At the coffee shop

The Stanley Bridge Centre is proud to introduce a new feature, What’s Perking at the Coffee Shop. Customers at the Kensington Bakin’ Donuts are invited to share what’s on their minds in a place where the conversation flows as freely as the coffee and there’s plenty of news from free local papers to digest along with tasty fare from the menu.

What’s perking at the coffee shop

The Kensington Bakin’ Donuts is the perfect spot to find out what’s percolating in the community and in people’s lives.

Why won’t people leave the path of hurricane Florence?
By Jim Brown

On Sept 13 Marion Palmer’s thoughts were on a devastating hurricane barreling towards the Carolinas and about why so many people wouldn’t heed desperate calls to evacuate.

“Not too bright,” she said of those folks who decided to stick it out despite many, many warnings this could be the most catastrophic storm in decades.

“Why would you stay when you’ve been told it’s gonna be bad? Why would you stay?” said Marion, who lives just outside Kensington.

Ms Palmer believes climate change had a great deal to do with Florence, which was a Category 2 hurricane in the morning hours of Sept 13.

Napanee couple enjoying Island visit
By Jim Brown

When we met up with Napanee, Ontario residents Simon Croteau and Madeleine Ouellet on Aug 17 they had just arrived on the Island (one day earlier) and were excited about the prospect of seeing everything PEI had to offer.

“We’re going through PEI, Cape Breton and the rest of Nova Scotia. We have a lot of discussions (ahead) on where we want to go and what we want to see,” said Simon.

“We’re happy the weather is breaking,” he said.

“Tomorrow is not so good, but it’s going to improve in the afternoon.”

“We just started this morning touring the Island, so we’ve just begin. We’re going to go to Cavendish beach and to Charlottetown, so we’ve got a lot to look forward to today,” said Madeleine.

“It’s all so exciting! It’s my first experience on the Bridge and that was awesome,” she said.

“We’re just really excited to see the sights here and look for artisans and artists…in the little towns.”

 Count these Ottawa tourists big fans of PEI
By Jim Brown

It’s July 31, the sun is out and the temperatures are sweltering and it’s not even 11 am yet. But the near-record shattering heat hasn’t put a damper on an Ottawa family’s vacation.

Ian Bell, his wife Margaret and their six-year-old daughter, Amelia, had been on the Island for six days and enjoyed every minute of their vacation.

“Beautiful Island, friendly people, great food. We’ve had a wonderful, relaxing time, ” said Ian.

“We had a really good time at the ceilidh in Stanley Bridge,” said his wife.

“That was definitely memorable,” said Ian.

“We enjoyed the Stomping Tom Centre near North Cape. That was beautiful and there are great restaurants in Kensington. Broadway 45 is a wonderful restaurant.”

They didn’t mind the heat, considering it was even hotter when they left Ottawa.

“It’s probably cooler over here than it is where we come from. We were in the middle of a heat wave when we left. It was a little bit nastier than this, so it seems cooler to us,” said Ian.

And besides, he added, it’s always cooler by the beach, where they spent a lot of time.

“I really liked the beach, and I kept stepping on the ‘crabby guys’,” said Amelia, with a giggle.

“Crabs,” laughed her mom.

This isn’t the family’s first trip to PEI, but it will definitely not be their last, said Ian.

“We just love the area. We love the people. We come here as often as we can.”

 American couple enthralled by Island’s beauty
By Jim Brown

On July 20 a Massachusetts couple, Jeff and Stephanie Luke, were in Kensington, enjoying breakfast at Bakin’ Donuts and thinking about their visit to PEI so far.

“Travelling through PEI I was noticing the differences between here and home with the landscapes. There’s a lot of hayfields – they are gorgeous – and the ocean views and potatoes everywhere,” said Stephanie.

“We have no potato farms at home so it’s a neat treat to see those and all the local festivals that are going on up here.”

Stephanie and her husband were disappointed they didn’t arrive on time to see to the Cavendish Beach Music Festival.

“We saw the Potato Blossom Festival and there were others ones we saw,” said Stephanie.

