Winners announced just in time for Christmas

The names of two lucky winners were picked from hundreds of tickets at a draw during the Dec 10 monthly meeting of the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society (SBMS). The meeting was held at the Kensington home of vice-president Helen MacEwen. St John’s NFLD resident Chris Pearsey won a beautiful painting of the Stanley Bridge wharf by acclaimed Margate artist Karen Slater. Stanley Bridge area resident Marilyn Simpson won a stunning mural sized photo of the Confederation Bridge, shot by North Granville photographer Clayton Smith, who is also the SBMS’s president. The Stanley Bridge Memorial Society would like to express its gratitude to everyone who bought a ticket for this important fundraiser.

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Storm toppled trees in PEI National Park could pose fire risk in Cavendish

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Is it possible massive numbers of fallen and uprooted trees in the PEI National Park, in Cavendish, could set the area ablaze during the summer season?

According to members of the Resort Municipality’s planning board the PEI National Park could face the same fate as much of California, which endured record-breaking wildfires in November.

Dislodged trees are everywhere following a fierce wind and snow storm recently that plunged much of the Island into darkness for days.

“They’re down everywhere, all the way out from Green Gables to Rainbow Valley,” said CAO Brenda MacDonald.

“It’s a complete mess…It’s terrible out there.”

Parks Canada’s representative on the planning board, Barbara MacDonald, said Parks Canada would investigate those concerns and take remedial action if it was necessary.

Brenda MacDonald said she had to called the Department of Transportation during the storm to remove trees that had fallen across and blocked Highway 6.

Once fallen trees dry out someone walking along on a hot day, flicking a cigarette butt into the woods, could start a devastating fire, said a board member.

Planning Board Chair George Clark-Dunning echoed President Donald Trump’s quote about how the Finns protect their forests from fires by “raking” the underbrush.

“It started a whole cavalcade of (humorous) tweets,” he said of Trump’s misstatement.

“We’ve had at least 15 complaints from property owners since last week saying what is Parks (Canada) doing about this mess, and businesses as well,” said Brenda MacDonald, adding Council would be addressing those concerns at the Dec 10 meeting.

“Spruce trees don’t send down a deep root system, they run across the ground. When it’s wet and windy they wobble. When they’re planted together as thickly as that they’re tall and spindly (and go down),” said board member Arnold Smith, adding it doesn’t take long for them to rot and dry out.

Even before the storm trees were dangling over the boardwalk, ready to fall over, said Brenda MacDonald.

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Morrison cottage to be demolished on December 14

By Jim Brown
A mysterious building on Clark’s Lane in Cavendish that few Islanders ever get to see, but has been a favored haunt of visiting dignitaries and eight of the past 12 premiers, will be demolished on Dec 14.

Parks Canada officials made that decision some time ago, despite a letter from Resort Municipality Chair Matthew Jelley urging them to spare The Morrison Cottage.

According to Brenda MacDonald, the Resort Municipality’s CAO, Parks Canada staff have already been to the building several times removing items of importance and perhaps even the windows.

There has been significant interest by business and residential owners in the resort municipality in acquiring the building, including leasing it or moving it.

The three bedroom bungalow’s fate was brought up at the Resort Municipality’s planning board meeting on Dec 5. It will surface again at the monthly meeting of Resort Municipality Council on Monday, Dec 10.

The Morrison Cottage, built in the 1950s, is owned by Parks Canada but managed by the Province in a deal struck in the 1970s. The Province also handled bookings. Over the decades it’s served as an upscale bunk for visiting dignitaries as well as premiers.

According to a Charlottetown Guardian article in 2016: “Little has been done in the way of major upgrades to the property. It has a garage, hardwood wall interiors, a stone fireplace and chimney and typical cottage-style furniture.”

An internal Parks Canada report, prepared by KPMG, is investigating the feasibility of unloading “non-core” Parks Canada assets to earn hundreds of millions in revenues, perhaps more than a billion dollars.

