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Prince Edward Island’s history on a day in other years, as seen through the pages of early newspapers.
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Now I know exactly how Justin Trudeau feels
By Eleanor Hora, Stanley Bridge, PEI
I have a confession to make: I’m not the wonderful person I appear to be. The truth is, I’ve done some very bad things.
I don’t enjoy having to drag my skeletons out of the closet where they’ve been resting happily for decades, but I realize that it’s time to come clean. Who knows? One day I may decide to run for office, and it’s far better that I share my transgressions with the world today than to have Time Magazine do it for me just before my big election. We all know how disastrous it can be when that happens!
The truth is I can’t even count the number of times over the years that I dressed up as a ghost or a witch or an old woman or an old man for Halloween. I’m so sorry! I should have known at the time that it was wrong, but I didn’t. I hope it isn’t too late to undo the pain I caused by apologizing to all ghosts and witches and elderly cross-dressers whom I may have offended. I’m sorry!
Once, for a costume party, we cut a huge wind-up key out of cardboard, covered it with foil, and attached it to the back of my ex-husband’s shirt. His name is Ota, and our friends thought turning him into a Toy Ota was clever. I went as a mechanic, complete with stained overalls and a toolbox. I apologize to all Japanese car makers and auto mechanics we may have offended. My only excuse is that it was a different time and we didn’t know any better. I would never do such a thing today.
Shortly after that party, we visited Morocco. The heavily veiled women in their long burqas fascinated me so much that I bought a beautifully embroidered burqa to wear as a dressing gown. For our next costume party, I fashioned a veil from a matching scarf, put on the burqa, and went as an Arab woman. What can I say? I’m so ashamed!
I have a Japanese kimono, complete with traditional shoes and obi, hidden away in a drawer. They were given to me by a Japanese friend who smiled and took a photo after they had me put them on and model them, but I know now that her smile was just to hide the humiliation she felt, and I promise never to wear them again. Even in the privacy of my own home.
It gets worse, I’m afraid.
One year when I was teaching Grade 8, several of my students were fans of a hip-hop group called NWA (Niggaz wit Attitudes) and – I shudder to think of it – I borrowed my son’s Doc Martin boots and dressed for Halloween as TWA (Teacher with Attitude). I sincerely apologize to all people with attitude for my transgression. It was not my intention to offend my students and send them into therapy for the rest of their lives, and I’m sincerely sorry.
Thank you for listening. What a relief it’s been to confess my past insensitivities! Now I know exactly how Justin Trudeau feels.
The poor man’s judgement is almost as bad as mine used to be, but the way I see it, we’re going to be stuck with Mr. Dress-Up or Mini-Trump for prime minister next time around. Personally, I’d rather vote for Mr. Dress-Up.
Monster storm takes a heavy toll
Photos by Jim Brown
At the time these photos were posted (Wednesday, Sept 11, four days after Hurricane Dorian arrived) thousands of Islanders, including many in the Stanley Bridge, New London, Kensington, Hunter River, Cavendish and North Rustico area, were still without power. Fortunately, it appears no Islanders were killed or injured.
It will be left for historians and meteorologists to determine if Hurricane Dorian, which at its peak blasted parts of Island with wind gusts of over 160 km an hour, will be remembered as the most devastating storm ever to hit PEI. But it’s safe to say nobody escaped its fury, with homes, trees, bridges, barns, businesses and crops everywhere damaged and destroyed by water and wind. And there is a grim warning for all of us – as the waters off our shores get warmer due to the effects of climate change, we can only expect storms such as Hurricane Dorian, and perhaps even worse ones, to strike more frequently.
Gunn's Bridge was closed to traffic, but not to anglers on foot, after Hurricane Dorian caused extensive damage.
It was an older barn near Cavendish that was no longer in use and it was likely going to be torn down anyway, but Hurricane Dorian likely hastened its demise by taking a big gouge out of the barn's roof. It was originally built in 1924, on land eventually purchased by Ron Toombs.
Rustico fisherman Ross Gauthier was still without power at his house on Sept 10, so he decided to head to the wharf and get his gear ready for next lobster season.
Stanley Bridge wharf took the brunt of Hurricane Dorian's fury, with boats, walkways, buildings and rock walls suffering serious damage.
Stanley Bridge Harbour, including at least one vessel and a number of buildings, suffered substantial damage during the hurricane.
Maritime Electric employees faced challenging work throughout the week trying to untangle falling trees from power lines.
A large poplar crashed into the home of Kerry MacDougall and her husband on Saturday, Sept 8. The couple and their dogs escaped injury.
"It was quite a loud bang" at 9.30 pm on the evening of Sept 8, says French River resident Kerry McDougall, joined by her dogs Finley and Riley. She and her husband were shocked to find an enormous poplar, more than 70 feet long, had crashed into a corner of their home, spreading its limbs like tentacles across much of the deck.
