Monday, March 5, 2012

#13 Dale Jarvis

Today, I am adding Dale Jarvis to my Lenten 40 list, as he is definitely someone I admire and respect, very much.

Not so long ago, and not so far, far away, there lived a storyteller...

Short story - Dale Jarvis is the gentleman who founded the St. John's Haunted Hike. This is how I first came to know of him.

Long story - Dale Jarvis is not only the founder of the St. John's Haunted Hike, he is also the founder of the St. John's Storytelling Circle, a performer, writer, folklorist and researcher, as well as the province’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer, employed by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He holds a B.Sc. (honours) in anthropology from Trent University and an MA in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

His fascination with the folklore, culture and storytelling traditions of Newfoundland has become his life's work, and lucky for us that it has!

The St. John's Haunted Hike has been a huge attraction since its inception in 1997.

"As a storyteller, Dale has performed locally and at international festivals, but is perhaps less well known than his alter ego, the distinguished Reverend Thomas Wyckham Jarvis, Esquire...

Since 1997, the Reverend has been the host and guide of the St. John’s Haunted Hike, a walking ghost tour through the haunted streets of St. John’s. Under his supervision, locals and tourists have been introduced to the vengeful lovers, murdered soldiers, and mysterious fires which await those brave enough to explore the secrets that lie in wait in St. John’s darkest corners. Mixing history, humour, and traditional storytelling, Dale has been winning over audiences and throwing in the odd scare here and there, and has been covered by a wide variety of local, national, and international media."
I participated in a Haunted Hike in its early days. The walking tour took us to little streets and alleys of St. John's that I never knew existed. It was wonderfully done, with so much history, humour and suspense! I think it's fantastic that someone has had the interest, knowledge, ability, resources and support to gather the many tales and mysteries of old St. John's, and present them in such an intriguing and entertaining way.

The Haunted Hike now has two elements; the Sinners and Spirits Tour, and the Ghosties and Ghoulies Tour, that are offered throughtout the summer. It has been named "The Event of the Year" by the City of St. John's.

Several years ago, Dale also introduced the St. John's Storytelling Circle, for those who love to hear and to tell stories. On the second Thursday of every month at the Crow's Nest Officer's Club, you can be regaled with fairy stories, ghost stories, legends and traditional tales, told not only by Dale himself, but by newcomers and experienced storytellers alike.

I have attended a number of these gatherings, and they are absolutely captivating. At one Storytelling Circle, there was a video crew recording the evening's events for presentation in the Newfoundland pavillion at the Vancouver Olympics.

Dale has also written a number of books, including
  • The Golden Leg: And Other Ghostly Campfire Tales
  • Haunted Shores: True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Haunted Waters: More True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Wonderful Strange: Ghosts, Fairies, and Fabulous Beasties

Whether by Haunted Hike, Storytelling Circle or book, Dale Jarvis has done a remarkable, commendable and meticulous job recording the legends, history and traditions of our culture, and making them accessible to everyone. Were it not for his hard work and dedication, this element of Newfoundland's history would be lost forever.

For that reason, for his devotion to the spirit (and spirits!) of Newfoundland and keeping these traditions alive and well, Dale Jarvis is lucky #13 on my list of those I most admire and respect.

Click here to hear the story of the Ghostly Ballerinas of Gower Street, as told by Dale Jarvis.

I've also included two videos, below - an interview with CBC where he discusses how to cure a haunted house, and the story of Haunted Victoria Street, as told by the man himself. Be afraid. Be very afraid! 


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