Smash rooms and Trump supporters

By Jim Brown

Smash rooms. Also known as anger rooms or rage rooms. You pay anywhere from $20 to several hundred dollars to destroy microwaves, glasses, plates, vases, any number of household items and appliances. Smash them into millions of pieces by swinging a bat or other bludgeoning instrument, maybe releasing a blood-curdling rebel yell while you’re doing it. Your chest heaves with the exertion, sweat pores down your reddening face, soaking your wife-beater shirt. Your neck muscles might bulge grotesquely, your eyes threaten to pop from their sockets. But it feels so good to smash things. Even if it costs a month’s rent.

I’ve come to the conclusion you can define a Trump supporter’s raison de etre in just five words: They like to break things.

That’s it. That’s all they are about. Really, they are not that much different in their motivations from the bandanna clad antifa thugs they are always railing against. Anti fascist protesters get their thrill smashing windows and sometimes heads. Trump supporters get their’s breaking institutions, norms, values, traditions and sometimes heads. That’s why they won’t desert Trump – they see themselves when they look at him. They are reflected in all of his ugly, gross and demeaning qualities. They embrace his racism, his bigotry, his pettiness, his arrogance, his many, many lies. They cleave to him because he shares their addiction to breaking things. It’s an atavistic impulse that doesn’t need or deserve any further explanation.

They break things and he lets them, even encourages them. America is their smash room. And Trump is the crude bludgeoning instrument of their unreasoning rage.


Message from Mayor Matthew Jelley

As the weather warms up and the summer approaches, I understand only too well some of the challenges that we will all face over the coming weeks and months. Even while the impact of Post Tropical Storm Dorian is still being felt, we must now overcome a season where many of our residents will have difficulty coming home, and many of our businesses face a devastating decline. While there is nothing normal about the current situation, and there is no instruction book on how to plan for the summer, it is important that we keep up the pride we have in our community. The Resort Municipality has always been known as a welcoming community and we must maintain that reputation, even if the numbers will be lower this year. I would encourage all businesses and property owners to continue the clean up from the storm and to continue to invest in their properties. If your neighbour is coming home and must self-isolate, please reach out to help with both preparations and care once they arrive. If they can’t make it home, or a nearby business is having financial trouble, please offer to cut some grass or maintain a flowerbed. We must continue to look after each other and look to the future. While there is a bylaw in place for Unsightly Properties, I would prefer an approach where we all work together to improve the appearance of our community this year and heal some of the wounds of the past year. Please help keep our community beautiful, welcoming and prosperous.

Matthew Jelley, Mayor of the Resort Municipality of Cavendish


Travelling in the Resort Municipality? Here are some places that are open

R &A Service Station, Stanley Bridge, Phone 902-886-2606
Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm
Saturday, 8:30 am to 5 pm.
Closed Sunday

Robin’s Donuts, North Rustico, Phone 902-963-3578
Store remains closed, but drive-thru hours are daily 5:30 am to 6 pm.

North Rustico Irving, Phone 902-963-2105
Open Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 6 pm. Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

Fairways Cottage, Hunter River, Phone 902-963-2843.
Open for the season.

Anderson’s Creek Golf Course, Stanley Bridge, Phone 902-888-2222.
Open daily 8 am to 8 pm.

Eagles Glenn Golf Course, Cavendish, Phone 902-963-3600
Monday to Friday, 10 am to 7 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

Blue Heron Construction Inc., North Rustico, Ph. 902-963-2266
Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 5 pm.

Island Style, Cavendish, Phone 902-963-2497
Opening on weekends June 6 Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.
Staring June 26 open daily 10 am to 5 pm.

North Rustico Home Hardware, Phone 902-963-2040
Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 5 pm, Saturdays 8 am to 1 pm.

Murphy’s Pharmacy, North Rustico, Phone 902-963-2899
Pharmacy hours Monday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm
Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm

Ship’s Company Pub & Galley, New Glasgow, Phone 902-388-0118
Opening June 12

Toombs Plumbing and Heating Ltd., Cavendish, Phone 902-963-2301

Pineau’s Bottle Exchange, North Rustico, Phone 902-963-3201
Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm.

