Journey to the Witches Well (part 1 of 3)


The renowned Bowring Park first opened to visitors in 1914, and is located in the West end of St. John's. More specifically, the park rests in what people of St. John's call "Waterford Valley". Unfortunately, some people have lost their lives in this park over the years.

In order to protect the identity of the deceased and circumstances of death, there will be no further comments on this subject.

Along with other attractions, the park is known for its "Peter Pan Statue". The statue is located near the oldest duck pond, and was revealed to public by 1925. With respect to the Peter Pan statue, this was created for a young girl who loved the park, and lost her life.

There are other locations in the park which showcase tragedy, of course. Although the Salem Witch Trials in the United States ended by the 1700s, the concept of witchcraft has been a prominent aspect of Newfoundland culture for centuries.

"Fair use"

Keeping that in mind, the "witches well" near the playground sparks the interest of many visitors to the park. According to writer Barbara Rieti (she and I met in 2016 at Memorial University), much of the belief in witches in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador draws from the issue of "coincidental events".


For instance, there were women living in small communities on the island over the last few hundred years- accused of being a witch. In some cases, these "witches" were older women that lived alone, and kept to themselves.

Since these women were not as "out-going" as the typical Newfoundlander, they were often viewed as "strange". More specifically, some young person in the community would get into an argument with the "witch", for example.

"Fair use". Something to consider: there is no evidence that proves witches were actually burned in America. Instead, they were often hanged or beaten to death.

In response, the witch would claim this young person would "have a bad season" (if they were a trades worker). When this prophecy turns out to be true, people in the community are quick to place blame the old woman that lives alone. Thus, she becomes a witch.

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What did you think of this article on witches?

Part two is on the way...

The Modernist Son, 2020-2021.

Further Reading:

Barbara Rieti. Making Witches: Newfoundland Traditions of Spells and Counterspells. McGill- Queen's University Press. 2008.

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