Posts filed under ‘Newfoundland’

Fifth Annual Ghost Tour of Newfoundland Schools

Yikes! It’s the spookiest month of the year and I’m heading out to Newfoundland schools with The Hungry Ghosts of China, the Irish Banshees, the Jamaican Duppies and many other spine-tingling international ghosts.

This year I’ve added some local ghosts from The Ghosts of Baccalieu (, the book I made with Tricon Elementary last spring. I’ll be telling children stories about the Old Hollies, Jacky-lanterns, ghost ships and even a spectral Newfoundland dog. 

I’ll be in the Clarenville/Bonavista area October 21 to 24 and St. John’s from October 28 to 31.

On Sunday, October 27 I’m giving a special ghost presentation at The Rooms for children ages 5 to 11. It begins at 1:30 p.m. Come and meet the Scottish Silky ghost and explore the world of things that go bump in the night!

There’s still time to book me into your school. Send me an email at



October 4, 2013 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

Launching a New Book about Newfoundland Ghosts


June 13, 2013, will mark the official launch of The Ghosts of Baccalieu—a book I’ve been working on with Tricon Elementary School in Bay de Verde, Newfoundland. The students there collected local ghost stories from their family and friends and drew pictures of ghosts and we made a book!

Last November I spent two days a week in the school exploring all the aspects of making a book with the children: storytelling, writing, editing, proofreading, design and publishing. It didn’t take long for us to discover that Baccalieu Trail may be one of the most haunted places in Newfoundland — the Old Hollies scream in the wind, dead fishermen row a ghostly longboat through Baccalieu Tickle, restless spirits lurk on the lonely barrens, and a woman in white appears on a deserted highway at midnight. The students  collected some very spooky tales that have been told and told again through many generations.

The project was made possible by an ArtsSmarts grant from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (supported by the Department of Education through the Cultural Connections Strategy), as well as the enthusiastic support from the staff at Tricon Elementary and members of the community who passed on the stories. I really enjoyed my time at the school—the children gave me a rousing welcome every time I walked into a classroom. They were especially fond of the Silky Ghost, and kept begging me to bring her back.

The Silky Ghost will be “appearing” at the launch party at the school at     1 p.m. on June 13. Members of the public are welcome. There will be selected readings from the book and the students drawings and book covers designs will be on display.

But be warned: you have to drive across the barrens to get to the school and there are some very creepy ghosts that hang out there, including a blueberry-picking ghost, a ghost that floats into cars, and a ghost that once scared a man so badly he ran home barefoot and left his new shoes behind.

The Ghosts of Baccalieu is being published by Baccalieu Books, a publishing company I have started to showcase books made by children about Newfoundland.

To buy a copy of The Ghosts of Baccalieu, go to this website:


May 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm Leave a comment

Ghost Hunting in Newfoundland

I’m on the hunt for ghosts in Newfoundland and I’m hoping you can help me. Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you know someone who has? Can you tell a good ghost story? If so, I want to hear from you.

Every time I go to a school with the Silky Ghost and A World Full of Ghosts, the highlight of my presentation is when we turn down the lights and I tell two very scary Newfoundland ghost stories. The kids can’t get enough of Newfoundland ghosts, and neither can I. So I’m collecting ghost stories from all over Newfoundland to use as the basis of a book of ghost stories for children. I’m interested in traditional tales that have been told again and again as well as stories about apparitions that appeared to you last week: I want them all!

People have been seeing ghosts in Newfoundland for hundreds of years. Ghost ships sailing past foggy headlands, ghost lights dancing on the water, white figures flitting down the stairs, dark forms lying in wait on lonely paths. Since I already have quite a few stories from the Avalon Peninsula, I’m especially interested in ghosts from other parts of the province.

If you have a story, or know someone who does, email me at


The Silky ghost terrifying children with a Newfoundland ghost story.