North Rustico Food Market, Phone 902-963-2725
Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm.

Pedro’s Island Eatery, North Rustico, Phone 902-963-3201
Friday and Saturday 9 am to 4 pm

Provincial Credit Union, North Rustico, Phone 902-963-2543
Monday to Friday 9:30 am to 3 pm.

Cavendish Car Wash., open for the season 24 hours a day.

Caption Kidd’s Dairy Bar and Take Out, phone 963-3738,
Monday to Sunday, 12 noon to 7 pm

Cavendish Tourist Mart, Phone 902-963-2370,
Open daily, 8 am to 7 pm. ATM open daily.

Liquor Agency, Phone 902-963-3483
Open Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm
Sunday hours, noon to 7 pm.


Statement from Watermark Theatre officials on the 2020 season’s cancellation

With the health of our audience members and our theatre company in mind, we have made the painful decision to cancel Watermark Theatre’s 2020 summer season.

We have been spending the past number of weeks trying to find new ways to present great classical theatre for our audience despite the limitations presented. Our dedicated stage crew and designers were scheduled to begin building sets, costumes and props on May 11 and rehearsals with the acting company were scheduled to begin on June 1. With current restrictions in place we can’t even get some of our team to the island! Making this decision is heart breaking for us but until it is safe to assemble in large groups again, we will have to keep the theatre’s doors closed.

That being said, we are a creative organization and we have a number of ideas on how to keep the theatre vital, vibrant and in your hearts and minds. In the months to come, we will explore opportunities to bring art to our community through our on-line presence or in partnership with other arts organizations and we will continue to share those ideas with you.

Rest assured that we will be back in the summer of 2021 with a wonderful slate of plays to entertain, delight, and provoke audiences once again. Theatre artists around the world are recharging their creative energies and reevaluating their place in the world, and will be back on stage with a new sense of purpose. Theatre has been around for 2500 years, through all kinds of world challenges, and will return again. Let us never take the act of assembly for granted ever again!

We look forward to welcoming you back to the theatre!

Robert Tsonos, Artistic Director
Andrea Surich, General Manager

For more information please contact:
Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or


Information for ticket buyers about refunds, ticket transfers for cancelled CBMF

The cancelation of a major music festival that every year draws tens of thousands of visitors to the Cavendish area was announced by organizers on April 28.

Ticket buyers will be emailed directly with information to request a refund or transfer their ticket to the 2021 festival. 2020 ticket buyers will be offered $30 in festival beach bucks (tokens) should they choose to transfer their ticket to CBMF 2021. All ticket buyers must respond by May 25 or their ticket will be automatically transferred to CBMF 2021. The purchaser of the ticket must submit for the transfer or refund, not the current ticket holder.

Those that purchased a shuttle pass from The Coach Atlantic Group will be contacted directly by Coach Atlantic Group staff to process their refund. Everyone who is booked at the Route 6 Ranch, official campground of the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, will be contacted to receive a refund or a campsite transfer offer.

The cancellation was announced after weeks of COVID-19 monitoring and consultation with officials from the provincial government and the Resort Municipality of Cavendish. The safety of the community was a primary consideration.

“We want to thank you for your patience, your optimism and the opportunities you have provided us to help bring 11 years of this amazing festival to Cavendish Beach. We are saddened by this outcome, but we know it is the right decision,” said Jeff Squires, President of Whitecap Entertainment.

“Trust that the 2021 Cavendish Beach Music Festival presented by Bell will be one of the best ones yet and we are working to bring you some of the hottest names in country music. Before you know it, we’ll be announcing the 2021 lineup,” said Squires.


These are the worst of times but they will bring out the best in us

By Nils Ling

If you’re an Islander ‘through and through’ it’s a good bet you know Nils Ling or have heard his name. Mr Ling, who ran for the Green Party in 2015 in the federal riding of Egmont, is an author, playwright, actor, filmmaker, syndicated newspaper columnist and former broadcaster who has served as president of Film PEI.

