Wicked Woods: Ghost Stories from Old New Brunswick.


146 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 978-1-55109-666-7
DDC 398.2097151'05





Reviewed by Richard Wilbur

Randall White is the author of Voice of Region: On the Long Journey to
Senate Reform in Canada, Too Good to Be True: Toronto in the 1920s, and
Global Spin: Probing the Globalization Debate.


The back cover blurb tells us the author, an Ontario native, is part of the Writers in the Schools program where he teaches “the art of storytelling to Nova Scotian children.” While some of them probably like his approach, this reviewer found his overly chatty style and his superficial treatment of folk tales and even some authentic historic events hard-going.


Vernon has taken 25 stories—some of them well-known to older New Brunswickers—and dressed them up with contrived dialogue and often bizarre endings. Ten of them are set in the Bay of Fundy area, especially Charlotte County in the southwest corner; others are taken from the predominantly anglophone areas in Carleton and Victoria counties northwest of Fredericton, with four from the French oral tradition.


One of his stories stands out as a good treatment of the region’s early history. It relates the sad and remarkable exploits of Madame La Tour (née Francoise Marie Jacqueline), who married French fur trader and seigneur Charles St. Etienne de La Tour. This is solid stuff, reflecting serious reading of authentic historic sources. Regrettably, he ends her sad tale with some nonsense about people seeing her ghost walking along the shores of Saint John Harbour. Judging by Vernon’s dialogue, I suspect his stories come off far better orally than in this written form.


Vernon, Steve., “Wicked Woods: Ghost Stories from Old New Brunswick.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/29052.