While looking at sources for a post on Sarah Mapp, I came across a Quebec bogey, le Bonhomme Sept Heures — The Seven O’Clock Man. “Bonhomme Sept Heures” is supposed to be a Francophone rendering of “bonesetter” and that may be the case.
Bonhomme Sept Heures roams villages looking for children who are outside after seven P.M. He is an old man, perhaps with a top hat, carrying a sack and a stick. He hides under balconies and may sneak into houses. He seizes the naughty child and shoves him/her into his sack. The child is never seen again. This story is well-known in Quebec. There are children’s books, some attempts at movies, rock songs (here’s a video by Exterio), and the character is used as a symbol by Louis Caron in a book based on the deadly 1955 slide at Nicolet.
Quebec had its bonesetters, like most other places pre-modern medicine, called “ramancheurs”. So why borrow the English word? Though I suppose les Anglaise are wicked enough that they are natural choices for bogeymen. Another possible origin for the word is “bomb setter”, slang for the men who would light gas lamps. And, in France, there are traditional bogeys with names like “Bonhomme Basse-Heures”. So maybe “bonesetter” has nothing to do with this creature’s origin. Be that as it may, every parent should warn their young children — “For your own safety, child, be inside by seven! And don’t get out of bed! The bonesetter may be hiding in a dark corner or behind your dresser just waiting to grab you and stuff you in his sack!” Then, next week, tell them about the Toilet Monster.