Friday, October 31, 2014

The Lansdowne Letters: Things That Go Bump in the Night

It's Friday, which means that I'm sharing
more of my father's long ago misadventures 
in Lansdowne House in Northern Ontario.

Since it's Halloween,
I thought it would be fun to share
an experience my father wrote
about on Monday, October 10, 1960.

I'll set the scene by having you imagine
two grown men sharing a small bedroom
in a two-room cottage,
on a cold, bright moonlit night
in the far and isolated north.

Dad's side of the bedroom
was on the left.  

Uno's was on the right,
with the table and the typewriter 
they used in the middle.
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

In my father's words:
"The most amusing happened last night. 

"It is amusing to look back on,
but I must confess that I was scared silly
when it was taking place. 

"It all started about two o’clock in the morning,
when I woke from an uneasy sleep,
with the realization that Uno wasn’t in the bedroom. 

"Just about the time that I woke up,
Uno gave a sort of half scream, half yelp,
and came running in from the front room
to wake me up and tell me
that a strange light was shining in the front window. 

"I just laughed at him
and was going to tell him to stop being foolish,
when damned if I didn’t see a light
shining in the bedroom window above my bed. 

"Right then, I lost some of my self-confidence,
but not to the extent that I didn’t immediately
run outside to see who was outside.

"I lost a little more of my confidence
when I couldn’t see anyone or anything –
only a very bright moon
which was making everything bright as day.

"It was deathly calm when I went out,
but while I was prowling around outside,
there was a sudden loud puff
and the wind started to blow like blazes.

"Immediately the wind charger started to turn
and set up one hell of a racket. 

"Right then a black cloud sailed across the sky
and completely obliterated the moon. 

"I came in very promptly,
considerably less confident than when I had gone out.

"Well, I smoked a cigarette and talked to Uno
and tried to compose myself and assure myself
that there was really nothing the matter. 

"After the cigarette, we put out the lights,
and settled down for the rest of the night,
as skittish as two old maids
that think there is a man under their bed. 

"Then, of course, I started to hear noises;
and, any that I happened to miss myself,
Uno heard and informed me of them.

"I never knew that a house 
could creak and groan
as much as our cottage did last night. 
I wasn’t enjoying myself 
one little bit. 

"Just as I was drifting off 
to sleep again, I'll be damned
if I didn't see that light 
shining in my window again.

"I immediately rushed to the window 
and looked out ---
and saw a face looking in at me!!!!

"I let out a yelp, 
pulled down the blind,
jumped back into bed, 
lit another cigarette,
and thought about 
the night’s happenings.

"Of course, I had to recall 
just at this time
that the old Indian graveyard,
an island attached to ours 
by a sand bar,
was supposed to be haunted
by the ghost of an old Indian.   

Map of Lansdowne House
by Don MacBeath:
7 ~ Dad and Uno's Cottage
8 ~ R. C. Church
9 ~ R.C. Mission
10 ~ Wind Charger
11 ~ Indian Graveyard

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Location of the Old Indian Graveyard (11)
from a map drawn by Donald B. MacBeath, 1960

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

"Now, I don’t believe in ghosts
(I keep telling myself),
but there is just enough
of the good Scottish superstition in my makeup
to entertain such possibilities right then. 

"Then someone or something rapped on the window
across the room, and the front door started to rattle. 

"Uno had his head under the pillows at this time
and was no help or moral support at all. 

"I got up enough courage to jump up
and make a wild grab for the light switch to turn it on. 
The darned thing wouldn’t go on!!! 

"Just then, there was another rap or two on the window
and the dogs started to howl,
and the strong wind started the church bell ringing. 
That did it!!!! 

"I was terrified by this time
and just jumped back into bed,
and buried my head beneath the clothes,
and lay there shivering. 

"Well, finally the dogs stopped howling,
the bell stopped ringing,
and my heart stopped pounding,
and I got up enough courage
to get up and try the lights again. 

"I discovered that somehow
the bulb had gotten unscrewed. 
I screwed it in and turned it on,
and felt considerable better. 

"When I got the lights back on and looked at Uno,
he was sitting up in bed chewing his finger nails
and was as white as a sheet. 
He is part Ojibway Indian,
and apparently the Indians are
even more superstitious than the Scots.

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

"Well, by this time
it was about four o’clock 
in the morning,
and we were wide awake,
so we got up and made coffee 
and read till about five-thirty,
when we finally felt 
calm enough to settle down
and go back to sleep. 

We slept till about ten this morning.

"I realize now that when I looked out the window,
I had’t seen anyone 
looking in at me. 
It was just a reflection of my own face. 

"I also realize that the wind had started the church bell,
and that in all likelihood,
the bell had started the dogs howling,
because it usually does.

"Also the noises, rappings on the window,
and rattling of the front door
can all be explained by the wind or other natural causes;
but I can’t for the life of me explain that damned light. 

"It wasn’t a flashlight, or the moonlight,
because it was too bright for either.
Besides it was the wrong color
for either the moon or a flashlight. 

"It was sort of a very bright blueish white light
and seemed to dance around outside the window. 
It looked a little bit like St. Elmo’s fire,
but that usually occurs on metal surfaces,
and our cottage is of wood construction. 

