Wednesday 28 January 2015

The White Woman of Arnold's Cove

Placentia Bay has a fine tradition of ghostly legends, and one of the most poetic comes from the community of Arnold's Cove. It incorporates three well-known, recurring themes in ghostlore; that of the lost lover, that of the lady in white, and that of the anniversary type of haunting where an event happens every year on the same date.

Sometime in the late 1800s there were two young people who fell wildly in love. A wedding date was eventually scheduled for November 23rd. In a small community, a wedding was a cause for celebration, and all hands were excited.

The young man was, like most men in Arnold's Cove, a fisherman. He would often be gone for months at a time without anyone hearing from him. This particular year the young lover left in August but he promised his love that he would return in time for the wedding.

Months passed without any word of his whereabouts returning to the town. November arrived and plans for the wedding continued. But when November 20th and then 21st came and passed, it was assumed by everyone in the town that he was not going to be back in time for the ceremony. The bride to be however had the utmost faith in her groom. She swore up and down that he would return in time to marry her.

The morning of the wedding day arrived, still with no groom. The girl remained sure he would be true to his word and began to prepare herself. She donned her dress and shoes, and just as she was adjusting her veil, she looked out the window.

There, sailing into the harbour, was the young man's ship. The community breathed a collective sigh of relief and the girl sent her father down to the to the wharf to collect the groom and take him to the church.

She was almost ready to leave for the church when her father returned with tears in his eyes and grim news. The vessel had been caught in a storm and her promised one had drowned at sea.

At first the girl would not believe her father's words. She cried out that he would return, and that she would be married that day. She left her house, still wearing her wedding dress, and ran towards the harbour. From there she ran across the beach, through the woods, and towards a cliff overlooking the ocean.

The weeping bride stood there overlooking the cruel seas crying out the name of her beloved.

Finally, the poor maid realized he was fated never to return. In true melodramatic fashion, she flung herself off the cliff and plummeted to her tragic death.

The story of course does not end there. Not content to throw herself off the cliff once, our heroine returns every year, on the anniversary of her death, to the cliff where she met her untimely end. Or so goes the local folklore of Arnold's Cove.

Her ghost wanders the cliff, dressed in her wedding dress and veil, weeping and wailing through the afterlife, pining away for her lost love. Known locally as "The White Woman", the tradition maintains that her ghostly self has been spotted by many and that her eldritch wailing has been heard by even more.

While the story may be based on some real event which was passed down and embellished over the years, the motif of a lover (or lovers) jumping to a tragic death is a common motif in local legends around the world.  So is the White Woman real? The only way to find out is to make a trip to Arnold's Cove next November 23rd and see for yourself.