Annapolis Valley ghost walks celebrate area's rich history
The towns of the Annapolis Valley are steeped in folklore and, every October, restless souls return to walk the streets like clockwork.
These men and women are haunted by tragedy and lost love and you can learn about them on the Valley Ghost Walk.
A chill in the air looms over Windsor, N.S., as day turns to night. It’s a historic town, full of stories and characters that return once in a while to share their tales.
On the Jerome the Gravekeeper tour in Windsor, Jerome and his friends bring hundreds of years of history to life as they lead a group of folklore enthusiasts for a night of haunts.
“The next day I saw a father beat with years, aside a grey haired mother whose eyes were bathed in tears,” says Jeremy Novak, who plays Jerome. “They sought, and found their only son. He escaped the funeral pyre, but they lost their home, like thousands more in the fatal Windsor fire.”
A great many of the stories are told by new Scotland's newest residents: the French, Scottish, and Irish, and how their welcome to the Annapolis Valley was plagued by death.
Novak says the charm of a walking tour can both educate and entertain people on the region's trials and tribulations.
“We live in the most historically rich amazing area in all of North America, this Annapolis Valley,” Novak says. “Jerome says it on the ghost walk mutiple times over, but the thing is that it's true, you get multiple layers of the history.”
“Flora” recounts the tragedy of some Highland soldiers who fell victim to a Yankee trap.
"Under cover of darkness those Yankees removed the floor boards from the covered bridge, and so, when the Highlanders crossed over in the early morning gloom, they fell through, to the icy water below,” Flora says. “Thirty-two Scots were killed that day.”
“George” was a fugitive from justice.
“I started to leave Ellershouse and, well, the authorities caught me on the railroad track on the way out,” George said. “I declared I was not a murderer, it was Joseph Fisher and Edgar McCarthy, but only I was taken to jail, only I was tried in court, only I was found guilty and sentenced to hang.”
Another layer of history is the story of Sam Slick, a character created by Nova Scotia politician, and Windsor native Thomas Haliburton.
His Clock-maker series appeared in the Novascotian newspaper.
As a politician, Haliburton used Slick's character as an outlet to share his thoughts on the British, Americans and Nova Scotians.
“You think Nova Scotia should be part of the United States of America? I'm thinking you should run for politics Mr. Slick?,” says one character to Slick.
“Oh now, sir, you are barkin’ up the wrong tree,” Slick says. “Politics take such a great deal of time.”
The tours are good for a few laughs, and old sayings that accompany tales of lost love, forerunners, and tragic events.
Jerome says whether you believe in ghosts or not, it's important to remember the past.
“We're all connected with the people who lived here and so when they pass on, how do we remember those people, what are their legacies?” Jerome says. “How are people going to remember you?”
These are words of reflection, from a wise ol' gravekeeper, who returns once in a while with his friends to share their haunting stories by candlelight.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.