La Corriveau of New France, Quebec

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As Retold by Bekah Ferguson

In 1761 Saint-Vallier, New France, fifteen months after the mysterious death of her first husband, Marie-Josephte Corriveau married a second farmer. Two years later he was found dead in the barn with his head smashed in. At first, his death was deemed accidental—multiple kicks from a horse’s hooves—but rumors of murder quickly spread about the town. The local British military authorities soon charged Marie-Josephte’s father, Joseph Corriveau. His daughter was thought to be an accessory only and given 60 lashes; the letter M branded onto her hand with a hot iron.

Joseph, however, admitted that his daughter was the murderer, claiming she’d killed her abusive husband with two blows from the back of a hatchet while he slept. Thus, thereby found guilty by the tribunal, she was put to death in Quebec City by hanging. Her corpse was fastened into an iron cage-gibbet and dangled from a tree branch at the crossroads of Saint-Joseph Street and De l’Entente Boulevard in Lévis. There it rotted on public display for an entire month; feasted upon by flies and maggots, torn asunder by crows.

It wasn’t long before the hauntings began. Travelers soon learned not to take the river road leading past the cage at night, lest her vacant eyes should glow blood red and her shackled, leathery arms should stretch out towards them. Even after the gibbet was taken down, her body buried within the cage, the hauntings continued; her spirit rising from the grave each night to torment travelers.

One such night, a well-known citizen named Dubé was walking alongside the St. Lawrence River when the air turned chill. He stopped short just as a pair of bony fingers closed in around his throat from behind. Tendrils of greasy black hair tickled his cheeks and a ragged voice whispered, “Take me across the river.” Dubé swung around, glimpsing over his shoulder a set of red eyes and yellow teeth within a face of putrefied flesh. He fell to his knees—tearing at the slimy hands that refused to let go. “Leave me!” he screamed, then passed out from fright. The next morning his wife found him and shook him awake on the vacant road. His story spread and a curate was called in to exorcise the spirit.

A century later, the cage was dug up during an expansion project and put in the church cellar. It was stolen and sold to an American who put it in his museum in a glass display case with a placard that read simply: “From Quebec.” In time it was returned to Canada and placed permanently in the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City.

Sources:

Wikipedia

American Folklore

Strange Horizons

Spooky Canada

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

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It Was Never My Nightmare

By Guest Author, Natalia Ferguson

It’s dark, and quiet. The tips of trees cannot be distinguished from the darkness of the sky, and I can’t see my feet as I place them on the cold, hard ground. The crunching of leaves and twigs as I walk is jarring, and I fear something might be watching from the cold abyss of the forest. In a haze, I finally see a light. It’s a cottage, casting a warm orange glow into the emptiness.

I make my way, hoping for shelter from the shivering cold. I stumble to reach the door and I knock. No answer, so I let myself in. And oh, how warm it is inside! I feel as though I’ve walked into the air of July. There’s a soft orange glow coming from a fire in the main room.

“Hello?” I call out. “I’m sorry to walk in unannounced, but I really need a place to stay for the night.”

There is no response, and while I’m supposed to be feeling warm, a chill consumes my body. Why would someone leave their toasty cottage in the middle of the night, with the fire still roaring? With further exploration, I discover that whoever was here must not have been gone for long. There’s soup on the table, and it’s still warm.

Without warning, the front door bursts open, releasing gusts of cold wind that drown the glow of fire. Fearfully I rush to shut the door, and realize I must not have shut it properly when I entered. I breathe a sigh of relief, the only sound in a now dark and quiet cottage.

After awhile of scavenging kitchen cupboards, I manage to come across a flashlight. I flip it on and decide to look for a place to rest. I mean, whoever was here thirty minutes ago certainly isn’t here now, and I am definitely not going back into that cold.

There are three bedrooms. Two of them have beds with neatly tucked sheets and blankets that look softer than snow. The third’s bed is not made. Its blanket has been thrown onto the ground, and it’s as scrunched up as my brow. A long mirror resides on one wall, and there’s an open book sitting on the bedside table, as well as a half-empty glass of water. The light in here is off, but pale moonlight trickles into the window. Just enough for me to catch my reflection in the mirror.

My face. My face! That’s not my face! Someone else looks back at me, someone with sunken eyes and peeling skin and the most horrid look one could imagine. I take a step back. I’m terrified. What has happened to me? Suddenly, there’s a sound. A scuffling, from under the bed.

I creep closer, and lean down to look. A woman. There’s a woman hiding under the bed, and she’s looking at me with the rawest fear I have ever seen. My vision fades to a nothingness darker than the forest, with the silent scream of the girl’s face imprinted in my mind. It’s in my last moment of wakefulness I realize that it was not my nightmare at all.

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

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The Grey Lady of the Cavalier, Nova Scotia

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As Retold by Bekah Ferguson

In the heart of the star-shaped Halifax Citadel in Nova Scotia, is a three-story Cavalier building made of stone with multiple chimneys and a colonnaded verandah. On November 14th, 1900, a young woman named Cassie Allen waited at the altar in a nearby church for her beloved groom to arrive: a soldier from the Citadel. The sergeant was so long in arriving, however, that she eventually sat down in a chair; growing more and more anxious by the minute.

