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A ghost that foretold a death in rural P.E.I.
An Island woman buried alive.
These chilling tales might cause some sleepless nights for those who believe in Island folktales – especially on Halloween.
They are two Island stories that author J. Clinton Morrison has never forgotten, no matter what time of the year. And people looking for a good scare will want to check them out in the Summerside author’s second book, Along the North Shore: A Social History of Township 11, P.E.I., 1765-1982.
Morrison conducted a series of interviews in the late 1970s and put six of the stories in the book, which was published in 1984.
The Tale of Walshtown is one of them.
Morrison said Walshtown is an old name for an area of the Island that was located near Foxley River. It tells the story of an old sea captain who went away quite often, leaving his wife at home.
On one of his trips, the captain’s wife died, or so they thought. Upon his return, the captain learned that his wife had died and had been buried.
“She used to take seizures and they thought that she would be dead, but she would come out of it several hours and even a day or two later,’’ Morrison recalls of the story in his book.
The sea captain was convinced when he returned from this trip that his wife had taken one of her seizures and was mistakenly pronounced dead. He insisted her body be exhumed.
The sea captain took matters into his own hands two weeks later, got some friends together and dug up the grave.
“When they dug her out, she was lying face down in the coffin. She must have rolled over.’’
The following locations carry books written by J. Clinton Morrison:
• Bookmark in Charlottetown
• Seaside Books in Summerside
Another one of Morrison’s harrowing tales in the book is called Errand of Mercy, which tells the story of an elderly man who was on his way home one night and noticed a wagon following him home.
The elderly man couldn’t tell who was in the wagon behind him but could see it was being hauled by two black horses.
“He could hear the horses blowing off air in the cold night,’’ Morrison said. “He knew something was behind him . . . he was terrified.’’
Two days later, the elderly man’s wife died. Before the wake, a wagon being hauled by two black horses came up to his neighbour’s house to take the body away.
“It was a premonition of what was about to happen that he had experienced a couple of nights before. It was a good story,’’ the author said.
For those who prefer stories that are a little less creepy, Morrison’s most recent book (he has written 12), Logjams and Widow-makers: Prince Edward Islanders in the Maine Woods, came out this spring.
Morrison, who is a retired teacher, calls it a little sidebar in Island history.
Logjams and Widowmakers follows the exploits of Islanders who made annual trips to the woods in Maine to make some extra cash between the 1870s and 1930s.
“It’s a narrative of this particular event in Island history. (It's about) how they got there; the hardships of getting there and what it was like when they got there; what camp life was like and what the dangers and risks were.’’
Dave Stewart is the culture reporter with The Guardian