The Haunting of Binstead House, PEI

As Retold by Bekah Ferguson

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4 min read

Five miles out from Charlottetown, PEI, is two-story white farmhouse called Binstead House. Peering toward the Hillsborough River, and stitched-in by fields and trees, it is many-windowed with a ground-level, columned porch. The back half of the house was an addition built as living quarters for the many farmhands of its time. In 1889, the Charlottetown Daily Examiner published an eerie account by a former resident named Georgina Pennee, describing a haunting there that had lasted decades.

Georgina and her husband were Victorians from England, who first came to dwell at Binstead in early 1856. Within ten days of moving in, the hauntings began: a sudden moving rumble, vibrating the house. A sound, Georgina described, “like that produced by dragging a heavy body.” For many weeks, it happened again and again throughout the house, always sounding in close proximity to whoever heard it each time. In the spring, the noises took a more terrifying turn with the sound of shrieking, wailing, and moaning moving throughout the house as though an entity were being chased around. The disembodied cries seemed to begin and end at the base of a tree outside the dining room window, the branches of which just barely reached the window of the spare bedroom above.

In the late winter, two visiting women came to stay one night and were put up together in the spare bedroom; a fire being lit in a grate which had not previously been used by the Pennee’s. The guests awoke in the dead of night to a bright light. A glowing woman in a checkered shawl stood stirring the fire in the grate, a baby on her arm. She turned to look at them with pleading anguish, and they covered their faces with a blanket in fright.

Later that spring, right before heading back to England for a spell, Georgina had occasion to spend the night in the spare bedroom along with her daughter, who was unwell. Around midnight, her daughter drew her attention to a light shining beneath the closed door. She got up to open it, thinking it was her husband, and came face to face with a glowing woman in a checkered shawl, holding a baby. Without a word, the apparition turned away, walked across the staircase, and disappeared through the wall into the farmhand quarters. None of the dogs barked, and Georgina did not feel alarmed, despite what she had seen.

The Pennee’s returned to Binstead again the next year, to a report from the farmhands that the “creature had been carrying on,” the screaming sounds distressing them the most. One farmhand in particular, named Harry Newbury, had been targeted by the apparition several times and had taken to locking his door each night. While admitting that a ghost with a baby had appeared at the foot of his bed, he refused to give any other details. In the following year, the Pennee’s gave up Binstead house, and Georgina heard nothing more about the hauntings for nearly two decades until she happened to return to Prince Edward Island.

A parish priest approached her with a letter in hand, to question her about her past residence at Binstead. The letter had been sent by the wife of the current owner, asking the priest to “deliver them” from a tormenting ghost. Looking into the matter further, Georgina learned that before her time at Binstead, two sisters had been in employment there, and both had given birth to illegitimate sons. Furthermore, one of the women and one of the babies, had mysteriously gone missing, never to be found. Adding to the mystery, the remaining sister quit her job shortly thereafter and moved to America; but before leaving, left her baby with her parents along with the shocking news that it wasn’t her baby at all. She gave no details, stating only that her baby had died and this was her missing sister’s baby.

The child’s name was Harry Newbury, the very farmhand who as a young man, had been unwittingly hired by the Pennee’s and singled out by the ghost. Georgina deduced that the ghost was Harry’s mother, and the infant in her arms, his cousin. Though whether or not the mother and infant had both been murdered and buried under the tree in front of the dining room, was unknown. In 1888, Georgina once more stopped by to visit Binstead house, curious to know if the hauntings had ever ceased, and reported the following:

“The tree whence the screams started is cut down; the room where all saw the ghost is totally uninhabited, and [the wife] would not let us stay in it, and entreated us to talk no further on the subject. From the man we got out a little, but she followed us up very closely. He says that since the priest blessed the house a woman has been seen (Or said to have been seen, he corrected himself) round the front entrance, and once at an upper window.”

Sources:

Intuitive Times

Image Source:

Historic Places

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The Red River Ox Cart Ghost of Manitoba

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As Retold by Bekah Ferguson

(3 min read)

“Ghost Scene at the Fort: Nightly Vigils of the Sentries Made Hideous by an Apparition” was the title of a newspaper article in the August 29, 1903, issue of the Morning Telegram. In the 19th century, the Red River Trails in Winnipeg, Manitoba, were a trade route of ox cart roads that connected the Red River Colony and Fort Garry in British North America all the way to the Mississippi River in the United States. In those days the area was inhabited by Scottish settlers and the Métis—who at the time, were disparagingly referred to as “half-breeds” due to their French and Indigenous heritage.

