Sightings from the Top: The Mysterious Hunchback’s Shadow

by Terrie Todd

IMG_0741There’s a weird phenomenon surrounding the Tupper Street Bridge, and it only happens on sunny mornings. As I’m walking across, I look down below and I see what appears to be the shadow of a hunchback crossing the tracks. I look around to see what could be making that shadow, but there is no hunchback in sight. I look ahead of me and see no one. I look back over my shoulder, but it’s a bit difficult to tell who’s coming up behind me with my backpack in the way. So I turn completely around, but I can see there’s no one there. I look down at the tracks and there’s the shadow again, moving at roughly the same speed as I am. Eerie.

I don’t know what’s causing this, but I have my theory. Portage la Prairie used to have its own Quasimodo, except his name was Bob. Bob was a hunchbacked bell-ringer who lived on the third floor of City Hall and rang the bell three times a day. On Sundays, he made the rounds to the various churches in town that had bells and he rang them. For his faithful service, Bob was provided a place to stay and three square meals a day. He was so self-conscious about his physique, however, that few people ever saw him.

A few years ago when some structural engineer deemed the City Hall bell unsafe to ring, poor Bob was out of work. Shortly thereafter, he passed away unheralded, and now his ghost wanders the town in search of bells to ring. And every time you hear one, you can be sure it is old Bob. His shadow can be seen crossing the railroad tracks around 8:20 weekday mornings… but only on sunny days.

Just a theory, mind you. But I’d be listening for bells if I were you.

Here’s what Chester the City Hall mouse had to say.Chester on the bell

Here is a story done in 2011 on the bell.  Back then the plan was to repair it.  Perhaps we need to find a new home for it and getting it ringing again.

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