French River resident Hughena Duggan is barely visible behind the branches, limbs and foliage of a fallen tree that barely missed her home's roof. She and her husband Jim estimated more than half a dozen trees fell near their home, including one that missed Jim's car by just a couple of feet.
French River resident Hughena Duggan is surrounded by limbs and branches from a fallen tree that had draped itself over her porch.
A family visiting the New London wharf is greeted with a shocking scene of destruction. Fortunately, their vessel didn't appear to be seriously damaged by heavy winds and rain.
Cavendish appeared to take the brunt of Hurricane Dorian's fury, with an estimated 80 per cent of trees in the PEI National Park downed by the storm's high winds. Many others outside the park were also toppled.
Japanese princess thrilled to visit home of Anne of Green Gables
Story and photos by Jim Brown
Japanese princess Takamado was in Cavendish Aug 28, the home of Anne of Green Gables, to officially open the Montgomery Park and to unveil a new statue dedicated to Anne’s creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Hundreds of people assembled for the special event, sheltered from the bright sun by a large tent. Her visit also celebrated Canada’s 90 years of diplomatic relations with Japan.
Guests at the park’s opening included PEI Lieut. Governor Antoinette Perry, Malpeque MP Wayne Easter, Island Senator Mike Duffy and Education and Climate Change Minister Brad Trivers, MLA for Rustico-Emerald.
Princess Takamado, international patron of the Lucy Maud Montgomery Institute, was greeted with loud applause as she rose to speak.
“The novels of Miss Montgomery have managed to capture the imagination of so many people around the world and Anne of Green Gables has continued to give hope and encouragement to many.
“It’s universal appeal has bridged many cultural and linguistic differences over the years and today, when the world is subject to so much divisiveness, this homage to Lucy Maud Montgomery is most timely and relevant. I take this opportunity to thank PEI for the legendary Island hospitality with which you welcome visitors from Japan.”
Princess Takamado went on to say: “This is the 90th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, I think we may say that we differ physically Canada and Japan are indeed kindred spirits.”
Gloria Gray holds a framed photograph of Lucy Maud Montgomery, which she circulated among guests, seeking their autographs to commemorate Princess Takamado's visit to Cavendish.
George Clark-Dunning, a councillor with the Resort Municipality of Cavendish, helps Princess Takamado plant a cherry tree on the site of the newly opened Montgomery Park
Hundreds of Islanders and a large delegation from Japan, including Princess Takamado, attended the opening ceremonies of the new Montgomery Park on Aug 28.
Kate MacDonald Butler, a grand-daughter of LM Montgomery and Jennie McNeill, from one of PEI's most celebrated families, who helped preserve the timeless legacy of Lucy Maud Montgomery, unveiled a new statue to the famous author.
Wendell MacDonald, of Mayfield, known widely as Mr Canada for his brightly coloured Canada-themed attire, was one of hundreds of attendees at the official opening of Montgomery Park.
Princess Takamado and PEI Lieut. Governor Antoinette Perry stand next to a newly unveiled statue of Lucy Maud Montgomery, "A Glimpse of Beauty", created by Summerside artist Grace Curtis.
Princess Takamado next to the newly unveiled "A Glimpse of Beauty" statue, the inspiration of Summerside artist Grace Curtis.
Dozens of people lined up to greet Princess Takamado at the conclusion of the Montgomery Park's opening ceremonies.
Princess Takamado faced a crush of admirers young and old at the official opening of Montgomery Park.
Stanley Bridge fisherman says there’s no market for eels
By Jim Brown
Stanley Bridge commercial eel fisherman David Carr has been fishing eels for exactly 30 years and he says this is the first time the market has been completely shut down and he can’t put his 100-ft long net into the water.
An estimated 200 or so Island eel fishermen are affected.
“I’ve learned nobody wants eels. The market is flooded with product from Europe and here.”
Why the market is flooded with product when eel populations aren’t exactly robust is puzzling.
“It’s beyond me,” he said
Carr said there is just one buyer and he doesn’t want product. Period.
“If I don’t have a buyer I’m not going to fish.”
The yearly fee for an eel license is $30, with Carr’s income from the eel fishery approximately $6,000 for the season.
Carr, an oyster fisherman, earns the bulk of his income from the oyster fishery, but having the eel market closed with hurt his overall income significantly.
In any given year he and his fishing partner catch 12,000 to 14,000 pounds of eels and though the high end can be $7 a pound, they usually get $3 a pound.
Only farmer’s market of the season at SBC on Saturday, Aug 24
Come on in! See what $80,000 worth of renovations over the summer have accomplished at the Stanley Bridge Centre (former century-old United Church).
