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Nanabijou – The Tale of The Sleeping Giant

The Sleeping Giant from the The Bluffs in Thunder Bay March 2018 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

Whenever you take a trip to Northern Ontario, the main hub is Thunder Bay. This city is made out of two older cities: Fort William and Port Arthur, amalgamated in the 1970s. Fort William is one of the oldest and first fur trading posts in Canada and North America, and it has only grown since that time. Before colonization began, Thunder Bay was home to many tribes of Algonquin people.

Sitting at the most Northern part of Lake Superior, it serves a beautiful view of the largest Great Lake. The most impressive sight that can be seen from any hill in Thunder Bay it that of The Sleeping Giant. A formation of land that looks like a giant who laid down in the water and fell asleep. Now, rocks, trees and other life live upon this giant who has never gotten up. It is a wonderful sight to behold.

            The tale of this giant is old and if one has been to Thunder Bay, they have likely heard of Nanabijou and the silver mine resting at his feet. There are variations to the tale but this is one of the popular ones. The legend tells how this particular formation of land came to be.

            There was a powerful and benevolent god, Nanabijou (or Nanna Bijou or Nanabozho) who loved the Ojibwa tribe of the Great Lakes region. He watched over them and helped them in their times of need. One of these times was the arrival of Europeans, whitemen, in the area who had begun setting up trading posts and seeing what resources could be gleaned from the land. With them, the Europeans, brought disease and alcohol, both having long-lasting and detrimental effects to the native population of Canada. It was during this difficult time that Nanabijou offered a gift to the Ojibwa tribe, a gift that the Europeans must never learn about or it would turn to a curse and Nanabijou would turn it to stone.

            The gift was silver.

            The Ojibwa people began mining the silver. They produced such finely crafted items with the silver better than all of the Algonquin tribes in the area. Others began to be envious of this. The ones who were the most envious were the Sioux.

            The Sioux went to the Ojibwa camp and began to torture and kill the Ojibwa but the Ojibwa refused to give up Nanabijou’s gift. Figuring that they could not get the information by force, the Sioux decided on a different tactic. They sent a scout, disguised as an Ojibwa tribesman, into the camp. He sat and listened, finally learning the location of the mine. Once he had found out what he had come for, he left, stopping at a trading post on his way.

            Having nothing to pay with, the scout traded a piece of silver which excited the two Europeans working the trading post. To find out where the scout had gotten the silver, and where they could get more, the Europeans gave him alcohol. Once drunk, the Sioux scout divulged all of the secrets and immediately the two Europeans set off to find the silver mine.

            Nanabijou was not blind and he knew exactly what was happening. As soon as the Europeans knew where his gift was located he sprang into action. Angry and disappointed Nanabijou created a massive storm from Lake Superior. Waves became taller than hills and the wind whipped trees from the ground. Water filled the Europeans boat, killing them. Then, Nanabijou laid down, arms crossed over his chest and the mine under his feet away from everyone. There, Nanabijou lays to this day, protecting his gift.

The Sleeping Giant from Waterfront Park Thunder Bay, May 2018 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            The Ojibwa knew what had happened instantly and gave their thanks at being allowed to access what silver they had. The “whitemen,” however, still try mining to this day.

            To mine Silver Islet is a massive undertaking as the mine is 384 metres deep and beneath the dangerous and cold waters of Lake Superior.

            In 1870 the Montreal Mining Company sold it to Alexander Sibley of Silver Islet Mining Company. They had a rough start but once William B. Frue became lead engineer they knew to build a breakwall to protect the islet and had pumps that were to continue running at all times, pumping water out of the mine.

            The mine became so deep that the timber supports could not handle the rock weight and they had to leave a thick silver vein running down the mine leading to the roof to help drag the rocks up. After thirteen years mining came to a halt. The mine needed coal badly to keep the pumps going and a shipment of coal needed did not arrive. The pumps ceased and the mine flooded. After that, other attempts were never really made to reopen the mine. So, the mine closed and Nanabijou still rests with the mine at his feet.

