiences with tokens, tokens of death. Just to let you know I was wide awake when this happened. My husband was a collection officer, and he had to go to work at 12 o'clock in the night so I was wide awake about 11 in the night, waiting to call him up to get him to go to work. I was sitting down knitting and my backdoor started to rattle, and my backdoor, I tried that after, my backdoor would not rattle. I could not get a rattle out of it. And there was rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle. And I went out, and there was nobody there. So my mum lived next door 'cause we built our home in the family property. And so I called over to her, and I said "Mum, did you hear anything or see anything?" And my uncle Will that I was very close to was in the hospital at the time, and she said ‘Don't worry my dear.’ She said ‘That was just Uncle Will coming to say goodbye.’ She said ‘He just walked around this house.’ And I thought ‘Ok.’ Right? And so within minutes the phone rang and it was Uncle Will's daughter saying her dad had just passed away. At the same time, he had a sister in New Brunswick, and she was walking up the stairs, and met him coming down these stairs. So, a lot of stories like that.”

“The Anglican church has moved now, but where the old church was, you have to come down the lane and go over the bridge, the bridge by the monument. And anybody living down in that area if they were coming from the united church, they would also have to come and go over the bridge. And some mornings, rarely, it didn't happen on a regular basis, but the congregations would get out of church at the same time, and they would meet on the bridge. And every time that you met on the bridge, somebody die during the week. And it happened. And you know, well, it doesn't happen now but right up until the time that the church moved, it was still happening. It did. 'Cause every time somebody would mark, you know, would mark it, "ok, we are gonna have a death before the week is out." And it always did.”

“Fanny Goff, Pheeny Goff, her name was Tryphena, and she was called Fanny, she was called Pheeny. But that was really interesting and it really happened, and I did a lot of research on that because I worked with a teenage girls' group down to the church, and our group is actually over 50 years old and, I hate to admit it, but I have been with it since it started. I was only a teenager, thanks. But we actually, we searched it and wrote a play and did it as a, almost like a little dinner theater. Then we do dinner theaters all the time down there now, our group girls. But, yeah, she was about to be married and it was this man from Brigus. I guess, Portugal Cove was kind of the hub back then because it had the first road that came from St. John's, and with Bell Island and the boats and everything, and the ferry, the bay, so I guess people were here for various reasons. I don't know how they met, but they planned to be married. And, so the day that was back in, I think it was 1823, so he was coming in couple of days, obviously before and she got really ill, and I guess no way to get in touch with him at that point, we didn't have the telephones. He was coming through the way they know, and stopped at his friend's in St. Philip’s, on the way down there was a man named Bill Squires, and only would be told that she had just died.”

This interview was conducted as part of a Collective Memories Mug Up project conducted by Memorial University students enrolled in FOLK 6740: Public Folklore, Winter 2017. If you would like to listen to the full interview click here

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.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Living Heritage Podcast Ep008 Admiralty House Museum with Allison Bennett and Carla Watson

Allison Bennett is from Mount Pearl and graduated with a Master of Arts (in History) from Memorial University in October 2014. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Education (Intermediate/Secondary) at Memorial and will graduate this fall. Allison is currently employed as the Centennial Celebrations Coordinator at Admiralty House Communications Museum and is organizing and preparing events for HM Wireless Station’s 100th anniversary September 2015. Originally hailing from Saskatchewan, Carla Watson completed her Masters in Public History at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. She is currently the Museum Manager for Admiralty House Communications Museum in Mount Pearl. In this podcast, Terra Barrett talks with Allison and Carla about the Admiralty House Communications Museum, favourite stories and artifacts found in the museum, examples of programs, stories about supernatural activities in the museum, and challenges youth face working in the heritage sector.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Launch - Folk Belief and Legends of Bay Roberts and Area

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation invite you to the official public launch of our booklet:

“Folk Belief and Legends of Bay Roberts and Area”

Saturday, 3 May 2014
2:00 p.m.
Bay Roberts Pavilion, Bay Roberts, NL
Free Admission, Booklet cost: $5.00

Join us for the launching event of our booklet “Folk Belief of Bay Roberts and Area” to see just how rich your local stories are and learn a dozen different ways to cure a wart. The booklet is a collection of anecdotes that celebrates the oral history, folk beliefs, storytelling traditions, ghost stories, fairies stories, and folk remedies that have been passed down through the generations in Bay Roberts and surrounding communities. Much of the material presented was submitted by students in Kim Welsh’s grade 10 English class, and rounded out with oral history interviews with elders in the region. Come by to hear some tales, have a cup of tea, and purchase a copy to take home (just $5.00). 

You can preview the booklet in pdf format here.
Book illustration by Graham Blair.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Folk Belief & Legends of Bay Roberts and Area

As of this week, our much anticipated booklet Folk Belief & Legends of Bay Roberts and Area is all done and ready to be released to the community. This printed booklet is the result of a collaboration between the HFNL and the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation and involved several weeks of research in that region. Starting last October, I began visiting the Bay Roberts area to find community elders and ask about the legends, tales, and/or beliefs that they encountered growing up. To start the project, we even went into Ascension Collegiate and asked the students to question their parents and grandparents. What the students gathered from their families is a large part of what made this project a success, and our combined oral history digging has been compiled here. In the end, what we've got is a collection of superstitions, cures, remedies, and stories, that helps to celebrate the unique culture and history of this part of the island.  Haunted rocks, visits from the old hag, cures for warts, ghost dogs, sneaky fairies--there's a little bit of everything in this book.

