Wednesday , 28 July 2021

The Haunting of the Lakeland: The legend of the Fort Kent Wendigo

This week, Lakeland Connect is featuring the real-life paranormal experiences of local people that defy explanation and will leave you wondering if we are truly alone.

In this feature, we are going way back and exploring the legend of a creature that is said to be the cause of murders in Fort Kent in the 1920s…

Thomas Burton comes to Fort Kent

The Wendigo is a mythological creature part of Algonquin legend that speaks of an evil spirit that could possess the minds of men mad with grief and despair, driving them to commit gruesome acts of murder and cannibalism.

Such a creature is alleged to exist somewhere around Fort Kent, with a chilling legend that goes back nearly 100 years ago.

Thomas Burton was a young doctor that arrived in Fort Kent from England in 1921 when it was but a humble colony. Burton came to Fort Kent with his wife to treat an outbreak of small pox that had befallen the small community, allegedly on the backs of rats.

Burton also hoped that by leaving England, he would leave behind the horrible memories he had of World War I.

Initially the young doctor was successful in fighting the disease, and the townsfolk embraced him and his wife as miracle workers, but the disease’s spread suddenly became uncontrollable, and Burton became overwhelmed with the sick and dying.

It wasn’t long before his wife too fell ill, and when she succumbed to the sickness, Burton locked himself in his house with her dead body.

In the following days, Burton went mad with grief, and according to legend was possessed by the Wendigo.

Under the evil spirit’s influence, he ate his wife’s flesh.

When he was done with her, Burton turned his attention to the residents of Fort Kent, and allegedly went on a killing spree for the next three days with few spared, said to be some of the grisliest murders in Canadian history.

At the end of the third day, it is said Burton disappeared into the woods around Fort Kent, and was never seen or heard from again.

When he and his wife had arrived, there were 150 people in Fort Kent — 11 were all that remained, at least according to the legend.

Burton’s was not the first high-profile case of Wendigo possession in Western Canada — the first official hanging to take place in the region was also attributed to a man possessed by the evil spirit.

Swift Runner, a Plains Cree trapper, was arrested after he admitted to killing and eating his wife and children during the winter of 1878, 25 miles from a Hudson’s Bay Company outpost stocked with emergency supplies.

Because he committed such a heinous crime while help was so close by, he was believed to be possessed by the Wendigo

After he confessed to the crime, Swift Runner was hung in Fort Saskatchewan.

Today the community we know as Fort Kent no longer sits at the location Burton’s terrible murders were committed, but residents sometimes report strange cries resembling that of a coyote coming from the tree line, and children are warned not to be in the fields too long past dark, lest they be taken by the Wendigo.

Do you believe in the legend of the Fort Kent Wendigo?…

About Chris Lapointe

Chris is a two-time Vancouver Film School graduate, where he originally studied screenwriting and video games. Returning home to the lakeland post-graduation, he was determined to put what he learned to use. He brings with him a laid-back attitude and a love for pop culture that he hopes can be injected into Lakeland Connect's publications.