A while back, I was asked by a student working on a heritage fair project to pick my favourite haunted place in Newfoundland. It was not the first time I have been asked it, but it remains a hard question. I’m not certain that I truly do have a favourite, but I do have a couple spots with stories that I love. So here, in no particular order, are four of my top haunted locations.
1. Victoria Street, St. John's
First up is Victoria Street, St. John’s. While one of the shorter streets in downtown St. John’s at a mere three blocks long, Victoria Street has more than its fair share of ghosts and phantoms. It is probably the single street I’ve heard more ghost stories about than another in the province. One older St. Johnsman spoke of how he had been surprised by the ghost of an elderly woman. This phantom woman had appeared before him standing on the landing half way up the stairs of the house.
Other houses along the sinister street are haunted by mysterious orbs, phantom cigarette smokers, ghostly knockings, and ghosts who open doors and run up stairs. The most eerie haunting involved a screaming ghost who has been known to appear in a bedroom, being dragged by her hair through the room by a second ghost.
2. Mockbeggar, Bonavista
My second pick would be Mockbeggar, in Bonavista. The area known as Mockbegger is the home to a number of strange tales. Several of them revolve around what is known as Bradley House on the Mockbeggar Property. One resident heard phantom visitors walking about, talking, singing and having a party, complete with slamming doors. After a while the phantom party‑goers had settled down, and the woman had been able to get some sleep. Local folklore maintains they are friendly ghosts, and that if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.
The hauntings of the Bradley house may be somehow linked to another mystery of the Mockbeggar property. In the 1920s, under the direction of William Coaker, a canal was dug in the area. As the canal was being dug a number of coffins were excavated. Then, years later, some more coffins were unearthed during the construction of the new bridge across the canal in 1946. The graves were believed to predate the earliest cemetery in Bonavista, which dated to 1725.
3. Isle of Demons, Quirpon Island
An island once populated by so many devils that French sailors would not go ashore without a crucifix in hand hardly sounds like an ideal tourist destination. But it is certainly enough to make it my third pick.
The "Isle of Demons" is thought to be Quirpon Island, at the top of the Great Northern Peninsula, though a few other places vie with it for the title. It is associated with one of the most dramatic stories of love, loss, and terror ever told in Newfoundland. The saga involves a woman by the name of Marguerite de Roberval, niece of the harsh Sieur de Roberval. While sailing from France to the New World, Marguerite raised the wrath of her uncle by becoming romantically involved with one of the men on the ship. The Sieur de Roberval insisted that the girl be removed from his ship, and left on an island along their route.
Once stranded, Marguerite found she was not alone. Imps and spirits walked over the island, peered out of the mist, whispered in the night, and called and whistled in the gale. Marguerite was marooned for three years, before being rescued and returned to France. Modern visitors not concerned about imps and demons can still land on Quirpon Island, now home to the Quirpon Lighthouse Inn. I’ve stayed there, but no imps made themselves known.
4. Hampden, White Bay
My final pick is Hampden, White Bay, which wins the award for the most unusual ghost in Newfoundland. Stories of Hampden’s famous phantom have been in circulation at least since the early 1970s, though the legend may even be older. The majority of the ghostly happenings have been reported along a section of road near the site of the old camp called Faulkner’s Flat. More than a few people have witnessed the figure of a woman walking along Faulkner’s Flat, dressed all in white.
What is most intriguing is that the old woman would walk across the road, carrying an old cast iron Waterloo stove on her back! Locals claim that a woman was killed by a Waterloo stove in a car accident on that section of road, and at certain times of the year you can see her cross the road with the stove on her back. Others say the woman is old Mrs. Faulkner herself, after whom the Flat is named.
If you have a haunted spot you feel should have made the list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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. He is also the storytelling coach for Shakespeare's Fairytales, running April 28th-29th, 2016. Get your tickets here!
Photo Credit: Victoria Street, NL. Wikimedia Commons