I am always amazed at where folk lore or urban lore comes from or how does it start as it passes on through generation after generation. Here is a story that apparently is folk lore about Father Point and the Evil Star. It re tells the legend of what the Evil Star of Father Point had done in the pass to people who did not heed to the warning and this story end with the horrible disaster of the sinkng of the Empress of Ireland!
The story came from a newspaper called The Semi Weekly Tribune North Platte, Nebraska. Please let me warn you, this story was re written exactly the way it was written 100 years ago.
HERE legend told in the great woods along the Rimouski river southeastern Canada that when a certain star hangs over Father Point all good men should keep to their home, for on that night danger lurks on the St. Lawrence River of the point and the hunter and woodsmen of the Interior are in danger of their lives.
Father Point is near the mouth of the Rimouski River and la on the south shore of the St. Lawrence. The people of that place are used to caring for the poor and distressed. They have seen so much disaster and heartbreak they have long ceased to regard such occurrences for long.
The history of Father Point dates back before the coming of the white man. The language of the Indians gives legends of the Evil Star.
One winter while the Indians of the Rimouski region were planning a trapping expedition to the Champlain River, the star rose above the point and by that sign forbade the Indians to embark. There were old men in the village who had heard of the legend and who told the young men to remain at home until the star had passed on. The young men laughed at the counsel of the old men and tried to depart. Then the old men went to the water and destroyed the canoes of the young men. They throw thorn on the fires and sat by in silence, while the young men railed at the older heads for the superstition.
But the Great Manitou took revenge for the rebellion of the young men. The legends tell how the Great Manitou sent the deepest snow that had over fallen. The trails were buried and none were able to leave their wigwams. Famine came because they could not go on the hunt as formerly. The young men died and there wore few left to tell the tale.
Next the French came. One night when the wind howled around Father Point and sighed in the branches of the trees of the Rimouski River, the star reached the zenith above the fatal spot.
"Don't go out tonight," chanted the Indian Medicine men. "There is death in the land. Don’t go out tonight."
But the French left their homes in spite of the warnings. All the young men of the river country marched away, because had not the great General Montcalm commanded? They were going to the defense of Quebec. Their boats took to the river that night and they mocked the star as it twinkled from above the crags. As their coats moved up the St Lawrence toward Quebec the boats of Wolfe hove in sight. As the sailors of Wolfe's command passed Father Point the watch on the boat saw the star, no the records say. He pointed upward, for the star was in the zenith and it was of great brilliancy.
The men went on up the stream. The French landed and were welcomed to Quebec. The English followed them. They, too, landed, but it was many weary months after. Before that time the French soldiers had laughed many times about the warnings of the old Indian medicine chiefs. Before that time the English had forgotten the star which hung over Wolfe's vessel, but the watchman of that night did not forget and the Indian medicine men did not forgot.
Then one night Wolfe, with his men, crept up the heights of Abraham above Quebec and when day broke he commanded the view of the city.
The French rushed to the defense of the city. On the Plains of Abraham they fought most valiantly but they seemed unable to stand before the onslaughts of the English. Every man from the bank or the Rimouski died in that terrible conflict Montcalm, who had ordered them to the defence of Quebec, also was killed in battle.
Cities have sprung up along the banks of the St. Lawrence. Father Point has grown from a Father Point of rock to a town with a wireless telegraph station and with lifesaving equipment. The people of that place do not believe in superstitions.
They are a new race. The conquering English have succeeded the French and have occupied its business streets. But back in the hills and woods and along the waters of the Rimouski the fishermen who make their living from the Lake des Bales, still tell the stories of the disasters that have befallen travelers on the St. Lawrence or those who roam the woods when the star of stands above Father Point.
Recently there was a great ship disaster In the St. Lawrence. The Empress of Ireland with Captain Kendall in command sank in a few minutes after she had been rammed by a collier in the St. Lawrence.
Because of the quickness of the time in which the Empress of Ireland sank many of the passengers were caught in their berths and drowned like rats in a trap. Then the ship listed to one side so that the lifeboats could not be put off on the other side of the vessel where the hull loomed up. The disaster came so quickly the rule of women and children first was hardly obeyed. It was a case of every passenger for himself. In the darkness, with the stillness of the sea all about them, the victims went down to death.