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The most wonderful time of the year for shopping

There were lots of beaming smiles on the faces of vendors and holiday shoppers alike on Saturday, Dec 1 at the Christmas craft fair held at the Stanley Bridge Hall (Sterling Women’s Institute). Many lucky shoppers came away with the perfect gift to slide under the tree or into a Christmas stocking.
Jim Brown photos

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Huddling together at the gas station

Nearly everyone on the Island lost their power on Thursday, Nov 29, with Stanley Bridge residents finally getting their lights back on at 6:20 pm. Shortly after 8 am, the Race Trak gas station at the Stanley Bridge roundabout was filled with customers and passersby. Many had lost their power earlier that morning, and then rejoiced when it came back on, only to be cruelly disappointed when everything went black again, this time for more than nine hours.


Photos by Jim Brown

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Bad weather forces North Rustico Remembrance Day ceremonies indoors

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Fierce winds and plunging temperatures moved Remembrance Day ceremonies indoors in North Rustico.

Hundreds of people packed the North Rustico Lions Club for the ceremonies, marking the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that silenced the guns of World War 1. Attendees included District 18 MLA Brad Trivers and PEI’s Senator from Cavendish, Mike Duffy.

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An early start to Christmas shopping season

New London Community Complex Craft Fair held Nov 4
Story and photos by Jim Brown

Auxiliary power may have been needed to keep the lights on, but the annual New London Community Complex Christmas Craft Fair still went ahead on Sunday, Nov 4, drawing hordes of shoppers looking for that perfect item to slip into a stocking or under a tree.
By early morning close to 3,000 Maritime Electric customers were still without power after a fierce windstorm, with gusts as high as 100 km an hour, lashed PEI. No doubt a good number of them found their way to New London.

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New London based entrepreneur Cristin Sawchuk (Old Home Press) designs distinctive, eye-catching apparel that reflects the unique beauty of Prince Edward Island. She was one of dozens of vendors at the Christmas Craft Fair on Nov 4.

  Kensington Intermediate Senior High students had a table at the Christmas Craft Fair, selling chocolate pretzel candy to raise funds for the school's student council. From left, are Kellie Champion, Jack Ellsworth and John Lockerby.

Sabine Schoenknecht, in photo, and her husband Michael Schoenknecht, operate the Lucky Bee Homestead in Murray Harbour North and were doing a brisk business at the Christmas Craft Fair.

Visitors young, old and in-between descended on the New London Community Complex Sunday, Nov 4 for the organization's much anticipated Christmas Craft Fair.

Helene Bouchard is surrounded by gift-wrapped lavender products at the Christmas Craft Fair. Ms Bouchard operates a lavender farm at her Stanley Bridge property. Her many products include edibles for restaurants and the home.

Kathryn deBree, of Gotta Sew, offers repairs, alterations, custom work, upholstery, mending, zippers, hemming and leatherwork at her home-based business in Kensington.

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Light standard knocked down

Department of Transportation work crews were busy across the province on Oct 16, fixing much of the damage caused by fierce winds of up to 90 km an hour. The winds were accompanied earlier in the morning by heavy rains. Above, shortly after 9 am, workers were attending to a fallen light standard about 40 feet from the Stanley Bridge roundabout, on the Cavendish side.


Jim Brown photos

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Helen MacEwen and the new resort municipality council: How our past has become our road-map to the future.

By Mike Duffy

Senator Mike Duffy

On Monday, Sept. 10 the new, post-election Resort Municipality council was to hold its first monthly meeting.

Mayor Matthew Jelley was acclaimed on July 27 and so were all the councillors seeking election. Bill Drost, Chris Robinson, George Clark Dunning, Lee Brammer, Linda Lowther and Kenny Singleton will steer the development of this growing community over the next few years.

It is an interesting mix of older, experienced councilors and new people with new ideas for the future of our community.

These are critical years for the municipality, as we see a new generation of visitors and retiring baby-boomers come home from years spent “away”, bringing with them new ideas about housing, zoning and culture. It will be a challenge as the tried and true learns to live with the new.

Our past is our road-map to the future. That certainly is the credo of Helen M. MacEwan, who is finishing a decade as President of the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society.

Charlottetown gets most of the attention when it comes to discussions of Island history. After all that was where the Fathers of Confederation met in 1864, to begin the process of creating Canada.

But if you ask Helen M. MacEwen, you’ll quickly learn our Island history extends far beyond Charlottetown.

