Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Cultural Tourism workshop with Dale Jarvis - Storytelling Your Site


An introduction to crafting storytelling-based guided tours for sites, museums, and historic places, with storyteller Dale Jarvis.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

“Storytelling Your Site” is a cultural tourism workshop for museum, parks, and historic site staff, archivists, docents, and tour guides, designed to help you improve visitor experience through storytelling.
  • Why use story in heritage sites?
  • How do you search out stories for your site, tell these stories, and make history come alive?
  • How do you encourage people to linger and spend more time exploring?
Instructor Dale Jarvis will answer those questions, and demonstrate how he uses archival material and oral history to find his tales and bring them to life. Along with insider secrets, suggestions for project focus, and examples from his own award-winning projects, Dale will show you how to work with what you have, and how to tie those things together to create a consistent theme that links to your site mandate.

The workshop will provide an interactive, relaxed, and supportive environment. Participants will work individually, in pairs, and in groups. If you haven’t done a workshop with Dale before, he encourages talking, laughter, thinking, and doing!

About Dale Jarvis

Dale Jarvis is the proprietor of the St. John’s Haunted Hike ghost tour and has been storytelling and delivering education sessions for museums and parks for over a decade. As a storyteller, he has worked with venues including Red Bay National Historic Site, Cape Spear National Historic Site, The Rooms, and the Newman Wine Vaults Provincial Historic Site, and he has created a popular site-specific storytelling program for Signal Hill National Historic Site. Dale is a trained folklorist, author of six books on the folklore of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is the founder of the St. John’s Storytelling Circle. In 2015, the City of St. John’s presented Dale with the Legend Award for outstanding enhancements to the tourism industry.

Thursday, March 15, 2018
Admiralty House Communications Museum
365 Old Placentia Road, Mount Pearl
12:30pm - 4:30 pm

This is a half-day workshop (with snacks!)

Cost: $55

Pre-registration is required, and you can book and pay online at www.dalejarvis.ca. If you are registering on behalf of an organization that requires an invoice to pay by cheque, email dale@dalejarvis.ca directly. Workshop limited to the first 20 participants to register. Free parking on site.

About the venue:

Admiralty House Communications Museum, Mount Pearl, tells the story of the region's past, wireless communication, and the tragedy of the S.S. Florizel. It was originally constructed in 1915 by the Marconi Telegraph Co. during the First World War as the top secret H.M. Wireless Station for the British Royal Navy. This station, now the last standing of the 11 identical stations around the world, was built to intercept German naval transmissions, and to track icebergs and ships in distress.

Monday, 29 January 2018

"Lugged off" by the fairies - A Quebec fairy story from Dr. Wilfred Grenfell

The Strathcona, ca. 1910. From Wilfred T. Grenfell, Labrador: The Country and the People
(New York: The MacMillan Company, 1910) 246. Heritage NL website

Most of the fairy stories I have come across from this province are from the Avalon region, with a seeming concentration of fairy stories from Conception Bay. There are other spots throughout the province where fairy stories can be found, and I have heard a few, though not many, from Labrador as well.

This story is from just over the Labrador border, in the Bonne Esperance region of Quebec’s Lower North Shore. But there is a Newfoundland and Labrador connection, since the story itself comes from the famed Dr. Wilfred Grenfell.

The earliest version of the story I have found is from an article entitled “The Log of the S.S. Strathcona” published in the magazine “Among the Deep Sea Fishers” in October of 1903. The magazine was the official publication of the International Grenfell Association. It was published in Ottawa by the Grenfell Association Publication Office, from 1903 to 1981, and details the life of the mission and experiences in Labrador and northern Newfoundland.

