Wednesday 5 December 2012

Audience comments on the opening night of Brothers Grimm

Well, it has all been a bit of a whirlwind, but we opened "Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting" tonight at Petro Canada Hall.  We got some great comments in person after the show, and some people left comment cards at the ticket desk.  A selection of those comments follows:

I liked it very much indeed. Well done! I have my childhood copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Great! I really enjoyed the weave of music and storytelling and history.

Greatly enjoyed myself. Only wish there was more of the same, looking forward to more.

Really love it! the songs were great, the musical sound effects and the sound of the birds just added to an overall atmosphere of magic and AWESOMENESS.

Fabulous - learned a few things about the Brothers Grimm that I didn’t know. Very well put together! Bravo

Excellent show! Really enjoyed how the songs were planned into the format, along with the stories.

Very entertaining and informative. Thank you for a wonderful evening out.

Great show! I appreciate the cultural background!

Awesome performance! Love the music with the tales.

Excellent, I really enjoyed everything about it. I love Folklore and German. It combined my two favourite things!

Loved the show, will spread the word for the show tomorrow.

Thoroughly enjoyable evening. Great stories and music.

Wonderful! Completely unexpected and absolutely enjoyable. Thank you!


Loved the show, will spread the word for the show tomorrow.

(please do!)

On that note, we have one night left, Thursday, Dec 6, 2012. The show is at 8pm, at Petro Canada Hall, at Memorial University's School of Music. Tickets are $20 and available at the door. See you there!

I'll be picking a winner from each night, from those people who filled out a comment form. They will each receive two tickets to my next show, "Thor vs. Loki" - coming to a stage near you in Spring 2013.

The Brothers Grimm opens tonight! Petro Canada Hall 8pm

Well, it has been a long time coming, but our two-man show "The Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting" opens tonight in St. John's. We've performed the show in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, but this is the first time we've performed it at home.  I'm thrilled to be able to perform it this December, as this month is the 200th anniversary of the Grimm's now famous fairy tale collection, Kinder- und Hausmärchen.

The show follows the lives of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, and their incredible true life story is interwoven with their stories, legends, and music of the period.

We are running for two nights only, December 5th-6th, at 8pm at the Petro Canada Hall at Memorial's School of Music. Tickets are $20 and available at the door.

Delf and I truly hope to see you there!

Photo by Chris Hibbs.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Coming soon! Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting

Remember Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, or Hänsel and Gretel?

If you do, thank the Brothers Grimm, who collected these stories and hundreds of others. This December marks the 200th anniversary of their first fairytale publication. Storyteller Dale Jarvis and musician Delf Maria Hohmann are celebrating, and want you to join them December 5th-6th at Petro Canada Hall, Memorial University, at 8pm.

In 1812, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first of what would become a two volume book of tales, gathered from the German people. Unbeknownst to the Grimms, this was destined to become the best known, most widely translated, and most influential book ever created in the German language.

This December marks 200 hundred years since that first publication, yet these stories still continue to catch us unawares. Fierce, funny, and ancient, yet contemporary in their ability to reflect our strengths and weaknesses, these are stories handed down through the ages because they are essential to humankind.

“The Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting” is a 2-hour theatre show, written and performed by Dale Jarvis with music by Delf Maria Hohmann. For the past decade, Jarvis and Hohmann have been retelling the most famous, as well as some of less well-known, Grimm’s tales. Their new show tells the life story of Jacob and Wilhelm, interwoven with classic stories and the music of the period. It will run December 5th and 6th at the Petro Canada Hall, in cooperation with Memorial University’s Department of German and Russian, in celebration of December’s 200th anniversary of the publication of the Grimm’s Kinder- und Hausmärchen.

Jarvis and Hohmann go back to the source. That means their stories are not for the faint
of heart.

"These are the real deal,” says Jarvis. “These stories are full of loss, longing, violence, blood, wicked men and women; they contain the best and the worst of humanity, always alongside themes of hope, and rebirth. But these stories are definitely not for children!”

A portion of the show’s proceeds will support the H.H. Jackson Travel Scholarship in German. This scholarship was established upon the retirement of Dr. Herbert H. Jackson, Professor Emeritus and first Head of the Department of German and Russian. The scholarship is awarded annually to a candidate who is planning to undertake a program of studies and/or work assignment in a German-speaking country.

The Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting
Written and performed by Dale Jarvis. Music by Delf Maria Hohmann.
8pm, December 5-6, 2012
Petro Canada Hall, School of Music, Memorial University

Tickets $20, cash sale only, available at the door, and in advance from:
Department of German and Russian, Science Building, SN3061C
or Britannia Teas and Gifts, 199 Water Street

(photos by Chris Hibbs)

Tuesday 13 November 2012

A phantom Viking longship in Fortune Bay, Newfoundland

A little before Hallowe’en, I sat down at a local coffee shop with Colin, who had a treasure trove of ghost stories from Harbour Mille and Grand Bank. His family was one of the founding families of Harbour Mille, and he was full of stories about various members coming back from the dead to say hello or show displeasure about the actions of the living.

Today, Harbour Mille is a small fishing village of around 200 people, sitting in the well protected harbour of Fortune Bay, about 26 km off the Burin Peninsula Highway. The town sits on an isthmus, and hills rise, saddle-like, to the west and the east. It has both a sheltered harbour at the north, and a beach to the south.

Across the bay to the northwest is the now abandoned community of Bay de L’Eau. Though separated by five or six km of open water, the two communities are linked by a rather intriguing ghost story.

Colin learned the Bay de L’Eau half of the ghost story from a friend, David, who also has roots in the Harbour Mille area.

As the legend goes, there was a group of fishermen in a schooner, sailing in to Bay de L’Eau. As they came close to land, they saw what they later described was a Viking ship that was coming out of the bay.

“The description that the sailors gave afterwards was very much like a Viking longship or a drakkar,” says Colin. “The men were wearing fur pelts, and of course speaking a language which they didn’t understand.”

The two companies parted ways, and the longship vanished from sight.

“When David heard the story, he thought ‘they’re describing a Viking ship, with Vikings on it,’” says Colin. “This is rather interesting, because this ties into a story from Harbour Mille with dear Aunt Sarah.”