As soon as the liner was struck she sent out wireless messages for help, nut when the rescuers arrived they found the ship already had gone down. The lifeboats which had been gotten off were drifting about. Men, women and children wore clinging to the wreckage. The fog cleared away and from the lighthouses along the coast lifeboats were sent out to pick up the drowning passengers.
The crests of the waves were filled with wreckage from both ships.
When the first wireless call for help was flashed out in the fog and darkness officers in charge of the company which owns the vessel began to wire back for further directions. For many minutes the calls were sent out. The minutes lengthened into hours. The hours brought back no response. The officers had to admit, with reluctance, that the great vessel had gone out of sight and would not be seen again. Marine agencies sending out queries nil along the coast received the same reply of silence which told as eloquently as the roar of cannon that the ship hail gone down and could speak no more.
Then the Court of Inquiry. Investigation committees tried to learn whether the crow of, the Empress of Ireland or the crew of the Storstad was to blame for the disaster. They learned little, but up in the woods of the Rimouski, back as far as Lake Mistigougche, and even in the wilds of New Brunswick they toll how just before the Empress of Ireland sank; a warning star rose above Father Point. The watch heeded not the warning of the star. The ship was piloted without fear.Then the wrath of Manitou was let loose and fogs settled over the St. Lawrence. Two steamers moving swiftly through the fog wore crossing trails. In the light they could have seen each other and turned aside. They saw not, for the veil of fog enveloped them. Then the two vessels crashed against each other and the star triumphed again. The new citizens of Father Point laughed at the tale when they heard it.
"Tis an old superstition," they said. "We cannot be frightened that way. The law of nature is not because some Indian or his descendants think they see a star glittering about our village."
But the simple minded living in the back country point to the fate of Doctor Crippen and Belle Elmore as further proof of their contention. Didn't the star blaze above Father Point when they sailed down the river on their way to Europe? Didn't the simple-minded shuddered and conceal themselves find fall to start on any venture until after the spell of the star was gone?
Didn't Belle Elmore continue on her way with the doctor and didn't she meet death in a mysterious manner In London? The papers then were full of the details of the strange murder.Belle Elmore's body was found in London in the basement of a house which she and her husband, Doctor Crippen, had occupied. Investigations pointed to Doctor Crippen as the slayer. They tried to allow that he had an unrighteous attachment for Ethel LeNeve. Spies watched him daily in hopes he would commit some act which would throw suspicion his way. He expressed surprise that the woman should be missing. He expressed surprise that she should have been horribly slain he kept about, but the simple-minded folk say the spell of the Evil Star was upon him. The Star had allowed Belle Elmore to die in London. It had allowed Wolfe and the French soldiers to die at Quebec, but it wanted Doctor Crippen to meet his fate at the port of Father Point.
When night fell Doctor Crippen could not withstand the spell. He and Ethel LeNeve fled the country. Disguising himself as a Canadian returning home and dressing the LeNeve girl is his son he fled London and crossed the Atlantic, playing right into the hands of fate, the Canadian simple men say.
As the vessel approached the Canadian river, Captain Kendall, who later was to figure as captain of the Empress of Ireland, saw the couple. The man looked the part of the respectable Canadian father. The boy, however, looked the part of a girl. Her face was boyish enough, but she had a gait like a girl.
"She is a girl," Captain Kendall said. He watched her closely. Her locks were shorn, but she did not have the boyish features. She had not the adventurous curiosity of a boy. She was always hiding on board the vessel by herself. She did not like the company of others. She was too shy. Then Captain Kendall took a newspaper with photographs of Doctor Crippen. He examined the photograph carefully and compared it detail after detail with the man he had for passenger. Yes, he was sure the man was Crippen. The wireless telegraph was set to work. The Dominion police were notified and they boarded the vessel before it even landed. They arrested Doctor Crippen and the short-haired Ethel LeNeve. The girl went free. She never had gone against the decrees of the star, but Doctor Crippen was sent back to London, where he paid the penalty according to the rigid English law of those who slay their wives.