June 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

The Uncanny Students at Holy Trinity Elementary, Torbay

Why uncanny? Because they were exceptionally well behaved, attentive and quiet while I was doing my presentations. So good it was almost ‒ well – unreal! Were they enchanted? I don’t know, but it was a pleasure to entertain four classes of Grade Threes last Friday.

Holy Trinity is one of my favourite schools to go to. They have asked me back every single time I do a tour in Newfoundland, and they always make me welcome. I was at the old school twice, and they told me it was haunted. The new school doesn’t seem to harbour any ghosts, but all those good children did seem a bit supernatural to me. The library is big and full of interesting books and cosy places to sit and read them. I noticed some inspiring quotes on the walls and strangely, a few black crows and a vulture perched on the bookcases.

I usually find that Grade Threes are the perfect age for my presentation, but with these children I caught myself wondering a couple of times if my stories were too scary. They gazed at me with their wide eyes, hanging on every word. One boy sat with his hands over his ears and a look of horror on his face, but I noticed he kept dropping his hands so he didn’t miss anything.

I heard that traffic was bad, because of construction, between Torbay and St. John’s, so I got there 45 minutes early, down almost empty roads. I stopped at a vegetable truck in the rain and filled my arms with huge carrots, parsnips, turnips and homemade raisin bread.

A good day. A fun day. But I still keep wondering, Why were they so good?

Thank you, Holy Trinity, and Happy Halloween to all.

Western Bay, Newfoundland, October 2011

October 23, 2011 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

The charming students in Arnold’s Cove

Sunrise over Conception Bay

Yesterday I packed up my ghost costume, my books and a lunch for the two-hour drive to Arnold’s Cove and Tricentia Academy. My first ghost presentation of the year! I drove along to the Isthmus, that stretch of land between the Avalon Peninsula and the rest of Newfoundland. A friend told me it is often wreathed in fog, just like the misty portal to the mythical Avalon.

Sure enough, there was fog as my car climbed up and down the hills. I drove in and out of it, and soon reached Arnold’s Cove.  Seventy-five students from grades 3 to 6 were waiting for me.

The Silky ghost was especially happy to get back to dusting children’s and entertaining them with her tales. She told of a little girl named Sally who lived in … Whitbourne, just down the road. Sally was a dreadfully messy child who never cleaned up after herself and whose mother was always nagging her to clean her room. When Sally finally did clean it up, the Silky came overnight and messed it up again, just for fun.  This is a popular story wherever I go, and the students at Tricentia were no exception.  I always try to make it local, but this time maybe I went too far?

“Sally who?” they called out. “What’s her last name?” I tried to explain that I would get in big trouble by revealing her identity, but they weren’t having it. “Tell me her father’s name,” said a boy as I left. “I’m sure I know her.” I didn’t tell him but I’m a little worried now.

If there is a little girl named Sally in Whitbourne, she may soon get a reputation she may not deserve.

Thank you to the students and teachers at Tricentia, for entertaining me in turn and making me so welcome.

October 15, 2011 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Newfoundland Ghost Tour: Year Three

There’s a crispness to the wind these days and the meadow grasses are starting to turn orangey-red. And out by the ocean path, where the broken old gravestones stand high above the rocky shore, strange shadows flit from stone to stone. I’m sure I heard footsteps behind me on the boardwalk this morning, but when I turned ‒ there was no one there.

Yes, it’s that spooky time of year again when phantoms are prone to wander, looking for unwary souls or ‒ looking for candy? You might hear an Irish Banshee wailing in the night, or (heaven forbid) hear the knock of the skeletal French Ankou at your door. Or you might see an Indian Brahmadaitya up a tree, or pass by an abandoned house where a Navaho Chindi is trapped forever.

The world is full of ghosts, and I’m happy to be bringing some of them to schoolchildren in Newfoundland during my Third Annual Ghost Tour, October 11‒21. I’ll be presenting ghosts and stories from my book, A World Full of Ghosts, illustrated by Marc Mongeau. The Scottish Silky ghost will be dusting books and children and telling spooky tales from every corner of the world. I’ll play a little Ghost Ball with the students using a haunted globe, and finish it off with two very true and very scary Newfoundland ghost stories.

