Beware of haunted potholes – Ghost Story

With winter driving season upon us, many motorists across the province have horror stories about that great scourge of our public roads – the pothole. But if you think you have had a frightening experience with tortured tarmac, read on.

Aunt Betty Slaney was born and raised in the community of Britannia on Random Island, T. B. Several years back, when I interviewed her in Saint John's, she carried strong memories of growing up in Britannia.

Newfoundland unexplained 

With winter driving season upon us, many motorists across the province have horror stories about that great scourge of our public roads – the pothole. But if you think you have had a frightening experience with tortured tarmac, read on.

Aunt Betty Slaney was born and raised in the community of Britannia on Random Island, T. B. Several years back, when I interviewed her in Saint John's, she carried strong memories of growing up in Britannia.

Britannia is a picturesque community located on the wooded north side of Random Island, looking out across Smith Sound. Historically, Britannia was noteworthy as the home of the Currie family, who ran the slate quarrying business across the Sound, in Nut Cove.

Of course, in talking with Aunt Betty about growing up in Britannia, I asked about ghost stories.

“There were always ghost stories,” Betty says. “Somebody always had one that would rattle a few chains in your head, but nobody you knew or nobody you were sure of.”

The idea that ghosts were always of people you didn't know changed when Betty's uncle, Moses Currie, passed away suddenly.

“He dropped dead with a heart attack,” says Betty. “He died when I was around 10 or so – 9 or 10.”

Moses Currie was well-known in the community, and was part owner of one of the local sawmills, something which were at one point common on Random Island.

“They all did their share of logging,” says Betty. “I know he did, because he was Grandpa's brother, and I know that he owned part of the sawmill.”

The old sawmill was located down in the cove in Britannia. “Later on, there was another sawmill there that belonged to the Curries,” Betty says, “but it was a different family of Curries.”

The ghost story started when Uncle Mose went out for a walk one night, and never returned home alive.

“There was a gate there, Uncle Pierce's,” says Betty. “There was a pothole. He fell down and by the time they got him home, he was dead.”

“He died in the pothole!” exclaims Betty. “And after that, it was Uncle Mose. Whenever any light shined on that place, it was Uncle Mose.”

“We were all youngsters,” she says. “Going home at night, you know, you had to pass Uncle Mose to get home. I was always inside before it was time to leave. I was always inside! That was always a worry.”

I asked Betty what it was like, knowing the ghost of Uncle Mose was lurking near the pothole where he had died.

“I was scared,” she admits. “There were no lights. When you went out, you went out in the dark.

You either didn't go out, or you were scared and you went out and had to have friends. That was hard because you were different ages, and you had different times you had to be in.”

The Hefferton Causeway has linked Random Island to the mainland of the province since 1952, and power lines mean electric lights keep the shadows at bay. But even today, if one visits Britannia in the night, it is easy to imagine what it must have been like in Aunt Betty's childhood. It is a quiet place, of an evening. Only a little bit of imagination is required to conjure up the shadowy image of Uncle Mose by the side of the gate, ready to spook youngsters out past their curfew hour.

I have heard a lot of ghost stories from across Newfoundland and Labrador, but I have never heard anything to exactly match Aunt Betty's story. As far as I know, Uncle Mose is the only Newfoundlander who returns from the Great Beyond to the land of the living, who chooses to haunt a pothole.

As always, if you know of a story that disproves my claim, or if you've seen something spooky on the side of the road, you can contact me c/o The Telegram or by e-mail at info@hauntedhike.com.

Dale Jarvis can be reached at info@hauntedhike.com.

Beware of haunted potholes

Published on January 11, 2010

Dale Jarvis

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