Jerome the Gravekeeper can often be seen sauntering through the cemetery with a candle-lit lantern in one hand and shovel in the other, leading inquisitive followers to the grave of Ebenezer Bishop.
“Ebenezer Bishop grew up in Greenwich in 1784 to a father named Timothy who has married once before,” Jerome begins, poetically reciting historical facts.
“Resulting from these two marriages were 15 children and from Ebenezer’s 13 older siblings he grew to manhood, absorbing and learning everything he possibly could to help him become the colourful and charismatic character he was claimed to have been.”
Bishop, Jerome adds, was well respected as a skilled marksman in the militia and intelligent farmer. Although the only known photograph of Bishop is said to have been ruined, Jerome stressed that “sometimes, photographs can be replaced with words, for this man did something so remarkable, so outstanding that is worthy of remembrance prose.”
Bishop’s legacy is that of a man who trekked across the ice-covered Minas Basin in the dead of winter to propose to the gal he wanted to marry before another suitor could reach her first.
“This man walked across the Minas Basin for love in the early 1800s. She was quite the gal from Parrsboro,” Jerome recounts.
The gravekeeper, portrayed by actor Jeremy Novak of Valley Ghost Walks, frequently delves deeper into Bishop’s story during two-hour historical productions dubbed Wolfville’s Gravely Ghost Walks.
The walking tour includes multiple stops at the Old Burying Ground, and visits to various places throughout town that are somehow connected to prominent figures from Wolfville’s past that have been developed into ghosts portrayed by local actors.
“In each ghost walk, there’s a little ghost story here and there because I think it’s fitting, but for the most part it’s all historical,” said Novak, who started the ghost walks 10 years ago.
“There’s so much history that’s recorded here.”
Valley Ghost Walks has grown from a five-show season in its first year to a weekly production, with tours mapped out for Wolfville, Windsor, Kentville and Halls Harbour.
“You sort of look at a town layout and say all the world is a stage and where would these stories best be slotted, and what would the route be?”
The shows run every Thursday night, from Apple Blossom week in late May to Halloween. With scripts based on local history and the Annapolis Valley as their stage, Novak says Jerome the Gravekeeper and his colourful cast of ghostly friends always have some fascinating tales to tell.
“I get to combine business with theatrics, with community, with storytelling… it’s fun and the cast has a great time.”
Go online: Visit valleyghostwalks.com to learn more about upcoming productions.