Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ghost Ships True or False
Pat Cher

Numerous sightings of ghost ships along New Brunswick's Bay of Chaleur are part of the oral history of the area. Most people are skeptical about this unusual phenomena. Historian, W.F. Ganong suggests that it was merely a version of St El;mo's fire. Others have come up with similar explanations. 

The ships usually engulfed in flames are usually witnessed during a storm. It could happen in winter or summer. Former Bathurst mayor, Kevin Mann has seen it on two separate occasions. He even managed to take a picture of the burning three masted ship. The picture of the burning ship were featured in the local newspaper, the Northern Light.

In  Mi'kmaq Song,  I use my own experience with the Bay of Chaleur Ghost Ship. 

Many years ago, more than I want to admit, I was on a first date with a sweet acadian guy, Yoland. It was a foggy autumn night, made a little spookier by the fact that we lived across the street from the graveyard.

 He picked me up in his little panel truck and we headed away from town. I asked where we were going, but he wouldn't tell me, said it was a surprise. 

After about half an hour of driving, we turned down a lonely beach road. The fog lay low on the open fields on either side of the track. At the end of the road we reached a grassy bank which had been carved  by the vagaries of the sea. Below was the beach, and to my surprise, about twenty or so people gathered or walked about. Some talked in groups and others gazed out to sea.

My eyes went to sea to find what the source of what mesmerised a good group of them, and I was amazed at what I saw.

The outline of a galleon loomed not far from shore. No, it wasn't burning. It didn't move but seemed to be at anchor. It was too close to shore, too shallow, to anchor where it stood silent, not moving. 

Yoland and I went down to the beach and watched for awhile. It was a three masted ship, the prow raised slightly as it hovered majestically about forty yards from where we watched. Nothing else really happened. Some of the folks spoke to Yoland, they knew him, but there was nobody I knew. 

As we bumped along the road going back to the main highway, I asked him if anyone had ever tried to reach the galleon. He answered that yes they had, but when they rowed out, they found nothing there.

Since then, I've often wondered, what would have happened if I'd been alone when I found the ship. What might have happened had I rowed out to it? In Mi'kmaq Song, I explore the possibility of time travel. Why? I believe in ghost ships, how could I not? This sighting wasn't a fire, explained by gases and other phenomena. 

If the ghost ships visit from another time and place, what happens when they go back to their own time?

There are explanations, stories as to why the ghost ship appears. I chose to personalise the story of Blanche, a  young girl who was on her way to  her fiance. Her ship was captured by pirates and everyone was killed except Blanche ... In Mi'kmaq Song, I use the story as an entry point for Maggie, the heroine of my story. 

The first chapter of Mi'kmaq Song can be found here.

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