Over the next few weeks I will be planning a booklet launch so that the people who contributed their stories and memories will be able to meet up, tell a ghostly tale or two, and pick up a copy of the book. More details about this event will be posted soon!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Away with the fairies! Resources on Newfoundland fairy traditions

Nicole Penney and I have been busy little elves, working on a project we both love: Newfoundland fairylore!

We have had some requests from people about the tradition of fairies in Newfoundland and Labrador, so we've pulled together some links to online material that we think might be useful to people doing projects or heritage fair displays on the faerie folk, fairy belief, tradition and superstition.

The best place to start, however, is Barbara Rieti's excellent book, Strange terrain: The fairy world in Newfoundland.   It is the go-to book for anyone starting research on fairy traditions. I believe it is out of print, but local libraries should have a copy. We've also included a link below to Dr. Rieti's dissertation below, which is available online.

Another good-but-out-of-print book is Fables, Fairies and Folklore of Newfoundland by
Alice Lannon and Mike McCarthy, also possibly available at local libraries. We've included a great recording of Alice telling fairy stories in 2010.

Another good print resource is Peter Narváez's article “Newfoundland Berry Pickers ‘In the Fairies’: Maintaining Spatial, Temporal, and Moral Boundaries Through Legendry.” The Good People: New Fairylore Essays. Edited by Peter Narváez. University Press of Kentucky, 1997. Pp. 336-367.

If there is an important resource we've missed, email

Photo: detail from Newfoundland Faerie Ring sculpture by Morgan MacDonald.

Online Video Sources

Audio Files

Online Articles

Bishop’s Cove: John R Barrett. John What They Call Jackie. Decks Awash, vol. 18, no. 02 (March-April 1989). Pages 42-43.

Bulman, Andie. "Risking abduction by fairies to modernize a 1905 Newfoundland blueberry cake." CBC Sep 01, 2019.

Fairies. The Collegian, 1914, vol. 20, no. 01. pages 17 and 18.

The floating dead: N.L. inspired 'zombie faeries' photoshoot arrives in time for Halloween.  CBC News · Posted: Oct 30, 2016.

Folklore: Folk Beliefs. Encyclopedia of NL. Vol 2. Page 245

Helesic, Day. The Fairy Folklore of Newfoundland. Canadian Living. May 2015.

Janes, Burton K. The fairies of Conception Bay. The Compass. September 10, 2012

Jarvis, Dale.

Kelland, Ariana. Meet the fairy caretaker of Airport Heights. CBC Aug 27, 2019.

Lyver, Emily. Fear the Fairies. Kicker, September 21, 2017.

Milley, B. Joan. Little Fairies. The Collegian, 1939, [02], Summer. Page 23.

Noseworthy, Kayla. Fairy-Tales: Berry Picking and the Fairy Lore Connection. The Overcast. 14 September 2016.

Poems About Fairies. Collegian, 1939, [03], Christmas. Page 34.

Robinson, Andrew. Harbour Grace writer looks to fairies with latest novel. Aug 02, 2019.

St. John’s man tells court he was carried away by the fairies. Archival Moments.

Silvester, Nicole. Blast Those Little Fellas: The Fairy Folklore of Newfoundland. 11 September 2012.

Wilson, Lisa, ed. Folk Belief and Legends of Bay Roberts and Area. St. John's: Heritage Foundation of NL, 2014.


Rieti, Barbara. Newfoundland Fairy Traditions: A study in Narrative and Belief. Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1990.

Silvester, Niko. There’s a Piece Wad Please a Brownie: A Comparative Study of Offerings to the Fairies in Traditional Cultures and Contemporary Earth Centered-Religions. Memorial University of Newfoundland.

For those interested, Strange Terrain is still in print and was recently reprinted by its original publisher ISER Books, Memorial University. Their address is ISER Books, MUN, 297 Mount Scio Road, St. John’s A1C 5S7, (709)-864-3453, , or

Last Update: 19 December 2022 by Dale Jarvis

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Finding Local Folklore at Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts

The ICH office, and the Bay Robert Cultural Foundation, are starting a project to document folk beliefs, superstitions, charms, and cures in the Bay Roberts area. We'll be doing a series of recorded interviews with locals, and we've also started a project with Level I students in Ms Welsh's English class at Ascension Collegiate.

We visited the school earlier this week, talking about local folklore and supernatural belief. We talked with the students about doing primary research, and going out and asking questions. To help them out, we developed a one-page questionnaire, for them to take home and use while interviewing parents, family members, friends, or neighbours.

We are heading back to Ascension on Friday morning to see what the students collected, and to help them write up some of their folklore findings.

Here are the questions the students are using:
1). Is there a place in your community that people say is haunted? ....a haunted cemetery, a haunted walkway, a haunted cliff or rock, a house, or other building? What are the ghostly stories connected to these places? 
2). When you were growing up, were there any places you were told not to go because the fairies would get you? Where was this and what are the stories you were told? 
3). What are the local stories about shipwrecks? ...buried treasures? What about ghost or weather lights seen on the water?

4). Are there any people who are believed to be witches in the community? Why do people think this? What kind of powers does this person have? 
5). Have you ever had a visit from the Old Hag while you were sleeping? What happened and do you believe that this experience was real or just a dream?

6). Do you know of any special charms, superstitions, cures or remedies that are used in your community?
If you know of a story like this from the Bay Roberts area, you can email

Teachers, librarians or museums: you can download a pdf of these questions right here.

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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Looking for supernatural stories, and poems and songs about Bay Roberts

Do you have a ghost story from the Bay Roberts area, or a memory of someone who was a wart charmer? The Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation is looking for stories, and would love to hear from you! We are interested in stories of the supernatural, as well as recitations, songs and poems about Bay Roberts. Call Cyndi toll free at; 1-888-739-1892 ext 3 or email her at