In the summer of 1903, Grenfell, travelling on board the S.S. Strathcona, stopped in the community of Bonne Esperance, Quebec, and shared stories with some of the local inhabitants. It was here that Grenfell heard a story about the fairies, which he included in a letter written on July I5th to the editor of the magazine. Grenfell writes,
“I was greatly interested by one of the settlers telling me that last winter he had been ‘lugged off by the fairies.’ He assured me many travellers over some marshes known as Kennedy’s, had at various times been ‘lugged off’ by these same fairies. Certain it was he spent a night away on ground well known to him last winter, and that without food or any preparation for the night. A search party found him returning next day. It had been bitterly cold and there was 12 to 16 feet of snow on the ground, but his own description was that he had heard these fairies, and had had to follow them away from home. 
At night he climbed down into a hole in the snow by the foot of a tree, placed under his feet the still warm body of an Arctic owl that he had shot, and around his legs a dozen or so dead partridges. Then he crouched up in a ball, and pulling his jumper right over his head to keep the draft off and the heat in, he went peacefully to sleep. In the morning he woke up as spry as could be, ‘ne’er a frostburn,’ though it was some time before the blood had done ‘trinkling’ back again into his legs.”
The story evidently made an impression on the then 38-year old Grenfell, because he included the tale, with additional detail, a decade and a half later in his autobiography, “A Labrador Doctor.”

In his book, Grenfell gave the man a name - Harry Howell. Grenfell also added a few details missing from the 1903 version. According to Grenfell, Howell had heard the fairies ringing bells, a sound he had heard before. Grenfell writes,
“He told me later that he was coming home in the afternoon when the blizzard began. It was dirty, thick of snow, and cold. Suddenly he heard bells ringing, and knew that it was the fairies bidding him to follow them - because he had followed them before. So off he went, pushing his way through the driving snow. When at last he reached the foot of a gnarled old tree in the forest, the bells stopped, and he knew that was the place where he must stay for the night.”
Grenfell goes on to note that there “was no persuading the man that the ringing bells were in his own imagination.”

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The snow-white soldier of Grand Falls - A December ghost story.

Newfoundland Regiment Soldiers, n.d.
Section commander: Eric Ellis (seated 2nd row, 3rd from left); Hussey (seated 2nd row, 4th from left); Henry Ethelburt Moss (back row, 4th from left) Courtesy of the Rooms Provincial Archives Division (A 8-34), St. John's, NL.

At the end of December few years back, I got a Christmas gift of the sort I most appreciate, an intriguing Newfoundland ghost story, this time from the community of Grand Falls. I included it in one of my previous books, Haunted Waters (available as an e-book here.) 

The email was from a man named Terry from central Newfoundland, mentioning a ghost he had seen when he was 10 or 12 years old.

“We left my uncle’s house in Grand Falls late one night to return to Bishop’s Falls,” he started the tale. Terry’s father and mother were in the car, along with his sister. As they drove out of Grand Falls heading back towards their home, they drove past an old graveyard.

“I was in the backseat of the car looking out the window,” remembers Terry, “and just below the giant crucifix in the middle of the cemetery, I saw a snow-white soldier walking past.”

I asked Terry if he looked like a modern soldier, or if he had to guess, what era or war the soldier looked like he was from.

“He looked like a WWI soldier,” says Terry. “He had the old type WWI helmet, with a rifle slung under his arm, like he was walking a long time and just carrying it, not like he was ready to use it.”

“He had his rifle with the butt stuck under his arm, and the barrel pointing towards the ground,” Terry describes. “Every time I go moose hunting with people and see an old .303 rifle, I can see him carrying it.”

“He was all white, that is what caught my attention at night,” he says, thinking back on the event. “He had his head low, like he was looking at the ground, and his face wasn’t visible. He wasn’t floating, or sailing, or mist-like, he was just white and walking by that crucifix.”

“It made such an impression I never forgot it,” Terry claims. “All I can remember is after I saw the ghost, I sat down low in the seat so I couldn’t see out the window anymore.”

He remembers telling family members at the time, and being told, “Don’t be so foolish, it’s in your mind.”

Needless to say it was many years before Terry looked at that graveyard after dark.

