From an encounter with a shrieking horror on Signal Hill, St. John’s, to the legend of the headless pirate of Red Bay, Labrador, folklorist Dale Jarvis conjures up stories of white horses, men in black, haunted punts, vanishing boats, and things that go bump in the basement. With its tales of premonitions of death, eerie phantoms, and strange creatures, Newfoundland and Labrador is truly a haunted place. Beware, gentle reader! The unquiet spirits of dogs, wolves, little girls, ships, and soldiers drift through these pages. You may even run into the Old Hag herself, Newfoundland and Labrador’s most infamous nighttime visitor. Blending local history, folklore, eyewitness interviews, and archival research, Haunted Waters is the latest collection of ghostly tales from one of Canada’s finest, and creepiest, storytellers.
“A Creepy Camping Experience”
La Manche, Southern Shore
Late one night in the summer of 2001, a woman by the name of Lisa had a strange experience in the abandoned community of La Manche, on the Avalon Peninsula’s southern shore.
“We arrived early, and my tent-mate and I eagerly claimed a spot to set up our tent,” says Lisa. “There were eight of us in all, so competition was great to get a nice flat spot amongst the trees and rocks. I found a good site near the edge of the hill.”
Two friends set up their tent fairly close by, but more hidden by the trees. The day progressed, and the friends shared a boil-up of mussels and salt beef, and some fish and brewis they had brought in from St. John’s.
“Being an aspiring rock hunter,” describes Lisa, “I spent the afternoon exploring the shoreline playing with my newly acquired rock hammer and guide to the geology of Newfoundland handbook while educating my reluctant companions on the treasures that lay beneath their feet.”
It was late, around two o’clock in the morning, before the eight friends turned in for the night. Lisa and her camping companion settled into their tent. The woman sorted out her sleeping bag and laid down in the quiet.
“I remember listening to the sea,” she describes. “It was a calm night and that was all that I could hear.”
Only about five minutes after she climbed into her sleeping bag, Lisa started to hear strange noises rising about the rhythmic lapping of the sea.
“I heard someone call out to someone else,” she explains. “I thought first that it was one of my camping mates up frolicking around, but I quickly scanned in that the voice was coming from down on the shore.”
It did not take long for Lisa to realize that the voice was that of a woman talking or mumbling to someone in the darkness.
“It got a little closer to the shore beneath our tent, so I jumped up and woke up my bunkmate,” Lisa remembers. “He reluctantly woke up as I sat there with my tiny flashlight with its dying light.”
Another five minutes passed before the mumbling started again.
“This time it was a few people, men and women, working or something, because they were clanking rocks and dropping rocks,” Lisa describes. “I could hear people from close to the top of the shore and people at the bottom. What they were saying was not clear, but it was as if there was a crowd of people down on the beach, busy at something.”
The woman heard the constant sound of rocks being moved around, dropped and thrown down on the beach.
“I heard a lot of women’s voices in particular, just talking calmly,” Lisa says. “I thought for sure that I was not going to survive the night, because my heart seemed as if it would explode from my chest.”
The mumbling voices would rise and fall, growing quiet for a short time before increasing in volume again. This lasted for several hours and then stopped as abruptly as it had started.
“It was daylight before I collapsed to sleep, and at that point there was only the sound of the birds waking up and the wind picking up a little in the trees,” Lisa recalls.
When the remaining friends woke, Lisa remained silent, not saying anything about what had happened during the long night. One of the girls in the nearby tent, however, started asking the other campers if they had heard anything strange. She too had heard the sound of hushed voices and the rumbling of rocks. Curiously, for her the sounds had emanated from farther into the woods instead of from the beach, and had only lasted a short time.
“We did a quick inspection of the site and noted that our tent was set up on an old foundation of some sort, perhaps a building,” says Lisa.
The campers quickly packed up their gear and headed back to the safety of town.
“I have not gone back there since,” Lisa exclaims.
[Haunted Waters] is impeccably referenced (Joy of joys! An index!) and researched.-- Northeast Avalon Times --
His stories bring a thrill up the spine and make the hairs at the back of the neck rise - a sign of a successful ghost story.-- The Pilot --
An amazing and eerie book of ghost stories . . .-- Current magazine --
Fans of Dale Jarvis's Haunted Hike and his three previous ghost story books will find more of what they like in 'Haunted Waters.-- The Telegram --
’Haunted Waters’ is an excellent collection — highly readable and enjoyable for adults and young adults — and not just those with a fondness for creepy tales. Readers interested in the folktales, superstitions, and history of our province will find much to admire about it as well.-- CBC Radio, Corner Brook --