The Dungarvon Whooper

Along the Dungarvon River, logging was quite popular in the late 1800s into the 1900s. It is no surprise that during the long winter months, the winter camps soon filled with men and their stories. One of the most prominent stories, trafficked almost as heavily as the wood, was that of the Dungarvon Whooper.

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The story of the Dungarvon Whooper begins with a young cook at a lumber camp named Ryan. Ryan was said to have been working lumber camps for a few years and was quite transient. When he arrived at the latest logging camp he brought a simple sack filled with all of his worldly possessions and bulging money belt. Although he was a bit braggadocious at times, Ryan was generally well-liked, especially for his talent. Even though Ryan was small, he could whoop and holler and yell better than any man at the camp. 

Ryan, as the camp’s cook, awoke far earlier than the rest of the camp to begin preparing breakfast for all the men. Once he was finished cooking breakfast and filling up the lunch pails, he would let out a tremendous whoop to awake the entire camp and rouse them for breakfast.

One day, the boss of the lumber camp arrived. The boss was a stranger to the camp, but, as he was responsible for their paychecks, the men respected him. Once breakfast was made and the men left for the day, it was pretty much just the boss and Ryan alone at camp. When the men returned for dinner...they found Ryan’s lifeless body without his money belt. 

One of the men confronted the boss and claimed that the young cook had suddenly taken ill after the men had left and gotten worse and worse until succumbing to his death. The lumberman, loyal to their cook, asked if this was true where was the money belt that Ryan was never seen without?

The boss said something non-committal and a horrible storm began to rage. Not wanting their friend to go without a proper burial, they buried him in the forest. As they made their way back to the storm in the middle of the night and through the eye of the storm, they heard dreadful whooping emitting from all around them. It continued throughout the night from every conceivable direction and terrified all those in the camp.

The men went back with a priest shortly after to give a proper burial...but his body was nowhere to be found in the shallow grave the men had made. Following this failed attempt at a proper burial and Ryan’s missing body, every night after dark a bone-shivering whooping would echo throughout the camp.

Despite being a profitable camp, the lumbermen abandoned their work as soon as spring came and made for different camps never to return. Although the camp was disbanded, the Dungarvon Whooper did not stop his whooping and his tortured calls would ring throughout the forest for years.

Throughout the New Brunswick area there are slight variations to this tale. Some of the stories claim that the whooping ended decades later when a priest came and blessed the land. Other stories claim that the whooping can be heard to this day.

So, is it the just the wind whipping through the forest at night that makes this baleful whooping? Or, is it something more sinister?

Thanks to Tyson T for submitting this topic for #Blogstonishing 2019!

The above image is Dungarvon River at "The Jaws", New Brunswick, Canada (IR Walker 1988).  from lesfrenck and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0