“When I was a teen-ager I spent many a night sitting on the curb by that cemetery hitch-hiking home, but never alone,” he says. “I’ve been with my wife for over 23 years, and she can tell you today I swore to her when I first met her that I saw a ghost in that cemetery. She works in Grand Falls, and some nights she gets off work at midnight or so, and you couldn’t pay her enough to look in that cemetery when she drives past it.”

Certainly, young men from Grand Falls with names like Frampton, Goodyear, Goudie, Hann, and others, all served in the Newfoundland Regiment during the first Great War. Many of them never returned home. Is it possible that a battle-weary ghost still walks the graveyard in Grand Falls?

“I always wondered if anyone else had ever seen it,” Terry questions, “because no-one I ever mentioned it to had seen it.”

“I would just like to know if anyone else has ever seen it.”

If you feel you might have some light to shed on the subject of the mysterious soldier of Grand Falls, drop me an email at info@hauntedhike.com.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Dale Jarvis at Burin Expo 3, Saturday Nov 18th!

Ghost stories are found in every corner of Newfoundland and Labrador, a place so steeped in history and tradition that some inhabitants never, ever, want to leave. And no one knows them better than storyteller and folklorist Dale Jarvis. 

On November 18th, come to the Marystown Hotel for Burin Expo 3, and, if you dare, Dale Jarvis will introduce you to some of his favourite legends and ghost stories, and delve into the lore behind some of our folk beliefs and fears.  He'll tell some tales, answer your questions about the paranormal, fairylore, and the supernatural, and will then be signing and selling copies of his most recent book, “Haunted Ground: Ghost Stories From The Rock” published by Flanker Press.

About Dale:

By day, Dale Jarvis is the provincial folklorist for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. By night, he is the proprietor of the St. John’s Haunted Hike ghost tour and a raconteur of local tales. Dale tells ghost stories, stories of the fairies and little people, tales of phantom ships and superstitions, and legends and traditional tales from Newfoundland, Labrador and beyond. Dale has performed at storytelling festivals across Canada, the USA, and in Europe, and is the author of several books on ghost stories, the supernatural, and local folklore.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Red Eyes and the Webber’s Claw - Urban Legends with Dale Jarvis

Red Eyes and the Webber’s Claw - Urban Legends with Dale Jarvis
Engaging Evenings at The Rooms
Wednesday, November 15th
The Rooms, St. John's
(free with admission to The Rooms)

A legend has been described a tale believed to be true by some, false by others, and both or neither by most. This province is full of examples; almost every town has a story which is partly true and partly not. No one knows them better than folklorist and storyteller Dale Jarvis. Some are migratory legends which crop up in different forms in different communities. Some are legends tied to a very specific place and which are largely unknown outside of their home communities. 

In this presentation Jarvis will introduce you to some of his favourite Newfoundland and Labrador historical and contemporary legends. You will meet intriguing characters past and present, delve into the lore behind some of our folk beliefs and fears, and explore the folklore and archival research behind his most recent book “Haunted Ground - Ghost Stories from the Rock.”

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Legend of St. Brendan the Navigator. #FolkloreThursday

A couple summers ago, I had the privilege of telling stories for two nights in a fabulous location - the parlour of the Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada. The building, which is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador, was the perfect spot for telling some local legends. Given its oceanside location, I elected to tell stories of sea monsters, of which we have a great tradition in this province.

One of the written accounts of a miraculous aquatic beastie off the shores of Newfoundland may date back to around the year 560 AD. It involves one of Newfoundland’s possible first European tourists, St. Brendan the Navigator, who made a seven-year voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in a curragh, a wood-framed boat covered in sewn ox-hides, travelling to a new land and returning home to tell his tale.

While exploring the North Atlantic, the good Saint’s brethren begged him to stop somewhere and celebrate the Easter mass.

“God,” said Brendan, “is able to give us land in any place that He pleases.”

