The Stanley Bridge Centre is proud to break new ground with our “What’s Perking at the Coffee Shop” feature.
Want to know what’s percolating in your community? Why not drop by Robin’s in Kensington, where the conversation flows as freely as the coffee and there’s plenty of news to digest along with donuts, pastries, muffins, breakfast entrees and other tasty fare from the menu.
Provincial politics is in his blood
By Jim Brown
On this day, Feb 16, Brian Dollar had his mind on PEI’s political scene.
“Anyone who knows me knows exactly who I support. I’m with the (Progressive) Conservative party.”
In 1996 Brian put his political convictions on the line and ran under the PC banner, losing by 352 votes to Liberal Ron MacKinley in District 16 (North River, Rice Point).
“I was the closest anyone came to beating him” he said of MacKinley’s long and storied career in Island politics.
Brian has a nephew, Chris Currie, running for the PC nomination in District 17 (on Feb 18).
He went on to say he’s happy Dennis King won the PC leadership, bringing “new blood” to the PCs. Brian is also optimistic about his party’s chances in the upcoming provincial election.
Brian says Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan “has kind of burned a lot of bridges lately. I’ve talked to a lot of Liberal people…and they’re disillusioned with the Liberal Party…I won’t say their names because they’d never forgive me, but they’re very, very upset with their own party and some of them were big workers and they’re not going to do (anything) in the next campaign.”
He expects he will be pitching in to help King’s campaign.
Brian is also following events very intently south of the border and though he’s no fan of Donald Trump, he believes Trump will win the 2020 election.
“He’s going to win, he’s going to be president for two terms.”
Is he happy about that prospect?
“No, not at all,” he said.
“I think it’s kind of childish down there. Very childish.”
There are more important things than “building a wall.”
But Brian still believes Trump will win.
“He’ll be president for two terms. It’s the American attitude…They think differently about politics than Canadians do.”
And anyone who is skeptical about Trump’s prospects for a second term should keep one important thing in mind.
“I predicted he’d get the first one,” said Brian.
“Between Hillary and Trump there wasn’t much choice.”
He’s searching for a home for his son and daughter-in-law
By Jim Brown
On Jan 12 Emmett Murphy, who lives near Kensington, was thinking about finding a home for his son Christopher and his daughter-in-law Megan.
It’s a difficult enough proposition as it is, but just imagine how much more challenging it can be if the couple doesn’t even live on the Island, or in Canada for that matter.
In fact, they are coming to PEI all the way from Glasgow, Scotland.
“They both have jobs here and they’re looking for a home, preferably with some acreage,” said Emmett, adding there’s one more wrinkle.
“She’s a veterinarian and she has several horses,” said Emmett, of Megan.
And that’s not all.
“She’s also from Newfoundland (originally), so she has to see ocean,” he laughed.
“The past month I’ve looked at about a dozen properties. There was one in York yesterday that had a reasonable size barn suitable for horses, with stalls…everything suits but the price.”
Megan and Christopher have been away from the Island for three years, with Megan taking a specialization in veterinarian medicine and Christopher, who has a Master’s degree, working as a physiotherapist.
The couple were to begin their jobs by March 15 and will arrive here by the middle of February.
So he hasn’t got a lot of time to find their perfect home.
“It’s strenuous because I’m making decisions for them and I don’t think I should be,” said Emmett, with a chuckle.
“We had quite a video session at the property yesterday.”
He’s no fan of ‘snow days’
By Jim Brown
On this day, Jan 4, Doug Killam was doing what we all do this time of year, venting about snow.
Many Islanders aren’t too thrilled about having to shovel snow, but it’s a safe bet they haven’t seen as much as Doug. He’s the public works supervisor for the Town of Kensington, who spends much of his time clearing snow from the town’s sidewalks.
“The snow came early so there’s a lot of snow removal, more than what we want right now,” he said with a good-natured laugh. He was drinking a cup of coffee at Robin’s during a break.
“And more is coming Sunday and more is coming Wednesday next week. It’s okay the first few times, but after that it gets old.”
Usually the snow doesn’t start until mid-December, but Islanders were whacked with the white stuff in a brutal November, which saw new records set for snow, rain and cold temperatures.
Doug can be on his trackless sidewalk plow for anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day.
His job involves “cleaning sidewalks, widening them back, salting and sanding, and the plows come and they fill it up and you have to clean them (again),” he said.
Every once in a while a car or a plow will drive by when his window is open and he’ll get a splash of snow.
But that’s all part of the job, which he actually enjoys.
Thinking about the important things at Christmas
By Jim Brown
On this day, Dec 17, Peter Strubel’s mind was on Christmas shopping.
