Blockhouse Investigations-Nova Scotia
By now most people have heard about Oak Island being cursed and that seven men must die before the mysterious treasure reveals itself. In fact the aptly named reality television show, The Curse of Oak Island, makes full use of the legend. But is Oak Island really cursed? And, if so, whom?
Blockhouse Investigations has sought to answer those questions and, not surprisingly, like most of the legends associated with Oak Island, nobody seems to know. The mention of a specific number makes it a rather specific legend so one would think that somewhere there is a specific reference that could lead us to its origins.We do know that a couple of authors writing about Oak Island have attributed it to famed Nova Scotia folklorist, Dr. Helen Creighton, but we’ve found no reference to it in either her published works or her archival material. There are a number of local anecdotes that allude to the island being haunted and that a ghost guards the treasure, but nothing about a curse. Some people say it’s mentioned in her 1957 book, Bluenose Ghosts, and some say it comes from her earlier, Folklore of Lunenburg County, published in 1950. But there is no specific seven must die curse mentioned in either.
One thing that Creighton’s work can tell us though is that the legend contains two very common folklore motifs: the magical number 7, and a treasure requiring blood to be shed in order to recover it. The former is almost ubiquitous in treasure and ghost lore- the other number being 3. And the latter is also a common theme that’s normally based on belief that blood was shed when the treasure was first gotten or when it was buried so therefore, it must be shed to recover it. Although several newspaper accounts over the past two centuries have made use of allusions to the island being haunted and/or cursed in some way, we’ve yet to find specific mention of the seven must die motif or information on the origins of the curse.
“Men fear death as children fear the dark, and as that natural fear is increased in children by tales, so is the other”- Francis Bacon
There is a tradition handed down in the McGinnis family, descendants of famed Money Pit discoverer Daniel McGinnis (Donald MacInnes), that the Mi’kmaq in the area placed a curse on them but it only applies to McGinnis men for some reason. And, of course, immediately following the 1897 death of worker Maynard Kaiser stories sprang up that his demise was no accident but the work of the supernatural- in fact, the ghost of Captain Kidd himself. But once again, neither of these make specific reference to a seven must die curse.
Recently a bit of a sensation resulted from the untimely death of a young producer on The Curse of Oak Island’s production team. This was shamelessly exploited and sensationalized by a self-styled treasure hunter who had made a brief appearance on the show. The gist of the many unfounded rumours that began to spread was that, perhaps, this young man’s death represented the 7th and that the treasure may now reveal itself. We won’t comment on how deeply repulsed we were by these repugnant rumours that led to this man’s death being discussed in the most uncaring and insensitive way. But we will say that it was shameful and was made even more so by the people right here in our home province who, not only bought into it, but fueled it with more rumour and nonsense.
“If you want to tell a grownup fairytales, you have to look for the dark side” –Juan Antonio Bayona
Regardless, even if there was any truth at all to the legend, we have no way of knowing that the six people whose names appear on Oak Island's monument to fallen treasure hunters, are the only diggers who have died on the island. McGinnis family tradition has it that sometime before 1827 young Henry McGinnis, son of Daniel, drowned when the pit flooded- presumably the Money Pit. We’re continuing to investigate.
Although we can’t yet tell you the origins of the Seven Must Die curse, we can tell you that it has never been an intrinsic element of the telling of the Legend of Oak Island. This leads us to think that it may be something that is relatively new and, either totally made-up or the result of a misinterpretation of local folklore. We are continuing our research into the legend and hopefully we will be able to establish how it came to be. We welcome any thoughts and comments our readers may have on the subject.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from a fisherman and storyteller whom Dr. Creighton interviewed when collecting folklore, “Sometimes I tell the truth and sometimes I don’t”. This reminds me of what I often tell kids when I’m entertaining them with tall-tales, “All my stories are true except for the ones I make up”. Folklore, although it may often have an intrinsic relation to a real event, is after all just folklore. And I personally feel that it behooves serious and ardent Oak Island enthusiasts to recognize it as such. Don’t get me wrong, the legends and myths in the Oak Island mystery are great. They are fun, interesting and intriguing. They add colour, mystique and a unique Nova Scotia flavor to the entire story. But in the end, they are not evidence. Here at Blockhouse we’ve been accused of being outright skeptics and we’ve even been accused of seeking to destroy the entire Oak Island mystery by disproving everything. Nothing could be further from the truth. And truth is the operative word.
Many Oak Island theorists have either willfully or unwittingly repeated countless untruths. Many times an entire theory that is otherwise very well researched and presented, totally falls apart because so much is being supported by one little linchpin of fable. We urge readers to be attentive to this fact and not to believe everything they read just because it’s on a website or even in a book. To theorists that wish to be taken seriously I have but two pieces of advice, only use credible information and always, always, be truthful.
Good day from the Blockhouse!
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
Editors and Chief Correspondents
Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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