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:


  1. I'd love to visit that area where the Vikings settled. Enjoyed the post.

  2. Thanks Diane. I'd love to see all of Newfoundland.