Because today is Halloween, I thought I’d share some comments on a book I picked up a few weeks ago that seems fitting for the occasion. Spooky Canada: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings and Other Local Lore (Insiders’ Guide 2007), is a diverse collection of Canadian folklore as retold by S.E. Schlosser. There are 30 stories in all and each of the country’s provinces is represented, with tales from Quebec and the Maritimes predominating in number. The illustrations by Paul Hoffman nicely complement the tales and among the graphics is a map pinpointing the local area associated with each story.
Many of these are traditional tales that harken back to much earlier days when the vastness of Canada was first being explored and settled. So, the book echoes the history of some of the regions. Pioneers and native people experienced a life of relative isolation that, while full of virtues, can also prey on the sensibilities, especially during the harsh winters featured prominently in many of the stories. It’s clear that Schlosser has kept her ear to the ground in collecting and recounting these tales of ghosts, spirits and general spookiness, which come across as though the narrator is speaking around a cozy fire with the reader among the listeners huddled closely.
If you can’t locate the book, parts of many of these stories can be found on the American Folklore website, which Schlosser maintains and which contains a wide compendium of folklore, including an extensive section on Canadian folklore.