The legend of an Englee witch
Was there a witch of Englee? Maude Cull-Saunders from Englee, who is now a resident of Shirley’s Haven in St. Anthony, says there was a witch in Englee back in the 1940s.
“My grandmother had two calves, well, her cow had two calves, and this old lady came down, the witch they called her, she came down and she said, ‘Give me one of them, Aunt Jessie (Canning)’,” Maude told The Northern Pen. “’No, I can’t give you me calves,’ (Jessie) said. So (the witch) went down and got the calf over by the fence to where she could reach it and she reached her hand down and touched the calf a couple of times and the calf died. Not right away, but probably that night or something, it perished. That’s a true story.”
Cull-Saunders declined to say who the woman was saying she didn’t want to cause trouble, but that people were wary at the time.
She recalled another story involving her grandmother.
“They say a witch won’t step over a broom,” Maude said. “So, my grandmother saw her coming, the old lady what they called a witch, so she went out and buried a broom in the snow in front of the bridge.”
That didn’t seem to work, though.
“(Grandmother) watched her come in and (the witch) says, ‘I saw your broom out there,’ she says at the door.”
Maude said people also thought the woman’s daughter was a witch, recounting a story about another woman in Englee.
“Her granddaughter was sick and she blamed this woman for witching (the granddaughter),” Maude said. “She said, ‘If my granddaughter dies, you’re in trouble.’ Anyway, (the witch) called it off and the girl got better.”
These days, Halloween is a time for stories of witches and goblins and spooky legends, but Maude grew up in a time before Halloween really took hold in Newfoundland.
“We didn’t know what Halloween was,” she said. “It was a date on the calendar, but we didn’t know what it means.”
Later, when Maude had children of her own, they didn’t observe Halloween.
“Our children weren’t allowed to do stuff like that,” she said. “That was a sin.”
She explained that that was the teaching of the Apostolic Church, to which she belonged.
Although Halloween has become a largely secular holiday, the Apostolic Church still warns Christians away from celebrating it.
“Halloween today is performed usually by adherents of witchcraft who use the night for their rituals,” states a blog by PraiseHymn, a public relations firm associated with the Apostolic faith. “Witches celebrate Halloween as the “Feast of Samhain,” the first feast of the witchcraft year. Being a festival of the dead, Halloween is a time when witches attempt to communicate with the dead through various forms of divination.”
The church recommends holding a fall fun day instead, or to celebrate Reformation Day—the Protestant commemoration of the onset of reform led by Martin Luther—which is also Oct. 31.
Maude did soften up on the observance of Halloween by the late 1970s, however, recalling one year when family came to visit.
“My daughter-in-law, Glenda, comes to the door in a witch’s cap, all dressed up,” Maude said. “I said, ‘I’m not going to let you in.”
But she did let her in. Of course, Glenda was a good witch. Or was it Glinda?
Maude Cull-Saunders, in her room at Shirley’s Haven, recounts the story of an alleged witch in the town of Englee back in the 1940s.