To celebrate the solstice and rites of the season, Stellas Vicious Circle, a.k.a. the Whistler Writers Group, will hold an evening of scary campfire stories at the Riverside Campground on Sunday June 22 at 8 p.m. This is a free public event and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs.
Jennifer Cowan of the Whistler Writers Group has provided a sample solstice story below.
My youth was haunted by a glowing green, limping, angry figure of a woe begotten soul name Anson Miner. This being a time before Happy Days and an acquaintance with Anson Williams, a.k.a., the actor who played Potsie, Id never heard the name before. "Anson" sounded a lot like "Ants And" an etymological reference which only served to add to his inherent creepiness.
The story went that Anson Miner was a farmer with land beside a popular summer camp. One day while tending his fields, his tractor broke down. While trying to repair it, the machine sprung to life and sucked his leg into the thresher, all but destroying it. Anson survived the grisly incident, but forever after walked with a limp and was hampered in his efforts on to save his already faltering farm. A few lean years had left him in financial straits and coupled with his painful disability things were not on the upswing.
The camp owners offered to ease his debts by buying him out. But Anson Miner, like Jason and countless other moral crusaders who have a passing acquaintance with the freedom and licentious leap from innocence that takes place at sleepover camps, would have no part of it. He vehemently declined. Efforts to sell to another farmer who shared a similar moral stance failed.
Year after year his debts mounted and year after year the camp offered to help him, but it wasnt until the bank intervened and foreclosed on his farm that Anson Miner was forced to face his failure. He carried his lantern into the barn, limped up a ladder, ran a noose over the rafters and hanged himself.
When the sheriff came to serve notice on the foreclosure he discovered the lifeless body dangling in the greenish glow of the cheap kerosene lantern. After he cut Anson down, he went back to his car to radio back to the station. But when he returned to the barn, the body and lantern had disappeared.
But even in death, Anson Miner found no solace. The story goes that for years after a strange green glow could be seen late at night. And curious campers who dared to learn more first heard a low, ominous "stomp-stomp-drag" sound and were then greeted by a limping, moaning ghostly presence. The summer camp, a place of joy and discovery, was haunted.
I believe I first heard of Anson Miner at a sleep over camp in Halliburton when I was eight. But I first believed in him when Steve Lewis babysat for my brother and I aboard our family boat at a Toronto Island marina. At that time, our little sailboat was docked at the sleepy, quiet south end of the marina far, far away from the clubhouse where our parents were likely dancing to some cheesy band, oblivious to the torture we were about to endure. Captivated by our cool new companion, we listened with glee as we snuggled into our sleeping bags in the tiny cabin. We were expecting to be regaled with happy tales and a slew of silly new knock-knock jokes. Instead he scared the crap out of us.
Steve told us that Anson Miner lurked amidst the empty boat cradles in the adjacent maintenance yard, and for years afterward I wouldnt venture near them, even during the day. Plus, I also was unable to use the bathroom in the sail lockers at the end of the docks if nature called at night.
That this scary presence had originated on a farm in central Ontario and ended up on an Island in the Toronto harbour did not seem incongruous. Anson Miner had travelled in the indomitable way that dead, haunted people do over space and over time. Bogeymen can do that, you know, because they live in the imaginations of irrepressible minds where geography isnt an issue. And thats why Im telling this story.
So if youre out late at night and hear the odd patter of work boots or see a strange green glow in the distance, now you know what it is.