Until 1865 Stanley Bridge was known as Fyfe’s Ferry, named for the ferry which carried traffic across the Stanley River. The name changed after the bridge was built.

These were the days before motor cars and paved highways linking rural areas with the capital City. Water was the key means of transport, and Stanley Bridge with its access to New London Bay was a busy port with schooners lining the wharves.

Farmers used the schooners to send their produce to market, and merchants used the ships to receive supplies which they sold to local people. The community truly was the hub of our small universe, with a busy blacksmith, a harness maker, tailor and millinery shop, and a shipyard.

All of this is documented in the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society’s richly illustrated book, the History of Stanley Bridge, Hub of the Universe. It was published in 1997, and as the older generation passes on, the book remains a valuable resource for those interested in our past.

The Stanley Bridge Memorial Society, a group of local history buffs, led by Helen MacEwen, volunteered the countless hours that were required. Now after a lifetime of work, and a decade as President, Helen MacEwen is moving into the past-president’s role. She is being replaced by Clayton Smith.

In recognition of her hard work, I was delighted to present Helen M. MacEwen with a Senate of Canada Certificate of Appreciation.

The citation reads: “In Recognition of Your Lifetime Commitment to the Preservation of the History of Stanley Bridge”

Helen M. MacEwen is a community leader, and this certificate of appreciation is a well-deserved thank you from her countless friends, fans, and neighbours.

Never one to rest, Helen’s latest community project is the 100 by 100 campaign.

The Stanley Bridge Centre, a former United Church decommissioned in 2009, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020. The Memorial Society’s latest project is to raise $100,000 for renovations to make the building accessible, to repair the roof, and add a kitchen and washroom.

This community centre needs the support of our caring community. Your generous donation can help the Stanley Bridge Centre thrive for another 100 years.

Cavendish resident Mike Duffy represents PEI in The Senate of Canada. Your comments are welcome. Please submit them to peijim@hotmail.com..

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Stanley Bridge area packed with fun events weekend of Aug 24-26

Story and photos by Jim Brown
It turned out to be double the fun for local residents and visitors this weekend in Stanley Bridge under sunny, cloudless skies. The River Days Festival ran Friday to Sunday and the 50th anniversary bash of the New London Fire Company was held Saturday, drawing large crowds of children, their parents and friends and family members of volunteer firefighters, past and present. It was a weekend that will not soon be forgotten.

At the Stanley Bridge Centre Saturday youngsters learned how to paint sunflowers in an outdoor tent setting, while the bridge at the Stanley Bridge wharf was a magnet for daredevils of all ages, bravely diving dozens of feet into the water.

A group of youngsters waited several long moments before diving off the bridge at the Stanley Bridge wharf.

Seven-year-old Hudson Thoy, from Stratford, got to shoot out a stream of water from a high pressure fire hose outside the New London Fire Company.

Volunteer firefighters use the jaws of life to dismantle a wrecked car at the New London Fire Company's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Meredith O'Dea, 7, was one of several participants at the flower painting workshop held at the Stanley Bridge Centre.

Devynn Wakelin, 4, and her mom Dorothy, from Rainbow Lake, Alberta, collaborated on some beautiful artwork at the Stanley Bridge Centre.

It only took a moment for this woman to plunge feet first from the bridge.

Anna O'Dea, 4, and Meredith O'Dea, 7, daughters of Jonathan and Jamie O'Dea from St. John's, NFLD, were at the Stanley Bridge Centre's sunflower painting workshop. Above, Anna is all smiles after a few brushstrokes .

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New London Fire Company holds memorial service

The 50th anniversary of the New London Fire Company was celebrated Saturday, Aug 25 and a big part of the day’s impressive slate of events was a memorial service honoring members who had passed away during the fire company’s five decades in the community. The memorial service included a bell ceremony, the laying of evergreen, the Fireman’s Prayer read by Bill Pidgeon, the roll call of honor led by New London Fire Chief Allen Cole, and remarks from PEI Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry, Malpeque Liberal MP Wayne Easter, and provincial MLAs Matthew MacKay and Brad Trivers. Juliana Elsinga sang the national anthem.
Story and photos by Jim Brown

Sheila MacMurdo and her daughter Caedyn were two of the attendees at the Aug 25 memorial service, who have several friends in the New London Fire Company.

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