Aunt Sarah was Colin’s great-grandfather’s sister-in-law, who lived in Harbour Mille in the late 1800s. Aunt Sarah was the source of the second half of the ghost story, a story passed down to Colin from his father and grandfather.

“She heard this ruckus and she thought there was some kind of a social or whatever going on in the Orange Lodge,” recalls Colin. “This was at night. She looked out through her bedroom window, the second storey, and she said these men came in on a barge, into the harbour, got to the shore, lifted the barge up on their shoulders and then walked out over the hills with the barge. So I’m wondering if this barge isn’t the same ship.”

“In the mid to late 1800s that would have happened,” he adds. “She is buried in the old cemetery, and died in the very early 1900s.”

There is a relatively famous Viking ship story from the area around L’Anse aux Meadows, but the Harbour Mille - Bay de L’Eau tale is the first version I have heard from Fortune Bay.

“Barge is not a word which we would have ever really used,” says Colin, “so I don’t know where they got the word barge.”

His interpretation is that Aunt Sarah used the word barge to describe a long flat boat of a type she was unfamiliar with.

The story of the men picking up the “barge” and carrying it across the hills is equally intriguing. Viking longships were constructed to be both light and strong; the crew of a small one could quite easily take down the mast, overturn the craft, and portage it over land to the next fjord or bay if needed. It has been argued that this capability added to the legendary suddenness and speed of Norse raiders.

It is an interesting story, and I would love to know if anyone out there has heard anything similar, either from Fortune Bay or anywhere else in Newfoundland and Labrador. If it sounds familiar, send me a note at

Thursday 8 November 2012

Two-day workshop with ALEXIS ROY storyteller

Saturday, November 17th from 1-5 pm and Sunday, November 18th from 10 am -2 pm.
Gower Street United Church, St. John’s
$40. Only 20 spaces available


In this workshop, the participants will learn about the notion of stage presence. Alexis Roy will talk about the 5 fundamental laws of presence, achieved through proven techniques from various theatrical styles (Eugenio Barbas, Oleg Kissiliëv), which will allow storytellers to free themselves from their old reflexes and stereotypes. Telling without showing or mimic, but with a free body.

This is a workshop for storytellers who have some experience.


• 5 laws of presence – paying attention to the here and now.

• 5 laws of timing – listening to the audience.

• 5 voice exercises.

Presence also translates in rhythm. We’re talking not only about physical rhythm, but also rhythm in the voice and the way the story is delivered. In this workshop, you will learn rhythm techniques from the clowning arts. As far as stage presence goes, fixed points are similar to silence in a musical piece: an essential break, governed by a set of rules.

Storyteller and actor, Alexis also works in hospitals as a therapeutic clown. Lover of grandiose and magic territories, he is artistic director of the Festival de contes et légendes de l’Innucadie, a story-telling festival held during the summer in Natashquan. He coined the name Innucadie to illustrate this reunion of First Nations Innu and Québec North-Shore Acadians.

To register, contact Mary Fearon

Monday 29 October 2012

Skeletons in the Closet - Win $150 for the best story Hallowe'en Night

Hallowe'en Night
{9 pm, The Ship Pub}
Part of the St. John's Storytelling Festival 2012

Hosted by Dale Jarvis and musical guest, Daniel Payne. A Story Slam is a contest of words; imagine a poetry slam format meets Canadian Idol, with a storytelling twist. Prize of $150. Presented in collaboration with the Folk Arts Society of Newfoundland & Labrador.

A life and death storytelling competition, the theme of this terrifying tilt of tales will be "Skeletons in the Closet"! So check your closets and see if what's lurking inside is fit to bring to the may get you $150 bucks! It may get you arrested! It may remind you it's time to clean the house! Just remember to keep it to 5 minutes, or else...

We'll be using five judges from the audience to score the stories. This is how we will be running the scoring, borrowed from the Once Upon A Slam series in Ottawa:

"We have the 5 randomly-chosen-from-the-audience judges. Each judge will give a score out of 10 to 1 decimal place i.e.. 8.3, 9.5, 7.9, you get the idea. The highest score and the lowest score are dropped to get a score out of 30. If there is a time penalty, it is deducted and the total score is given. The highest total score after penalties wins the slam.... The judges are instructed to give half the score for the content of the story and half for how it is told. So, someone who is really engaging and entertaining but tells a story without much meat to it won’t score as well as someone who has a balance of both."

Host: Dale Jarvis

Dale Jarvis tells ghost stories, legends and traditional tales from Newfoundland and beyond. Founder of the St. John’s Storytelling Circle, Dale is also the host of the St. John’s Haunted Hike, named “Event of the Year” by the City of St. John’s. Author of four books on Newfoundland folklore and ghost stories, Dale has also taught workshops across North America on historical storytelling.

Musician: Daniel Payne

Daniel Obediah Payne is from the town of Cow Head on the Northern Peninsula. For over a decade now, he has worked as a professional musician, performing the traditional music of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as collecting songs and dance tunes from older traditional players around the province.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Photographic evidence of the living dead - the St. John's Zombie Walk

An unholy horde of flesh-eating zombies shambled out of Bannerman Park today, and lurched through the streets of downtown during the annual all-ages St. John’s Zombie Walk. Yours truly, at great risk to my own life and limb, went out and gathered these photos. I escaped with only minor scratches. Those are nothing to worry about, right?

Watch out for the zombiedoodle. I'm certain he bites.

External frame backpacks wanted for my next BIG mummer project

Those of you who know me are aware I don't sit still for very long, often rolling one project right into the next one without stop. Someone posted a link recently to Austin Kleon's short video on the subject, which likens this approach to chain smoking. To extend that analogy onwards, I have a serious pack-a-day project habit.

And occasionally, I need someone to enable my addictions.

One of the projects I'm going to be exploring over the next couple months is making giant puppets. I'm gathering together a crack team of artists, bohemians and fans of the carnivalesque to make a few BIG mummer puppets for this year's Mummers Parade (coming up December 15th, 2012).

