Significant Stories

Stories of significance in the Helen Creighton Collection

There are many stories in the Helen Creighton collection that are noteworthy for many reasons, numerous topics, various beliefs, and importance both world-wide and to the communities from which they were collected. Here are just a few:

The Arab’s Legacy; Shake Hands with the Donkey. A Folktale Journey, Breton Books and Public Archives of Nova Scotia.1993, 2018. These two tales were collected in Yarmouth, NS and told by Hedley Doty. The tales are very similar to wise-fool type stories of the Hodja, Mulla Nasreddin, or Nasreddin stories told in Turkey for centuries.

Cinderella (Souillon). A Folktale Journey, Breton Books and Public Archives of Nova Scotia.1993, 2018. This story was collected in West Pubnico, NS and told by Laura McNeil. This story is a longer version of the Cinderella tale, of which, there are several hundred versions around the world. This Acadian version has a song which can be found in La Fleur du Rosier: Acadian Folk Songs/Chansons folkloriques d’Acadie, collected by Helen Creighton.

Big Claus and Little Claus. A Folktale Journey, Breton Books and Public Archives of Nova Scotia.1993, 2018. Helen collected and published three versions of this story from Judson and Allistair Armstrong of Levy Settlement, Dan MacPherson of East Erinville and Norman McGrath of Victoria Beach. Another version was collected from Edward Collicutt of Canaan and can be found in Helen’s book, Folklore of Lunenburg County. 1950. The story of Big Claus and Little Claus is a literary fairytale written by Hans Christian Anderson, and was published in Danish in 1835. These collected stories, somewhat changed with the tellings, travelled to Nova Scotia’s shores most likely via oral tradition and possibly via literary readings.

The Ghost House. Bluenose Ghosts, 1957. Nimbus Publishing 2009. The Hartlan’s Ghost House of South-East Passage was made of the wood washed ashore from wrecked ships. By all accounts, it was very much a haunted place where the forerunner of three knocks were often heard, followed by a sudden death.There were terrifying experiences of violent poltergeist activity, and sightings of apparitions and witches. To deter witches, a board was nailed above the front door that had nine reversed letters carved into it representing a passage from a German Bible: ”And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”. Helen first heard of the Ghost House in 1928 and it was the first ghost story she collected.

Ghost House
Hartlan’s Ghost House, South-East Passage, NS. Image courtesy of the Nova Scotia Archives.