The Curse of One Market Street
Fiery lore of our downtown core, part three.
Scott Egan, October 05, 2022 // Brantford, OntarioThe walnut turtle used in casting the curse. Submitted photo.
DISCLAIMER: The writer would like to express his gratitude to Lori Greene for her time and insight, and to honour the memory of Alma Greene.
One person who has been directly connected to this mystery the whole time is the lady I've mentioned a few times before, Alma Greene. Alma Greene is the daughter of a Mohawk chief and a Turtle Clan Mother. She also was present at the casting of the curse. She was the caretaker of the walnut turtle and tasked with the renewal of the curse. She was the vocal reminder of the curse throughout its history. Mrs. Greene could be described in many ways, clan mother, medicine woman, activist, political and spiritual leader, bestselling author, mother, historian, orator and much more than I'm surely unaware of. There's not as much written about this woman as there should be, a small biography in this one book on local women, a bunch of newspaper articles from before the ’80s, but not much more. Reading her books gives you the impression of a majestic yet down to earth woman. Motherly. Like she's very caring, but don't take no crap. Like she'd be a great teammate and a terrible person to have against you. Absolutely everything you find she is held in very high esteem by those describing her.
She was known to be very quick witted. In one report I read when she was asked how long have the First Nations been bothered by pollution? Without missing a beat she replied, "Since about 1492." Now, I've only barely known this lady through her writings and stories I've either read or heard, one small story related to me by Lori Greene, her granddaughter, is fantastic. An elderly Alma Greene once beat an RCMP officer with her cane and stole his handcuffs – she showed me the picture. This well-dressed older woman holding a pair of old-style handcuffs. It was in the paper. I smile thinking about that picture. What a complete badass.
Alma Greene with handcuffs she stole from an RCMP officer. Stock photo.
Alma Greene dutifully renewed the curse on a yearly basis and had zero issue with reminding people of the curse. In 1983 when she sadly passed, the duty was passed on to her granddaughter, Lori. I have been able talk with Lori a tiny bit and she seems a lot like how her grandmother is described. I would not want to cross Lori either, but I bet she'd be a great friend to have. She has assured me the curse is still active, and that she and the walnut turtle renew it every year.
Now, you may ask me if I believe in the curse. Well, I'm not sure that I haven't been affected by this personally. The curse promises no one shall "... prosper, or even have a clear mind…" the late ’90s to early 2000s, I spent the majority of my time in the downtown area, around the mall, and I know that I didn't have a clear mind. I was so sick, sick in my soul. I didn't see it then, but looking back, I see it now. I didn't start to get better until I starting spending my time away from that area. Other things as well, but it all started with staying away from that area. Even now that area holds a bunch of bad memories and that darkness that still walks those streets. Ask yourself – next time you're driving through downtown with your windows rolled up tight and the doors locked – look out the window and ask yourself: Do you see prosperity? Do you see people with a clear mind? Or do you see sickness? No matter whether you believe in the power of the walnut turtle or not, it's not hard to believe that maybe Downtown Brantford has been cursed.
This is part three of a three part series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Scott Egan, best described as an extroverted hermit. Scott is an afficionado of all things old, odd and esoteric. An avid reader and collector, he’s accumulated a backlog of legends and lore that he loves to share with most anyone who will listen. A father of two, Scott lives along with his feline soulmate amongst thousands of books and hundreds of objects of the strange and unusual.