To do that, we need some old external frame backpacks, the cheap old kind that you often see at yard sales and in corners of people's basements (see photo above). The pack itself doesn't even matter, we will be cutting those away. What we need are the aluminum frames and harnesses. So if you have a worn-out old backpack that you aren't using anymore, I'm sure we can adapt it into something fantastic for the Mummers Festival.

If you have one you are willing to donate to a new, creative, loving, slightly obsessive home, you can email me at

And if you have expertise or interest in building some giant mummer puppets, let me know!

Friday 19 October 2012

Haunted Hike Goes Mobile for Hallowe'en

This Hallowe’en, the ghosts of the St. John’s Haunted Hike are going mobile - materializing on wireless devices near you. Storyteller Dale Jarvis has released a version of his popular ghost tour for iPhone and iPad users, just in time for the holiday. The app was created in partnership with St. John’s web designer and developer Levin Mejia, and his company IV & III.

The mobile Haunted Hike application celebrates 20 creepy stories from downtown St. John’s. It features dead soldiers still standing guard, night-time warnings from eerie Victorian ladies, and strange creatures lurking around the shores of a local pond. The app is currently available for download through the iTunes app store.

“I love sharing old stories in new ways” says Jarvis. “This new app allows us to put a modern spin on classic ghost stories. It has a gorgeous vintage feel to it, fully in keeping with the character of the original Haunted Hike.”

The St. John’s Haunted Hike ghost tour was established by Jarvis in 1997. It regularly sees crowds of tourists exploring the city’s dark twisting streets, listening to ghost stories and learning about the more sinister side of the history of St. John’s.

"I wanted to do this app because I thought it would be a great way to turn Dale’s Haunted Hike into something people could enjoy all year round and across the globe,” says Mejia. No stranger to the development of mobile content, Mejia has also produced the Moose Watch app, a real-time location based application bringing awareness to moose sightings on Newfoundland and Labrador roads and highways.


To arrange interviews, or for print and web images, contact

Levin Mejia

Dale Jarvis

Tuesday 16 October 2012

The Haunted Brigantine of Sound Island

A ghost town is the perfect location for a ghost story. The former settlement of Sound Island, Placentia Bay, is proof of this. The first record of settlement is from around 1805, when William Cummins lived there. Thirty years later, the population had grown to close to 160. Today the island is uninhabited, but its ghost story lives on.

Before the days of resettlement, the people of Sound Island fished for cod and salmon and kept some cattle and sheep. In the mid 1800s Sound Island boasted a thriving fishery, concentrating on the grounds around Cape St. Mary's. The inhabitants also prosecuted the herring fishery, collecting the fish in nets and seines.

A report by the Department of Fisheries in 1898 stated that “this year, up to date, the Placentia herring fishery has been one of the finest on record. Enormous shoals of herring of the finest quality are reported, and an unusually large fleet of American and Canadian vessels are loading at Sound Island and other places in the bay.”

The herring fishery attracted workers from neighbouring communities, and one year a 19 year old from a nearby settlement acquired work on a herring boat. He made his way to Sound Island, but did not get there until around 9 o’clock at night.

The harbour was dark, but the young man recognized the brigantine he was to serve aboard. He found his way onboard only to discover he was alone. She was a nice vessel compared to what the man had worked on before, well fitted out with carpets on the floor.

Not knowing anyone in the community, and not wanting to rouse strangers from their sleep, the young man decided to sleep where he was. He found an empty cabin, close to the hold where the herring was packed, and settled in for the night.

Around midnight, the lad was startled from his slumber by a terrible commotion in the hold. It sounded as if people were quarrelling and fighting. It stopped for a while, and then started up once more. All of this fighting and arguing was carried out in a tongue the man did not understand, although he thought it sounded like Portuguese.

Leaving his bed to investigate, he made his way to the hold. Opening the door on the noise, and peeking in, he was terrified to find the hold empty. He was so frightened that he ran out, jumped overboard, and swam to land.

The next day, the crew arrived by another vessel. They were joined by the captain, who had spent the night in the house of a local fisherman. When the young man asked the captain about the noises in the hold, the captain said that the brigantine was haunted. This was the reason the captain had slept elsewhere!

The captain had first hand experience with the onboard phantoms. One night, alone on the brigantine, he had been reclining on his berth and smoking a cigarette. At around 9 o’clock, a man with his throat cut from ear to ear walked though the captain’s cabin, and vanished.

According to the captain, the brigantine had been brought up from the United States, but before that, the vessel had originated in South America. Wharfside rumour was that it had been a pirate ship, and that at some point in its history, the entire crew had been murdered.

With the captain and full crew onboard, no ghostly noises were heard. The name of the brigantine has been lost, and what became of it is unknown.

Thursday 4 October 2012

International storyteller to present workshop at St. John’s Storytelling Festival

On Saturday November 3, as part of the St. John’s Storytelling festival Ragnhild A. Mørch will facilitate the workshop When the Body Speaks.

Her broad experience working in the arts throughout England, Norway and Germany will be evident during this workshop which focuses on the physical presence of the storyteller on stage. It will look at how the body communicates in its own right – with or without words. Ragnhild works with the whole arsenal the body has in store such as gestures, mimic, directions of movements, physical energy levels and the placement of the body on stage. The workshop combines exercises from physical theatre and storytelling and is open to experienced storytellers with a broad repertoire, including animal stories, repetitive tales and wonder tales.

The workshop is hands on and fabulously physical so participants need loose clothing and shoes made for moving. And if you ever wondered... the course proves that every storyteller should own a bag of tennis balls and sign up for a lifelong membership in a fitness club!

1:00 - 3:00 PM
MMaP Gallery Space - 2nd Floor, Arts & Culture Centre
Cost: $20
Preregister at:

Visit for information on other events happening during the festival.

