Springheel Jack

114 Merrymeeting Rd

The house at 114 Merrymeeting Rd. bears an unusual brass plaque. It identifies the Rabbitown residence as the location of the second sighting of a certain Springheel Jack—a name straight out of Victorian England folklore.

Jack made his first local appearance in 1929. A young woman taking a nighttime stroll around Mayor and Merrymeeting was stopped in her tracks by a piercing cat call. Turning around to scold the whistler, her gaze was lifted skywards, where on the rooftop above her loomed a black-caped apparition. The figure stood, silent, grinning, his arms folded across his chest. His hideous, yellow-green face glowed under a tall charcoal hat.When the woman let out a shriek, the character cackled vilely and bounded away with supernatural leaps.

It was as if he had springs in the heels of his shoes, she later explained to a crowd that had gathered.

For the next five weeks, Springheel Jack ministered his terror from the rooftops of Rabbittown.

Doors and windows were barred. Women, children and men alike ceased to walk alone. Three quarters of the constabulary were put on the case, only to be joined in the search by a band of neighborhood vigilantes.

One night, after leaping the entire width of Mayor Avenue, Jack was spotted by a Constable Don Porter. Porter was able to follow the bounding menace down Howley Avenue Extension, and then South on Newtown Road. When he came to Shamrock Field, the winded policeman lost his footing. When he righted himself, Springheel Jack was gone, and never seen again.

Rumours swirled about Jack’s identity. Some even believed that he was the decoy for a local smuggling ring that wanted to draw police attention away from a harbourfront operation.

Whoever or whatever he was for those five weeks, for years after, mothers warned their kids not to stray at night for fear of Springheel Jack.

—Lesley Thompson
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