Tuesday 30 April 2013

Wicked new St. John's Haunted Hike art by Rayne Gallows

I spent last weekend at the Sci-Fi On The Rock 7 convention here in St. John's. It was great fun, and smashed its attendance records from previous years, with over 5000 people through the doors. One of the things I loved about it most was that I got to meet and chat with people I might not have otherwise - fans, lovers of ghost stories, and other artists and enthusiasts.

One of the vendors at the event was Rayne Gallows Art and Design, who were selling fan art and doing on-the-spot cartoons of conference goers. I liked their stuff, and at the end of the con, I asked them if they'd be interested in doing up a new piece for the St. John's Haunted Hike.

A day later, here it is! I'll be using it as the new avatar for the St. John's Haunted Hike twitter account and Facebook page, and I'm sure it will pop up in other places too. I'm tremendously pleased with the art, and with the quick turnaround time and pricing of Rayne Gallows. If you need something like this done, definitely check them out!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Reflections on Sci-Fi On The Rock 7 for Saturday

I had a fun day today at Sci-Fi On The Rock 7! The costumes were great, the crowd was impressive, and people seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously.

I sold bunch of books, and had great feedback from people who have been on the St. John's Haunted Hike, or who've read my books, or my column in the newspaper.  I had several people tell me how much they love the Hike, and had pictures taken with fans! Yay!

I've been letting people know that I'm running a contest this weekend. If you follow @dalejarvis on twitter or like my author facebook page, you will be entered to win a copy of "Haunted Waters".  And if you follow @sjhauntedhike or like the Hike's facebook page, you might win some free passes!  After the convention is over, I'll be taking all the new likes and follows and picking random winners. So start liking and following today!

I'll be back at SFOTR tomorrow, and will hosting the Paranormal Story Swap at 2pm. Hope to see some of you there, and I'll be signing books afterwards.

I've posted a bunch of pics into my "Pros, and Cons" facebook album, but one of the pics I like best is this one of steampunk aficionado Lilly Fisk, below! Great hat!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Gearing up for Sci-Fi On The Rock 7!

Sci-Fi On The Rock is Newfoundland's premiere science fiction & fantasy event. This is the 7th event, and it all takes place on April 26th to 28th of 2013, at The Holiday Inn, 180 Portugal Cove Road, St. John's. You can get more details on their website, Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

It's been years since I've been able to participate in the convention. I was at the very first event, seven years ago, but for the past few years I've been out of town each year on the dates when it has been held. I had great fun at Atlanti-Con last year in Corner Brook, and I'm pleased to be part of this year's SFOTR. I'll have a writer's table with my books for sale. Stop by, say hello, and enter to win free passes to the St. John's Haunted Hike.

I'll also be hosting a ghost story workshop on Sunday afternoon at 2pm in the Lucas room called The Paranormal Story Swap.

From tales told around the campfire, to stories read by flashlight under the covers at night, everyone loves a good ghost story. And as fun as they are to hear and read, they are equally fun to share. The Paranormal Story Swap is an interactive workshop for storytellers and lovers of terrible tales, of all ages and abilities. I will tell a few of my own stories of true hauntings in Newfoundland and Labrador, and then help you share your own. Bring your stories, your enthusiasm for the unexplained, and your deepest fears!

See you this weekend!

Ghost Guy & Iron Man, Atlanti-Con 2012

Thursday 18 April 2013

Ghostly Drummer of Turk's Gut

I tracked down this week’s story, one of Conception Bay’s most intriguing local legends, with the assistance of Bride Power of the Turk’s Gut Heritage Committee, which has been working hard to preserve the oral history and folklore of the community.

You will not find the community of Turk’s Gut on any modern map, so you will just to believe me when I tell you that it exists. If you do manage to find it, drive down the old road towards the water and pull over when you get to the very the last house. It is the only house there, a bright red one, so I am sure you will not miss it.

Beside the house there are a few trees, and under their branches, hidden amongst the tall grass, there is long, flat stone. Stop there, and listen. For that flat stone marks the grave of the drummer of Turk’s Gut. And though he has been dead and buried for longer than anyone alive can remember, there are those who say his drumming has never ceased.

Exactly where the Drummer came from is something of a mystery. Some believe that the Drummer was a prisoner of war, while others hold that he arrived as a stowaway on a sailing ship. All that is known for certain is that one day in the early part of the 1800s, the Drummer simply appeared. He was dripping wet, as if the ocean had tried to swallow him down, found him inedible, and had spat him out onto dry land.

None of the good people of Turk’s Gut knew where the man had come from, nor did they know his true name. The man himself could offer little assistance, for he seemed to know just as little about his own identity as they did. It was clear that the man was suffering from some sort of amnesia. There was no doctor to provide assistance, and it was thought by the local people that he had suffered some sort of memory loss, perhaps due to a war injury.

While the stranger could not remember his name, or where he was born, or how he had arrived in Turk’s Gut, he did retain one impressive skill. He remembered how to play the drum. When one was placed in his hands, he played it with a skill that astonished all who heard him. Because he seemed to have no name of his own, the stranger was nicknamed “The Drummer” by the local residents.