Ragnhild A. Mørch Biography
Ragnhild Mørch trained in directing, physical theatre, dramaturgy and storytelling, and has worked in live arts since 1996. Her projects include storytelling for BBC’s Music Live event in Hyde Park, direction of large scale outdoor promenade performances in Norway and England, collaboration with The Norwegian Broadcasting, drama teaching and play writing. She has been Artistic Director of a regional theatre centre with tasks as divert as financial management, staff management and marketing. Since 2005 she is a full time storyteller and focuses on storytelling both as performance art and as an educational tool for professional and personal development. She is Artistic Manager of the training course “Storytelling in Art and Education” at the Berlin University of Arts and has lectured at the University of Roehampton, London. Over a period of four years, she received funding to run long term research projects in schools in England to look into the effect of storytelling on children’s learning and personal development. She is invited to festivals all over Europe and her repertoire spans from fairytales to myths; historic events to urban legends; autobiographical stories to tall tales. Her studies in physical theatre and mime provide her with a unique physicality and precise timing and she tells her stories in Norwegian, German and/or English.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

The Boulevard's Black and White Ghost

Shortly after midnight on Remembrance Day in 2011, “Karen” had a strange experience whilst driving alongside Quidi Vidi Lake. She was in St. John’s from out of town, and had just dropped off a friend, when a strange apparition came up onto the road in front of her car.

“I was driving along the Boulevard by Quidi Vidi Lake, between the bandstand and military base,” Karen remembers. As she did, something caught her eye, moving very quickly up the bank from the direction of the pond.

“I saw a smoke-colored figure come over the bank and onto the road directly in front of my car,” she says.

Thinking she was about to hit a person, the woman reacted immediately.

“I slammed on the breaks,” she describes. “ I’m glad there was nobody behind me, because I would have gotten rear-ended.”

When she did, the figure in front of her completely dissipated.

“I did not just see that!” the woman thought to herself.

“It happened all in the matter of seconds, split-seconds,” Karen says. “It was very, very fast. It was just like somebody walked right out in front of my car.”

“I’d never seen anything like that before in my life,” she states. “ I couldn’t believe it had happened. I was on my way over to my sister’s house, and I told them as soon as I got there.”

Karen says that while she had experienced strange things in the past, meeting the figure on The Boulevard was her time seeing a full-bodied apparition. She was shocked by how detailed the figure was.

“It was a man about 5'9" and slim build, dressed in older style clothing, wearing a salt/pepper cap, linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up, suspenders and linen trousers. His clothing appeared to be messed up, or worn-in. I could see that he had dark hair and stubble, and he looked to be in his 30s.

Karen describes the man as being a dirty, smoky colour, almost more like he was an antique photograph than a real person.

“He looked like he was in a black and white picture, and when he dissipated, it was just like cigarette smoke!”

“I will never forget it,” she says.

I was interested in Karen’s story for a number of reasons. The motif of a ghostly figure vanishing in front of a car is one which I have come across numerous times, and anyone who has watched movies with a paranormal theme will have seen this acted out before. I was also interested in the location of the haunting, as it is a spot I have not heard a ghost story from before.

It is quite common for me to hear a story that only feels like part of a larger narrative. I have heard stories about ghostly ladies on the stairs, or strange occurrences in old houses, often without any explanation for the cause. When it happens, people such as Karen often then contact others, such as myself, to try to make sense of what has happened, and to fill in the blanks in the story.

Sadly, in this instance, I do not have a lot more to add. The area certainly has a lot of history, but I have not heard similar stories from the neighbourhood, so I do not have a lot to go on. If you have heard any similar stories about this area of town, let me know! You can email me at

AUDIO - The Seekers Paranormal Panel at Atlanti-CON 2012

I had a blast at Atlanti-Con this past weekend in Corner Brook, where I got to hang out with Grace Shears and Gerard Duffney of The Seekers, a paranormal investigation team based in Corner Brook.

The three of us did a panel session on paranormal investigation and story collecting, and I did a quick-and-dirty audio recording of the event.

If you missed it, you can check out the audio at and download a copy for yourself, or listen to the streaming audio version of the panel.

Monday 24 September 2012

The Great Story City Bank Robbery, or, How To Get Free Money in Iowa

As I write this, I’m enroute back to Newfoundland, after a fabulous week at the STORY! Festival in the fortuitously named Story City, Iowa. I’ll post more on that later, but in the meantime, there is one story I have to tell first. 

I started off the festival telling stories in local schools, and finished up early one afternoon, with some free time on my hands. My host and local guide was the fabulous Deb Mortvedt (above left), who drove me around to the schools and then walked me around Story City’s downtown. She took me to a few of the local antique shops, and made sure I found the secret stash of free Tootsie Roll Pops in one.

As we were walking up the street towards the theatre, we passed the Great Western Bank. The door was propped wide open, and looking in, we could see that there was a table set with something that looked suspiciously like snacks.

We paused, peering in. Our conversation went something like this:

Deb: Do you want to go into the bank?
Dale: Why, is there something happening?
Deb: I don’t know. Maybe they will give you some money.
Dale: Do the banks in Iowa just give money to strangers when they walk in? 
Deb: You never know, they might!

So we walked in to the bank, which was for the most part devoid of customers. I entered behind Deb. A table was set up close to the tellers, and on it sat two cakes.

“Do you want cake?” asked one of the bank ladies, and before I could answer, added, “Chocolate or Vanilla? It is customer appreciation day today, but you missed the pork butt sandwiches.”

I cursed my timing.

“Vanilla!” said I, making the best of the lack of pork products. A plastic plate and fork were fetched and handed over to me, and then I was steered towards the cake table.

“You have to help yourself,” said Bank Lady. “It’s like an Iowa wedding reception!”

The gathered ladies laughed, and Bank Lady added, to more laughter, “All you need now is a dollar dance.”

I looked beseechingly over towards Deb for help with translation, but Deb was busy stuffing herself full of free lemonade, and was of absolutely no help to the foreigner.

“I’m Canadian,” I confessed. “I have no idea what a dollar dance is.”

I was then given a short ethnographic description of an Iowa dollar dance, where the bride dances with men at the reception, the men giving her a dollar bill to dance, as a way of raising money for the new married couple.

“Ah,” I said, shaking my head sadly. “That would never work in Canada. We don’t have dollar bills, only dollar coins. The bride would get too weighed down with loose change to dance.”

Bank Lady perked up at this, and sang out to a Junior Bank Lady behind the counter.

“Canadian money! Do we still have that Canadian money?”

Junior Bank Lady immediately vanished in the recesses of the Great Western Bank’s vaults to check. She returned with a bag of coins, dumped out the contents, and handed it to me.

“Here you go,” she said. “We can’t do anything with this stuff.” 

