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The Ghost of Ellen Dower - Earl B. Pilgrim The Ghost of Ellen Dower
Earl B. Pilgrim

Price: CDN$19.95
ISBN 1-894463-22-6
Flanker Press
Paperback 307 pages
Book Description
Edward Dower, an enterprising fishing captain, in the year 1872 prosecuted the northern cod and seal with a determination that amazed friend and rieighbour alike.

Ellen Dower, wife to Edward Dower and proprietress of their fishing firm, was a lady of standing in the little town of Conche, Newfoundland. Hers was an unrivalled beauty, and she was a revered and respected advisor to her neighbours in times of trouble.

Maurice Power was a man about whom little was known. A tyrant and savage to those few who knew him, the man kept mostly to himself But he had big plans for Edward and Ellen Dower and the town of Conche...

Based on true events.

1872 was a good year for the Dower Brothers firm in Conche, owned and operated by Edward and John Dower and Edwardís wife Ellen. Seals were plentiful and fetched a high price on the market, so Edward, ever the ambitious entrepreneur, purchased a sturdy seagoing vessel, the Elsie, and set out in pursuit of the precious whitecoat with thirty-four of Concheís finest sons. Battling ferocious Arctic winds, Skipper Ned pushed on and would secure the biggest catch heíd ever seen.

Little did Edward know that his wife Ellen was fighting a battle of her own, and losing. Ellen Dower, a beautiful woman in her forties, was failing fast, and much to the shock of the people of Conche, she would eventually succumb to her illness. But Ellenís death was only the beginning.

In the tradition of Curse of the Red Cross Ring and The Captain and the Girl, Earl B. Pilgrim has recreated the rich Newfoundland landscape and character in a nostalgic reminiscence of better days gone by.

The Ghost of Ellen Dower is his sixth book. All of his previous books have become Canadian Best-sellers.


Earl Baxter Pilgrim was born in St. Anthony, Newfoundland in 1939, son of Norman and Winnie (Roberts) Pilgrim. He received his early education in Roddickton, Newfoundland, later studying Forestry at the College of Trades and Technology in St. Johnís.

He began his adult career in 1960 as an infantryman in the Canadian Army, serving with the Princess Patriciaís Canadian Light Infantry. While there, he became involved in the sport of boxing, eventually becoming the Canadian Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion.

Following a stint in the Forces, Pilgrim took a job as a forest ranger with the Newfoundland and Labrador Forestry Department. During this time, he came to recognize the plight of the big game population on Newfoundlandís Great Northern Peninsula. After nine years as a forest warden, he became a wildlife protection officer with the Newfoundland Wildlife Service.

For seventeen years, he has devoted his efforts to the growth and conservation of the big game population on the Great Northern Peninsula. Under his surveillance, the moose and caribou populations have grown and prospered at an astonishing rate. As a game warden and a local storyteller, he has gained the respect of conservationist and poacher alike.

Earl Pilgrim has been presented with a number of awards: the Safari International, presented by the Provincial Wildlife Division; the Gunther Behr, presented by the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation; and the Achievement "Beyond the Call of Duty" Award, presented by the White Bay Central Development Association.

Among his many achievements are contributions as a conservationist for waterfowl. He has made a hobby of raising eider ducks, and it has been estimated that eighty percent of all nesting eiders in Newfoundland developed from his original twelve ducks.

He is married to the former Beatrice Compton of Englee. They have four children and make their home in Roddickton, Newfoundland.

Earl B. Pilgrim is at the forefront of Canadian literature, his books having sold in excess of 75,000 copies.


On March 17, St. Patrickís Day, Ellen Dower awoke early as usual. Sunlight poured in through the window and warmed the far wall of her bedroom. She lay in bed for some time before turning toward the roomís only window, following the twisting patterns Jack Frost had left on the glass overnight. She stared mesmerized for a moment before calling out to Ambrose, her youngest son, to get up and light the fire. As her eyes slipped lazily around the curious designs on the windowpane, her thoughts drifted far away, and the sounds of her son putting sticks into the wood stove came as distant and dreamy.