"If any of you have any suggestions as to what it might be,
I would appreciate hearing about them."

Better by Daylight

Roman Catholic Church

Dad and Uno's cottage,
overshadowed by the
wind charger

Father Ouimet's
Mission House
(very much enlarged from an old, Ouimet photo)
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue ~ All Rights Reserved

It's half a century later,
and no one knows what 
my father and Uno experienced
that long ago night.

I will say this,
my father was every inch a superstitious Scot,
and he was exquisitely attuned to the unseen.
And I am every bit his daughter!  LOL!

Stay safe this Oidhche Shamhna,
and watch out 
for things that go bump in the night!

Till next time!


© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


  1. haha where are minds can take us sometimes with just a little help from the creeks and the other noises of the night

    1. The human mind is pretty amazing, especially the imagination part. Happy Halloween, Pat!

  2. A fitting Halloween post of things that go awry in the night.

  3. Did you know that a creaking door sounds just like two murders with an axe??? Happy Halloween :)

    1. LOL, Keith! Those of us with big imaginations are cursed! Or maybe I should say lead more interesting lives! Have a good Halloween!

  4. That was scary. a tale for Halloween:)
    faces in window.. odd lights.. creaky sounds..
    At least they had each other for company.. could you imagine being alone and going through a night like that!!

    1. Actually, I've experienced a night by myself like that ~ different time and place ~ but I've rarely been more terrified. Perhaps I'll write that story for my blog sometime. I hope you're having a great Halloween. I can imagine that it gets quite wild and weird in parts of London and vicinity!

  5. What a wild and crazy night! Funny how things play on our imaginations on "certain" dates!

    1. Isn't it funny!? I'm sure that you are looking forward to a great Halloween. It is always a fun day and night! Take care!

  6. Spooky! Glad your Dad had company. I would have brought those dogs in too!
    Happy Halloween, Louise!

    1. You wouldn't have brought in those dogs, Terry! Trust me! I'll have to do a post on Indian dogs. Happy Halloween back at you!

  7. I would have been scared at the time too. UFO's were the scary thing of that time.

    1. Nothing would surprise me, Dolorah! Actually a UFO something is not a bad idea. My self-appointed godfather absolutely believed in UFOs and he was a scientist with top secret ties to the Canadian government. Have a happy Halloween!

  8. That's a great letter. I enjoy these posts so much. Do you have any thoughts on the origin of the light?


    1. Thanks, Janie! Delorah, in her comment above, reminded me of an experience a sister-friend in California had with a UFO sighting. It started with seeing a light shining through her bedroom window, and she observed a UFO for quite a while. And she was terrified. It's not outside the realm of possibility ~ so right now I'm thinking UFO ~ that or ball lightning. But my dad was never able to explain it. Happy Halloween!

  9. Oooooh....what a spooktacular post for this day! How amazing that you have a story like this to tell. LOVE IT! Happy Halloween, Louise!

    "Uno had his head under the pillows at this time and was no help or moral support at all." Bahahaha...that line is too funny!

  10. It makes me laugh too, Martha ~ especially knowing my dad and Uno. My dad really was a scary cat in many ways ~ or maybe I should say acutely aware of the unseen and possessed of a wild imagination. Guess what I inherited from him? LOL! The deeper I get into Dad's letters as an adult, the more I realize we were alike. Everyone thinks I am my Mom's daughter ( and I do look very much like her); but I am absolutely my father's daughter. Happy Halloween!

  11. Loved this post Louise - Dad always loved a scary story :) Happy Halloween - love Barb

    1. Hey Barb! Dad did love scary stories! And he could never really decide they weren't true. Do you remember riding with him over the Westport road and having to pass the spot where the ghost car was? That was always fun late at night when there was no moon! Happy Halloween to you too!

  12. When your dad talked about seeing a face in the window, I guessed it to be a reflection, so it was rather neat to find out that he came to that conclusion in the morning. As for superstitions, my mother, a Newfoundlander, had a long list of things we must or mustn't do: never, ever put new shoes on the table, never meet someone in the stairs, be happy if you have a scary dream but really worry if you have a good dream.. funny they just did a little segment on superstitions on CBC and linked many back to fishermen.. all to say it was interesting to read that Scots are superstitious as well. I sort of suspected :) This post was right up with the others in this series. Kudos to you for the time and effort invested in bringing a piece of your past to life!

  13. Thank you for your lovely and encouraging comment, BJC! Newfoundlanders do have a lot of superstitions! But I bet that if you trace them back, you will find something that led to those superstitions that makes sense. I enjoyed my time in Newfoundland as much as I enjoyed my time in the North. I hope that you are having a happy Monday.

  14. Perfect story Louise! Again I say this after reading your dad's letters, what a treasure to have. I know that the main way of communicating back then, but he must have had an inkling that if these well-written letters were kept they would SO much be appreciated by the 'kids' later on in life. I wonder what he would think that people all over the world are reading them? Your thoughts......

    1. He'd be tickled, I'm sure. Although I sure got him in a lot of trouble over these letters when I was ten ~ tee hee! I'm glad that you enjoyed the story! Take care!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.