Growing up as a preteen in the Eastern townships of Quebec in the 1950’s, I usually did not pay much attention to local story telling. It just did not interest me. I had adventures to keep me busy. However, this story is different. We had a connection. It would be easy to say that this story was not singularly sourced, but rather the voices of many over the years.
Now, the hill referred to in this story isn’t really a hill, but a mountain, in the Laurentians, I believe it was called Sugarloaf. As it turned out, most of the mountains were referred to in this manner, at least by the locals.
The family, which this tale is about were the Joneses. They didn’t always live over the hill, but in my village in a house that was next to ours. We could not be called neighbours at that time as we did not move until much later.Most of the time that house sat empty. It was a house similar in build and layout to ours, except with bullet holes in the walls. And that is where all similarities end.
When I first heard about this family, I was 8 or 9. Most of the stories told about them was when they lived in that house, long before I was born. Apparently, so the story goes, they had a bit of a bad reputation, at least he did. Coupled with that, the house was haunted.
The husband, well, he had a number of bad habits. Brandishing a gun in front of his family, or anybody else who was foolish enough to be there. The other, a constant brew in his grip. As I said earlier, the house was allegedly home to many spirits, and he was ready for them. Gun in one hand, beer in the other.
At this time, as I am told, they were a family of 5. Never knew his name, or I have just forgotten. Her name was Iola Jones and their oldest daughter was Iona, and that is all I can recall. As I said, when we moved into town in the late 40’s, they were long gone. Over the hill, with 27 children, as the story goes. “Contraceptives” were in short supply then. Of course, there was always Aspirin. (don’t ask me how that works, though I understand position is important). I assume, being God fearing people, they obviously took to heart the command “go forth and multiply”.
But I digress. The story gets a little muddled at this point. As I remember it, he, his wife, pregnant, and two older boys, were hunting in the woods. Oh yes, there was also a case of beer. He told Iola and one of his sons to go into the bush and try to scare game in his direction. The story goes that there was movement in the bush and he fired. Now, I’m thinking most people would wait and not fire until what caused the movement showed itself. Sober people, that is.
The family lost a mother and brother that day.
The other brother, almost a man, tried to wrestle the gun from his father. In the ensuing scuffle a shot was fired, and the boy saw that he had wounded his dad, and that there was way too much blood. Once he figured that his mom and brother were dead, he ran off, not to be located until many years later.
The father’s body was never found. The locals tell it that he died from his wounds, on the mountain, and the animals finished him off.
The story nearly ends there. I did have one more involvement with that house. One day, a new family moved in so my uncle and I went over to give them a hand. I saw bullet holes in the walls. Their last name was Jones.