Bringing the house down
Photos from the Aug 13 Roy MacCaull, Marcella Richard and Larry Campbell performance at the Stanley Bridge Centre. The talented trio, which played largely original music, cast a spell over an appreciative hand-clapping, foot-stomping crowd for the two hour set. If you missed them this time around you will still have a chance to catch them at the SBC. They will likely be back next summer.
Marco Polo resurfaces at SBC history circle
Its sinking is still talked about at many Island dining tables nearly a century and a half later.
The three-masted 184-foot long Marco Polo, once the fastest sailing vessel on the seas, was deliberately run aground by its captain near the Cavendish beach dunes 134 years ago on July 25, 1883. Miraculously, nobody died that day though the ship was battered by heavy gales.
A history circle on the Marco Polo was held at the Stanley Bridge Centre on the same date. The session was led by Philip Gallant, whose late father Tommy Gallant discovered the submerged ship in 120 feet of water in 1959 and salvaged anchors and other materials from the vessel, as did Philip. Mr Gallant was joined by a large crowd which included Tommy’s widow Anita Gallant and Warren Grove resident David Thomson who crafted a beautiful seaworthy model of the Marco Polo with wood recovered from the actual ship.
“I hope my son and daughter and their offspring will also have some involvement with the ship,” said Philip Gallant.
Up to 25 per cent of Australians can trace their family roots back to the Marco Polo, which brought thousands of passengers there from North America, he said.
Philip said his father Tommy tried to earn a sustainable income through salvage work and then organizing chartered trips for divers. He has happy memories of growing up in a yard filled with memorabilia from the ship.
“It’s always been a great pleasure to learn about the ship and have many discussions with people from all over the world, from as far away as Australia,” he said.
“The site of the wreck is now a national historic site and is protected as such…I hope the stories never die.”
Wood planking, brass pins and bolts, anchor chains, copper fittings and lead pipes have been recovered over the years.
One of the larger items, the ship’s storm anchor, which weighed 3,500 pounds, was eventually sold by Tommy Gallant to industrialist K.C. Irving for $800.
When it was a passenger ship the Marco Polo could carry close to a thousand passengers, and it weighed 1,625 tonnes.
Stanley Bridge Centre hosts tomorrow’s business leaders
They are the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffets of tomorrow.
Young Millionaires, some as young as eight, have been displaying their entrepreneurial smarts at the Stanley Bridge Centre’s farmer’s market since its opening on July 5.
Among this year’s crop of budding business owners are jewelry handcrafters, scarf, bracelet and candleholder makers, bath fizz makers, coaster designers, landscape photography artists and flying stick manufacturers. The list of products offered to customers is seemingly endless.
Anyone wishing to participate in this exciting program can fill out a registration form online at www.ymppei.com.
Want to see tomorrow’s titans of the business world in action? Why not drop by the SBC’s farmers markets, running Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm.
A fragrant business
Meet the Stanley Bridge Centre’s newest vendor, Helene Bouchard, who sells lavender from her decorative, specially designed bike. She’s one of only a handful of commercial producers on the Island.
The flowers and herbs are quite tasty and can provide flavor and texture to a wide variety of prepared dishes and snacks including soups, stews, salads and cookies. And of course lavender can be brewed in tea.
Bouchard said growing the aromatic plant requires much patience, adding it’s taken two years of cultivation to get her plants to the harvest stage.
“You have to be very patient, because everything is done by hand. It’s cut by hand and grown by hand.”
And all without the use of any chemicals.
“Lavender very useful in different areas – antiseptic, anti-inflammatory…you can cook with it, you can keep anxiety away, so it has a lot of purposes.”
It’s very easy to grow, “but you do have to like to work all the time because it takes a lot of maintenance and cutting and taking care of the bushes,” she said.
It wasn’t exactly a straight line to the lavender cultivation business.
“I come from the classical world of dance and training, but I did study in the flower business because of all my family’s background. So it’s in my genes but it wasn’t something I was doing professionally. I did something else but I had to retire. So this is my second career.”
On Wednesday, July 12 she wheeled her bike to the Stanley Bridge Centre and set up shop on the lawn outside the door – displaying her cut lavender in a basket at the front of her bike.
Later she took her bike indoors, where she was immediately surrounded by knots of people, including several young children.
Helene, who built her home on the Rattenbury Road before launching into her lavender business, hopes to be at the SBC this summer on a regular basis. Why not drop by (Saturdays and Wednesday’s, 9 am to 1 pm) and catch a glimpse of what the lavender business is all about?