So I finished my free cake and free lemonade, said my thank-you’s, and, still clutching my free Tootsie Roll Pop, made my way out into the bright Iowa sunshine, richer by the grand sum $2.73 (Canadian).

“See, I told you they might give you money,” said Deb. “And there are four more banks in town.”

“We should hit them all.”

Saturday 15 September 2012

Final night for Ghosts of Signal Hill - Sat Sept 15th, 8pm

Well, it has been a fabulous run! A total of 33 shows, 3 storytellers, 90-ish rounds of black powder ammunition fired off, great crowds, media hits, a newspaper article, a guest appearance at the MUN Arts Alumni night, and not a single finger cut off with a bayonet. Not bad at all!

Thanks to all who helped out from Parks, including the lovely Lilly and Jacqueline, who were our live powder girls for most of the summer. And thanks to all of you who came and shivered and laughed and went home slightly more spooked than when you arrived.

If you haven't seen the show, tonight is your last chance for 2012. Tickets are limited, and we start at 8pm from the Signal Hill Visitor Centre. Tonight is a special night, as well, in that it is the 250th anniversary, to the day, of the Battle of Signal Hill, which figures so prominently in the show. Bring on the fog!

Thursday 13 September 2012

The Horse vs The Phantoms - a ghost story from Holyrood

A little while ago, I was asked for some ghost stories from Holyrood. I dug through my files, and came up with this gem.

Towards the end of the 1800s, one enterprising man by the name of William established a wagon business to haul goods and people to and from Holyrood along Salmonier Line. William invested in a particularly fine horse, strong and healthy, which he had imported from Canada for the purpose of hauling the wagon and its freight.

One night, on his way back into the North Arm section of Holyrood, the wagon driver and his beast of burden underwent a terrifying ordeal. The path that William had chosen took the wagon through the middle of an old graveyard. As the wagon clattered along the road, a strange noise was heard. It sounded as if the wagon was going over a wooden bridge, the wheels making the distinctive noise of rolling over wooden planks. The horse stopped dead in its tracks.

Will got down off the driver's seat to investigate. As he jumped down from the cart, Will's leather boots crunched against the gravel of the path. At this sound, he knew that there was no wooden bridge underneath them.

The wind blew through the graveyard, whistling around the tombstones. Much to his horror, the wind was joined by another sound. The clamour of voices, all jumbled together like the unintelligible din of a crowd, began to emanate from the graves on all sides. This noise grew louder, and closer, and then was combined with the sound of people climbing onto the wagon. The wagon rattled and creaked and then grew silent, as if the invisible throng was waiting for their ride to begin.

White-faced, Will decided that they had already dallied too long in the boneyard. He slapped the horse on its hindquarters, and urged it to move along and out of the vicinity of the strange noises. The horse obliged, and started forward. The creature leaned into its yoke, straining against an invisible weight. The wagon creaked to life once more, and started to move.

The horse pulled, hard. Will walked alongside as the horse strained harder and harder. Every so often, the driver looked back in fear at the empty wagon. The beast soldiered on, but it acted as if the weight of the wagon was immense. It would move forward along the dark road only about two wagon lengths before it would stop, drained of energy. Its owner urged it forward again, and the horse would drag itself forward another short distance before grinding to a halt once more.

The horse travelled very slowly under the heavy, ghostly load. Suddenly, the wagon lurched forward with a tremendous jerking motion, as if its intangible passengers had leapt off all at once.

The horse plodded on a little further, but then gradually slowed, dead tired, and unable to pull any more. Taking pity on the horse, and not wishing to remain out of doors any longer than was necessary, William unhitched the horse. He left the wagon behind, and started off, leading the horse by the bridle.
By the time the weary coachman got home, it was very late. The horse looked in poor shape, and by the time it was placed into its own barn, it was two o'clock in the morning. Too tired to do much more, Will went into the family house, woke his father, and asked the father to go feed the exhausted animal.

Will's father went out to feed the horse, but soon came back wearing a puzzled expression. He asked Will what had happened to the horse, as the beast refused to eat the oats which had been offered. Dragging himself from the warmth and comfort of his bed, Will went back outside to check on the horse.

The horse refused to eat, and simply stood there in its stall, breathing heavily, overcome with the events of the night. William waited by the side of the horse, stroking its mane and talking to it in a soothing voice. Several hours later, at around 5 o'clock, the horse sank down to its knees, gave a great heaving breath, and died.

Sunday 9 September 2012

St John's Public Library's Ghost Story Writing Contest 2012

We are back again for another year of scary tales and ghoulish fun!

The contest is sponsored by the St John's Public Libraries for young authors aged 7 and up. Deadline for entries is Friday October 19. All entries must be accompanied by an entry form found on our blog or ask for more information at any of the St John's Public Libraries!

This year's celebrity judge is Susan MacDonald author of Edge of Time.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Grand Falls Ghost Story on the Silver Screen

First time filmmaker Mike Hickey grew up in Grand Falls. A fan of horror movies and ghost stories, there was one local tale from his childhood that stuck in his mind.

“I remember when I was a kid, there was a house that was kind of spooky,” remembers Hickey. “It was this big mansion downtown off Goodyear Avenue, on a street called Dunn Place.

“The story was that there was a little boy that lived in that house that was playing superhero one time,” says Hickey. “He was sliding down over the banister with a towel as a cape, or a scarf, or something like that, and it got caught, and he was hanged. It is a really sad story, it was devastating for the family, but it became known that this house might be haunted by this little boy.”

“The people who bought the house after used to have a big thing on Hallowe’en,” Hickey adds, “where they would do up the house really well, which added to the spookiness of it. It was always that spot you were kind of wary of you were a kid. I had some friends who lived by it, and the house always creeped me out. It was this huge mansion of the road, and there not many of those in Grand Falls. That one certainly gave me the spooks.”

Now living in St. John’s, Hickey took part in an introductory filmmaking course with NIFCO, the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Cooperative. There, he came up with the idea of basing a film on the Grand Falls ghost story.

“The class develops a film,” explains Hickey. “The idea came up there, and even though the class ended up deciding on something else, I decided I was going to take that idea and run with that for my first time film.”

