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.)