Mother Barnes: The Witch of Plum Hollow
Halloween brings thoughts of witches and goblins. And in this part of Ontario, it reminds us of a local celebrity in this regard: Mother Barnes, the Witch of Plum Hollow. The picture above is the only known likeness of her that we have in all the research files from the variety of historians that have been captivated by her story. All would agree, however, that “witch” was an unfortunate and ill-informed term and that her skill lay more in the areas of fortune-telling and psychic gleanings. It is reported that even Sir John A. Macdonald was known to have dropped in for a visit to consult. As stated in Ottawa Valley Days:
On any day of the week a motley cavalcade of saints and sinners waited on this remarkable woman. Politicians and peddlers, rich and poor, the great, the near-great and the not-great, lovelorn maidens and dames in crinolines — all consulted the “Witch of Plum Hollow”.