The Lukes were on the Island for just another couple of days, so they had a lot of sightseeing to cram in and souvenirs to pick up for their kids.

“We’re looking forward to a great sunny day,” said Jeff.

“It’s friendly, it’s clean, it’s really been nice weather for us, so we’ve been really impressed

so far,” he said.

This is the Jeff and Stephanie’s first visit to PEI.

Jeff said the couple benefitted from the low Canadian dollar, but that isn’t the prime consideration when they travel to places they’ve never been.

 Long time Leaf fan has Stanley Cup dreams
Jim Brown story and photo.

John Peach

On July 7 John Peach, from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, was thinking good things about Toronto’s blockbuster signing of superstar free agent centre John Tavares, just 27.

“I’ve been a Leaf fan my whole life and John Tavares is the biggest move they made in a long, long time other than signing Auston Matthews as their No. 1 pick,” said Mr Peach.

“Man, the Leafs are going to be force in the NHL for the next number of years,” he said, before adding an important cautionary note.

“They’re definitely a contender but they have issues on defense. They’ve got some serious problems on defense that they have to rectify.”

John was around when the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967 and he hopes he’s around when it happens again.

“I was only small, a little fellow then.”

John is luckier than most Leaf fans. He can actually watch a home game and not have to break the bank to do it.

“I usually go up to the Air Canada Centre every year. My uncle has season tickets. He’s actually the only Cape Bretoner with season tickets.

“He was a professor in Toronto his whole life (who has since retired). Whenever I want to go up to a game I call him and he takes care of me. He’s been a season ticket holder since 1965.”

John, and millions of other Maple Leaf fans, are hoping they get a chance to be there when the Cup is finally hoisted on home ice.

Could Tavares make that dream a reality?

 On June 22 Pearl Adams was thinking about health care and wait times.
Jim Brown story and photo.

Pearl Adams. Summerside

“My mind is on long waits for surgery and long waits at the hospital. I’m waiting for surgery and I’ve been waiting to see somebody since Jan 10 and I’ve finally got a call for October, and there’s no surgery until after that,” said the Summerside resident, who needs shoulder surgery.

After suffering a rotary cuff tear the painful injury forced her to retire early from her physically demanding school custodian job.

“I got hurt last summer, but I worked until Jan 10,” said Pearl, adding she would have worked for three more years if she had been uninjured.

“I called the surgeon and I said is every surgeon like that, booked solid, and they said yes.”

Pearl said she might have to wait up to two years for her surgery.

She was also thinking about developments south of the border.

“Another concern is Donald Trump and these children. I think it’s such a sin that they’re taken from their parents. It’s awful, it’s so heartbreaking.”

Politics, the economy and tariffs on Summerside man’s mind
Jim Brown story and photos.

Tariffs, a looming trade war with America and gridlock in Congress were some of the things on Summerside resident Clint Morrison’s mind on June 22.

“I think internationally my big concern is what’s going on in the United States? The tariff situation is going to probably have a big effect on Canadians if things go ahead as the president plans.

“We’re probably as vulnerable as anyone else in Canada. We export a lot of our product to the United States – lobsters and potatoes,” he said.

But he does see some good news for the economy this summer.

Mr. Morrison believes Canada’s tourism industry will benefit from the lower loonie since tourists will get a 25 to 30 per cent boost on their buying power, making holidays a little cheaper, “although our gasoline is pretty expensive.”

He went on to say it’s hard to predict how things will shake out south of the border.

“It’s hard to know what’s going on down there because the economy looks to be quite strong, but whether that’s going to last…it could be just a blip. Things look uncertain for sure.

“It concerns me what the president is doing and his Republican party,” said Mr. Morrison.

And what is the answer?

“Well, I think they’ll going to have to settle their partisan political differences. I think that’s the big problem down there. Democrats don’t want to give anything to Republicans and vice versa so they take a party stand and vote that way and a lot of the time things don’t happen.”

 Living without a computer in a wired world
Jim Brown story and photos.

Emerald resident Al Croken has never owned a computer of any kind. He just never needed or wanted one. On May 31 Al shared some of his thoughts about going wireless in a wired world.

