LOLA (Laurent, Lawlor), NOEL (also known as Newell Lolar), Malecite hunter, guide, and legendary figure; d. before 1861 in Woodstock, N.B.
Noel Lola is listed, as an adult, in the 1841 and 1851 census records for the Tobique region. In the latter document, it is reported that he was married. His wife was probably Louise St Pierre (Sappier). In April 1852 their son, also named Noel, was baptized in Woodstock at the age of ten days.
According to the tradition of the Malecite band on the Woodstock Indian Reserve, by the late 1850s Lola, a hunting guide, was living there with a woman who was not his wife. Having been among the first to move to the newly established reserve [see Peter Lola], Lola had selected a favourable site adjacent to the Saint John River. Because of his domestic arrangement and his increasing intemperance, the other Malecites chose to live some distance from the couple.
One evening about this time, two white men, strangers to the area, were spotted approaching Lola’s camp. When neither he nor the woman with whom he lived were seen for several days, one of the residents of the reserve went to investigate. Lola was found dead and there was no sign of the two men or the woman. The resident Roman Catholic priest was asked to conduct a proper burial but he refused, saying Lola’s sinful life prevented him from so doing. A grave was then prepared near Lola’s camp. In time the Indians forgot about the burial and established homes around the unconsecrated grave.
After a while the Malecites became aware of a strange whooping which was heard prior to every death on the reserve. This sound was attributed to a kéht∂kws or ghost – in this case the apparition of a person denied a Christian burial – which portends a death by whooping. This forerunner of death was last experienced about 1938 or 1939. At that time a resident, excavating his cellar, disinterred a skeleton. When analysis suggested that the bones were of a male who had died 80 or 90 years earlier, the community agreed that they were probably Lola’s. Once these bones were reinterred in consecrated ground by the local priest, the whooping was no longer heard.
Most of what has survived about Lola’s life is a matter of legend, but the circumstances reflect the values and expectations of the Malecites who were his contemporaries. Strongly influenced by both official Catholic doctrine and by Irish and French folk traditions, they believed a person’s soul could not find rest until the body had received a Christian burial. These influences are also evident in the tale of the Dungarvon Whooper. Whooping was said to occur sporadically at sunset in a remote lumber camp because of the unconsecrated burial about 1860 of an Irish murder victim. It continued until the body received a proper burial in 1912.
The Malecites had added a moralistic overtone to their legend which was missing in the Irish one. To them, if a person sinned, he or she could become a ghost, the soul never finding peace until it received official church forgiveness. But, perhaps even more significantly, the end of the whooping came at a time when the Malecites’ belief in kéht∂kws began to decline. Increased levels of education and profound changes in ethical values in Indian and white communities precluded the continuance of moral sanctions based on such legends.
N.B. Museum, W. F. Ganong coll., box 38, item 10 (“Return of Indians at Tobique and Madawaska, June 1841”). PAC, RG 3 1, A1, 1851, Victoria, return for Tobique Indian Reserve; 1861, Woodstock, N.B. St Gertrude’s Roman Catholic Church (Woodstock), St Malachy’s Church, Woodstock, reg. of baptisms, marriages, and burials. Handbook of North American Indians (Sturtevant et al.), vol.15. Rayburn, Geographical names of N.B., 98, 289. Carole Spray, Will o’ the wisp: folk tales and legends of New Brunswick (Fredericton, 1979). Stuart Trueman, Ghosts, pirates and treasure trove: the phantoms that haunt New Brunswick (Toronto, 1975). V. O. Erickson, “The Micmac Buoin, three centuries of cultural and semantic change,” Man in the Northeast (Rindge, N.H.), nos.15–16 (spring–fall 1978), 3–41. N. N. Smith, “Notes on the Malecite of Woodstock, New Brunswick,” ed. K. H. Capes, Anthropologica (Ottawa), no.5 (1957): 1–39; “Premonition spirits among the Wabanaki,” Mass. Archaeological Soc., Bull. (Attleboro, Mass.), 15 (1954): 52–56.