On a RV trip that must have been in the early 1990s, I visited Canada’s Maritimes. I am repeating this story from my book, RVing North America, Silver, Single, and Solo. I was there around Halloween and because Canadians seem to be really taken with that holiday with all its big pumpkin contests and amazingly decorated towns and the countryside, I assumed at first that the following story had to do with Halloween. Never assume.
South of Cheticamp, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, a yard full of people awaited visitors, or so I thought. On investigation, it was a forest of scarecrows. The creator of this fascinating array of inanimate impersonators of every size, shape, and profession, was Joe Delaney. It started as a hobby with three scarecrows to chase four-footed and flying pests from his garden in 1984, the year he retired as school janitor. It proliferated into a crowd of 107 unique friends attracting friends.
In 1986, the entire menagerie, but for one survivor, was destroyed by vandalism. Joe called this, “The Cape LeMoin Massacre.” This was a private undertaking, but Joe kept a donation box on a table between two of his watching scarecrows and sometimes people donated clothes and props. Joe wrote me a letter later telling of the origin of this idea.
“We have an old Acadian tradition or culture. It takes place during the fourth week of Lent. We dress up as scarecrows and go from house to house in our community. You have to change your walk and voice, cover your ears and hands so you are in complete disguise so your neighbors cannot guess who you are. Some of these people are as good as Sherlock Holmes.
“Neighbors know each other for miles around because homes and property are passed on from one generation to another. In the beginning, this only lasted one day. About seventy years later, it lasted three days. Now it begins on the fourth week of Lent on a Sunday night and finished in the early hours of Saturday. People play guitars, harmonicas, accordions, violins, and we dance and sing to the music.” Joe says this Acadian Culture Custom is called “La Mi-Careme,” meaning the Mid-Lent Festivity.
Because of the thousands of visitors from all over the world who stopped to see Joe’s army of scarecrows, his fame spread. He had been interviewed by many TV networks and newspapers. He also received two awards, “…for this crazy idea of mine – ha ha ha.” In checking the Internet in 2012, he died in 2011 and his wife had all the scarecrows taken down. Some were transferred to the nearby town.
This picture was taken of some crazy person walking the streets of North Ranch on Halloween a few years ago. It was rather disheartening for her because everyone called her by name as she went by!! God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, and her fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada are available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”