Sure enough, when Easter came with no land in sight, a miraculous event took place. After sailing for days without sight of land, an island suddenly came into view, very little wood or grass upon it, and no sand on the shore.

The monks spent the night in prayer outside the vessel, Brendan remained on the boat. The next morning, after the priests had celebrated Mass, the brethren took out some uncooked meat and fish, and put a cauldron on a fire to cook.

When the cauldron began to boil, “the island moved about like a wave.” The monks rushed back to the boat, where St. Brendan pulled them back onboard. As he did so, the “island” lifted up its great tail, and swam off into the distance.

“Fear not, my children,’ said the saint, “for God has last night revealed to me the mystery of all this; it was not an island you were upon, but a fish, the largest of all that swim in the ocean, which is ever trying to make its head and tail meet, but cannot succeed, because of its great length. Its name is Jasconius.”

Jasconius the whale was not the only sea creature the monks came across during their travels. One day a sea monster appeared swimming after the boat, spouting foam from its nostrils. Fearful that the beast meant to eat them, the monks cried out to the saint for help.

As the monster drew near, raising up great waves that threatened to swamp the boat, St. Brendan, raised hands to heaven and earnestly prayed: ‘Deliver, O Lord, Thy servants, as Thou didst deliver David from the hands of the giant Goliath.”

No sooner had the saint said these words that a second monster rose into view, this one spouting flame from its mouth instead of foam. It attacked the first sea creature, cutting into three pieces, before vanishing back under the briny depths.

As an addendum to the story, the monks found the pieces of the first monster washed up later on a nearby island, and under Brendan’s direction, they cut away enough fresh meat to last them for three months.

In 1976, British adventurer and historian Tim Severin built a replica of the saint’s curragh, and sailed it from Ireland to Newfoundland, demonstrating that the legendary voyage could have been possible. Sea monster steaks, however, might not be appearing in St. John’s restaurants anytime soon.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Fan email for "Haunted Ground" - and some ghostly drummers!

It is official: Haunted Ground: Ghost Stories from the Rock is now in stores, and people have been picking it up and already sending me feedback, which I love.

The book includes a section on contemporary and historical legends, including modern urban legends like the Webber of Western Newfoundland, and Glovertown's creepy Red Eyes. It also has a discussion of one of my favourite Newfoundland legends, the tale of the Phantom Drummer of Conception Bay North, who appears in a couple different incarnations in communities along the Baccalieu Trail.

So it was with great delight that I got the following email, from a fan who asked to be kept anonymous:
Hi Dale. So I picked up a copy of Haunted Ground today. After reading the synopsis on the back, I was drawn to the story "the phantom drummer of conception bay". You see, I grew up in Kelligrews, CBS, I'd like to say about 20 years ago while I was a young teen, my family experienced something that to this day we cannot explain. A family of 5 (along with our pet dog) were startled (in fact myself and the dog were woken from our sleep) by a noise that we can only associate to loud drummers almost like a marching band (the symbols were there too!) marching down our street in the middle of the night. When my father hesitantly looked out the window, nobody was out there but we could still hear it. The next day my father asked our neighbours about this, nobody else heard it and it was brushed off. Why did an entire family along with their dog, hear this and nobody else seemed to? Could it have been related to this drummer?!!! 
Thought I'd just pass it along as I just finished that chapter in your novel and to this day have never heard of another story with drummers. Also, I'd like to say thanks for this great read!
The writer went on to say, "I spoke with my oldest brother last evening about this and said I forgot to mention that this 'group' were chanting as well. He vividly remembers them saying 'don't shout, don't cry out' over and over and this lasted for a couple of minutes."

I love it!

Do you know a Phantom Drummer story from your community? Email me at dale@dalejarvis.ca. Or, come say hi at the Haunted Ground book launch, happening September 27th, at 7pm, at Chapters in St. John's! I'll be there to tell a few stories, and sign your books!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Haunted Ground - A book update!

