This is a story about Irish fairies in Canada, and the story began on the road from Perth to Westport. It was near the McNamee Farm which was at the foot of the mountain, just beyond the Scotch Line, not far from Stanleyville. Among the stories is one which might lead to when the Irish immigrants came to the mountain top between Westport and Perth, in North Burgess. Apparently their particular family fairies came with them.
In the early 1850s Mr. McNamee’s father was working as a charcoal burner on the west, side of the mountain, close to Westport. With him he had as a helper a man named George Murphy. Those who understand charcoal burning will remember that when the wood used to be well lit it would be covered by a bed of sand or earth, so that the wood might be merely charred instead of being burned.
One morning when his father and George Murphy awoke they saw that the earth which they had put over the charcoal was covered with tiny footprints. The prints were about two inches long, and exactly the shape of a human foot. The marks of the heels and the toes were clear cut.
The whole surface of the pit was covered in tiny footprints and gave the impression that a number of little people had been dancing on the fresh earth surface. The two men were greatly surprised at what they saw. Neither had seen anything like it in Ireland. They had heard a great deal about fairies while back in the homeland, but had never seen any of their footprints.
The men were loath to disturb the earth and waited a long time for someone to come and verify what they had seen, but as nobody came they were forced finally to uncover the pit. If there has been any cameras in those days they might have taken a photo, but there were none, so they had no evidence to show their families and friends
Both Mr. McNamee and Mr. Murphy made wide inquiries as to whether anybody else had had a similar experience, but they could not find that anybody had. So they came to the conclusion that they had been specially favoured. Some to whom they told the story suggested that the foot-marks were those of some small animal, but both men strongly averred that the marks were like those of miniature human feet much smaller than those of a new baby’s feet.
Mr. J. B. McNamee tells another story that about 1870, just after they were married, his father and his mother had an experience with a banshee. They had started home from a dance at a neighbour’s and were going by way of a bush road, when they heard nearby a weird cry, unlike anything human they had ever heard. It was a half sobbing, half moaning cry, as of something in dire distress. Mrs. McNamee said: “Maurice, can that be a banshee”?
As they were not far from the house of the dance, they decided to go back and let the people know what they heard. As they walked back they heard the cry a second time, and before they had reached the home of the neighbours, they had heard it a third time. When they told the neighbour and those who were still at the dance what they had heard, they all turned out to listen. But the cries were not repeated.
Three days later a man was killed in the bush close to the house where the dance was held. , Mr McNamee says the early settlers all believed in fairies, banshees and ghosts, and that ghost stories were the favourite amusement at every evening gathering. Ghosts were not talked about at barn-raisings or daytime gatherings, as there would not be any “kick” in talking about ghosts in the broad daylight. The telling of ghost stories gave every night gathering a “kick.”
where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.