The Vjesci: A Canadian Vampire

The Vjesci, also known as the Vjeszczi or Vjescey, is a Vampire from Polish folklore.   Much like the European Vampire, The Vjesci retained their mortal characteristics and blended well within society.  Legends indicate that humans were destined to become Vjesci at birth if born with teeth or a more common condition, ‘cradle cap”.  If the child was born with a cap, the mother could protect the child by drying the cradle cap, grinding it into a fine dust and retaining it until the child’s 7th birthday; when she would feed it to him to ward off curse.

The Vjesci have many common ties with Vampire legends from other cultures; They are undead, they awaken at midnight and they feed on humans.  It is said that in order to detain the Vjesci, Villagers would throw a net into his coffin as he could not rise until untying all of the knots.  Another simple method was to scatter pebbles or seeds around the coffin and the ground surrounding the grave, as the vampire would have to count each individual seed or pebble before moving away from his grave site.   Some families would bury their loved ones face down within their coffin in hopes that if they were to turn that they would dig their way further into the ground in an attempt to rise again.  One other similarity, death by decapitation.  The more pesky of the “arisen” were exhumed and decapitated, their heads being placed face down between their feet to prevent the beast from rising again.

The majority of Vampire legend in Canada hales from the oldest Polish Settlement in the country.  Wilno, settled in 1869 is in the heart of Ottawa Valley and is rich in folklore and legend, so rich in fact that in 1969 Jan Perkowski was employed by the Canadian Centre for Folklore studies to research the legends that originated within the area.  A few years later Perkowski would release an 85 page report with findings so scandalous that his report was denounce on the floor of the House of Commons.

One of the more disturbing occurrences within his writings was an old photo of a small grave enclosed by a white picket fence.  The photo was captioned that “If a vampire is not destroyed before he is buried, he will rise again and carry off his relatives.”  He writes further to explain that this had happened in Wilno adding that the family had to dig the body up and cut it’s head off as it sat up in the coffin.

Within  Perkowski’s writings were written statements from over a dozen victims that described their experiences with the Vjesci in great detail.  Such sensationalism was created by Perkowski’s report that it was republished in several well known media outlets such as; Psychology Today, The Canadian Magazine and of course The National Enquirer.



  • 1969: A Kashubian Idiolect in the United States
  • 1972: Vampires, Dwarves and Witches Among the Ontario Kashubs. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada : 1972
  • 1976: Vampires of the Slavs. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA : Slavica, 1976. ISBN 0-89357-026-5
  • 1978: Gusle and Ganga Among the Hercegovinians of Toronto. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA : University Microfilms International, 1978. ISBN 0-8357-0321-5
  • 1982: "The Romanian Folkloric Vampire". East Europe Quarterly, September 1982. Reprinted in The Vampire: A Casebook, Alan Dundes, ed. (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998) ISBN 0-299-15924-8
  • 1989: The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vampirism. Columbus, Ohio, USA : Slavica, 1989. ISBN 0-89357-200-4 [1]
  • 2000: Linguistic History Engraved in Gold and Silver: Legends on the Coins of St. Vladimir.
  • 2006: Vampire Lore: From the Writings of Jan Louis Perkowski. Slavica, 2006. ISBN 0-89357-331-0 


Source: Lyn Gibson