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Le Loup-Garou

There is a creature that has terrorized many villages across Europe before it made its way over the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. This creature hides among regular humans during the day and most nights but on the nights of the full moon, it cannot hide any longer. It attacks livestock and takes the form of a giant humanoid wolf. In English it is the Werewolf, in French it is called Le Loup-Garou. In 1700s Québec le Loup-Garou was considered a very real fear and now it is considered an old French legend.


On the Saint-Laurent River – James Pattison Cockburn, crédit: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, no d’acc 1934-39

            Le Loup-Garou terrorized the area of Québec for years but 21 July 1766 the Québec Gazette reported a werewolf attack at St. Rock, near Cap. Mouraska. Le Loup-Garou took the form of a beggar, asking for work and promising to do things that he could not do. Then at night a loup-garou would terrorize the village, destroying livestock all around the area. 2 December 1767 le Loup-Garou had returned, this time in Kamouraska and Québec City. Le Loup-Garou allegedly caused considerable destruction to the city and when the citizens attacked it and hurt it, le Loup-Garou just came back angrier.

            What happened after that? Did le Loup-Garou die? Were the citizens victorious?

            No one seems to know. It was as if the creature just disappeared. It was never reported again in a major newspaper but rumours of it surrounded the province of Québec.

            Now le Loup-Garou has become a folktale in Québec and there a two popular stories involving a Loup-Garou. Interestingly enough, both versions involve a man named Hubert who ends up being the werewolf.

            The first tale of le Loup-Garou comes from a small unknown village. In this village there was a miller by the name of Joachim Crête. Crête hired a stranger, who had shown up at his door, named Hubert. Hubert was a reliable hard-worker who did not ask for too much. After work every night the two of them would drink and play checkers, they were known for being too excessive in their drinking. Afterwards, Hubert would leave the house into the dead of night. Crête wasn’t suspicious of the behaviour, but he did think it was a little odd.

            Then a loup-garou began mauling sheep around the town. Hubert asked the miller what he thought of these stories and Crête just laughed, calling them silly rumours. It couldn’t be more than a pack of wolves.

            But one night the mill broke. The miller and Hubert went to fix it but the mill just wouldn’t budge. The miller lost track of Hubert and went back inside, deciding to fix the mill in the morning when they had light. Then a huge black dog, the size of a human, with massive fangs and glowing red eyes entered his house. Crête called for Hubert and the dog responded. It was at that moment that the miller believed his worker to be le Loup-Garou.

Crête fell to his knees to pray and that is when Hubert sprang on him. The miller grabs a sickle from the wall and cut off le Loup-Garou’s ear, as this is considered one way to kill a loup-garou. The beast disappeared and Hubert reappeared moments later, but he was missing an ear. The miller was hit with realization and Hubert fled from the area, never to be heard from again.

The second tale begins with a hunter and trapper named Hubert Sauvageau (French for savage) and his apprentice André. The two of them make a camp in the woods with a stranger name Léo. Rumours of a loup-garou were prominent at the time and Hubert asks André if he knows how to spot one and what to do if faced with one. Hubert tells him what he should do and gives him a good luck charm. If a werewolf attacks, André is to throw the good luck charm at the white spot in the middle of his head. The three of them tuck into their beds to go to sleep. Hubert leaves the camp when he believes the other two are asleep, but André is woken by Hubert’s movements.

There is howling and rustling in the forest around the camp and a massive white wolf appears. It drags a deer passed André and the sleeping Léo. It begins to eat the deer near the camp. As dawn comes, the wolf gets up and goes into the forest with Hubert reappearing moments later, instantly going to sleep in his bed.

André is convinced that his mentor is le Loup-Garou and wakes up Léo, telling him everything he had seen. He shows Léo the carcass of the deer but there are no tracks around it. It is said that a loup-garou never leaves tracks behind. Léo becomes convinced and they discuss what to do.

When Hubert awakens, the other two of them confront him. He admits that he is le Loup-Garou but he would never hurt them, they had proof of that last night. But Léo is not convinced and says Hubert can’t make any promises. Hubert asks them not to tell but Léo says he cannot keep it a secret and that he would kill a loup-garou if necessary.

The next night le Loup-Garou comes back and goes to attack Léo. André throws the good luck charm at the spot on le Loup-Garou’s forehead, drawing blood. It turns back into Hubert who thanks André for freeing him of the curse.

Le Loup-Garou – credit: Library and Archives Canada; Copyright: Canada Post Corporation

What do the Quebecois believe makes a person a loup-garou?

Well, it is said that anyone who misses their Easter duties seven years in a row is immediately cursed to be a loup-garou. In some cases, the only way to save this cursed person is to know who they are in their human form and draw its blood when they are a loup-garou. Or as previously stated, cutting off an ear of a loup-garou will destroy. A loup-garou can be very dangerous if it is not saved or killed.

In the area of Québec, it was truly believed that a loup-garou was terrorizing them and mauling the livestock. Whether it was a loup-garou or just a pack of wild animals is unknown for people who believe in the supernatural. Now le Loup-Garou lives as a folk legend in Québec culture. So when you go out in the wilds of Québec always be aware of the natural and supernatural dangers that lurk in the trees.

Bibliography

DStaff. “Werewolf-Legend of Quebec.” DME: Documystere (July 25, 2012). Updated February 12, 2014. Accessed April 11, 2019. documystere.com/monstres-creatures/loup-garou-legende-du-quebec/

Friedman, Amy and Johnson, Meredith. “The Loup Garou (A French Canadian Tale). Uexpress (February 28, 1999). Accessed April 11, 2019. www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/1999/2/28/the-loup-garou-a-french-canadian

Langlois, Hubert. “Beware the ‘loup-garou’.” CBC Archives: Quebec Now (December 25, 1973. Radio Show. Accessed April 11, 2019. www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/monsters-and-myths-beware-the-loup-garou

Schmitz, Nancy. “Loup-Garou.” The Canadian Encyclopedia (March 12, 2007). Edited January 21, 2015. Accessed April 11, 2019. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/loup-garou

Summers, Ken. “Beastly Burdens: Investigating the Menacing Loup-Garou, Quebec’s Werewolf.” Week in Weird (November 8, 2011). Accessed April 11, 2019. weekinweird.com/2011/11/08/beastly-burdens-werewolf-quebec/

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