All my life, I’ve been reading stories with giants in them. The first was probably Jack and the Bean Stock where Jack trades the family cow for a few bean seeds, grows the stalk into the clouds, climbs it, steals the goose that lays the golden eggs and escapes (sometimes killing the giant and sometime not, depending on the version).
There’s also David and Goliath, where little David kills the giant Goliath with a sling shot, and Gulliver’s Travels. In fact, if you search for books for kids with giants, you’ll find many. Why are giant stories popular with kids or at least with authors?
Locally, we have Glooscap, a legendary figure of the Wabanaki peoples, native peoples located in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Atlantic Canada. While some say he is fictional and certainly some of the tales about him are, there’s some evidence that suggest he was an actual person. How tall was he? Probably not as tall as the statue erected just outside Truro, Nova Scotia, along the 102 Highway.
I’ve also heard many tales about the giant Paul Bunyan, a lumberjack with an ox named Blue. Canadian troubadour Stompin’ Tom Connors sings about him in the song Big Joe Mufferaw.
With all these tales solidly grounded in history, how much do you believe in giants? Is there any evidence that solidifies their place in history?
If this subject interests you, you’ll enjoy an interview I listened to yesterday. In And there were Giants then, Luke Hancock speaks with Hugh Newman, a world explorer, megalithomaniac and author. They discuss Newman’s latest book with Jim Vieira, Giants on Record: America’s Hidden History, Secrets in the Mounds and the Smithsonian Files and their book Giants of Stonehenge and Ancient Britain.
Hancock plays devil’s advocate and grills Newman to provide evidence to support his claim. It is done professionally to give viewers solid answers to the questions we all may ask.
During the interview, they also touch on energy grid lines and crop circles.
Do I believe in giants? Yes. A real life giant, Andre the Giant, starred in one of my favourite films, Princess Bride. I’m not sure if Andre came to Halifax with Grand Pre Wrestling in the 80s but if he did, I saw him in person.
Nova Scotia is home to two documented giants:
- Scotsman Angus MacAskill, born 1825 in Englishtown, Nova Scotia. He died in 1863 at the age of 38. Angus was considered to be the world’s tallest ‘true’ giant as his extraordinary height of 7 feet 9 inches was natural and not caused by excessive growth hormone.
- Anna Swan, also of Scottish ancestry, born August 6, 1846, in Millbrook near Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. She measured 7 feet, 11 inches tall and grew to this height due to an excessive growth hormone, probably a problem with her pituitary gland. She died in 1888.
Will a giant appear in one of my books? I hear one whispering, but I haven’t decided whether or not to invite him to the party.