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Folklore of Nova Scotia
By Mary L. Fraser


The purpose of this study of the Folklore of Nova Scotia was primarily academic; but the interest shown in the old stories, and the many requests for their preservation in book form, encouraged their collector to have them published. This study does not pretend to be exhaustive. With the time and opportunities at her disposal, it was impossible for the author to do much more than blaze a trail. The fact that it was more convenient for her to collect material at first hand in Cape Breton and Eastern Nova Scotia, accounts for the preponderance of stories from these sections of the province.

The author wishes to acknowledge her indebtedness to the Rt. Rev. Alexander MacDonald, D.D., and the several clergymen in Cape Breton who gave her valuable assistance and encouragement; to the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame by whose whole-hearted co-operation this study was made possible; and to the men and women who gave so readily of their stories. She is also indebted in a very special manner to Rev. John P. Monaghan, Ph.D., Professor of English, Fordham University, N.Y., who suggested the subject and directed her work.


Definition of Folklore, its significance to the student; romantic element introduced by Celts; folklore of Nova Scotia Celtic in strain with an admixture of Acadian and Indian.

Chapter I. The Land and its People
Geography of Nova Scotia; early explorers; story of the Acadians; United Empire Loyalists; the coming of the Highlanders; repatriation of the Acadians; historic Louisburg.

Chapter II. Indian Myth and Legend
Origin of name Micmac; their form of worship; their Chief, first Indian convert to Christianity in Canada; ideograms; birth and death customs; myth of Gloos-cap; comparison of Micmac and European Legends.

Chapter III. Popular Superstitions
Good and bad luck; cures for man and beast; influence of the moon; efficacy of silver coins; illustrative stories.

Chapter IV. The Second Sight
Its meaning; probable explanations; its occurrence; illustrative stories.

Chapter V. Forerunners
Belief that spirits of living rehearse funerals and their preparations; appearance of unusual birds as forerunners of death; phantom trains, automobiles, lights.

Chapter VI. Apparitions due to Strong Wishing

Chapter VII. The Return of the Dead

Chapter VIII. Witches and Witchcraft
Power to change their shape; caused sickness to man and beast; the Evil Eye; charms against it.

Chapter IX. Fairy Lore
Theory of origin; Acadian fairies; tales.

Chapter X. Buried Treasure
Belief that pirates buried gold in Nova Scotia; ceremonial used by Acadian treasure seekers; stories of Scotch and Irish seekers.

Chapter XI. Attendant Spirits
Hugh of the Little Head; Bochdan Greve; the Beech Hill Bochdan; the Meadow Green Bochdan; Bochdan Brook; the Phantom Ship.

Chapter XII. Mermaids

Chapter XIII. The Devil in Folklore
Characteristic stories; the devil as a serpent; as a dog; as a horse; the cloven hoofs; how the big rock got into the Gulch at Boularderie.

Chapter XIV. Legends Mainly Religious
Christmas Day, May Day, Hallowe’en.

Chapter XV. Weather-Lore

Chapter XVI. Customs
Story of the Idiot Boy; Customs observed at Marriages, Births, Deaths.

Return to our History of Nova Scotia Page

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