Resting Under Our Feet, March 2018 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            While this legend also holds some fact to it and artifacts from this tribe have had silver, there does not seem to be any from the stated islands themselves. The story of The Sleeping Giant is possibly just a version of a much older story that can no longer be traced to its origins. It is an incredibly important tale of the area and it is part of the history. There is no denying that the Sleeping Giant is a beautiful sight and it lays protecting a silver mine and the tribes of Lake Superior.

Bibliography

Kerry, Sullivan. “The Native American Legend of the Sleeping Giant and the Whiteman.” Ancient Origins: Reconstructing the Story of Humanity’s Past (July 19, 2016). Accessed March 25, 2019. www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/native-american-legend-sleeping-giant-and-whiteman-006302

Oades, Will. “The Surprising, Shocking, Startling, Astonishing Story of Silver Islet.” Ontario Parks (August 30, 2018). Accessed March 25, 2019. www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/sleeping-giant-silver-islet-mine/

Reid, Stephanie. “Nanabijou – The Sleeping Giant.” Northern Ontario Travel (March 24, 2017). Accessed March 25, 2019. www.northernontario.travel/thunder-bay/legend-of-the-sleeping-giant

“Sleeping Giant (Ontario).” Wikipedia. Accessed March 25, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_Giant_(Ontario)

“The Sleeping Giant: An Ojibwa Legend.” First People – The Legends (2016). Accessed March 25, 2019. www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheSleepingGiant-Ojibwa.html

Looking Towards a Giant, March 2019 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations
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The Royal York Hotel

            When one thinks of a haunted hotel in Canada the first name on their tongue is usually the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, or just The Royal York. Whether this hotel is actually haunted is quite contested but the hotel is one of the oldest and grandest in Canada. It is a beautiful and breathtaking site, inside and out. It is an icon and it is a large part of the history of Toronto.

            The Royal York was originally a small, brick hotel called Ontario Terrace. It was made by Thomas Dick, a lake-boat captain, in 1843. After which, ownership, name and shape changed several times until Captain Dick repurchased it in 1862 and named it Queen’s Hotel. Sometime after, it was bought again by Thomas McGraw and Henry Winett, who were both well-established hoteliers. For sixty-seven years it was a major part of the now booming city. It was so much a part of Toronto that when it was set to be demolished by the Canadian Pacific Railroad there was a massive protest. No one wanted to see it go.

Royal York Hotel 1957 – picture by Canada. Dept. of Interior / Library and Archives Canada / PA-049725

            McGraw had passed away in 1901 and Winett in 1925. Winett’s state sold Queen’s Hotel to the Canadian Pacific Railroad who had seen the opportunity of constructing a magnificent hotel across from Toronto’s Union Station. It was a perfect idea for a railway company, so they demolished Queen’s Hotel and created The Royal York with construction beginning in 1927. Construction finished in 1929 and it stood as the largest hotel in the British Commonwealth at the time. Even now it is a breathtaking sight. At the time of its opening it boasted twenty-eight floors, 1,000 guestrooms with radios and private baths (a real luxury at this time), a 12, 000 book library, ten elevators, one and a half acres of public rooms, thirty-five telephone operators for a sixty-six-foot switchboard, a golf course, a twelve bed hospital, its own bank and the largest kitchen in all of Toronto. It was fabulous and grand and the first person to ever be registered as a guest was Lord Willington, the Governor General of Canada at that time.

            Over the years many renovations have been made. New wings have been added, increasing the ability to hold more guests. A health centre and a pool have also been added. It has held a great deal of famous people such as Tina Turner, Eartha Kitt, Ray Charles, Liberace and so many more. And of course Queen Elizabeth II and others from the Royal Family have stayed at the Royal York.

            So, what is it that makes people believe this hotel is haunted?