“I’m trying to get presents for some people, not really big shopping but small knick-knacks. Just presents for people who have done things for me, and some sweets, maybe some food baskets or something like that, just to show my (appreciation),” he said.
“I don’t have a lot to do because I don’t have a big family and my wife passed on about a year and a half ago and my daughter is in England. I have a few friends here and those are the ones I look after,” said Peter, who was originally from Germany, but lives in Bedeque.
“I’m not a big Christmas shopper…I think this whole Christmas shopping consumerism is overdone,” said Peter, adding he doesn’t need much for himself.
“We should concentrate on the really important things – being nice to people, trying to keep peace with everybody, and making sure the world is environmentally and socially a better place. That is the most important thing and that’s what I wish for everybody for Christmas.”
Thoughts from the storm
By Jim Brown
On this day, Friday, Nov 30, Leslie Thomas, from Kensington, said he wasn’t ready for the fierce wind and snowstorm that knocked out power for the entire Island a day earlier.
“I wasn’t prepared like I should have been. I didn’t have enough gas in my car and I didn’t have gas for my generator and when it came time to get it nobody was selling it or it was all gone. I was driving around Summerside trying to get gas. It took me two or three hours but I finally got some,” he said.
“I spent 20 dollars (driving) and bought 20 dollars,” said Leslie, with a laugh.
He estimated he was without power for about 12 hours.
Leslie was joined at the Kensington Robin’s by his son and daughter.
On that morning as many as 6,500 Maritime Electric customers were still without power.
Although he’s faced lengthy outages before, Leslie observed situations like this make people realize how reliant they are on something as basic as power.
Not enough recreational opportunities for kids in her community
Photo by Jim Brown
Valerie Hickox, a soccer coach and a mother of three young children, is hoping the recent municipal elections will bring some important changes to her small community of Miscouche.
She and her children and other soccer mad kids she coaches have to travel out of town to play their favorite sport.
“There were 20 children on the team so we’re kind of hoping we’d get something going in Miscouche,” said Valerie.
She and her kids have to travel to Evangeline for soccer, a 15 to 20 minute drive.
“We don’t even have baseball,” she said.
“We have a baseball diamond but it’s not maintained.”
In the past there used to be soccer and baseball teams playing in Miscouche, but that was more than a decade ago, said Valerie, who has lived in Miscouche for nine years.
“It’s not even a matter of what sport (soccer or baseball),” said Valerie.
“My children are all really active in sports. It would be nice if we had something in the community, because we have a lot of children in Miscouche.”
He’s not a fan of winter
Photo by Jim Brown
“What can you say, it’s nasty weather,” he said.
“It’s too early. It’s the cold, it’s the ice, it’s the snow, it’s everything,” said Mr Montgomery, a vegetable farmer who on this date still had some crops in the ground at his 30-acre spread.
“It’s a lot rougher (than last year),” he said.
Mr Montgomery figures he’s got another six days of work ahead, if the weather will co-operate.
A thaw would be nice, he added.
“It’s been hard to do anything. It’s either frozen, or wet.”
Ivan Gallant is back
Story and photo by Jim Brown
He was a councilor on Kensington Council for 18 years, then the Mayor of Kensington for four years, and then he left municipal politics to accept a full time job (a 10 year hiatus). Now he’s back, after winning a seat on council in the recent election which also saw three new members elected.
On Nov 9 returning councilor Ivan Gallant was thinking about some ideas he wanted to bring to his fellow councilors.
“I do have a number of things on my bucket list,” said Mr Gallant, drinking a Robin’s coffee before heading to work.
He said there weren’t many complaints when he knocked on doors during the campaign, but there were plenty of suggestions.
“History is a big thing. A lot of people were saying the history of the town has kind of been left in the dark, as far as displays and so on. There used to be a museum over at the train station for the railway and that’s gone.”
Kensington has “a great little library” but he would like to see a bigger, more extensive library, along with an “interpretive centre or a museum.”
Fixing deteriorating sidewalks and installing new ones in the newer residential areas are also something he would like to see addressed by the new council when it begins its work in December.
Mr Gallant certainly heard about that when he was going door to door.
Many residents are older and enjoy walking for exercise and better sidewalks would certainly be appreciated, he said.
The intersection of Highway 2 and Garden Drive needs prompt attention, also, with the Province’s participation.
“There’s a lot of accidents there and somebody’s going to seriously get hurt if something isn’t done,” said Mr Gallant.
“I think the key for any municipal politician, I don’t care if they’re new or if they’ve been there a while, is to get out and meet the people and see what they have to say.”