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Dagg Poltergeist

The case of the Dagg Poltergeist took place in the Ottawa Valley during the end of 1889 and centered around the farm and family of George Dagg. The family consisted of George, his wife Susan, a daughter named Susan (4 years old), their son John (2 years old) and their eleven year old adopted Scottish child Dinah-Burden McLean (born at 87 Centre Street, Glasgow on 18 December 1876), who was identified as the focus for the activity. Their farm was situated on the north side of the Ottawa River in the village of Clarendon.

The haunting started with animal faeces being streaked along the farmhouse floor. At first a boy named Dean was suspected but when they appeared whilst he was absent he was shown to be innocent. The haunting escalated with crockery moving, fires starting spontaneously and windows being smashed.

Percy Woodcock, has in some accounts described as an early paranormal investigator called in by the family, in other accounts an artist and again a journalist who recorded the events for the Brockville Recorder and Times. The turn of events at the Dagg Farm transpired over a six month period and word of them soon spread, attracting visitors to the area to experience the haunting for themselves.

Dinah would be found having conversations with the spirit in the woodshed. The spirit would at first be abusive, but over time, when the phenomena started to attract crowds it changed its demeanor and would perform for them. The spirits manner eventually changed so much that it would sing beautiful music, a far cry from its earlier behavior. The spirit eventually flew up into the air like and angel and left.

The following witness statement was prepared by Woodcock and signed by George Dagg, several neighbors and other witnesses.

To whom it may concern:

We, the undersigned, solemnly declare that the following curious proceedings, which began on the 15th day of September, 1889, and are still going on, on the 17th day of November, 1889, in the home of Mr. George Dagg, a farmer living seven miles from Shawville, Clarendon Township, Pontiac County, Province of Quebec, actually occurred as below described.

1st, That fires have broken out spontaneously through the house, as many as eight occurring on one day, six being in the house and two outside; that the window curtains were burned whilst on the windows, this happening in broad daylight whilst the family and neighbours were in the house.

2nd, That stones were thrown by invisible hands through the windows, as many as eight panes of glass being broken; that articles such as waterjug, milk pitcher, a wash basin, cream jug, butter tub and other articles were thrown about the house by the same invisible agency; a jar of water being thrown in the face of Mrs. John Dagg, also in the face of Mrs. George Dagg, whilst they were busy about their household duties, Mrs. George Dagg being alone in the house at the time it was thrown in her face; that a large shelf was heard distinctly to be played and was seen to move across the room on to the floor; immediately after, a rocking chair began rocking furiously. That a washboard was sent flying down the stairs from the garret, no one being in the garret at the time. That when the child Dinah is present, a deep gruff voice like that of an aged man has been heard at various times, both in the house and outdoors, and when asked questions answered so as to be distinctly heard, showing that he is cognizant of all that has taken place, not only in Mr. Dagg's family but also in the families of the surrounding neighbourhood. That he claims to be a discarnated being who died twenty years ago, aged eighty years; that he gave his name to Mr. George Dagg and to Mr. Willie Dagg, forbidding them to tell it. That this intelligence is able to make himself visible to Dinah, little Mary and Johnnie, who have seen him under different forms at different times, at one time as a tall thin man with a cow's head, horns and cloven foot, at another time as a big black dog, and finally as a man with a beautiful face and long white hair, dressed in white, wearing a crown with stars in it.

John Dagg Portage du Fort, PQ.; George Dagg, Portage du Fort, PQ; William Eddes, Radsford, PQ; William H. Dagg Port. du Fort; Arthur Smart, Port. du Fort; Charles A. Dagg, Port. du Fort; Bruno Morrow, Port. du Fort; Benjamin Smart, Shawville, PQ.; William J. Dagg, Shawville, PQ.; Robert F. Peever, Cobden, Ont.; Robert H. Lockhart, Port. du Fort; John Fulfrid, Port. du Fort; George H. Hodgins, Shawville; Richard F. Dagg, Shawville; George Blackwell, Haley’s, Ont.; William Smart, Portage du Fort; John J. Dagg, Portage du Fort.

As stated above Dinah was indentified at the time as being the focus of the case and if it was a hoax then she must have been involved. Perhaps she was seeking attention. Dinah was the daughter of Lauchlan McLean and Jane Tait. At the time of her birth, Jane was either the wife or widow of George Tait who had left her about fourteen years previously. I am unsure what circumstances brought Dinah to Canada or to find her under the care of the Dagg family.

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Ian Topham
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