At the clip-clop sound of horses’ hooves she jumped up in expectation as a carriage pulled up to the open church entrance. The carriage was empty. The driver stepped down and took his hat into his hands, meeting Bessie’s eyes with a pained look of sympathy. He explained in somber tones that her groom had been found dead that morning in the Citadel. Cassie’s lover had taken his own life when it came to light that he was already married—to a woman living in an asylum in Bermuda. Cassie’s hysterical wails of grief and dismay echoed throughout the church; she refused to believe what had happened.

Much later, when the church was in time torn down, the chair Cassie had waited in was donated to the Cavalier Building in the Citadel. Several decades after Cassie’s death in the 1950s, an employee often sat in that very chair in the Cavalier; greeting visitors as they entered the building. One day a woman dressed in a 19th century, greyish-white dress stepped through the door and the scent of roses filled the hallway. The employee stood up to greet her, blinking; but when his eyes opened the hallway was empty. He glimpsed her several more times throughout his employment, dressed the same, but she always vanished right before he could speak.

Other employees saw her too. One night a security guard on the grounds below looked up to see a woman in grey staring vacantly out a third floor window. And another night, a guard stationed on the fort with a view overlooking the second floor balcony, watched slack-jawed as a woman in a long white dress moved along the veranda before turning at the corner and disappearing around the side of the building. It is believed that this Grey Lady of the Cavalier is indeed Cassie Allen, searching in endless grief for her long lost lover.

Sources:

Caretakers Paranormal Investigations

CTV News

Parcs Canada | Parks Canada

Halifax Magazine

Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay, altered by Robbie Ferguson.

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The Red River Ox Cart Ghost of Manitoba

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As Retold by Bekah Ferguson

“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 First Nations 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 a nighttime scene by Robbie Ferguson.

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The Poltergeist of Baldoon, Ontario

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As retold by Bekah Ferguson

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 Indian 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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Why I changed my genre (Pt. 1)

I’ve always been a bookworm but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I seriously began tinkering with fiction writing. Over the course of the next decade I proceeded to co-write a murder mystery novel with my youngest sister and two solo novels in the contemporary Christian fiction genre (which is drama with a subplot of romance).

Then one day, while I’d already started a third solo novel, my other sister asked if I wanted to co-write a fantasy genre novel with her. She had already plotted it and created the characters and setting, so I took a look at what she had and quickly agreed. After that it took us four years of collaborative writing to complete the novel, and we named it The Attic.

While absolutely LOVING the experience of writing fantasy (especially exploring all those secret passageways in the Gothic mansion!) and considering it a marvelous adventure, I didn’t quite feel I was capable of plotting fantasy fiction on my own. So I finished writing my third solo project: another Christian drama/romance.

BUT once that novel was completed I distinctly felt like I’d reached a dead end: or a finish line if you will.

The wind was out of my sails. I felt like I’d said all I ever wanted to say in the contemporary Christian fiction genre. So what to do next? I didn’t want to write drama without romance and I didn’t want to right full-blown romance either. I also didn’t want to write murder mysteries because they require too much knowledge of police and detective work (all that inside legal and procedural stuff, not to mention forensics).

So it was at this point that I began writing short stories in order to play my hand at a variety of genres. And it was here I serendipitously discovered in allegorical fiction a niche in which I could write for a mainstream audience (like we did with The Attic) while still being inclusive of my Christian faith and values.

Then one summer on a whim, I bought a youth fiction novel because the synopsis appealed to me and it had a delightful title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano. It had simply never occurred to me before that I might enjoy youth fiction, of all things, but the book just popped out at me from the shelf. I went on to read many more novels for middle graders after that first one. But in reading this particular book I felt an awakening, like I’d found something I didn’t even know I’d been looking for!

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Garrin

Audio Book: (16 mins)

Garrin MemeRead on Wattpad

A Short Story by Bekah Ferguson.

A fast-moving cloud passed in front of the moon.

Garrin crept forward through wet brush, lying low as he made his way toward the looming factory building where two fifteen year old boys, using smartphones as flashlights, had just disappeared through an entrance door hanging off its hinges. Their crunching footfalls soon faded, swallowed up by the stridulation of crickets. Before entering the same door, Garrin looked over his shoulder first, and peered in through a broken window pane next to the door. The corridor beyond was empty, save for bits and pieces of debris, so he went inside, careful not to kick or scuff any litter, or to step on any loose tile. Though his steps could be loud as thunder if so chosen, tonight they were light as snow.

Many doors flanked the left side of the hall, but muddy footprints made a straight path to the farthest one. Garrin closed the gap with swift strides and stood with his back against the wall next to the door.

He listened.

In the room beyond, the boys conversed in undertones, laughing at times. He guessed them to be about a hundred feet away.

Before entering, he looked through the door window and scanned the area. It was a large room, the ceiling some three floors above, and two parallel rows of windows on the far wall overlooked a forest crowding up against it; industrious branches growing through the fragmented panes here and there. Silver beams shone through the windows along the left side of the room, suffusing the contours of ancient equipment and myriad trash, along with tables and conveyor belts whose surfaces had collected dirt, dead insects, and chunks of machinery for many years. Moss and rain water filled the cracks in the slanted cement floors; peeling paint hung in strips from the walls.

Garrin ducked down and entered the room without a sound.

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