By Leo Doucet
There is an area in North Central NB that was first heavily logged in the late 1800s and early 1900s (and still is today) through which the Dungarvon River flows. Loggers in the winter camps told and retold stories in the evenings relating to events that had occurred and/or what they had heard from others before them. Even when I was young I heard many such stories and most in one way or another related to the supernatural, call it folklore or whatever, it used to scare the hell out of us as children.
The Dungarvon Whooper is not just one story but a whole series of episodes that are alleged to have happened in the area of the Dungarvon River in North Central New Brunswick and beyond in the heyday of lumbering in the late 1800s/1900s.
That area was remote, extremely heavily forested and had never seen an ax or a saw. So much so that the "Lumber Barons" of the day used to top the trees at 10". Most of the woodsmen of the day were uneducated and it would appear prone to believing everything they heard. The area at the time was home to timber wolves, Eastern panthers, Caribou and a whole range of smaller animals that thrive in old growth forests.
My grandfather, and my father when he was a young man, worked in the woods just a bit north of the Dungarvon but the same story's were told and retold there as well. I too remember hearing story's of the Dungarvon Whooper and frozen with fear would go to bed and cover my head too scared to go to sleep.
One story goes like this
It was around 8 o'clock in the evening in the winter when all of us in the camp, lit only by a lantern, heard a wild scream or whoop. Those who had heard the sound before swore that it was the Dungarvon Whooper and now non would venture out to go to the outhouse before going to bed.
One, a big lumber jack perhaps a bit braver than the rest, laughed at the others and said he would go outside and stand guard while the others took turns going to the outhouse. Only those in dire need however took advantage of the situation and to make matters worse the big lumber jack just outside the door would swear, scream and whoop at the top of his voice and sometimes be answered by another whoop from the surrounding forest while the sounds from the other source seemed to be coming closer and closer.
The screaming and whooping from both sides increased in frequency and intensity and now mixed with the maniacal laughter from the lumber jack frightened the men so much that no more dared go out the door. Suddenly when both sources of the sound seemed just outside the camp door there came absolute silence. The lumber jack did not come back in and no one was brave enough to venture out.
The next morning, a Sunday, when the men ventured out in daylight someone pointed to an old Chico* and there stuck on the topmost branch in an upside down position was one of the lumber jack's boot.
Chico *---An old gnarled and dead, usually hardwood, tree.
The scream of an enraged or frightened Canada Lynx and/or Bobcat heard up close will instantly freeze your blood, I can attest to that. It is most likely that the screams or whoops originated from these animals and the rest of the story originated in the teller's mind.