Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Do You Believe in Ghosts? by A.M.Westerling

This month’s topic is ghosts and seeing as how I’m rather ambivalent about whether or not ghosts exist, it might be a short post. Having said that, mind you, if someone asked me to spend the night in a “haunted” room I would politely decline!

There are a couple of haunted venues that I’m aware of here in Calgary, one is the Hose and Hound pub in Inglewood, one of the older areas of town. Victoria Chatham mentioned that in her post earlier this month so instead I’ll talk about the Prince House.

It’s in Heritage Park, a living museum, and it is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a smiling young woman carrying a baby in her arms. A bright glow is reported to shine from the third floor despite the house having no electricity. I’ve walked through the Prince House but never felt anything but then again, that was during the day. A good friend of mine saw the spectre in one of the windows, though, and she said it was creepy. I’ll take her word for it. *wink*

Then of course, there’s the ghost town of Barkerville, the one time gold rush town where I've set my Canadian Historical Brides book Barkerville Beginnings. I’m sure there are too many ghosts there to count! However, I’ve found a few: Madame Fannie Bendixon, the woman who offered Rose a job, has been seen peering out an upstairs window of the saloon she once owned. There are also reported sightings of the ghost of a young woman wandering the cemetery.

 Although I wasn't able to discover any ghosts of specific miners, Barkerville is, after all, a ghost town so I'm sure the spirits of these fellows might be wandering around.

Apparently, the Royal Theatre in Barkerville is haunted. People have seen an apparition of a man dressed in turn of the century clothing, and have heard odd sounds and footsteps on the stage at all hours. There’s also a ghost that plays the piano and he’s been seen a number of times. The St. George Hotel also has a phantom, a young blonde woman dressed in white who appears around midnight in the rooms of lone male visitors.

Finally, in my book Barkerville Beginnings, I make reference to the grave of Charles Morgan Blessing, murdered on his way into Barkerville.  Apparently his ghost roams the streets of the town too. Um, I’ll believe it when I see it?! 

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Bigfoot and The Lion People

Coming soon from Books We Love

(1979 news article on Madeleine Rabesca of Behchokǫ̀ by Hubet Johnson.)

Now, I find this one of the oddest stories I've heard in a long time, because of, well, Sekhmeht, pictured above. We all know an Egyptian God/Goddess when we see one, so the image didn't originate in the NWT. I have no idea how lion gods came to appear in the shamanic vision of a aboriginal inhabitant of Behchok`o, although, who knows? Cross-cultural pollination can happen in today's world. I also loved the reaction of Mrs. Rabessca when she saw them. She was utterly poised, saying "I won't bother you and you won't bother me," which is exactly the correct thing to say when confronted by a being far out of your ken.
Interestingly, if you have a taste for woo-woo (and I confess) these Lion People also spoke at some length during the 1980's with the well-regarded-in-occult-circles British author and channel, Murray Hope. She describes her visitors in almost exactly the same way. In Murray's case, both male and female entities were willing to address her and answer the questions she asked, many about the future of Mother Earth, beset as she is by our disrespect and ignorance. If you were a Star Trek fan, think back to the Organians, who proved to be pure energy--not a single crude particle of bio-chemistry in their make-up! 

These are only two of the many and varied supernatural beings of the NWT. They say the more you learn, the more you want to learn!  I'm sure I can discover more about the magic and spirit-beings who inhabit the Territories.  

by Juliet Waldron
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Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Haunting of L’Anse aux Meadows, NL by Katherine Pym

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Museum of L'Anse aux Meadows in NL
 Whether you believe in ghosts or not, some of the stories are fascinating. This month the Canadian Historical Brides authors will share some of their favourite 'haunted' locals in Canada. Since my Canadian story is about Newfoundland and its origins/colonialism, I thought I’d tell you of a Newfoundland ghost story. 

A Turf & Timber Norse Structure
It’s not a big one. It’s not a cruel story. Some say the ghost ship brings good tidings, even as it scares the beejeebs out of ones seeing it: a Viking ship that returns over the centuries on 15 August. It haunts L’Anse aux Meadows, an old Viking settlement at the tip of a peninsula on the NW portion of Newfoundland/Labrador. 

L'Anse aux Meadows (red dot)
According to historical records, Vikings explored this area. They travelled from Greenland to Helleland, then meandered south to L’Anse aux Meadows. Radiocarbon dates the first authenticated European settlement between 976 & 985 CE. The Vikings built earthen and timber structures of Norse design. Artefacts were left behind.

The Norsemen abandoned their settlement, they say due to a lack of game to support them and continual battles with the Inuit (the Norse called these native peoples Skraelings, which may mean: scruffy). The two sides had bloody clashes and the Norse, greatly outnumbered by the Inuit, were eventually driven back to their homeland. As far as we know, they did not return to Canada.

Roll the years forward and stories of a Viking ghost ships prevail. They haunt the shores of L’Anse aux Meadows, some say every 30 years on 15 August.