Hello all! Things are moving along quickly now, and I'm pleased to announce the official book launch for "Haunted Ground - Ghost Stories from the Rock" will be Wednesday, September 27th, at Chapters in St. John's!  

The Facebook event listing is here:

If you plan on coming, check in there, and invite a friend!

The book has already been made an Editor's Pick in the fall edition of Atlantic Books today! (p64) "This is one creepy book," it starts! You can read the full description online here.

See you on Sept 27th! 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Do you remember Colcannon Night suppers? #FolkloreThursday

Evening Telegram (St. John's, N.L.), 1894-10-30: Adv. 5 Page 5
What people today think of as Hallowe'en traditions (trick or treating, and dressing in costumes) is relatively new to Newfoundland and Labrador. In the not-that-distant past, October 31st was Colcannon (or Cauld Cannon) night. Colcannon was both the holiday, and the potato and cabbage dish served traditionally on that day.

I'm working on an article about Colcannon night, and Colcannon night suppers. If you have a memory, recipe, or story about Colcannon, and would be willing to chat with me about it, send me an email at dale@dalejarvis.ca.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Moving Mop and the Mystery Lady of the Twillingate Lighthouse.

Aerial view of Long Point Lighthouse in 1991
Photograph courtesy Canadian Coast Guard

The Moving Mop and the Mystery Lady of the Twillingate Lighthouse
By Dale Jarvis

The lighthouse buildings at Long Point were constructed in 1875 with the light first lit in 1876. The Long Point light has attracted a few strange stories over the years, but the most curious involves an old mop. This common, household object was kept at the base of the tower. It was not a kitchen mop, but an old tar mop: a long handled mop with a round, brush-like head. It was apparently designed for tarring a roof, but it was never used for that purpose.

When a new light keeper arrived at the light in 1980, he was told by one of the light keepers who had been there for a long time that this tar mop had always been there. The tar mop sat, resting on the bracket that supports the bottom part of the staircase. The reason why it was never removed from the premises was that for some reason it has a strange tendency to move around, all by itself.

According to reports the mop was known to reverse its position on the bracket. One day it would be shoved in facing one way, and the next day, or two or three later, it would be shoved in facing the opposite direction. There was no explanation for who did it, how it happened, or why. The mop had a mind of its own and kept moving.

Another story dates to the early 1900s. A light keeper was attempting to do some work near the top of the tower. Although the old clockwork systems was accurate, there were some problems the keepers used to run into. The cables and weights had a habit of tangling as they went up the two levels of the lighthouse. When the cables knotted, the keeper had to take the weights off the cables wherever they were hung up, free the cable, put the weights back on, and then restart the system.

Perhaps the keeper was engaged in some work like this at the top of the lighthouse shaft, just at the point where you go into the upper part where the lamps and the lens assembly are stored. Whatever it was that he was doing, he fell.

It was about twelve metres from where was perched to the floor below. The floor, you should note, was a brick floor, not a wood floor that might have had a bit of give. Tumbling down, there was nothing there that he could have held onto. Today, there are supports which were added in the 1980s, but at that time there was nothing for him to slide down or catch hold of.

The keeper certainly would have died or at the least would have been critically injured were it not for a very strange occurrence. Just before he hit the brick floor, he landed in the arms of a lady dressed all in white. When he turned back to thank her for saving his life, she disappeared into thin air.

The story was handed down the line from one light keeper to another. The man swore he was caught, and to this day there is no idea who the woman in white might have been, or how an earthly woman could have possibly caught a full grown man falling from such a height.

Dale Jarvis is an author, storyteller, and professional folklorist who splits his time between St. John’s and Clarke’s Beach, Newfoundland, Canada. The proprietor of the St. John’s Haunted Hike ghost tour, Dale tells ghost stories, supernatural stories, legends and traditional tales from Newfoundland, Labrador and beyond. The Haunted Hike runs every Sunday to Thursday during the summer, and is online at www.hauntedhike.com. You can like us on Facebook, or better yet, come along and let us tell you a tale!