I miss my grandkids.

I miss seeing them face to face. Tousling my grandson’s hair. Digging my fingers into another’s ribs and tickling. Catching them off guard with a particularly groan-worthy dad (grand-dad?) joke.

And sure, technology helps. FaceTime and the like. But there’s no way to hug or tickle or tousle over the phone.

So sure, I miss them in this dark time of isolation. But I’m as okay with that as I can be. Because the alternative is so much more frightening.

I don’t like being scared. I mean, I know nobody does. But this is a particularly insidious form of anxiety. Waking up every morning and doing an inventory: is the room warm or is that a fever? Is that tickle in my throat something to pay attention to or is it because I yelled so loudly at that idiot of a president they have? I need bread – do I need it enough to risk going to the store? Did that cashier just hand me a toonie crawling with something? (She seems like a lovely person, so of course she wouldn’t do it on purpose but all the danger in the world is invisible now).

And I’m not comforted by people saying “Look, we have it easy: all we have to do is sit in front of our TVs for a few weeks. Think about Ann Frank or the Chilean miners or …”. Yeah, I know. Privilege. I do have it easy.

But it’s hard.

I’m not in physical discomfort. I’m warm and probably too well-fed and I can usually stave off boredom with Netflix or a book or YouTube makeup tutorials (“It’s easy to get that perfect smoky eye look …”). I’m acutely aware that I’ve got it better than 99% of the world’s population and have no right to feel miserable but … here we are.

What keeps me going is the sure and certain knowledge that things will get better. That when we are backed into a corner human beings come out kicking and flailing and doing whatever we need to in order to right the ship. Someone who I might have teased in high school is in a lab right now and they’re discovering this nasty, sub-microscopic splash of protein molecules has an Achilles heel, and they’re on the verge of figuring out how to fight back against it and stomp it out of existence.

These are the worst of times but they will bring out the best in us.

Whenever something bad happened to me as a kid my mom would say, “Look, I know it’s hard right now. But damn, it’s going to be a great story some day.” And she was always – always – right.

So, we’re all in this together. We all feel the same way about it. We hate it. We’re hurting.

But damn, it’s going to be a great story. Someday.



So how bad has the coronavirus been for home sales?

By Jim Brown

Latest statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show a staggering 14.3 per cent decline in sales across the country, from February to March.

Virtual home tours are replacing actual showings and gloves and masks and hand sanitizer are now a common part of a real estate agent’s tool kit.

“This is definitely something we’ve never seen before,” said realtor Greg Lipton, president of the PEI Real Estate Association, who has been through the Great Recession of 2008.

Still, there are some silver linings in the grim toll. PEI, for instance, only recorded a 4.8 per cent decline in home sales and the average price a home fetched was actually 19 per cent higher on the Island in March.

“It’s going to hurt us…but we’re not ready to push the panic button,” said Mr Lipton.

In the business for 16 years, Mr Lipton said real estate agents earn their living in an uncertain environment at the best of times, so many are prepared for the worst, though probably no one saw a dystopic pandemic coming.

Many have enough in the bank to get through a few bad months, he said.

If the pandemic is resolved by the the end of June there is a decent chance of a “pretty good recovery.”

A lot of sales are done in July, said Mr Lipton.

He went on to say listings are picking up and people are still buying and selling properties. But there have been changes, such as showings normally done over three to four weeks “are not going to happen.” Instead they are going to stretch out over three to four months.

From the CREA news release: “March 2020 will be remembered around the planet for a long time. Canadian home sales and listings were increasing heading into what was expected to be a busy spring for Canadian REALTORS®,” said Jason Stephen, president of CREA. “After Friday the 13th, everything went sideways. REALTORS® are complying with government directives and advice, all the while adopting virtual technologies allowing them to continue showing properties to clients already in the market, and completing all necessary documents. They remain your best source for information and guidance when negotiating the sale or purchase of a home in these unprecedented times.”


