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The Dagg Poltergeist
*from the book “Ghost Stories of Canada” by John Robert Colombo
The Dagg Poltergeist was one of the wonders of the Ottawa Valley in the late nineteenth century. The focus of the disturbances caused by the poltergeist (an unseen but noisy spirit) was the farmhouse of George and Susan Dagg in the village of Clarendon on the north side of the Ottawa River, near Shawville, Quebec. The Daggs were a typical farming family. They had two children of their own, four-year-old Susan and two-year-old John. The family was increased by one member when they adopted Dinah Burden McLean, an eleven-year-old Scottish orphan.
John Dagg and sixteen of his fellow farmers described some of the manifestations that took place on his farm in a short Report that was prepared by them at the request of Percy Woodcock, a journalist who covered the exciting events for the Brockville Recorder and Times. The manifestations extended over a period of about three months. The events were observed by Woodcock and by the witnesses who signed this statement, as well as by numerous spectators who were attracted to the little community from far and wide by reports of wondrous happenings. So close was Woodcock to the action, that many observers (especially rival reporters and correspondents) felt that he was somehow orchestrating it.
R.S. Lambert devoted a chapter to the Dagg Poltergeist in Exploring the Supernatural (1955). He called his account "The Ghost that Talked." The chapter concludes with these words:
“Most readers of this chapter will feel inclined to set the affair down to fraud, or hallucination. If so, one would like to know the answers to a few supplementary questions. What benefit did the Daggs, or the girl Dinah, get out of it? If it was a mere case of hysterical exhibitionism, why did it suddenly stop in the early hours of November 18th, and never repeat itself? What degree of skill in ventriloquism was necessary to trick such a large crowd of people? Did Dinah (if she was the agent) ever display such skill in later life? Alas, to these questions history gives us no answer!”
To whom it may concern:
We, the undersigned, solemnly declare that the following curious proceedings, which began on the 15th day of September, 1889, and are still going on, on the 17th day of November, 1889, in the home of Mr. George Dagg, a farmer living seven miles from Shawville, Clarendon Township, Pontiac County, Province of Quebec, actually occurred as below described.
1st, That fires have broken out spontaneously through the house, as many as eight occurring on one day, six being in the house and two outside; that the window curtains were burned whilst on the windows, this happening in broad daylight whilst the family and neighbours were in the house.
2nd, That stones were thrown by invisible hands through the windows, as many as eight panes of glass being broken; that articles such as waterjug, milk pitcher, a wash basin, cream jug, butter tub and other articles were thrown about the house by the same invisible agency; a jar of water being thrown in the face of Mrs. John Dagg, also in the face of Mrs. George Dagg, whilst they were busy about their household duties, Mrs. George Dagg being alone in the house at the time it was thrown in her face; that a large shelf was heard distinctly to be played and was seen to move across the room on to the floor; immediately after, a rocking chair began rocking furiously. That a washboard was sent flying down the stairs from the garret, no one being in the garret at the time. That when the child Dinah is present, a deep gruff voice like that of an aged man has been heard at various times, both in the house and outdoors, and when asked questions answered so as to be distinctly heard, showing that he is cognizant of all that has taken place, not only in Mr. Dagg's family but also in the families of the surrounding neighbourhood. That he claims to be a discarnated being who died twenty years ago, aged eighty years; that he gave his name to Mr. George Dagg and to Mr. Willie Dagg, forbidding them to tell it. That this intelligence is able to make himself visible to Dinah, little Mary and Johnnie, who have seen him under different forms at different times, at one time as a tall thin man with a cow's head, horns and cloven foot, at another time as a big black dog, and finally as a man with a beautiful face and long white hair, dressed in white, wearing a crown with stars in it.
John Dagg Portage du Fort, PQ.; George Dagg, Portage du Fort, PQ; William Eddes, Radsford, PQ; William H. Dagg Port. du Fort; Arthur Smart, Port. du Fort; Charles A. Dagg, Port. du Fort; Bruno Morrow, Port. du Fort; Benjamin Smart, Shawville, PQ.; William J. Dagg, Shawville, PQ.; Robert F. Peever, Cobden, Ont.; Robert H. Lockhart, Port. du Fort; John Fulfrid, Port. du Fort; George H. Hodgins, Shawville; Richard F. Dagg, Shawville; George Blackwell, Haley’s, Ont.; William Smart, Portage du Fort; John J. Dagg, Portage du Fort.
* In 1957, the National Film Board of Canada produced a 30 minute dramatization of “The Ghost That Talked”.
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