Here are some of the sightings:
One summer evening, a lone fisherman had a good day and decided to remain behind while others headed for shore and their suppers. The weather turned. Dark clouds scudded and the winds had picked up. He gathered his things and prepared to leave but the boat wouldn’t start. He checked the fuel gauge and other fishing boat stuff and all was in readiness but the motor was dead.

Ghost Viking Ship
Suddenly, he heard what seemed like paddles in the water. The fisherman considered this good luck for whoever it was would take him to shore. He ran to the deck to see a strange ship heading straight for him, ready to ram him. The boat was long with a tall mast, with red and white striped sails. Men shook their swords as if ready to do battle but just before the ship rammed him, a battle horn sounded. The ghost ship disappeared.

When the fisherman turned the key, his engine started. Meeting the Vikings had given him good tidings.

There’s another story of two young men intent on stealing a neighbour’s whiskey. They knew he hid it in an outside building. They broke into the barn and located the bottle right away. Suddenly, they heard paddles striking the water and looked out the window to see a strange ship, a long boat with a tall mast and striped sails. It was coming right at them. Men on board rattled their sabres, flung their fists in the air and sent battle cries over the water but a battle horn sounded. The ship disappeared in a cloud of mist, sending the young men running for their lives. They forgot the whiskey.

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Many thanks to:

Haunted Canada 5: Terrifying True Stories by Joel A Sutherland

Wikicommons, public domain

Viking Ghost Boat in L’Anse aux Meadows Links:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ghostly Gray Lady in New Brunswick, by Diane Scott Lewis

I've learned a lot about Canada in writing my novel, due out in January 2017. On a Stormy Primeval Shore is set in 1784. Englishwoman Amelia Latimer sails to the new colony of New Brunswick in faraway Canada. She’s to marry a man chosen by her soldier father. Amelia is repulsed by her betrothed, and refuses to marry him. She is attracted to a handsome Acadian trader, Gilbert, a man beneath her in status. Gilbert must fight the incursion of English Loyalists from the American war to hold onto his land and heritage. Will he and Amelia find peace when events seek to destroy their love and lives.

On a rainy, foggy day in 2017 my husband I took a ferry across the Kennebecasis River to Trinity Anglican Church, one of the oldest churches in New Brunswick. It was built in 1788/9 by the Loyalists who fled the American War of Independence. Because of their loyalty to England, their property was confiscated and they were forced north from the new United States.

Beside the church is the Loyalist Cemetery with its weathered headstones, many dating to the eighteenth century.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any ghost tales related to these two sites, but had to use the pictures my husband took.

For the ghost tale, I'll return closer to Saint John on the Bay of Fundy, where much of my novel takes place, and Fort La Tour (long destroyed).
Fort's site discovered in 1950's

The fort was established in 1631 in what was then known as Acadia. (my novel's hero, Gilbert, is an Acadian man born over a hundred years later). The fort was used for fur trading, but the French fought over who controlled the region. While Charles de la Tour, who'd built this fort, was away in Boston, his wife, an actress named Francoise Marie, defended the fort from attack. On Easter Sunday, the fort was captured and Francoise Marie was forced to watch, with a rope around her own neck, her brave soldiers hanged. She died soon after, perhaps from a broken heart.

Since then locals have reported the sightings of a woman dressed in an old-fashioned gray dress who walks along the shore near the fort's site. Her grave was never found. She might be waiting for that event so she may rest in peace, and receive the heroine's burial she deserves.

Madame de La Tour led a courageous life in Canada and France; for more on her click HERE

Diane Parkinson (Diane Scott Lewis) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, joined the Navy at nineteen and has written and edited free-lance since high school. She writes book reviews for the Historical Novels Review and worked as a historical editor for The Wild Rose Press. She’s had several historical novels published. Diane lives with her husband in Western Pennsylvania.

Source: Fort La Tour (haunted place)

For more info on my books please visit my author page: BWLpublishing.
Or my website:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ghostly and Supernatural Tales from Quebec Province, by Kathy Fischer-Brown

photo © Janice Lang
Our assignment for the month of October on BWL’s “Canadian Historical Brides” blog is ghost stories, tales of haunted places, and other supernatural phenomena related to our books’ settings.

Ask anyone who knows me. I do not enjoy scary books, ghost tales, or frightening movies. Maybe it’s the creepy music in the flick added to augment the buildup to a blood-curdling moment that sends my heart thumping to near lethal levels and my blood pressure rising. My husband and daughter love them. Even coming through a closed door, that sinister music has its desired effect on me.

Not to say I don’t believe in the unexplainable. Two days after our beloved springer spaniel Casey crossed over the Rainbow Bridge at the age of 14, I was watching TV. Something in the periphery of my vision caused me turn away from the Yankees game. Not trusting what I thought I saw, I did a double-take. To my astonishment, there was Casey standing in the open doorway, her head hanging, ears forward, attention focused on me—a familiar posture in life when she wanted something. We made eye contact for a long moment. And then she dissipated like smoke in the wind. Some have told me that Casey probably just wanted to say goodbye.