Lady Singers deliver the hits
The Stanley Bridge Centre’s parking lot was packed half an hour before the curtain lifted and space had to be utilized at the nearby WI to accommodate the crush of ticket-holders Sunday, July 9 to see Lady Singers of Our Century. Truly gifted performers Colleen MacPhee, Joan Reeves, Judy MacGregor, Jolee Patkai and Keila Glydon tripped merrily down memory lane, taking us along for the ride.
They knocked it out of the park with songs from the playlists of Tanya Tucker, Linda Ronstadt, Rita MacNeil, Patsy Cline and others. Not to mention a dizzying swirl of costume changes, all handled seamlessly. Didn’t get a ticket to the July 9 show? Don’t worry, you will still get a chance to see them at the SBC. Lady Singers of Our Century will be back for an encore performance at 7:30 pm, Sunday, Aug 13.
SBC doors swing open on another farmer’s market season.
Wednesday, July 5 was the opening day of the farmer’s market season at the Stanley Bridge Centre and vendors were greeted with a steady stream of visitors enticed by tasty delicacies, outstanding local artists and artisans and entrepreneurial youngsters under the banner of the Young Millionaires. There were also several new vendors including Samuel’s Coffee House and By the River Bakery and Cafe, of Hunter River. The Stanley Bridge Centre’s farmers markets will run all summer, every Wednesday and Saturday, 9 am to 1 pm.
Auctioneer shows how to empty a building real fast.
Auctioneer Dennis Lowther, who generously donated his services, made brisk work of hundreds of items up for sale at the Stanley Bridge Centre’s live auction on Friday, June 16.
Watching Dennis at work was like watching a pro athlete at the top of his game. Items flew off racks and tables and out the door into cars and trucks, causing more than a few suspensions to sag. Everything went – from gift cards to boxed barbecues to dining sets, paintings, jackets, coats, suitcases and hockey jerseys, to bags of railway spikes and fashion accessories to plush toys, stacks of books and golf clubs. They were all snapped up by eager bidders, who often walked away with eye-popping bargains. Many items were purchased for dimes and even pennies on the dollar.
Money from the event, which drew a good turnout, will be used to help pay for a new foundation for the former United Church and move the building to another part of the property so it can access water and sewer services.
Among the many items snapped up in the auction was a hockey stick autographed by Ottawa Senator blueliner Dion Phaneuf.
Dream ends for owner of Bedeque’s Village Store.
Pop, chips, DVDs, milk, chocolate bars, bread, newspapers, ice cream, lottery tickets and postal services – all the essentials of life in cottage country.
And that’s what family members and visitors to the Brown summer cottage in Fernwood relied on from Bedeque’s Village Store.
It was also the source of many happy memories.
The first clue something was amiss came when I was driving past the store on Victoria Day and I didn’t see the trademark “World’s Greatest Ice Cream” sign out front.
“Very curious,” I thought, as I turned back and parked nearby.
Then I looked more closely at the façade – it was weathered and fading and the windows were papered over.
I thought to myself, they’ve closed it for Victoria Day, but isn’t it always open on Victoria Day? It appeared to be sealed up tighter than a mummy’s tomb. The Village Store looked like it hadn’t been open for months.
And, truth be told, it hadn’t.
One of the most recognized buildings in all of Bedeque had been closed as of February 13. How did I know the precise date?
After spending two hours in Fernwood opening the cottage for the season with my sister, her husband and my nephew, I was on my way back home to Stanley Bridge when I passed the store again. I saw someone with a truck, who had opened the building’s front door and was removing materials from inside.
Being a curious person I just had to stop again and ask if he knew what was happening to my beloved store.
It turned out the person I had bumped into was Erik Gerlund, 56, who had bought the store in September and was forced to shutter it just two weeks shy of six months.
Gerlund knows all about dreams, having worked in the dream factory for much of his life as a successful set designer and artistic director for numerous film and TV productions including popular shows such as Lucifer, The Dead Zone, Eureka and Smallville.
From Vancouver BC, he had never lived in PEI before and on a whim visited the province and immediately fell in love with the Island and then the community of Bedeque and then the iconic corner store, which was for sale at the time.
Of course, the dream of owning a small country store in a small village more often than not does not have a happy ending. Bludgeoned by larger retail outlets which could afford to sell larger volumes of products at lower prices, the odds were stacked against him from the start.
And the revenues from a small population are just not enough to offset the costs of running a store.
“Just to maintain the building for electricity and for your insurances runs between $1,350 and $1,500. We never turned a profit in any one of those six months,” said Erik.
His catchment area numbers 95 homes, not enough to sustain an operation on a year-long basis.
“People only have so much money in their pocket,” he said.
Gerlund figured he needed $500,000 in yearly revenues just to break even and he never came close to that.