            Well, anything with a significant amount of history will find things attracted to it. Rumours, gossip, legends, stories and sometimes even spirits.

            One of the most common spirits seen are a man and his wife. On their wedding night, after the festivities, the two of them went to their room on the eighth floor where the man proceeded to bloodily murder his wife while she slept. After, he killed himself. He is said to be seen wandering the halls of the eighth floor and some staircases, while she is stuck, tragically, haunting the room she was murdered in.

            Another spirit that is commonly seen is a former employee of the Royal York who hung himself in a stairway connecting to electrical and maintenance. Sometimes when he is seen, he does not appear to have any legs and people are left wondering – what exactly happened to his legs?

            There are times when the ballroom is a flurry of activity, even with no one inside it. Spirits are said to be dancing, twirling around their partners and having a lovely evening. Sometimes guests, whose rooms are close to the ballroom, will complain of the festivities. They hear loud music and partying, but, there was no event happening at the time.

            When the SS Noronic went up in flames in 1949 The Royal York’s hospital was utilized as so many people were injured and there was not enough room in the nearby hospital. Taxis from the hotel became makeshift ambulances, hurrying victims to the hotel’s hospital and the regular hospital to be treated. It is said that about 139-160 people died in this devastating fire and many who did not die were left injured. It is also assumed that after this time more spirits had begun to be reported. Children are heard running up and down the halls, laughing and playing. Author, Christopher Heard, noted this during his time living at the hotel. Although no one has seen a full body apparition of a child, they just tend to be quite noisy.

Fairmont Royal York 2018 – original picture by Piercing Moon Creations

The Royal York Hotel has had its fair share of tragedy. It has held death as accidents, murder and suicide. It is said that when a life is taken suddenly and in such a devastating way, their spirits linger with so much unfinished business. Since they are no longer living, they cannot finish their business and are stuck to haunt or relive the same moment over and over. While it remains an icon and a beautiful landmark in Toronto, it is also considered one of the most haunted places in the city.

Bibliography

Fairmont Royal York. “Hotel History.” 2019. Accessed March 24, 2019. https://www.fairmont.com/royal-york-toronto/hotelhistory/

Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Fairmont Royal York: History.” 2019. Accessed March 24, 2019. www.historichotelsworldwide.com/hotels-resorts/fairmont-royal-york/history.php

Maritime History of the Great Lakes. “160 Die in Ship Fire in Toronto Harbour.” In The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto, Ontario, September 17, 1949. image.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/7542/data?n=1

McLennan, Susan. “The Noronic Fire – Toronto’s Greatest Disaster with the Greatest Loss of Life.” In reimaginepr. Accessed March 24, 2019. www.reimaginepr.com/the-noronic-fire-torontos-disaster-with-the-greatest-loss-of-life/

Sutherland, Joel A. “Hotel Hell.” In Haunted Canada 5: Terrifying True Stories, 1095-1139. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2015. Amazon Kindle ebook edition.

Toronto & Ontario Ghosts and Hauntins Research Societ. “The Royal York Hotel.” 2015. Accessed March 24, 2019. www.torotoghosts.org/index.php/the-city-of-toronto/public-building/111-the-royal-york-hotel-

Wikipedia. “Fairmont Royal York.” Accessed March 24, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairmont_Royal_York

Toronto Skyline 2018 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

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Marie-Josephte Corriveau

            The city of Québec is one of the oldest cities established in Canada by colonizers. Québec City was founded in 1608 by the French and since that time, it has played a significant role in the formation of Canada as it stands today. For a city that sits at over four hundred years old, it is not a wonder that it holds a great deal of history and tales of hauntings. One haunting in particular has captured the minds of citizens and visitors alike. It is the story of Marie-Josephte Corriveau, or La Corriveau. Marie-Josephte Corriveau was a young woman who was found guilty of the murder of her second husband and was sentenced to death in 1763. While her story has become inflated with magic, witches and dozens of murdered husbands, the tale of her life and execution seems like a normal story of the law doing its job – right or wrong. That does not mean her story lacks anything interesting but it is the idea that she lives on after her execution that makes it just that more eerie.