In addition to the course, NIFCO also offers a first time filmmakers program to help new artists make their first movie.

“You apply, and give them a script, and if it is approved, then they provide you with all the gear, they help you organize a volunteer crew,” says Hickey. “It is a great, great tool for young and early filmmakers. It is fantastic for them to have this to work from. NIFCO is such a great tool that a lot of people don’t know is there.”

Hickey worked with local fimmaker Roger Maunder on the project.

“He taught the course, helped with the movie,” says Hickey. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”

The story of “Our House” revolves around a couple who arrive in a new town. They move into an old house, where strange things start to happen.

“I’m from Grand Falls, I wanted to incorporate something from my childhood,” says Hickey. “Kid ghosts are always kind of scary. It is always that little bit more creepy when it is a little kid, so I took that story and made up a ghost story from that anchor. It was inspired by that, but there were some changes to it, to make it different.”

The film is now finished, and Hickey plans on a local screening sometime over the next few months. After that, he will submit the film to festivals.

“Where it is a bit of a ghost story, there are not just local, independent and short festivals, but a lot of genre festivals,” he says. “Where it is a ghost story, that can open a few more doors.”

Hickey is hopeful that “Our House” will be a step towards getting more movies made.

“Telling more ghost stories is my intention,” he states. “That is why I got into filmmaking. I really like horror movies, and the ones I wanted to see with a certain style weren’t actually there. There is still that door for me to get in and make the one that I want to see. “Our House” is a start.”

Hickey is coy on how the movie ends, however.

“It’s weird talking about the story without giving too much away,” he says. “It’s only a ten minute movie. I don’t want to spoil everything for everybody!”

For details on the launch, you can follow @hickeycommamike on Twitter.

Friday 13 July 2012

Great feedback from tonight's sold out "Ghosts of Signal Hill" performance

The show this evening generated a few comments on Twitter:

Amelia ‏@nutmeg74
@DaleJarvis: Ghosts of Signal Hill is the best of @SJHauntedHike, especially the ambiance inside the Queen's Battery. Awesome job tonight!

Rhonda McMeekin ‏@rhondamcmeekin
Amazing time at Ghosts of Signal Hill! @DaleJarvis never disappoints!

Thanks! If you haven't seen the show, advance tickets are available from the Signal Hill Visitor Centre on Signal Hill Road. The show runs every Friday and Saturday evening at 8pm till September 15th, which just happens to be the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Signal Hill.

Carved by the Sea - Storytelling and Traditional Music in Bay Roberts, this Sunday

Carved by the Sea - Storytelling and Traditional Music in Bay Roberts
Sunday, July 15, 2012, 2pm 

As part of the Holdin' Ground Festival in Bay Roberts, the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation presents "Carved by the Sea - Storytelling and Traditional Music" with UK storyteller Red Phoenix, performing along with local musicians, at the Bay Roberts Tourism Pavilion, on the Veteran's Memorial Highway, Sunday July 15th. 2pm.

Terrie Howey, better known as storyteller Red Phoenix, has been performing and facilitating performance workshops since 1992, and has been the Artistic Director of Red Phoenix Storytelling and Productions since its founding in 2007. Terrie founded Red Phoenix Storytelling and Productions to share her love of storytelling and make it more accessible to a wider range of audiences, whilst supporting and developing up and coming tellers.

Terrie is an Arts Award Advisor for Trinity College London, an international initiative for young people 7 - 25yrs to gain qualifications and gain experience in the arts. Terrie’s career has led her to perform and lead workshops all over the world, and she creates her own original tales as well as researching and drawing from historical sources.

Check out her website at

Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Lady in Blue - A Fairy Story from Spaniard's Bay

Near Seymours Road, in Spaniard’s Bay, off in a field, away from the road, there was once an old stone walkway. Part of the path was lost when new houses were constructed along the road, but the sections further out still exist, known to those who grew up in the area.

One of those locals is Sheena Butler, who has an interest in local stories of the unexplained. According to Butler, that track up behind Seymours Road goes by the name of “The Fairy Path.”

Around 2000, Butler and some friends went out picking berries.

“We were picking partridge berries just in the field across from my house,” says Butler. “It was just a stone path that was called the fairy path. I don’t know why it was called the fairy path, it is just what it has always been called.”

The berry-pickers looked up, and there, a fair distance off, they saw a woman.

“She was dressed all in blue,” remembers Butler. “She was an older woman; she had on a blue dress. She was also picking berries.”

The woman was far away, but they could tell she was an older woman with greying hair. She had on something that resembled an old sundress.

“Are there any good berries up there?” they yelled out to the woman.

“She never answered, she never looked, she just went on doing her own thing,” says Butler.

A moment later, the woman straightened up somewhat, and struggled up over the hill.

“It honestly looked like she had a bad back,” recalls Butler. “She was hunched over, and when she stood up, she didn’t stand up straight, she had that hunch.”

“We said, ‘let’s go see what she was looking at’ and we went up over the hill,” says Butler.

When they got up over the hill, there was not a soul to be seen.

“It was as if we had been talking to nobody,” says Butler. “She went up over the hill, and we never saw her after.”

Locals called her “The Lady in Blue” and the berry-pickers that day were not the first to see her.

“She has always been around the fairy path,” explains Butler. “We don’t know her name, we don’t know where she came from, but she is there.”

Other people have had strange experiences along the fairy path. One dark night, around the time the berry-pickers met the Lady in Blue, another group went out along the path. They took a candle, and were sitting around, telling stories.

The candle started to flicker, and then went out. Thinking it was just a breeze, the friends lit the candle once more, only to have it go out a second time. Then, they heard movement in the bushes behind them, off to one side.

The movement stopped. Then, on the opposite of the storytellers, there was a movement in those bushes. Listening, the group then heard what sounded like creepy, eerie laughter off in the bushes.

The friends took off back to the safety of their houses, leaving the darkened path to its fairy owners.

If you have heard a similar story from Spaniard’s Bay, or know of another Newfoundland and Labrador location that is fairy-haunted, email me at

(photo courtesy Frank Kovalchek / CC BY)

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Buried Treasure, Moving Rocks, and a Ghostly Guardian

The richly-named Money Point is located about a mile from the now-abandoned community of Ireland’s Eye, at the southwest end of Trinity Bay. There, a large pile of rocks is said to hide a fabulous treasure.

