It was one of those crisp sunny days in fall when the maple leaf trees are in their fullest golden glory, and Cookstown was busy with antique shoppers, sightseers, and tourists. I had heard that there was a 'spiritual' shop called the Dragonfly recently opened in the quaint little hamlet, and thought I might find some information on what to do to help one deal with well, spirits. The new house we had just purchased seemed to be, shall we say, a little 'busy'. There were sounds of babies crying, kettles whistling, boots tramping outside in our bunkhouse, Tall Tales Cabin, where the ice-cutters had once stayed years ago when the Belle Ewart Ice Co. had harvested ice from the lake. Now we rented it to ice-fishermen from Michigan and Toronto, who were beginning to give reports of some rather odd sounds and experiences also. The tramping boots had been heard by several men, who said it sounded as if they were all coming in together, a whole bunch of men 'tramping in' as it was repeatedly described. One could hardly help but imagine the old work crew coming in from a day out on the lake, their whiskers turned into icicles, their woolen clothing damp from labouring all day hauling huge blocks of ice out of the lake. The clanging sound of iron keys, the laughter of men's voices...all these were heard by the fishermen out in our bunkhouse, the Tall Tales Cabin. The old yellow house on Ewart Street, the bunkhouse, even the forest around the property, where the long-forgotten railroad tracks lay covered with vines and wildflowers...it was beginning to appear that they were all quite haunted!
I found the doorway to the Dragonfly nestled between an art shop and a store that sold old military stuff and tin soldiers on miniature battlefields. The bell tinkled my entrance, and I arose up a flight of stairs into a shop that smelled like pure nirvana - a mystical combination of exotic scents and sensuous aromas, while soothing music filled the air. Crystals sparkled in the windows, refracting the autumn sunshine into a thousand tiny prisms when I gazed into them. There were books and tarot cards, incense cones and gemstones, but nothing that looked like it was for getting rid of ghosts. The store was busy on this lovely Saturday afternoon, and I browsed surreptitiously while checking out the sale help. I had to decide which one I could ask about the ghosts removing powder, or hopefully some sort of spirit remedy which they might know of. My next stop was going to be our Lady of Perpetual Martyrdom for a vial of holy water, at this point. My eldest son had awoken last night to a bizarre array of hieroglyphics being displayed over his bed, as though shown on a projector on his wall. He said they were changing and moving at high speeds and it scared him so badly that he couldn't move to come and get me. This was beginning to get a little alarming, and my Mother had actually been shaken awake by, well, something, on her last visit. I had to take action!
It had become quite apparent that the owner of the shop was the lady with the long brown hair, a petite soft-spoken woman, who was very busy helping customers. I knew by her nod of acknowledgement that she would be right with me, but still I was startled when a voice broke my reverie as I stood gazing into a crystal ball.
It was showing me nothing.
"Can I help you?"
Her eyes looked directly into mine. One eye was brown and the other one was blue.
"Wow" I said, "Nice eyes"
"Thanks" she smiled, "How can I help you?"
"Well..." I launched into my story. "I think I have a spirit, maybe afew in my house." I told her,
"Is there anything you can suggest?"
She looked at me but didn't at the same time, and then she said,
"Yes, you do...the spirit of a woman."
I nodded. "Yes I think so too - I checked with the Land Registry Office in Barrie....I think her name is..."
"Harriet" she said.
"Yes Harriet" I gulped. "Harriet Stone"
'Yes it is she who oversees the house." she told me, her one blue eye and one brown eye looking out towards the perfect autumn afternoon.
"You do not have to fear her, for she likes it when you and the children are home. It is the rest of them she can do without."
I thought about the old man who had told me that the house had been a brothel back in the day. And Harriet must have run it all. No wonder she wanted peace and quiet now.
"Yes she seems to try and wake up people who are visiting and roust them off."
She had done the same to Randolph when he came in from a long trip on the road.
"Yes, she likes you and the children only in the home...it was hers for a very long time, and still is...and she loves it, and stays with the house to protect it and to protect the children. You have nothing to worry about from her." she said.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
"No it's the demon attached to the Indian burial ground behind your house that should concern you."
I gasped. "I'm kidding" she laughed, "however you do have some negative energies in the house....to be expected in a house that old...take this smudge mix, a combination of sweetgrass, cedar, sage and lavendar, and light it in an abalone shell. Then use the feather of a bird, preferably an eagle, to 'smudge' the house, while going from room to room. And firmly tell all negative energies to leave....or you could use holy water if you have any!"
I returned home, armed with smudge mix and stones of jet to put over the doorsills, as well as eagle feathers to waft and incense to burn. And from that day on we lived quite peacefully with Harriet Stone and all the ice-cutters too,
Next edition - the naughty ghost in South Simcoe Theatre plays a prank on me!