            Marie-Josephte Corriveau was born in Saint Vallier, Québec in 1733 to Marie-Françoise Bolduc and Joseph Corriveau. Out of the ten children birthed, Marie-Josephte was the only one to survive to adulthood. Not much is known about her childhood, except that her father had enough wealth for his child to live comfortably. Her story really began at age sixteen when she married her first husband Charles Bouchard, a farmer from Saint Vallier. Together they had three children, two daughters and a son. Most people agree that they had an average marriage with some arguments but generally a happy one. So when Bouchard passed away in 1760 no one really thought much of it. Although it was a bit of a surprise that fifteen months later she got remarried to Louis Etienne Dodier, another farmer from Saint Vallier. At this time in history a woman relied heavily on a man to provide for her, so Marie-Josephte was desperate to remarry for the sake of her children. However, her choice of suitor proved to be a poor one.

            Dodier and Marie-Jospehte had a very problematic relationship, Dodier was said to be extremely abusive towards his wife. Marie-Josephte had even begged to be allowed to separate from her husband to no avail. Two of her three children even went to live with their grandparents, who also disliked their daughter’s new husband. Joseph Corriveau is especially noted for his immense disapproval and dislike of Dodier. Joseph and Dodier had many altercations and people of Saint Vallier considered them to both be very violent men. The British officer, James Abercrombie, in command of the occupying British troops often took the side of Dodier, the Corriveaux had become a thorn in Abercrombie’s side. They always seemed to be making trouble, not that Dodier was much better.  

            In early 1763 things came to a climax and Dodier was found dead in his stable. His head was caved in and he had lacerations all over his face. While rumours immediately spread that Marie-Josephte and Joseph were somehow involved, it was swiftly ruled an accident. Dodier was said to have had his head kicked in by one of his horses. Captain Jaques Corriveau, nephew of Joseph and peacekeeper for the area, wrote a report to give to Abercrombie, who immediately disbelieved it, it was all too suspicious for Abercrombie. Also Dodier was buried hastily on 28 January 1763, only a day after he was found dead, this added on another layer of suspicion. Abercrombie did not let the issue lay and investigated further into Dodier’s death. It was ruled foul play when Abercrombie talked to a regimental surgeon who stated that the wounds could not have been made by horse hooves, especially ones who did not have horse shoes like Dodier’s. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Marie-Josephte and Joseph Corriveau were the ones involved. The two of them were arrested and sent to a jail in Québec, where they would await an English military trial.

Old Quebec – Original Photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            1763 marked the year when New France was handed to Britain at the conclusion of the Seven-Years-War and citizens were now tried by a court structured similarly to English law. Since British military occupation began in Québec around 1760 citizens were tried in martial courts by the British army. It was not until 1764 when news that New France was officially under English rule that civil courts, modelled after English civil courts, were established. Due to this, Marie-Josephte and Joseph were tried in a military court in front of thirteen officers.

           It took eleven days to come to the conclusion that the two of them were guilty. According to both Captain Corriveau and Claude Dion, a labouror for Dodier, Joseph had told them ‘some kind of misfortune would befall Dodier soon.’ Dion also stated Marie-Josphete had said something similar, to which, Dodier had responded by slapping her several times in the face. A cousin of Marie-Josephte, Isabelle Sylvain, was also asked to be a witness but committed perjury and was subject to thirty lashes and branded with a P on her hand. All the evidences and witnesses pointed to Joseph being the murderer and Marie-Jospehte being an accomplice solely due to gossip about her offering to pay soldiers to beat up her husband, telling Dodier she preferred Bouchard and being a drunkard. Although neither one could be placed at the scene of the murder. Joseph was found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. Marie-Josephte was found guilty of being an accomplice and sentenced to sixty lashes with a cat of nine tails and branded with the letter M on her hand. It seemed as if everything was wrapping up with a neat little bow on top.