An old story from Ireland’s Eye tells that there was money buried on the point, a treasure of some sort. The rocks are said to look like they were put there by hand.

In a recorded interview done in the late 1960s, an Ireland’s Eye man remembered the pile of rocks, and a strange story associated with it.

“They had to be put there, carried there,” said the man. “There is no place around where the rocks are piled up, like they are at Money Point.”

“I’ve heard them say that a person was digging for it one time,” he remembered, “and when then went back in the morning, the rocks would be placed back again. They’d go up and move them one day, and when they’d go up the next day the rocks would be back.”

I love it when I hear pirate treasure stories, particularly ones I have not come across before. There are certainly no shortage of them in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are rumoured treasures buried on Signal Hill in St. John’s, on Tracey Hill in Red Bay, and at Gallows Cove in Torbay. Each of those have a ghostly guardian of one sort or another, ranging from a headless African pirate to a ghostly dog.

What is equally interesting is that there are also a number of Money Point legends, from all over the North Atlantic. There is a Money Point in County Cork, Ireland, and another Money Point in Chesapeake, Virginia on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The Virginian Money Point was named, as local folklore goes, for treasure the pirate Blackbeard buried off of the shores of Money Point.

Yet another Money Point is located near Ingonish, Nova Scotia. It was named after a cove where a French galleon was purportedly wrecked. For years after, gold coins kept washing ashore, giving rise to a local legend spread by old-timers. They said that one could stick a piece of tar on the bottom of a long stick, and pluck up gold and silver coins close to the shoreline.

Legends move and blend together, so I am curious about the Trinity Bay Money Point story. Is it possible that the early settlers in Ireland’s Eye, moving in from Conception Bay and from Dorset, England, brought stories of ghostly pirates and buried gold with them? Or is there truly something hidden under that strange pile of stones?

One Trinity Bay story tells of a man named Paddy who heard about the Money Point treasure, and travelled to Ireland’s Eye with a metal detector. Apparently, he left empty handed, and no money was ever found. So, if the treasure remains hidden, you might still have the opportunity to strike it rich.

Just beware of the ghost, and the moving rocks.

photo: stone wall, English Harbour, Trinity Bay, taken by Dale Jarvis.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

The Ferry Captain: A Ghost Story from Trinity, Trinity Bay

In the early part of the twentieth century, an outport girl named Grace moved from her community to work in the town of Trinity, Trinity Bay. While there, she lived with her aunt and uncle.

One evening in February, the aunt went up to a friend’s house and stayed to tea. When she went up, she did not intend to stay, so did not have a light with her.

Time passed, and when Grace came home from work, it was quite dark

“Go up and carry the light and fetch your aunt home,” said her uncle.

It was a slippery night, with ice snow on the ground, but off she set with flashlight in hand. Around 7 o’clock, she came to the house with a white picket fence where her aunt had stayed for tea. As soon as she came in through the gate in the fence, a strange thing happened.

Grace heard a little noise, and she looked toward the woodhouse. She turned her flashlight toward the woodhouse to see if there was anybody there, but she saw no one. Then she turned the light onto the fence.

There, the other side of the fence, she saw something like a man’s face and figure, with the body resting its arms on the face. She could not see the lower part of its body, but she saw that face, with long white whiskers. The figure wearing an old-fashioned with a shiny bill, like style of hat a captain might wear.

Grace managed to get into the house, and when she came in, the aunt saw immediately that there was something wrong.

“What’s wrong with you maid?” the aunt asked. “Who was chasing you? What did you see?

“I didn’t see anybody living,” said the girl, after a pause.

“I suppose you didn’t see anybody dead then,” said the aunt, but the girl made no response.

The two women said their farewells and left. They came down the path, and as they did, Grace flashed her light up and down the fence.

“Put your light down on the ground,” said the aunt, uncomprehending. “That’s where i’m going to tread!”

“When I get up over this hill, I’m going to tell you something,” said Grace.

True to her word, when they got up over the hill, and away from the property, Grace described what she had seen, down to the whiskers and the billed cap.

“But it was nothing living, with such a strange face,” said Grace.

The next day the aunt decided to find out if someone had died in that house, or if there was a similar story. She went over to a neighbour and asked who had died in the house.

“Oh yes,” said the neighbour. “Old Bobby died there.”

The aunt asked what he had looked like.

“Well, he had long white whiskers and anytime you saw him, he had a cap on,” said the neighbour. “He used to run the ferry that went up the Southwest Arm, and when he was an old man he went to live with his daughter. Every evening, just about 7 or 7:30, he’d go outdoors and lean on the fence and look up the arm, just to check on the ferry.”

(Photo 11.05.008, View of Fisher's Cove, pre September 1902, courtesy of The Geography Collection, Coll - 137Arranged and Described by Linda White and Claire Jamieson, Archives and Special Collections Division, Memorial University of Newfoundland,  September 1999.)

Thursday 31 May 2012

Daring escapes, ghost ships, and buried treasure: Ghosts of Signal Hill opens June 1st

Daring escapes, murdered pirates, ghost ships, buried treasure, tragic drownings, and headless phantoms: it is all in a night’s work at Signal Hill National Historic Site.

From the creator of the award-winning St. John’s Haunted Hike comes an evening of ghost stories and strange adventures by lamplight inside the historic Queen’s Battery. Find out what happens on Newfoundland’s most historic hill, after the lights go out.

June 1st to September 15th, 2012
Every Friday and Saturday Night at 8pm

Tickets $15 ($10 for kids 12 and under) Cash sale only
Buy your tickets and meet your guide at the Visitor Centre.

For more info, visit or look for Ghosts of Signal Hill on Facebook

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Man in the Meadow: A Ghost Story from Fogo Island, Newfoundland

Recently, I came across an old story from Fogo Island which concerns a spot named Banks (or possibly Banks’s) Meadow.

Fogo native Barry Penton informs me that Banks was a Fogo name in the 1800s. According to the Anglican Church Diocesan Records, William Banks, a bachelor of Fogo, married spinster Jane Waterman at St. Andrews Church in Fogo on the 14th of April, 1844.

