Ghosts, Heroes and Oddities


186 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 0-921692-27-7
DDC 971.8





Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R.G. Moyles is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.


Every Newfoundlander used to (and probably still does) grow up on ghost
stories—from the true-death accounts of premonitions, ghost vessels,
devil’s footprints, and so forth to the “pulling-your-leg” kind,
which may feature Pat and Mike in the graveyard counting their stolen
apples (“One for me, one for you”), a scene that appears to a
drunken passerby as a compact between God and the Devil for the souls
interred there. Telling ghost stories was both an art and a popular
pastime. Taking advantage of this preoccupation—and a concomitant
interest in trivia of all sorts—Fitzgerald has put together yet
another collection of Newfoundland “stories” (he’s published seven
or eight to date). This one offers 18 “true” ghost stories, followed
by stories about little-known Newfoundland heroes, some humorous ones
concerning Newfoundland history (and these are the best because they are
all local poems), more about oddities, old times, interesting people,
buried treasures, and Newfoundland war exploits. Did you know, for
example, that “the first hymn in British North America was entitled
‘We Love the Place—Oh God,’ written in the year 1827 by Dean
William Bullock at Trinity [Newfoundland]”? Just how accurate all
Fitzgerald’s facts are is difficult to say, though it does seem that
he often stretches the truth and sometimes misquotes his sources. But in
such a blend of apocrypha, folklore, and history there are bound to be
debatable issues. And does anyone really care, after all, when the
purpose is to preserve a cultural “oddity”? More power to your
elbow, Jack Fitzgerald.


Fitzgerald, Jack., “Ghosts, Heroes and Oddities,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,