“Some people are very upset and I understand. I didn’t want to close it. I (ran) it as tight as I could but we simply didn’t have the volume locally to make the numbers work.”
Now Gerlund is gutting it, and turning it into a home for himself and his mother, now 80.
“I still have the World’s Greatest Ice Cream sign,” he joked.
“There’s a lot of history to this building,” he said wistfully, adding the front part was 148 years old.
Of course there had been many add-ons over the decades.
Gerlund doesn’t anticipate making many structural changes that will drastically affect its appearance and, in fact, he wants to burnish its historic roots.
He allowed there is a chance once he’s done some more renovations it could yet be sold to someone else harboring the same dream he had – to run a country store in a picturesque village in an enchanting province.
Gerlund offers some blunt, practical advice to anyone considering buying the Village Store building as a full service country store – “Open it just for the season – June through September. In the summer months you get tourists, the people who go to the beach, you get the fishermen. That makes sense. Yes, you can turn a profit, but in the winter months when the sidewalks have been folded up it’s a real challenge,” he said.
I think many who own cottages or permanent homes in the Bedeque area will miss the charming store with the World’s Greatest Ice Cream sign out front.
It just won’t be the same without it.
Setting out for the lobster fishing grounds.
Close to 70 vessels left the port of North Rustico for lobster fishing grounds on the opening day of the spring lobster fishery. The weather was good, with only a slight drizzle and mild temperatures, although some fishermen were saying the water was likely to be cold during the first few days and the lobsters would not be moving much, making it harder to catch them. All the vessels had left the port before 6 am. Dozens of family, friends and onlookers were at the wharf for setting day. All told, nearly a thousand vessels were expected to head out to lobster grounds from PEI ports.
Job Fair draws large crowd.
Close to 40 business operators set up their booths at the Stanley Bridge Country Resort on Saturday, April 22 and they were impressed with the turnout of job seekers. Many of the tourism-related businesses were from the Stanley Bridge, Cavendish and Rustico area.
Story and photos by Jim Brown
Jim Brown can be reached at email@example.com
It’s mid-April and snow is fast disappearing across the Island.
Many thoughts are turning from snowshoes and snow shovels to the start of gardening season and the inevitable invasion of garden-ravaging pests.
Millvale environmentalist Sharon Labchuk, former leader of the PEI Green Party, says toxic chemicals aren’t necessary to dispatch most pests. It can be done naturally, in ways that protect wildlife, human health, the soil, the water and the air. She should know, she’s been gardening chemical-free for 40 years.
Less than a week ago much of her 50-acre property was covered in hip-deep snow, but heavy rains have come and washed much of the snow away. Now several plants she has carefully tended in trays indoors, near a large picture window, are ready for planting. She hopes to have the earth turned on her garden by the end of the month.
Labchuk says it all starts with the soil. Poor soils mean poorly nourished plants which are deprived of the nutrients they need to make them strong enough to fight off insect pests and disease organisms.
PEI’s soils are sandy and need all the help they can get to store nutrients efficiently. But that doesn’t mean dumping manure on them, she stressed.
“If you add organic matter it gets consumed so fast. It’s a constant battle to keep plants healthy,” said Labchuk.
“Adding too much manure can cause stunted or even dead plants because phosphorous builds up in the soil and may not go away for years. It’s better to add organic matter to the soil in the form of plants, like compost, mulch or a cover crop,” said Labchuk, who collects large amounts of seaweed from the nearby North Shore.
“If I go to the beach I always take bags with me.”
Adding a cover crop is an ideal way for gardeners to enrich their soil.
“I use winter rye and plant it before the middle of September and it will grow into the fall.”
Winter rye can grow to six inches tall and in the spring it can be grown a bit more before being turned over into the soil where it can rot for a couple of weeks before planting begins, giving the soil the valuable nutrients, such as nitrogen, necessary to support healthy plants.
“Or you could also take a section of the garden, use it for a cover crop and don’t plant anything (else) for a year,” she said.
“It’s never a good idea to leave the soil bare,” explained Labchuk.
A thick mulch of organic material, such as straw, seaweed, dried leaves and dried grass clippings not only helps conserve soil moisture and improve the soil itself, it also provides habitat for important beneficial creatures, such as spiders and ground beetles.
“They’ll help control populations of Colorado potato beetles, cabbage worms, cutworms, slugs, aphids and other insects that eat your garden plants.”
There are other things that can done, too, to improve the odds of a productive, abundant garden.
For instance, barriers around plants can block insects from getting through and laying eggs that can have a devastating impact on harvests.
“Carrots are plagued by the carrot rust fly,” said Labchuk.