“The last record I have of is John Banks in 1883, who was a planter in Back Cove,” says Penton. Near Back Cove, there is also a Banks Cove. And given the family was in that area, it is likely the meadow was named after a member of the Banks clan.

“It's the field down below Brimstone Head,” says Penton. “Locals refer to it as Second Field.”

One evening in the early part of the twentieth century, a girl and her aunt were going to a meeting. Flashlight in hand, they followed the path up through Banks Meadow.

When they got part way across the meadow, they saw a man. He had a little short coat on, like men wore at that time. As it was a cold night, he had the collar turned up.

“There’s a man there,” said the girl, pointing him out to the aunt.

“Yes,” she said.

When they drew near him, the girl spoke to the man.

“Good night, sir,” she called out, but he did not answer. The girl made to step one way, and he stepped back. The women passed by, and the girl looked behind them. The man was still there, standing still. She looked back again, and he was still there.

When the girl looked back a third time, the man had vanished from the middle of the meadow.

“Aunt Liz, that man is gone!” she cried.

“Oh no!” said the aunt.

“Oh yes he is, he’s gone,” said the girl. At that point, the two women made their way through the meadow, as fast as they could.

At that time, many people in the cove claimed to have seen the man in the meadow. It was said that he was more like a shadow than a man. Even those who got close to him could not recognize any features.

One night in winter the same girl was heading home, alone. The snow lay crisp and undinted. As the girl came up to the meadow, there was not a footprint to be seen in the snow.

She could see the lights in the houses of the cove, and could hear dogs barking, but for some strange reason, she couldn’t find the path to get home.

No matter which way she turned, she couldn’t seem to find the path across the meadow. She turned around and went back to the place she had started from. Then she set out a second time, with the same result. When she got to the meadow, there was not a footprint anywhere, and no matter what she tried, she couldn’t find the path.

The girl went back down to her cousin’s house instead.

“You’ve got to go home with me tonight,” she told the cousin. “I can’t get home!”

The cousin walked her back up to the meadow, and when they got there, they found that the snow was all trampled to pieces, just to one side of the path.

When the girl looked, she saw a set of man’s footprints alongside her own.

“It don’t look like I’m the only one out tonight,” said the girl. “There’s someone gone astray there.”

The cousin got the girl home safely, and she put the incident out of her mind. A week later, however, she was visiting the home of the only woman in the cove to have a radio. A group had gathered to listen to the radio, and were telling stories.

The group started talking about a man who got lost coming up across the meadow the week before. He had crossed it many times, but nothing strange had ever happened before.

The girl asked when he had gotten lost, and discovered he had tried to cross it just before she had.

“He wasn’t the only one,” she told the crowd, and then shared her strange tale.

“There was something there,” she said. “I couldn’t get home.”

The girl’s father told her that there had been a grave there on the meadow at one point, but that nothing remained to mark it.

If you know a story about Banks Meadow, or have heard of the ghost on the path, write to me at

Monday 28 May 2012

Look out! Storytellers with guns! Ghosts of Signal Hill black powder training.

The St. John's Haunted Hike, in partnership with Parks Canada, is pleased to be running "Ghosts of Signal Hill" for its second season.

"Ghosts of Signal Hill" is an evening of ghost stories, historical tales and strange adventures, all recounted by the dashing Lieutenant Ranslaer Schuyler by lamplight inside the historic Queen’s Battery. Find out what happens on Newfoundland’s most historic hill, after the lights go out! The show opens this Friday, June 1st, at and runs every Friday and Saturday at 8pm until September 15th. Check out the website or Facebook page for more details.

This year, our brave storytellers (that's Jed Baker above, on the left) took part in a black powder training workshop led by Parks Canada's Robin Martin (on the right). It gave us a more familiarity with the weapons of the age, and a better sense of the challenges faced by the soldiers of yesteryear.  It was a particularly windy day on the Hill the day of the training, which made firing the flintlock muskets in particular a little more tricky than usual.

To see Chris Hibbs in action with the Snider-Enfield, check out the video on YouTube. Turn your speakers down unless you want to experience what the wind was like that day!

Friday 25 May 2012

The St. John's Haunted Hike - 15 years of spooking tourists

This Sunday, May 27th, 2012, the St. John’s Haunted Hike returns to the streets of the capital city. When I look back, it is amazing that 15 years have passed since I started the Hike. We’ve already had a few group bookings this year for visiting conferences and student groups.  Fingers are crossed that the good weather continues, though the Hike is one of the only businesses in town that benefits from dismal, foggy weather!

New this year, I am expanding the “Ghosts of Signal Hill” show to two nights, Friday and Saturday. We sold out almost every night of the show last year, so this year the number of shows has been doubled. Our final performance on September 15th will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Signal Hill.

We’ve had some great storytelling talent on the Hikes over the years.  Steve O’Connell and Dave Walsh return with yours truly for the Sunday to Thursday night walks, while Jedediah Baker and Chris Hibbs will join me on Signal Hill. The Haunted Hike alumni include Dr. Mark Scott, Gabriel Newman of the Ghost Tours of Vernon and Danielle Irvine, who this summer will be directing “Pride and Prejudice” on Prince Edward Island (still no word on if it will feature zombies).

If you are on twitter, you can now follow the Hike @sjhauntedhike 

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Funding approved to support storytelling in Newfoundland.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (NLAC) has awarded $125,000 to 14 professional festivals from across the province through its Professional Festivals Program.

The program supports festivals of all artistic disciplines. Grants help support costs related to artist fees, technical costs, venue rental, administration costs, workshop sessions and travel expenses. This year, the festivals that received funding include two which celebrate the role of storytelling in Newfoundland culture.

The first is the St. John's Storytelling Festival, a week-long festival celebrating the art of storytelling in our province. Activities will include workshops for artists and the public, school visits, evening concerts, and free public performances.

The NLAC also funded Trails, Tales, and Tunes in Norris Point. The festival's primary mandate is to promote the arts, culture, and heritage of the Gros Morne area and the province. This is accomplished through numerous events that include music, dance, writing, craft demonstrations, music workshops, storytelling, and more.