The Drummer was taken in and shown great courtesy by a local family, the Simms. Over time, the Drummer was accepted as one of the community, and the sound of his drum became a part of the rhythm of local life. After living in Turk’s Gut for many years, the Drummer passed away. The Simms family buried the man on their property, and laid a long, flat stone over his grave to mark his final resting spot.

Eternal rest, however, seemed to elude the Drummer. After his death, ghostly hands could be heard beating on an invisible drum. Before long, stories began to spread along the coast that when people in the Drummer’s adopted home passed away, the Drummer could be heard for miles around.

The noise of the Drummer was heard only during the night, when all was quiet. It was as if he wanted no competition, so that there could be no mistaking his playing for what it was. It was also rumoured that on the eve of a local person's death the Drummer could be heard playing the drums under the windowsill of the person who was fated to die.

The long, flat rock that marked the Drummer’s grave was said to be located about seventy-five feet from where the Heritage House run by the committee now stands. So if you can find it, do pause for a moment beside that long, flat stone and listen, preferably in the evening, when all is quiet. Listen very carefully. If you hear the sound of a rhythm being tapped out on an invisible drum, it could be the Drummer, playing the music he loved so much in life. Or it could be a warning, a sign that someone you love, or even yourself, will be the next soul to join the Drummer beyond Death’s shadowy veil.

Interestingly, the nearby town of Brigus also claims a phantom drummer. The Brigus variant of the tale claimed that an English drummer had once made a promise to an old settler that the musician would drum the old man to his grave, and that he would also drum at the funerals of all his direct descendants.

Photo credit:  Splitting table on end of wharf, Turk's Gut.
Courtesy The Rooms Provincial Archives, VA 130-24.1
Photo by Charles C. Cousens,
July 1973, Charles C. Cousens fonds.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

The ghosts of "Chicago: The Musical"

For the past few weeks, I have been spending a fair bit of time at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s, in rehearsals for the upcoming TaDa! Events production of “Chicago: The Musical.”

Appropriately enough for a musical about murder, revenge, and adultery, there is a ghost story loosely associated with the show. The original Broadway production opened in 1975, running for several years. The show went through a couple incarnations, before being revived on Broadway in 1996, and a year later in the West End, London.

The 1997 London revival of “Chicago” took place at the the Adelphi Theatre. The theatre was rumoured to be haunted by the shade of the noted actor-manager William Terriss, owner of the Adelphi Theatre, and great friend of Henry Irving. Terris was murdered at the stage door in 1897 by a fellow actor and jealous rival, Richard Prince, who stabbed him three times with a dagger. Terris lived long enough to perish in the arms of his mistress, actress Jessie Milward.

“I’ll be back” were said to have been his final words.

True to his word, Terriss returned to haunt the backstage areas of the Adelphi Theatre. His ghost was first reported in 1928, when a stranger to the theatre saw a male figure in the laneway, a figure later identified as Terris from a photograph. Later, poltergeist activity was reported in the dressing room once used by Milward.

There are a few interesting bits of folklore surrounding the murder. One story relates that on the day previous to the killing, the actor’s understudy woke from a disturbing dream in which he had seen Terriss lying on the steps to the dressing room with a bloody, gaping chest wound. Another tale states that the murderer, Prince, was declared insane and spent the remainder of his life in the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, where he spent his remaining days producing plays featuring himself as the leading character, with the other inmates in supporting roles.

I don’t know of any murdered actors hanging around the Arts and Culture Centre, waiting to spook the cast and crew of the St. John’s production of “Chicago.” However, the Centre may have a ghost with a fondness for musical numbers.

A few years ago, I got an email from a woman by the name of Jaimie, who had been working in the basement of the building. At the time, Jaimie had been working in the archives on a project which involved a lot of trips back and forth through the collection.

“I've always found the basement to be a little creepy,” she described. “I can hear voices and whispering and little snatches of song and such sometimes, but always assumed that it was just activity carrying through the ductwork from the children's library, which is directly over my head, or the theatre.”

One day she heard the noises again, on a day when the theatre was empty and the children's library had closed.

“I was moving a truck of books from one area towards another area,” she said, “and I ended up passing by a whole bunch of shelving units (those neat rolling ones), when passing by one of the aisles between the units, I saw someone standing there.”

Jaimie turned her head, expecting to find a lost library patron; “as we occasionally do,” she explained. Instead of another person, she found herself looking at nothing but an empty aisle and a pale grey concrete wall.

“The person that I'd seen was wearing dark colours,” she described. “I had the impression of something resembling a nun's habit.”

The site of the current Arts and Culture Centre was formerly the site of the Shannon Munn Memorial Orphanage. In 1918, Sir Edgar Rennie Bowering and Mrs Mary Munn presented the property, to be known as the Shannon Munn Memorial, to the Church of England Orphanage.

Is the basement of the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre home to the ghost of a singing nun? If you’ve had a strange experience in the building, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be busy polishing my lines, and keeping my eyes open for ghosts, and for jealous rivals.

Dale Jarvis can be reached at info@hauntedhike.com
Tickets for "Chicago: The Musical" now on sale at the Arts and Culture Centre, St. John's
"Chicago: The Musical" Facebook event listing