________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006


Haunted Canada 2: True Tales of Terror.

Pat Hancock.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
114 pp., pbk., $7.99.
ISBN 0-439-96122-X.

Subject Heading:

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Andrea Szilagyi.

**½ /4


It's a sad story, the story of Mary Rutherford, and scary too. It may not be true, but that doesn't stop people from telling it. No one knows how or why it began, but over the years its strands have been woven into a spine-tingling tale that can still send a group of teenagers, usually boys, scrambling out of the cemetery as fast as their Nikes can carry them.

The cemetery they run from is an old one in West Bentinck, near Hanover, Ontario. It's where Mary Rutherford's grave is supposed to be, off by itself on a hill toward the back of the property.

But the inscription on the solitary headstone says that Isabella, not Mary, Rutherford was buried there in 1872, when she was seventy-two years old. Further research shows that Isabella married happily and had children and grandchildren. Would there be any reason for her ghost to be haunting this spot? Not likely. But what if Mary Rutherford really is buried on the hill? The spirit of someone who suffered as she did might very well linger in the area.

Mary Rutherford is said to have died when she was still in her thirties. Long after her friends had married and settled down to a happy life raising a family, she finally met the man of her dreams. Thrilled, she planned her wedding. But when the big day arrived, she was left standing alone before the preacher. Her bridegroom had skipped town the night before. Overcome by shame and heartbreak, and still wearing her wedding dress, Mary hanged herself.

...This is the story that, every now and then, draws a small group of young people to the graveyard late at night.


Author of Haunted Canada: True Ghost Stories, Pat Hancock is again spooking readers with her newest collection of terrifying Canadian stories. In this book, you'll find readable tales involving ghosts, UFOs, Sasquatches, and more.

     Hancock's previously published books for children include nonfiction selections, such as The Kids' Book of Canadian Prime Ministers and The Penguin Book of Canadian Biography for Young Readers, and she mixes facts about Canada's geography and political history with the chilling "true" tales, often lessening the horror factor and injecting an educational feel to the narratives. For example, dates are provided, along with background information pertaining to the events, the people, and the places that the stories revolve around. Informational asides precede many of the tales and give additional context to the stories: "Lake Beasts" (like Ogopogo), "Sasquatch Tales," "Ouija, The Talking Board," and "Beware the Wendigo" are examples of these.

     Urban legends from eastern Canada appear more frequently than those from western parts of the country. Of the 38 tales, nine are situated in western Canada, and with the exception of one or two, which are tales from the North, the rest take place in Ontario, Quebec, or the Maritime provinces. Beware of the error on page fifty-four, where the photo is tagged "Bastion Square in Vancouver, B.C.," rather than Victoria, which would be correct.

     The book is organized into short stories and is not arranged geographically or according to subject. However, the transitions try to provide some fluidity between tales, often picking up on an idea in the previous story and carrying it forward to the next by means of an introduction. Though not included, an index would be useful for easy reference to subject, place, or name, and a table of contents would allow for easier navigation through the book. Also, no biographical information is provided about the author--just a brief, sensory-driven, introduction that sets the tone of the book.

     Illustrations are all black and white, and some, such as photographs, newspaper clippings, or pencil sketches, for example, convey factual information. Most illustrations, however, are purely for effect, obviously chosen to capture the essence of the tale. A grotesque, darkly shaded creature appears above the title "Possessed," prefacing a story involving a Wendigo, for example. The book’s design is accessible, with lots of white space and an appropriately creepy font used for the titles. The book’s attractively ominous cover makes it inviting to pick up.

     Haunted Canada 2: True Tales of Terror is an ideal recreational read for those who like spooky tales and urban legends. The book also offers a subtle introduction to Canada's history and geography and is perfect for Halloween, camping, or for those interested in tales of horror and mystery.


Andrea Szilagyi is a graduate student studying children's literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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