“I’ve got them in my garden. The small fly lays an egg in the soil and the maggot (that emerges) burrows into the carrot.”
The damage is easy to spot. It’s sort of a rusty tunnel damage when the fly burrows into the surface of the carrot and then right through it.”
The larva leaves “a mess behind” in the form of excrement or “poop” inside the carrot, said Labchuk.
“It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t taste good and it promotes rot if you store it in your cellar. It will attack anything in the carrot family (such as) parsnips and dill.”
The solution? Cover the carrots with garden fabric. Labchuk has used two to three foot high plastic fences. Since the adult pest can’t fly higher than two feet it is effectively blocked.
Of course nothing beats getting down on your knees and hand picking eggs left on the undersides of leaves, and crawling insects. That’s especially the case with the Colorado potato beetle, which she argues only becomes an issue when a commercial potato field is in operation close to people’s homes and gardens.
If potatoes aren’t harvested commercially nearby that greatly lessens the odds of potato beetles showing up in a hobby gardener’s plot, she said.
“Learn their life cycle. The beetle lays eggs in big masses. They are bright orange and super-visible. And you just take your fingers and rub them (eggs) between the leaves and crush them,” said Labchuk.
The same applies to other insect infestations.
If the Colorado beetle eggs (or other insect pest eggs) have hatched, all is not lost. Just go to your gardening store and buy a certified organic spray called Bt.
“There’s a Bt spray for potatoes and a Bt spray for everything else,” she said.
Bt is a commercial form of bacteria. When it is sprayed on the plant the caterpillar ingests the bacteria when consuming the plant. The bacteria crystalizes in the pest’s stomach, killing it.
But Sharon acknowledges that humans don’t always win against garden pests and that there’s no shame in admitting defeat from time to time.
“If you have a crop failure once in a while, so be it,” she said.
“Sometimes the potatoes get so blighted you don’t get any (to harvest). So I don’t have potatoes that winter. Big deal,” said Labchuk.
“You can’t go around poisoning yourself, the soil, the things that live in the soil, the birds possibly, just because you feel you want to have a crop that year.
“We’re not talking about a ‘life or death’ situation. You can go to the grocery store,” she said.
The Stanley Bridge Farmers Market – Fresh, Local, Organic – Back This Year
Wednesdays 9am to 1pm … with Artisans on Saturdays 9am to 1pm !
We are pleased to continue the Stanley Bridge Farmers Market at the Centre. From 9am until 1pm, on Wednesdays throughout the summer, you’ll find the finest fresh food that PEI has to offer. Help grow the Community Appeal and the knowledge that Stanley Bridgers and visitors alike care about the foods we eat and the environment around us. Join us again next summer for Fresh, Local, and Organic products – direct from the farm to you.
We welcome enquiries from Farmers, Food Vendors, and local producers !
Saturday’s Market will feature both fresh and local food, as well as Craftspeople and Artisans :
- Shipwrights : shipwrightspei.com
- B’Haven Honey
- White Gables fresh produce
We are seeking new quality vendors !
The Stanley Bridge Centre – A Venue for Culture and Events
In September, 2008, due to declining membership and financial costs to maintain the building, the Stanley Bridge United Church, in Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island, was decommissioned. The United Church Presbytery of PEI and Maritime Conference decided in 2009 to officially turn the building over to the former members of the church and they in turn applied to be incorporated as the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society Inc. Directors and trustees were appointed to provide the leadership and direction for the building, as they felt that it was important to maintain its rich heritage and legacy.
The Board’s Mission Statement was the historic preservation of the church and heritage of the Stanley Bridge church. The Stanley Bridge Centre would provide a Cultural/Events Centre and Archival Room that will house historical items and artifacts of significance as well as genealogy records. The Farmers Market is an undertaking that continues the tradition of this community meeting place.
This renewal project will require a large financial undertaking as a new basement is needed as well as washrooms, a kitchen, window restoration, a new roof, insulation and accessibility for all. The Stanley Bridge Memorial Society Inc, owner of the building, has charitable status and is continuing a campaign to raise funds for building improvements. This website provides an historical background, a virtual tour of the interior and exterior, a viewing of the plans for the building, a Donation page and many other features.
We ask that you consider a donation to our renewal project as we believe that the building is a landmark in the community and deserves to have it’s legacy continue for years to come. We trust that you will support this important community effort in Stanley Bridge.
Stanley Bridge Memorial Society
This website will include developments in the planning, historical research and the ongoing process of fundraising and of the restoration, repair and reconstruction of the Stanley Bridge Cantre. Check back often to keep abreast of what is happening and how your contribution is helping to realize the goals of the Society.