Years ago, when I was still living in my parents’ home during summer breaks from college, I was having trouble falling asleep one night. Maybe I was suspended on that fragile boundary between dreams and consciousness when something tangible brushed my cheek and rustled the hair falling over my ear. And then a woman’s whispered voice announced (to whom or what?), “She’s asleep now.” Shortly after, a deep, sonorous baritone from beyond my open window began intoning what sounded like “Pil…grim’s…Pri-i-ide.” If I wasn’t 20-something at the time, I probably would have high-tailed it into my parent’s room and begged to let me sleep with them.

OK. This is supposed to be about ghosts, ghoulies, and other bump-in-the-night stuff from Quebec Province. As a Connecticut Yankee, no one deserves a mention here more than Mark Twain. This is from a piece by Mark Abley in the Montreal Gazette (October 17, 2014)

In December 1881, one of the most celebrated writers in North America came to
Mark Twain
Montreal on a lecture tour. Mark Twain … was then near the height of his fame. …

“That afternoon, a reception had been held for him in a long drawing room of the Windsor Hotel on Peel — recently built, and at the time the most palatial hotel in Canada. There, Twain noticed a woman whom he had known more than 20 years earlier, in Carson City, Nevada. She had been a friend, but they had fallen out of touch. … She seemed to be approaching him at the reception, and he had ‘a full front view of her face’ but they didn’t meet.

 “Before he gave his evening speech in a lecture hall, Twain noticed Mrs. R. again, wearing the same dress as in the afternoon. This time they were able to speak, and he told her that he’d seen her earlier in the day. She was astonished. ‘I was not at the reception,’ she told him. ‘I have just arrived from Quebec, and have not been in town an hour.’”

All right. I agree. This is kind of “woo-woo,” but hardly the stuff that inspires goose bumps. But both Quebec and Montreal, with their long and illustrious histories, are rife with tales of the mysterious and macabre. There are so many such stories that I’ll limit them both by time and necessity.

As a writer of historical fiction, I’m drawn to some of these older stories. For example, McGill University is Montreal’s oldest (founded in 1821) and also one of the most haunted in a city of multiple haunted places. Its Faculty Club was once the opulent mansion of the German-born sugar magnate, Baron Alfred Moritz Friedrich Baumgarten. 

Baron Alfred Moritz Friedrich Baumgarten
At the turn of the 19th century, the Baumgarten house was a center of social activity, so much so that it became the favorite stopping place of Canada’s governor-general when in Montreal. The start of World War I ended all that when anti-German hysteria forced him to sell off his assets and lose his standing in society. He died in 1919, a broken man. In 1926, McGill University bought the mansion to house the school’s high chancellor, General Sir Arthur Currie. After Currie’s death in 1933, the building was repurposed for use as a faculty club.

From the beginning, faculty and staff at the club reported feelings of unease when in the building, while others experienced some truly strange happenings. A piano in the basement began playing itself and no manner of trying to stop it succeeded. Doors opened and closed of their own accord. Elevators ran between floors with no one inside to operate them. In the billiard room, balls moved on the table and into the pockets as if a game were being played, and portraits on the walls appeared to follow people with their eyes as they walked past them down the halls. Even its phones had a life of their own, calling college offices late at night when no one was in the building. And then there’s the fireplace, closed off for decades, still emitting the smell of ash and smoke. There are tales of murder, particularly that of a young servant girl whose untimely death had been covered up and whose spirit has been seen wandering aimlessly, apparently seeking justice. Some postulate that many of ghostly happenings are the work of Baumgarten himself, whose restless soul attempts to regain what had been lost.

On the Plains of Abraham in Quebec on September 13, 1759, the battle between France and England for supremacy in the New World ended with the death of the charismatic British General James Wolfe and took his opponent, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who died of his injuries the following day. Here some 258 years later, ghosts of the dead from both sides can be seen drifting across the battlefield, particularly one lone soldier at the entrance to Tunnel 1, accompanied by the acrid smell of sulfur smoke and the sound of cannons.

From Montmorency Falls in Quebec comes a sad story and one that seems to have many similarities to other tales of such nature. That of a beautiful young woman whose fiancé was called off to war and died in 1759 during the French and Indian War. Legend has it that the grief stricken maiden donned her wedding dress and went out in the evenings calling his name in hopes that he would return. The Lady in White has often been seen in the mist of the falls, tumbling to her death.

Of course there are more such stories, many more, but for now that’s all folks.

Wishing you all a ghoulishly Happy Halloween...but please keep the music down.


Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, "The Serpent’s Tooth" trilogy: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan’s Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from a host of online and brick and mortar retailers. Look for Where the River Narrows, the 12th and final novel in BWL’s Canadian Historical Brides series, coming in July 2018.