Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs

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The Baie Chaleur Fireship, more commonly referred to as the Chaleur Phantom or the Phantom Ship,[1] is a form of ghost light, an unusual visual phenomenon, occasionally seen in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada. It takes the form of an arc of light, usually seen before a storm. Its cause is unknown, but speculation includes rotting vegetation, undersea releases of natural gas, and St. Elmo's Fire.

The phenomenon has been the source of many a tall tale, and has been said to appear as a flaming three-mast galley much like the style of ship featured on New Brunswick's provincial flag.

Versions of the story[edit]

Portuguese captain selling Indians[edit]

In this version of the fireship tale, a Portuguese captain arrived on the shores of Heron Island in Baie des Chaleurs in 1501. Upon his second trip to the region to capture more natives for the slave trade, he was tortured and killed by the locals who had bitter memories of his first visit. A year later his brother came looking for him and was also attacked by the locals; their ship caught fire and they jumped into the waters and swore to haunt the bay for 1,000 years.[2]

Pirate killing near Port Daniel[edit]

This Restigouche lady's version tells of a group of pirates who killed a woman. With her dying words she cast a curse upon them that "For as long as the world is, may you burn on the bay."[2]

Sailor murdered aboard[edit]

Sailors aboard a ship heading to sea in bad weather feared they would die and blamed their bad luck on one of their own whom they murdered. When the ship caught fire, it was told that it was Catholic blood reaping its vengeance.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^, source: City of Bathurst
  2. ^ a b c (French) Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs, source: Université de Moncton, Centre d'études acadiennes, Fonds Catherine-Jolicoeur, 63.011