On July 21st, I was in the Cowichan Valley for the filming of Harold Joe’s new documentary, Tzouhalem. Produced by Les Bland Productions and by Harold himself, the film will attempt to unpack the oral stories and urban legends surrounding the near-mythic figure of Chief Tzouhalem, who Mount Tzouhalem is named after.
What makes this project unique is that Harold is a Quamichan traditional Gravedigger. The Quamichan Nation acknowledges the existence of human and nonhuman spirit entities, so strict protocol is observed during funerals in order to avoid problems with either. Harold’s role often calls upon him to repatriate human remains and to help disembodied ancestors find peace.
Chief Tzouhalem had a complicated relationship with this same spirit world. So who better to investigate the legends surrounding him than someone familiar with his teachings? Tzouhalem was a member of the nation Harold is, as well, which means Harold has access to oral histories no other investigator would ever be able to acquire. Continue reading “Ghosts of Mount Tzouhalem and Stone Butter Church”
Chesterman Beach is a beautiful close-to-Tofino location everyone likes to surf and visit… While I was researching The Haunting of Vancouver Island I was told by a local woman she believed the beach was haunted. I included her comments in the chapter on Keeha Beach. Surprisingly, I recently read about a Spanish massacre on Chesterman Beach by the Tlaoquiaht and some other Nuu-chah-nulth allies. (Believe me, they had it coming.) As I read the story, I realized it seemed to validate the feelings of the woman I’d interviewed. Continue reading “The Haunting of Chesterman Beach”
Hi everyone, Here’s the poster for my reading at Vancouver Island University on October 27th at 5:30 pm. That’s the Friday of the Halloween weekend. The Arbutus Room is above the cafeteria in building 300 (campus map). For those of you unfamiliar with the Nanaimo Campus, the Cafeteria, Library, and Theatre are all situated around the central courtyard. This is not a closed event. Everyone who can make it is welcome! Continue reading “Vancouver Island University Book Reading & Launch”
The following is a short Nuu-Chah-Nulth legend from the 1895 German book ‘Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America’ by Franz Boas ~ Dietrich Bertz translation. What fascinated me the most about the Girl and the Ghosts tale was the similarities to many of the Celtic spirit-abduction stories:
Once upon a time there was an ill-tempered girl. When she was given food, she complained that it wasn’t good enough, and no one was able to satisfy her. One evening someone gave food to her parents and her, but she cried and wanted to have something better. When her parents had finished their meal and wanted to go to bed, she was still crying and didn’t want to go to bed. Her mother said, “Come to bed, my child! I cannot give you what you ask for.” Since she sat there obstinately, her parents finally went to bed by themselves and went to sleep.
After a while the woman woke up. She called her daughter, but received no answer, so she got up and looked for the girl, yet was unable to find her. Then she woke up her husband and asked him whether he had seen their daughter. He also did not know what had become of her, and all their searching was in vain.
Suddenly they heard the girl’s voice calling deep under the ground. “Oh, give me good food, only a very small piece!” Thereupon the father called the whole tribe together and they considered what to do to get the girl back.
They decided to dig after her. They dug ten deep holes, but were unable to reach her, so they gave up. When they had assembled for a council again, one of the men said, “The ghosts (of the dead) must have got her. You know, when a village is abandoned, the ghosts always come back and look at the houses. Let’s all move away! Two men shall hide, and when the ghosts come with the girl, they shall take her away with them.”
The people resolved to follow his advice. They loaded their canoes and set out. Two men hid on the roof-beam of a house. When it got dark the ghosts appeared. They lit a fire and sang and danced. The girl sat among them and the ghosts sang magic incantations in order to change her too, into a ghost, but these didn’t bring the desired effect. Before the men could rush at the girl, they were scented by the ghosts, who vanished into the ground with the girl.
So the two men went down to the river and washed themselves for four days. Then they returned to the house and hid again on the roof-beam. When it got dark, the ghosts came again to sing and to dance. This time they didn’t scent the men, who rushed upon the girl and seized her before the ghosts were able to pull her down into the depths with them.
This is the tale of the girl and the ghosts. If you are interested in more Vancouver Island ghost stories, check out my new book The Haunting of Vancouver Island.