June 11, 2014

The Wendigo

A demonic beast that appears in the legends of the Algonquin people, the Wendigo is a half-beast creature of legend. The legend says that the Wendigo can either have characteristics of a human or a beast and can transform from a human.

One description of the Wendigo is that it has no eyes, instead the empty sockets glow red and it has no lips, making it hiss and drool as it breathes through its jagged teeth. Some say that it will dart about in the shadows and fog of the forest and at times, you can see a faint glimmer of its glowing red eyes.

For humans to turn into the Wendigo, a demonic spirit visits an unsuspecting victim in their dreams. The most common cause of being transformed happens when one resorts to cannibalism during times of great hardship, such as a famine. The Algonquin used this story to reinforce the taboo against cannibalism by showing that people would turn into this creature.

One famous case involving the Wendigo story involved an Oji-Cree chief and shaman known as Jack Fiddler. Fiddler claimed to have powers to defeat Wendigos and in some cases, he was involved in euthanizing people he believed were afflicted. In 1907, Jack and his brother Joseph were arrested by Canadian authorities for murder. Jack committed suicide and his brother Joseph was sentenced to life in prison. Joseph was granted a pardon but died in jail before receiving the news.

If you want to find our more about the Wendigo and other supernatural tales, head to Old Fort Erie or Fort George this summer for their ghost tours. 

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