Ferryland Visitor: A mysterious tale
Shortlisted for the 2018 Rocky Mountain Book Award
"Esther followed her father into the hallway. A tall man was standing just inside the front door. Houndie sat at his feet, thumping her tail and looking up at the visitor with a big dog smile on her face. That was strange. Houndie took her role as a watchdog very seriously and always barked her head off any time anyone came near their old house. But this time she hadn't made a peep."
In the early 1970s, artist Gerald Squires moved, with his wife and two young daughters, into the abandoned lighthouse-keeper’s house in Ferryland, Newfoundland. Shortly after their arrival, they had a visitor who claimed to be the former constable of the area and regaled them with stories of the place and its previous occupants. A visitor, they soon learned, who was more than he appeared to be.
Using materials gathered in interviews with members of the family, Charis Cotter tells the tale of this mysterious visitor from the perspective of the youngest member of the Squires family. Cotter captures the delight of a curious young girl discovering her new landscape, the excitement of living in a lighthouse at the edge of the ocean, and the haunting mystery of the visitor himself.
Renowned artist Gerald Squires contributed already-existing paintings and several new drawings of the lighthouse and its surrounding landscape, as well as family photographs from the lighthouse years. The result is an illustrated storybook of great beauty—part family recollection, part art book, part ghost story.
Designed by Vesalina Tomova of Vis-a-Vis Graphics.
Thanks to Harry Bryan and Southern Shore Sounds community radio for giving us permission to use their recording of Charis's telling of the story.
What folks are saying
"This is a hauntingly beautiful and exquisite book..."
– Canadian Children's Book News
"If ever there was a spot for a ghost story on the much-haunted island of Newfoundland, the long-empty light keeper’s house at the end of the road in Ferryland must be the perfect location.
Author Charis Cotter has taken a family’s true tale of a mysterious encounter with an unexpected visitor, and turned it into a book that is as eerie as it is touching. The illustrations, a mix of work by the late Gerald Squires, and vintage photographs, add the perfect note of melancholy and verisimilitude.
The book stands as both a particularly fine retelling of one of my favourite Newfoundland stories, and a beautiful tribute to one of the province’s most celebrated visual artists. It is a treat to be savoured when the light is fading, over a good cup of tea."
– Dale Jarvis, folklorist, author, and storyteller
"The Ferryland Visitor shines a beacon light on what it takes to feel at home in a new place, and what, in turn, that community expects from us. A warm and true book that revolves around family and belonging, beautifully told and illustrated, with a crazy mystery thrown in! Highly recommended."
– Michael Winter, author of Minister Without Portfolio, Into the Blizzard, and The Big Why
"An interesting, mysterious story with memorable illustrations."
– Kirkus Reviews