This Saturday, Aug 24, from 10 am to 2 pm, as many as 15 vendors will be showing off their crafts, food and other wares at the Stanley Bridge Centre’s only farmer’s market of the season.
Visitors will have a chance to inspect two new washrooms, a new accessible entrance, a gleaming new kitchen with brand new equipment and much, much more. And don’t forget your appetite for fresh produce and baked goods.
Are we reaching the limits of growth in Cavendish?
Story and photos by Jim Brown
Beautifully contoured farmland mingled with picturesque cottages, glistening ponds and streams, ocean-lapped beaches, inviting woods, emerald green golf courses, and a long list of attractions, restaurants and souvenir stores. It all blends together into a wholesome, family-friendly package that is the envy of tourist destinations everywhere. And, just after the last traces of snow have left and before the hordes of tourists have arrived, dozens of lobster boats hit the waters from the port of North Rustico for the start of the spring lobster fishery.
But it could have easily gone another way, perhaps turned into a Coney Island, “Shoot The Freak” show, with sweaty, leather-lunged barkers screaming at passerby to fire their paintguns at a costumed, heavily padded “Freak” dashing back and forth behind a chain fence and surrounded by graffiti blighted rubble.
There is a wonderful trippiness to much of Cavendish proper and the resort municipality, with business operators not quite sure what to think of what an incredible abundance of good fortune and good stewardship over several decades has brought them. Go big on Anne of Green Gables and the straw hats? Or maybe the Cavendish Beach Music Festival and the tens of thousands of country music fans, some of whom may not be sober for much of the three days of performances? Or maybe add another half dozen or so naturalist resorts to the one tucked down a rarely travelled side road, away from prying eyes? Maybe go wall-to-wall Niagara Falls with the tackiness and the chintz and slot machines and the not-quite-ready-for-Vegas acts?
What to make of the Resort Municipality of Stanley Bridge, Hope River, Bayview, Cavendish and North Rustico?
If you are among the 50 or so businesspeople and officials from all three levels of government attending the spring general meeting of Tourism Cavendish Beach Inc, you want the good times and years of record visits to roll on. But there is that niggling worry about the implications of unrestrained growth.
If you attended the meeting at the Cavendish Destination Centre on May 7 you heard about the troubling shortages of cooks and cleaners as well as other seasonal workers. You likely wouldn’t have been reassured by what you heard from guest speakers who basically warned those shortages will not ease any time soon.
An immigration official from Charlottetown confirmed what many nodding business owners already knew – it can cost upwards of $1,000 in fees and other expenses to hire temporary foreign workers.
That same immigration official said at any one time one billion people around the world were considering moving to Canada. Not that it helps tourist operators desperate for help in Canada’s smallest province.
You may have also have heard Canada, like many other industrialized countries, is getting older and there are fewer young folks around to pay the taxes that will sustain the country’s comprehensive social welfare system. Right now there are four workers for every retiree, but by 2030 that number will fall to just two. Canada’s low birthrate places this country 81st in the world in terms of fertility and that’s not a good place to be.
Where are the families with the screaming kids wanting to go to the Sandspit or the Cavendish Tourist Mart or that place that sells beavertails going to come from in the near future, if not Canada? Let’s hope worldwide travel continues to grow at a record rate and that Ottawa is smart enough to boost immigration numbers.
As an observer it was fascinating watching the polite pushback granting agency officials got from some tourist operators when they suggested ways to extend the summer tourism season into the fall, winter and early spring.
It’s easily to imagine a few dozen eyebrows going up at the same time.
Let us count the ways that could be problematic, including boosting advertising budgets to chase potentially fewer people while incurring more costs to provide additional product, and did I mention the problems encountered hiring workers?
There was something else that garnered a fair bit of discussion. The strategy of leaning on “travel influencers” to generate buzz about a locale. Newspapers and magazines, though still important in drawing visitors, are so late 20th century.
That guy or gal with flak jacket, press badge and camera as long as your arm is no longer ‘King of the Walk’.
Now you got kids who can draw hundreds of thousands of eyeballs to a single post, even if it is littered with typos and grammatical errors.
I can just imagine members of the Khardashian family dropping a few words and images on their Twitter and Instagram feeds in a bid to steer a sizable chunk of their millions of followers to Cavendish.
And, considering there are 800 or more cottages in the resort municipality, do we really need any more? Do we really want to encourage massive new development that strains the community’s resources and changes everything we love about Cavendish?
It reminds me of that old expression from the Vietnam War era, “We had to destroy the village to save it.”