Turns out that everybody all around the world loves a good ghost story. I’m booking now, so send me an email and I’ll come to your school, just in time for Halloween!

Charis Cotter’s Third Annual Newfoundland Ghost Tour: October 11‒21, 2011

September 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

The Hidden Schools of St. John’s

I’ve been trying to find my way around St. John’s for ten years. First as a summer visitor, and now as a semi-permanent round-the-bay dweller. It ain’t easy for a Toronto girl who thinks in straight lines and four-corner intersections. Apparently the streets in St. John’s evolved from cowpaths that led up and down and around the many hills. Cows don’t know about straight lines. Or street signs. Or traffic lights. Before I realized that the best way to find anything in St. John’s is just to keep driving in circles until your destination materializes before your eyes, I spent a lot of time swearing, pulling over to the curb and struggling with fold-out maps.

This week I discovered that St. John’s likes to hide its schools. As a concept, it appeals to me. A secret, no, an invisible school, hidden away between streets, where children are protected from the outside world. People can only find the schools when the moon is full, or when the fog lifts, or by learning a magic spell.

My first experience with this was when I tried to find way into Bishop Feild School on Monday. I could see it, but I couldn’t get there. It was a bit like the castle in Sleeping Beauty: protected by high hedges, one-way streets and dead ends. Yesterday I visited two more schools that were tucked away from the bustling world: Macpherson and Bishop Abraham.

Macpherson wasn’t so hard to find, because the entrance was actually on the same street as its address — but it stood alone down a long driveway in an in-between place that was neither a city block nor a park. Like Sleeping Beauty’s castle, it was spooky and quiet when I arrived at 8 a.m. The door was unlocked, and the only living person was a janitor, who could have been a ghost now I come to think of it. Gradually people started arriving and I was delighted to do my presentation for big group of very well-behaved children. Actually, they were unnaturally well behaved… maybe they were ghosts too, or under an enchantment.

Then I was in a rush to get to Bishop Abraham, which the teacher had assured me was just a few short blocks away. I kept my Silky dress on, loaded my books into the car, and screeched out of the driveway, after consulting a map for the exact location of 196 Pennywell Road. (Okay, so I still use maps.)

I got to Pennywell Road, no problem. But then I ran into trouble. I kept seeing those traffic signs that warn you that a school is nearby, but the school never appeared. After a few blocks, I realized I was 200 numbers past the address, so I turned around. I was supposed to be there at 10:30. It was 10:40. I don’t like being late.

I had seen a big building called “Bishop’s College” and I wondered if this could be the place. I hauled into the parking lot and accosted someone, who pointed away over some scrubland and fences — and there it stood. Bishop Abraham School. I could see it but I couldn’t get there.

I drove back the way I had come, catching glimpses of the school between houses. Finally I found a side street I could turn into, and that led me into a between-the-streets place where the school sat in the sun, waiting for me.

I got a great welcome from the teachers and the kids, and the presentation went very well. There were even some grade twos there, usually a bit young for my ghost stories, but they sat as if bewitched, eyes big, clutching their friends in the really scary parts. Then I sold a lot of books, which is always very satisfying.

I like to think I’m catching on to the way things work in Newfoundland. But my expectations are still Ontario. If an address is 196 Pennywell Road, I expect the school to be there, right between 194 and 198. Not so. I should know better by now. My own house has two different street names and an invisible number that doesn’t relate to any other houses. This summer, new street signs  with different names suddenly appeared on my road.I tell couriers I’m the last house on the road to the lighthouse. That seems to work.

Next week I’m going to Paradise for the first time. I wonder if the cows planned the streets there. I’ll soon find out. I think I’ll give myself an extra half hour, just in case.

October 23, 2010 at 10:44 am Leave a comment


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