This is a story that happened in Clarendon. The tale has remained one of the biggest mysteries of the area as questions still remain – was there really a ghostly presence at the Dagg farm or were the incidents just a fraud, hallucination, or perhaps, a strong case of ventriloquism?
The year is 1889. The place was the farm on the 4th Concession, where George Dagg lived with his wife Susan and two children. They also had an adopted daughter named Dinah Burden McLean, who came from Scotland.
The disturbances at the farm began on September 15, 1889 and it wasn’t until Percy Woodcock of Brockville, arrived in November that the events were noted. Fires would break out spontaneously and on one particular day eight fires took place. ‘Filth’ from the outhouse appeared in the kitchen cupboards. Panes of glass were broken with stones by an unseen culprit, while the dining table, a milk pitcher and rocking chair moved on their own.
The family believed Dinah was the focus of the problems who said to have vision of a ghost. According to the young girl, there was a man with a cow’s head, a big black dog and a man with a beautiful face and long white hair.
These were just a few of the instances that occurred and upon meeting Dinah, Woodcock heard and had a conversation with an unseen, deep, gruff voice. There were different accounts on what was said, but the voice claimed to be the devil. When word spread and people gathered, the voice seemed to change tone and even sang for the crowd. Again, varied stories on what happened, while at one point, the ‘nicer’ voice said to be an angel.
Woodcock wrote up a witness statement and that was signed by 17 people –
John Dagg – Portage du Fort
George Dagg – Portage du Fort
William Eddes – Radford
William H. Dagg – Portage du Fort
Arthur Smart – Portage du Fort
Charles A. Dagg -Portage du Fort
Bruno Morrow – Portage du Fort
Benjamin Smart – Shawville
William J. Dagg – Shawville
Robert F. Peever – Cobden
Robert H. Lockhart – Portage du Fort
John Fulferd – Portage du Fort
George H. Hodgins – Shawville
Richard E. Dagg – Shawville
George Blackwell – Haley’s Station
William Smart – Portage du Fort
John J. Dagg – Portage du Fort
Woodcock had his accounts published in the Brockville Recorder and Times as the occurrences abruptly ended in November 1889 as well.
The events at the Dagg farm were mostly forgotten until 1955. R.S Lambert’s book – Exploring The Supernatural: The Weird In Canadian Folklore was published, which included a chapter of what happened at the farm. The CBC aired a program about the mysterious ghost, which led to an article in the Ottawa Citizen that was printed in April, 1957.
‘Revived Shawville Ghost Mystery Divides Community Into Two Camps’ reads the headline. According to Charlie Harris, aged 85, he was hit on the head by a hat with a potato in it, claiming the act was done by the ghost. The editor of The Equity at the time said, it was all a fraud, while Shawville, butcher Wellington Smart, believed a reporter from Brockville was a ventriloquist.
Some accounts claim that Percy Woodcock was a well-known artist, others say, he was a paranormal investigator and while a few more say, he was, in fact, a newspaper reporter from Brockville.
With so much time passed, perhaps there is a bit of truth to be found in all the tales. It still makes for some intrigue though.
By: Scott Campbell
(Picture is of Dagg Farm as it looks today)