            Until the night before Joseph’s execution. He confessed that he did not murder Dodier, it was his daughter who had done it. In exchange for the truth he was to be set free with no punishment. So began a second trial where Marie-Josephte confessed to hitting her husband twice in the head with an axe while he slept. After, she begged her father to help her drag Dodier to the barn where it would look like an accident. Charges were dropped against Joseph and Marie-Josephte was sentenced to hang and then to be gibbeted as a warning. This was a sentence from English law, usually only reserved for males committing petty treason. Since Québec was under military law and during this time a woman was considered subservient to a man in both civil and criminal law, it seemed like a fitting punishment for her. Not only that but it seemed as though the British wanted the French to know that they were now in charge, crimes would not be tolerated. Marie-Josephte was executed around 18 April, 1763 on the Buttes-à-Nepveau beside the Plains of Abraham.

Streets of Old Quebec – Original Photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            After being hung, Marie-Josephte was gibbeted in a “cage” that she had to pay for, at Pointe-Lévy, present day Lévis. Her cage was more like a metal harness that measured about five feet in length and was used to hold her body straight. Her body hung at a crossroads in Lévis between Bienville and Lauzon, most likely present day Rue Saint Joseph and Rue de l’Entente, for about thirty-eight to forty days, less than what was sentenced. Her corpse was likely removed due to complaints about the sight of her blackened and peeling skin, her hair falling out, and animals picking at her. It was a grotesque sight mixed with an even worse smell, so her body was taken down. She was buried, cage and body, in the cemetery by Saint-Joseph-de-la-Pointe-Lévy Church. Her story seemed to lay forgotten, only ghost stories and rumours surrounded her until 1849 when work on the cemetery began. Her cage was unburied and put in the church’s cellar for storage. After, it was to be reburied but what happens next is a bit hazy and not at all intended.

            It is said that the cage was stolen by the P.T. Barnum who brought it to his New York Museum. It was later acquired by The Boston Museum with a place card that simply read “From Québec.” After, the cage ended up in yet another museum, this time it was in Salem Massachusetts. Société d’histoire de Lévis negotiated with the museum and brought the cage back home to Québec where is sits on display at the Musée de la Civilisation to this day. Thus, the conclusion of Marie-Josephte Corriveau and her cage is here, but her story lives on, inflated and intertwined with the supernatural.

            Marie-Josephte Corriveau, or La Corriveau as she is generally referred to, is said to not rest in peace. At the crossroad where her body was left to rot people are said to hear sounds of metal scrapping, bones clattering, and moans. Sometimes they even hear their name being spoken by a female voice, begging them to carry her across the Saint Lawrence River. Not only are there sounds but there are physical sensations such as cold spots, the smell of decay, feelings of being watched and being rushed at by someone with decaying hands. All of these combined with the rumours and elaborations of her story have made a sensational tale. People claim she has had more than just two husbands, who she killed and was only caught after Dodier. They claim she has done many more crimes and added more and more gruesome details to her stories. Some also consider her a sorceress or a witch, especially after her cage ended up in Salem, saying she killed her many husbands for magic. While her story happened a long time ago and accusing women of witchcraft is common, there is no denying that she is considered a charged murderess and possibly a restless spirit.

            The haunting of La Corriveau may be contentious but there is no arguing that she remains one of the most famous murderers and murder stories in the city of Québec. It is a tale that is told and retold again and again. Warnings of a ghost are whispered to each other when walking in Old Québec and Old Lévis. There may have been a time that Marie-Josephte Corriveau would not have been punished so harshly, she was subject to the laws of her time. Now her story and possibly her spirit live on to tell their tale in the streets of Québec and Lévis.

