Wicked witches in Joe Batt’s Arm, the ghost of a dead man in Glovertown, the crossing out of a single crow in Marystown, a mysterious Norsemen in Lanse aux Meadows, voices on the Labrador in Red Bay and Emily Harbour, the smell of death in Spaniard’s Bay and Carbonear – these are just some of the stories you’ll read in Dale Jarvis’s recently released book “Haunted Ground – Ghost Stories From the Rock” (Flanker Press 2017).
Folklorist, St. John’s Haunted Hike creator and accomplished author, Jarvis is well known for his talents as a storyteller.
“Haunted Ground” covers everything from historical and contemporary legends to tokens, premonitions and the great beyond.
As the book notes, Jarvis’s stories are based on both archival sources and first-hand accounts which weave together anecdote, oral tradition and history and folklore from the province’s capital city as well as many smaller nooks and crannies throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
Jarvis, who holds a B.Sc. in anthropology/archaeology from Trent University and a M.A. in folklore from Memorial University, works as the Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer for the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. He is a past-president of the Newfoundland Historic Trust and has contributed as a board member and volunteer to many local arts and heritage organizations.
The creator of the popular St. John’s Haunted Hike tour, Jarvis said the stories he tells often remind his listeners and readers about stories they’ve heard over the years.
“People think they don’t know stories but they do. And, that ongoing process... the more stories I tell, the more stories I hear,” he said.
One particular message he received from Francis Furlong grabbed him immediately, he wrote in the book.
Furlong’s story was about playing cards coming to life.
Furlong told Jarvis that his mother (Leone Miller nee Etheridge) has a lot of stories from Joe Batt’s Arm, featuring ghosts of British redcoats, children’s voices in the house, people walking around all hours of the night, a local monster with only eyes on its face, a man whose hair turned white after an encounter with the fairies, and the Virgin Mary in her blue dress helping children lost in the woods.
Furlong went on to relate to Jarvis how his mother grew up in Joe Batt’s Arm and was walking to a friend’s house one day and had a decks of cards with her. As she was walking she dropped the cards and they scattered on the ground. All of a sudden, the kings, queens and jokers of all the suits came off the cards, like little people, and started dancing... then they fell back into the cards they came off of.
“She has told us this all our lives and swears to it to this day,” Furlong told Jarvis.
Furlong’s story is just one of many stories in the book from Fogo Island.
There’s also a captivating story about the leaping witch of Joe Batt’s Arm and how the witch left behind her footprints in a rock.
“I’ve heard similar stories from other areas about the devil or fairies leaving footprints in rocks where they would dance. But the Joe Batt’s (witch) story was a new one to me,” Jarvis said.
While Jarvis was familiar with many of the stories he’d heard and written about there are some that were new to him.
“I’m fascinated by the local legends... people within the communities where those stories took place know those stories but people outside those communities don’t,” he said.
That will change, however, once they read Jarvis’s book.
And, thankfully for his readers, the more stories Jarvis hears, the more books he will likely write.
“That oral tradition is so much a part of who we were. But, it can be fragile. If the stories aren’t reported and passed down, they can vanish,” he said.
Anyone who’d like to share a story with Jarvis can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @dalejarvis or www.hauntedhike.com
The book is available at many stores and through the publisher at www.flankerpress.com.
Books by Dale Jarvis published by Flanker Press
· Haunted Ground
· The Golden Leg
· Any Mummers ’Lowed In?
· Haunted Waters
· Wonderful Strange
· Haunted Shores