The following story is taken from
"Witches, Ghosts and Loup-Garous (were-wolves)", by
Joan Finnigan Mackenzie, published by Quarry Press, PO box 1061,
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 4Y5 in 1994 ISBN 1-55082-086-9.
(Copyright permission sought but not yet received).
From the preface: "George Usborne, the chief character in
the story, was an early lumber baron who conducted business along the St
Lawrence and Ottawa River. If you go north of Ottawa to Portage-du-Fort
you can see his large stone storage sheds (now transformed into a summer
place) sitting over the Chenaux Falls, the church he build on the
hillside, and the burial stone for him and his wife Mary Ogden Seaton in
The Dripping Seaman
George Usborne was an English sea captain
who came to Canada about 1800 and made his first fortune in the timber
stands he held along the the St Lawrence River and in the Sanguenay
River Valley. But he was chased from there by a ghost. And this is how
Usborne owned three large ocean going schooners
and was engaged in shipping cargoes of square timber from Quebec City to
Liverpool in England. He became very wealthy and built a huge stone
mansion on the heights at Quebec City for his bride Ethel Mary Seaton
Ogden, an American lady who he met while on lumbering business in Upper
New York State.
For a time Usborne prospered honestly. But then
he grew greedy. He began to try to make a killing by loading square
timbers not only in the hold, but also on the decks. In a heavy storm
this was fatal because the huge square timbers, sometimes weighing as
much as a ton each, slid to one side of the deck and capsized the
One year Mary and George chose May 1st. to
celebrate the end of the drive on the rivers and the departure of
Usborne's ships to Liverpool loaded with the great square timbers of the
Sanguenay River Valley. The celebration was held in the ballroom of the
Usborne mansion attended by all the fair women of Quebec's high society
wearing gowns imported from London, and by all the grave men of Quebec's
high society sampling rare wines imported from Paris
While all this feasting and dancing was in
progress, suddenly there was a loud knocking at the rarely-used ballroom
door on the riverside.
Timber stowed on deck
All the music stopped. All the merriment ceased. When Mary
and George opened the door, there stood a lone man in seaman's
garb, dripping water on the doorstep, and covered with seaweed.
While everyone stood rooted to the floor, he raised his
arm, pointed a long bony finger at George Usborne, opened
his mouth as though to cry out an accusation. Although his
lips moved, no words were heard. And the sailor disappeared.
No trace of him at all on the doorstep except a pool of
water. Just there and gone.
Some time later, George Usborne
discovered that his ships had gone down on the night of
May 1st, the very night the dripping seaman appeared at
the ballroom door.
George Usborne went bankrupt and
for several years, tried to start again at Quebec City.
But Mary didn't want to live any longer in the stone mansion
on the heights. It was haunted by the ghost of the dripping
seaman who appeared every May 1st on the doorstep of the
riverside entrance to the ballroom. George Usborne then
tried to sell the beautiful stone mansion, but no one would
buy it because it was haunted. So George and Mary had to
abandon it. They moved to Portage-du-Fort in the Ottawa
Valley where the timber trade was just burgeoning, and there
they began anew.
To separate fact from fiction in
the above story click
In 1876 J.M.Lemoine described George's
"Geo. Usborne, Esq., was the
occupant of Cap Rouge cottage. The estate consisted of close on
one hundred acres of land, extending north across the king's
highway, with a river frontage of about twenty acres, the lot on
the south side of the road is laid out, one half in a park, the
remainder in two or three fruit and flower gardens, divided by
brick walls to trail vines and ripen fruit. It lies quite
sheltered with a southerly exposure, bounded by the lofty,
perpendicular river banks; the base, some two hundred feet
below, skirted by a narrow road, washed by the waves of the St.