The land was not shared mutually between the two groups, and thus, regarding the haunting at Fort Garry, the newspaper speculated that “the first owners of the Red River Valley [were] resenting the intrusion of the North-West Mounted Rifles upon the grounds sacred to their dead and making their displeasure severely felt.”

One ominous summer evening, in the wee hours of the night, a lone soldier standing guard outside the Lower Fort Garry saw something dark and looming approaching in the mist. Next came the rhythmic clip-clopping of hooves. An ox cart appeared from the gloom, driven by a Métis man and woman. Though puzzled by the out-dated look of the lot, the soldier shrugged it off and said nothing as the cart slowly lumbered by.

A few minutes later, however, another dark form appeared in the distant mist and what seemed to be the very same ox cart travelled by again. The third time it appeared the soldier began to tremble; palms damp and sweat on his brow. He ordered the cart to halt but no sooner had his authoritative words rung out when the entire apparition vanished like smoke in the wind. Seconds later it reappeared in the distance and disappeared again when he hysterically cried out for it to stop. By now he was in a full-blown panic and threw his rifle to the ground, running away. Back at the fort his fellow soldiers laughed off his story; but the next night, another soldier on duty had the same experience. One by one it happened to them all until there was no left who could mock.

Sources:

Canada Post

Cision

WinnipegREALTORS

Image by Ron Porter from Pixabay, adapted to be a nighttime scene by Robbie Ferguson.

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The Poltergeist of Baldoon, Ontario

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As retold by Bekah Ferguson

(3 min read)

In 1829, in the Scottish settlement of Baldoon, Ontario, the John MacDonald family purchased a two-storey farmhouse and soon found themselves terrorised by a violent poltergeist. For reasons unknown, there was a land dispute over the sale; in particular, by an old woman who was very much opposed. Her threats and misgivings were left unheeded, however, and the MacDonalds moved in.

The hauntings began straight away: The lid of the kettle flying off as the kettle flung itself to the floor, the poker and broom in the hearth jangling in an unfelt gust of wind. Stones smashing through windows with no culprits in sight, and an Indigenous knife lifted from its mount and thrown at the window; piercing the casement firmly. Once John marked one of the stones with paint and threw it into a nearby stream, only to find it back on the floor of his house a few hours later. But the worst was yet to come. One day the house randomly caught on fire and burned to the ground. The family escaped unscathed, and after briefly living elsewhere, returned to the property to live in a tent, perhaps planning to rebuild.

At this time, a country witch doctor came along and spoke to them. He claimed that the Ojibwe who lived in the same Great Lakes area believed that it was not a poltergeist tormenting the family at all, but rather forest faeries. The house had been built on a faerie path and they were simply in the way: the hauntings were intended to scare them off. But as later recounted by John MacDonald’s son Neil, a local teenage girl with second sight had different advice for the family altogether. She told them to fashion some silver bullets and go in search of any unusual geese in the area.

John found a white goose with a black head near the river and proceeded to shoot at it. His aim was bad and he nicked only the wing; breaking it. So he chased after the wounded goose through the hillsides and forests until he lost track of it. It was then he discovered a cabin in the woods–the house of the old woman who had contested his purchase of the land. And there she sat in a rocking chair on her porch, muttering curses, and cradling a broken arm.

Sources:

Skeptoid

Mysteries of Canada

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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Mother’s Angel

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A short story by Bekah Ferguson.

(32 min read)

“Ghosts are the superstitious nonsense of heathens, son,” Pa used to say, but I’d been haunted by one in the forest behind our homestead through much of my childhood.

I was about five years old the first time I saw it. A white entity moving deep within the trees at dusk. Then again one grey afternoon a couple of years later when I was mucking out the stable, and heard a crackle of movement on dead leaves. Gripping my shovel in front of me like a protective spear, I peered into the nearby treeline from whence the sound had come.

We lived in a forest in Upper Canada, trees furrowed and thick, undergrowth prolific and tangled. In some directions you could trail-blaze for days without encountering a single trading post or homestead. Yet there it was some fifty feet within and as tall as a man: a flash of white appearing for a second between tree trunks, disappearing behind others, and reappearing again as it seemed to float along. However, though I strained to see its contours, I could not piece together its form; and as soon as it was there, it was gone.

These apparitions occurred only once or twice a year and always in the same manner: at dusk or predawn, and only when I was working quietly by myself. The times when I helped my father chop wood and gather kindle from the forest, I always kept an eye out for it, but whether due to the reverberating splitting sounds, or the trampling of twigs beneath our boots, it never showed itself when I was with him.

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