At the spring session one speaker noted in Venice, Italy local residents were advised to stay indoors as much as possible during high season to avoid the huge crush of selfie-taking tourists trampling on everything in sight. Headlines blare about how tourism has “destroyed” Venice. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, steeped in history and culture, is rapidly depopulating. Venice’s population is less than a third of what it was in the early 1950s, with many residents fleeing to escape the suffocating tide of tourists. Real estate has soared in value, making it harder for people who actually call Venice home to find affordable housing, and things only got worse when cruise ships dropped anchor in Venice’s famous canals.
One of the world’s most famous cities was always sinking under relentless attack from the sea, but global warming and the tourist invasion haven’t helped.
Cavendish gets as many as 500,000 visitors during the summer even as its population swells from 250 full time residents to about 10,000 or so when seasonal residents, including Americans and mainland Canadians, return to their cottages. Imagine how truly wretched things would become if the resort municipality got even 10 per cent of the 28 million or so visitors Venice gets annually?
Would they also mount protests against the threatening hordes as Venetians have done?
Let’s hope it never comes to that.
Century-old church pews available at Stanley Bridge Centre auction
By Jim Brown
The Stanley Bridge Centre is holding an auction shortly to raise funds to pay for $65,000 worth of renovations, to begin later this spring. Among the items up for grabs to sharp-eyed bidders are several century-old church pews and their cushions, in good condition. Anyone who wishes to donate items for the auction can reach the website editor at email@example.com and they can also contact Don at 902-432-2485 or Clayton at 902-886-3360.
Neighbours open their arms to Stanley Bridge family after devastating fire
History burned to ashes when historic farmhouse destroyed
Story and photos by Jim Brown
It was the day after a devastating fire claimed a nearly 200 year-old farmhouse in Stanley Bridge and smoke could still be seen curling skyward from its charred basement.
On Thursday Feb 21, flames were flickering in the rubble while the home’s four residents were trying to pick up the pieces.
Michelle Fyfe, daughter of the home’s owners Alfred and Karen Fyfe, said she and her fiancé Kristen and her mom and dad had only seconds to fetch everything of value from the home when the smoke was detected around 7:30 am, Feb 20.
The farmhouse had been in the Fyfe family since 1829 – six generations.
“We don’t really know what happened. All we know is that it started in the basement,” she said of the blaze firefighters ruled accidental.
“Dad was awake, mom was awake, and dad woke Kristen up. I was up but lying in bed, around 7:30 am.”
Smoke was filling the house as everyone rushed to get out, but Michelle and her family didn’t think the worst, yet.
“I think if we’d had known we were going to lose our home we would have taken the 45 seconds to grab something, anything. But we thought for sure it was just a flue fire and the fire department was going to come and get it out and we would be able to go back in, but that’s not the case,” said Michelle.
“I grabbed my purse and my cellphone, mom grabbed her purse and her cellphone, Kristen grabbed his cellphone and dad grabbed his cellphone. That’s it.”
It’s been a whirlwind ever since, but there was a very big silver lining.
The family has been blown away by the tremendous support they’ve received from their neighbours.
“We’ve got overwhelming support. This community is the best community to live in,” said Michelle, with a quiver in her voice.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out. Food, clothes, offering to help anyway they can. The plumbers, the electricians, the firefighters, everyone just coming to offer us words of encouragement and support and saying we’ll get through this and that they were there to help us,” said Michelle.
“For 30 years this has been home,” she said.
What will be missed most of the many, many possessions that were lost to the fire?
“There’s years and years of history, years of photos and antiques and quilts made by my dad’s mom and fine china…When we were at the Red Cross yesterday they asked us if we wanted a quilt and it reminded me that my grandmother made me a quilt when I was born and now it’s gone.”
One thing she feels lucky to have preserved from the fire are several photos of her historic farmhouse.
“I loved to take photos of the home. I have photos on my phone which I’m sure we’ll get printed.”
A beloved family dog and cat also escaped.
“The cat landed here one day in a snowstorm and we took her in. She was pretty shy yesterday. She spent the day in the back of the car, and then when we got to where we were going for the night she hid under the bed until I climbed into the bed and then she curled up and slept with us all night.”
Michelle and her family stayed at a home in the area, generously made available to them.
They plan to spend some time at Leslie MacKay’s, which is almost next door, allowing them to continue their daily work routine. The house may have been destroyed but the farm survived and needs tending.
“Even if there is a major snowstorm we’ll still be able to get to the cows and be here if the plumber, or insurance agents drop by. Cows still need to be fed,” she said.
The family plans to rebuild the home, once they have the insurance settled.
“I don’t think there’s a thought of not rebuilding. The farm is here, we need a home to live in,” said Michelle.
“We spoke to an insurance agent yesterday. He was out and dropped off the papers that we needed to get the ball rolling. So once we all sit down and have a minute to think and talk to each other and figure out what we want to do, then we’ll start moving forward.”
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.