Bibliography

Conliffe, Ciaran. “Marie-Josephte Corriveau.” Headstuff: History (March 13, 2017). Accessed March 19, 2019. www.headstuff.org/culture/history/marie-josephte-corriveau/

Dickinson, John a. “La Corriveau.” The Canadian Encyclopedia (December 15, 2013). Accessed March 19, 2019. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/la-corriveau

Greenwood, F. Murray and Boissery, Beverly. “The Many Trials of Marie-Josephte Corriveau.” In Uncertain Justice: Canadian Women and Capital Punishment, 1754-1953, 39-59. Toronto, Ontario: Dundurn Press, 2000. Google Books version.

Hay, Douglas. “Legislation, Magistrates and Judges: High Law and Low Law in England and the Empire.” In The British and Their Laws in the Eighteenth Century. Edited by David Lemmings, 59-79. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2005. Google Books version.

“Marie-Josephte Corriveau.” Wikipedia. Accessed March 19, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Josephte_Corriveau

Marzannia. “La Corriveau.” Spooky Canada (June 15, 2018). Accessed March 19, 2019. spookycanada.wordpress.com/2018/06

Sutherland, Joel A. “Rotting in a Cage.” In Haunted Canada 4: More True Tales of Terror, 7-11. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd, 2014. Amazon Kindle ebook version.

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Herbal Healing Tarot Deck

My artwork on this website has mainly revolved around the work that I have been doing for my very own tarot deck. It began as just a crazy idea, a project for me that might keep my attention. Also, mainly, it was because I wanted a tarot deck all to myself. A deck that called to me because I haven’t felt drawn to any deck, with the possible exception of the Wild Unknown by Kim Krans – which I did get and use a bit but it felt flat for me. The artwork of that deck is absolutely stunning and I must say I ogled it for four years before I went in and purchased it at a small store in Quebec City (the only time I’d ever seen it in person). While all these tarot decks are gorgeous and the effort put into them is amazing, I could not feel anything from them. Nothing drew me towards a deck.

So I took it upon myself to make my own deck. I based my cards on plants because I love studying plants and herbology. I spent all of January 2018 researching herbal plants and their correspondences to gods and goddess as well as what significance they had in a variety of cultures. Then in the following February I began painting. I love painting in watercolour and so that’s the medium I decided to do my project in.

Progress

I began with the Major Arcana because I already had an inkling of what I wanted to do for them (I had done the 22 Major Arcana the previous year in gel pens while watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries). From there I delved into the Wands and then the Cups, then the Swords and finally I finished off my deck in November 2018 with the Pentacle suit. All 78 cards were painted and a 79th painting done for the backs of the cards.

First Cards Comparison to the New Artwork

I have been scanning them into the computer whenever I get them done, uploading them to my site to be bought as prints. Those stayed roughly the same size after I’d scanned them, it was transferring them to cards that was difficult for me to do. It was my least favourite part in this endeavour but I persevered and by the end of November 2018, I had my very own tarot deck printed by Make Playing Cards. All artwork made by me. I have never felt more accomplished than I had at that moment – I could barely concentrate on work when I heard they were delivered.

I bought two decks, one for my mom and the other for myself. I knitted us little tarot pouches to keep our decks in – because I didn’t bother buying boxes and I absolutely love little knit pouches to keep tarot cards in. It was so hard to keep this a secret, but finally on the Winter Solstice I could give her the deck and plaster it all over my social media because I am really proud of all the work I did to get a deck that speaks to me.

Knitted Tarot Deck Holder

Crafting is a peaceful time for me and it can be rather spiritual, depending on what I am doing – sometimes with knitting it results in swearing. It is like a meditation though, and I can think of every possible thing I can do and what each card signifies. It is mine completely.

Now, after doing this, I completely understand why tarot decks are always 60$ plus. The amount of time and work I put into my pieces was a lot, it can be a phenomenal undertaking.

And now I have finished and call it my Herbal Healing Tarot Deck. Does anyone else like crafting their own divination tools? And do you have any favourites that you have made? What calls to you in your journey?