“There’s nothing worse than going out to dinner with your significant other or whatever and everyone is sitting there with their silly phones scrolling along and nobody is talking,” he said.

“I do not have a computer or any of those silly phones. I don’t have any of that stuff, just a land line…I never saw a reason for one.”

And what does his family think?

“All my kids don’t even mention it, if they want to stay in my will,” Croken said, with a laugh.

How does he stay connected to the rest of the world?

“I wake up in the morning and turn on the country channel (radio). That and Compass in the evening if the TV works.”

And, of course, his friends at the coffee shop are also a good source of news

 Why is it so hard to find cheap manure?
Jim Brown story and photos.

Greg Gillis, Indian River

Something many Islanders likely wouldn’t give much thought to, unless they were serious gardeners, landscapers or farmers, was on the mind of Indian River resident Greg Gillis on May 18.

“Manure,” he said bluntly.

“I wish there was more manure (aka compost) around.”

No so long ago he was able to go to the nearest Island Waste Management Corporation recycling facility (the Waste Watch Drop-Off Centre in New London) “and they had this nice and cheap compost.

“I’d take the wagon out get the stuff. I wouldn’t use it on the garden, but I’d use it for the lawn and for flowers,” he said.

“I was there a little more than a week ago and they didn’t have any yet and they didn’t have any last summer or the summer before.”

Gillis recalls the recent good old days when: “You’d just bring a trailer and load your own. I was talking to one of the workers out there and I asked if they were going to get some and they basically said they didn’t really think so.”

So what’s he going to do for compost for his plants and lawn?

“Buy it, I guess. As opposed to five bucks a trailer load, this is like $40 for compost.”

He went on to say: “If you make your own compost you can probably put it on your garden. Because you can be selective about what goes in it.”

Gillis said he’s already found the compost he needs, but it’s from a local business.

“It’s a thing that’s close to my heart,” he joked.

 Woman peeved at Legislature antics
Pat Goodwin, Hamilton, April 29
Jim Brown story and photos.

Pat Goodwin

The PEI Legislature was on Pat Goodwin’s mind on April 29, and not for a good reason.

“My beef is with (Liberal) Alan McIsaac because he made a mockery of the session in the legislature the other day by contesting what the schoolkids wanted for the animal to represent PEI – the red fox,” said Goodwin, from Hamilton.

Independent MLA Bush Dumville had put forward a resolution, based on a submission by Grade 5 students from Montague, asking for the red fox to be named as PEI’s animal emblem. That prompted McIsaac to put forward an amendment of his own to confer the honour on the Holstein cow instead.

And things degenerated from there.

“Why that couldn’t be the end of it, I don’t know. That was such a childish response to a lovely submission by these schoolkids,” she said.

“Don’t politicians have better things to do? That’s so small, so ridiculous. Stop doing that!”

Instead, MLAs should spend more time “taking care of the sick and the elderly and the poor.”

If there’s going to be a heated, time-wasting debate on naming a provincial animal, “take it out into the street. Don’t spend the legislature’s time doing that,” she said.

“It was absolutely ridiculous.”

 Not a fan of roundabouts
Lori Clark, Blue Shank Road, April 13
Jim Brown story and photos.

Lori Clark

Roundabouts are “ridiculous” and a waste of taxpayer money, says Lori Clark, who lives on the Blue Shank Road.

The new Kinkora roundabout, slated for construction later this summer, was on her mind April 13.

“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Yes, it is a bad intersection, but is a roundabout really the answer?”
And she had some harsh words for the Stanley Bridge roundabout.

“It’s ridiculous also. It’s flat as a pancake for one thing, and my husband drives right over the top of it every time we go through there and I don’t know if it’s because he just doesn’t like it or he just doesn’t care,” she said with a laugh.

Engineers did raise the centre a bit, but not enough, Clark went on to say.

“And last year they piled snow in the middle of it….Snowbanks…I feel the same thing is going to happen over in Kinkora,” said Clark.

“I don’t think we need any more. Maybe in Charlottetown. But in some of these rural areas I don’t think roundabouts are needed.”

The excessive tax dollars and other costs just don’t justify them, said Clark.