The storm of northeast wind and blowing snow that swept the Conche Peninsula for the past three days had been a terrible one. Yesterday, one of the old-timers said that the very foundation of Conche shook in the wind. Edward and the boys were out there somewhere. Were they all right? But the general feeling around the kitchen table was one of complete confidence in Skipper Nedís abilities.

Emiline said that Uncle Paddy Dempsey would be in town soon. "He told me that if I wanted to go back home with him again, or if I had anything to send back to Englee, to make sure and have it ready to go around St. Patrickís Day. Heíll be by for the mail and anything else that has to go out." Emiline had winked at Ellen and said, "I think Iíll stay on just a little longer, at least Ďtil Frank gets home."

Uncle Paddy is coming for the mail. At that moment, Ellen Dower sat bolt upright in her bed, panic grabbing at her heart. The land grant! I havenít got it ready. How careless could I get? Our very oh my, I wonder where my mind has been? Her first instinct was to jump out of bed, but she fought for control and laid back, waiting until the house warmed a little and she could collect herself. Gradually she felt the thudding in her chest lessen, and she closed her eyes and fell into a light doze.

Something startled her. She opened her eyes and found herself looking directly at the phantom shapes on her window. "What a mystery," she mumbled, not aware she was saying it aloud. "It all looks so perfect. I wonder what it all means?"

Ellen leaped out of bed, knocking the bedclothes to the floor as she did. The early morning sun was just peeking over the trees outside her window.

"Itís going to be a clear day," she said. "But bitter cold," she amended, shivering.

She reached with icy fingers for her housecoat and slipped it around her tiny frame. After buttoning it up and stepping into her slippers all in one motion, she took one quick look around and made for the door. All at once she stopped in her tracks, the thought of the land grant once more invading her mind.

"The land grant, yes, the land grant. I have to get it ready for Uncle Paddy when he gets here." She shook her head, angry at herself for having forgotten it a second time this morning.

Since Christmas Eve, Ellen had gone through the storage trunk several times for various reasons and had not seen the large envelope containing the grant. Through process of elimination, she had deduced that the only place it could be was in the cash box. The more she thought about it, the more likely it seemed. Her mind flashed to Edward and the icefields, and she was stricken with an empty, lonely feeling, wondering where he was and if he was all right. What are Edward, Frank and Peter doing? she wondered.

She knew that Edward would never leave something just lying around, let alone something as important as the land grant. This was their future. Not only for them, but for their families of future generations. "Maybe it was one of the girls who took it out of the trunk and put it in the cash box with the other envelopes," she reasoned.

No, Iím the only one with a key.

She straightened and looked out through the window again, her view of the landscape blurred by the frosty curlicues on the glass. Something was not right. Her eyes shifted and focused on the window itself.

Ellen gasped.

Side by side on the window, two images stared back at her. It was as if someone had taken a quill and somehow used the frost itself as the ink. On one side was etched a bouquet of roses with delicate sweeping strokes, intricately detailed and altogether startling in its beauty. But beside it was a bewildering array of lines. The patterns there made no sense, seeming to defy any reason. A thing like this is not meant to be, her mind screamed. Looking at the ugly thing actually pained her. Her spirits sagged, and a pit of hopelessness opened up deep down in her belly.

She took a step back and shook her head at the patterns, as though denying their existence. Why would something like this happen side by side in nature? What does it mean? Iíve never seen anything like it before.

Ellen was staring at the window for a long time before she realized the frost was beginning to fade. The room was warming up from the wood stove, and the heat was causing it to evaporate. "Wható" she started to say, but she never got to finish. What came out of her was the beginning of a scream, and she had to bite down on her knuckle to keep herself from wailing hysterically. The bouquet of roses on her window had faded to meaningless droplets, but the monstrous insignia beside it had remained in its entirety, as if some dealer had left the Death card still facing up and turned the others down.

"Mother, are you up?"

Ellenís voice trembled as she spoke. "Yes, Ambrose, Iíll be out in a moment, my dear. Put some more wood in the stove, please."

"I just filled it up. The house is warm enough now."

"All right. Thanks. Iíll be out soon."

Taking her eyes from the window, she picked up a towel and wiped the residue from the glass, making a point not to look at it. "What will this day bring forth?" she whispered. With that, she turned and rushed out the door without looking back.

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