She went on to say heavy farm equipment and tractors and trailers have a difficult time navigating through them.

“I think we have more than enough roundabouts.”

 Surviving an encounter with a giant sinkhole
Jim Brown story and photos.

It’s not every day you see a 20-ft-deep chasm open up in the Irishtown Road, big enough to swallow a car and make it disappear from sight.

It was so big it made the national news.

Lorne Arsenault

Kensington residents Lorne and Marjorie Arsenault were driving along that road on Easter Weekend when they were stopped by the giant sinkhole. It was certainly on their mind when they visited the local Bakin’ Donuts shop on April 3.

“Really bad,” said Lorne, who predicted that section of the road wouldn’t reopen until May.

“A woman (car) almost ran into it” while they were there.

The Arsenaults, who had lived in Kensington since 1985, had never seen a sinkhole of that gargantuan size before and they hoped they would never see another like it.

Marjorie Arsenault

“It’s a freak of nature,” said Lorne’s wife, calling it a pretty scary sight.

“There was crack…a wobble in the road and it just let go.”

The car that almost got gobbled up, stopped only just in time, she said.

“It was close. Very, very close.”

Lorne also had something to celebrate that day, his birthday, for which he received a free muffin from Bakin Donut’s staff, topped with icing.

 A special place in her heart
Jim Brown story and photos.

Margate resident Debbie Lemon moved to the Island from Ontario a few months ago. She loves everything about her adopted home, but there is a special place in her heart for a stretch of Highway 6 in Stanley Bridge that goes past the wharf.

“It’s just magical,” she said, during visit to Bakin’ Donuts on March 11.

Debbie Lemon

“There is just something about it…Different times of the day, different sunsets, different lighting. It’s just one of those things. I have to pull in, I have to sit in my car, get out of my car, walk along where the boats are.”

Lemon estimates she’s taken more than a hundred photos along that stretch in the six months she’s lived on the Island.

“And then I send them off to everybody I know,” she said. Lemon added, with a laugh, she’s a little “embarrassed” about her obsession.

“There’s a certain serenity about it. I like that you can see the vibrancy of the red clay in the distance and I walked down where they built the new building…and it just felt right. It’s such a lovely spot.”

An uncanny resemblance
Jim Brown story and photos.

The Kensington Bakin’ Donuts shop is a busy place on most days, with a constant ebb and flow of customers. You never know who you might meet when you drop by for a coffee or a meal. It could be a friend, a co-worker, a family member, a distant relative or perhaps someone you’ve shared posts with on social media but never actually met. Or maybe, in a more improbable series of circumstances, someone who is almost a spitting image of yourself!

That’s what happened a while back with Leigh Adams, who lives in Kensington and is a regular at the local Bakin’ Donuts.

Mr Adams got the shock of his life one day when he walked into the coffee shop, where he was greeted by friends and came face to face with someone who looked almost like himself.

It was just a face on a poster, but it gave him quite a start.

There, in front of him, was a giant of English literature, William Golding. Mr Golding could almost be Leigh’s Doppelganger. Except, of course, for the minor detail of his passing in 1993.



On Feb 25, at about 9:45 am, we caught up with Freetown resident Vanessa Bulman. She’s a mother of four whose children attend Somerset Elementary School in Kinkora. Bulman is worried about the future of small schools after last year’s harrowing school review process in which five schools were originally recommended for closure. The list was then reduced to two, before Premier Wade MacLauchan announced his government would keep all Island schools open.

Vanessa Bulman

Somerset Elementary was not on the original list, but Bulman isn’t entirely reassured.

“We just got through an amalgamation debate in the last year and it’s almost the end of this school year and the next school year is coming up. Are they going to try to close schools again or amalgamate more areas?

“I just see the value of the smaller schools in our area and the importance they have, especially in the more rural communities…having the rural kids with like-minded (kids)…It’s nice to have the country kids going to the country schools and the city kids going to the city schools. I am optimistic for our school. I certainly fear for some of the schools around the province though.”

Keeping small schools open “makes more sense than driving (children) farther to a city school that’s already…overpopulated.”

Jim Brown story and photos.