Coronavirus makes start of angling season a risky proposition

By Jim Brown

So far, I haven’t read anything about plans to cancel one of the biggest events of the spring in this country, an event that brings millions of people together in the same week. It’s the opening of trout season, which on PEI starts April 15.

On PEI there are hundreds of places to drop a worm on the opening day of the recreational fishery, but it seems anglers gather at a few favoured hotspots. There is something magical about that first day of the season. Many anglers only fish a few days a year and opening day of trout season is the mother of all festivals. Everyone wants to be out opening day. You only have to drive a few minutes in the Stanley Bridge, Trout River Road and North Granville area to find dozens of anglers clustered together seeking warmth and sharing stories about the big one that got away. It would be like cancelling Christmas Day, but I believe scraping the start of the recreational fishery is essential to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Not worried yet? Angling licenses can be purchased online but there are many fishermen who will still go to grocery and bait and tackle stores to buy them. They’ve always done that and always will. So that means more people lining up at checkout counters as April 15 nears and how many of those will be standing two metres apart?

On April 15, if the season goes ahead, thousands of anglers, from toddlers to doting parents and grandparents, will be gathering at streams, rivers and ponds. And despite pleas from public health authorities they will be drawn to places others are casting a line. Many will be sorely tempted to throw off the shackles of isolation.

It’s just a bad idea to continue this rite of spring in 2020, when a deadly pandemic is stalking the land. Do we want to vastly increase the chances of community spread?

Why did the provincial government close so many non-essential businesses and even threaten to fine Islanders who gathered in numbers that are fewer than what can be found at traditional fishing haunts all across the Island?

There is an urgency to make the announcement as soon as possible, since many grocery stores will likely start stocking worms and tackle. Do we want them spending money they can’t afford to, if a late cancellation to the season means they lose the customers they were counting on?

Fortunately there will be a silver lining or two to cancelling the opening. Perhaps the biggest one is that there will be far fewer cigarette butts, foam coffee cups and beer and liquor bottles near stream beds and far fewer nests of tangled fishing line to ensnare helpless birds and other wildlife. Trout populations could also see a welcome boost in numbers, which could lead to better luck for many anglers next season.


Searching for Gucci, a German Shepherd that is shy around humans

By Jim Brown

It’s been epic adventure for a two-year-old German Shepherd, who has been on the loose for nine days, as of March 19. Gucci was one of dozens of dogs seized from a puppy mill before finding a loving owner, Tawnya Thompson.

Unfortunately, her forever home didn’t hold Gucci for very long.

“She was spooked by a horse in the pasture next door, pawing at the ground,” said Tawnya, who lives in Suffolk, near the Winter River hiking trail.
Gucci filled a void in her life after the death of another beloved dog.

“I had a rotweiller who had passed away a year ago from cancer,” said Tawnya, who is originally from Ontario and has a background in animal psychology.

Since her great escape Gucci’s been seen many times, only to elude her searchers each time. A more recent sighting was in Hunter River.
Tawnya says she is overwhelmed with the support she’s received from Islanders, including many on the PEI Lost Pet Network Facebook page. Tawnya has also created a FB page dedicated to finding her dog called Come Home Gucci.

Her dog travels fast and far, said Tawnya, adding she’s been seen in Brackley, Covehead, Oyster Bed, Hunter River, Winsloe and elsewhere.
“We may have to trap her,” she said. Live traps provided by the PEI Humane Society and the Canadian Kennel Club have been used to catch other skittish dogs on the Island.

Tawnya advises anyone who spots Gucci not to engage her because she will likely run again. She suggests they get a photo of the dog they think is Gucci on a cell phone and sent it to her, so she can confirm it is her dog.

There have been multiple sightings since Gucci’s escape, but she has always managed to slip away.

Tawnya said a neighbour even offered the use of his drone locating her.

In a recent post on Facebook Tawnya wrote:

“Today is Day 9 in our search for Gucci and we had no new sightings since yesterday, in the Darlington/Johnson Road area. You have shown us just how quick you can move and easy you can hide. Please, we ask to spread the word about Gucci to Hunter River and all surrounding communities. Please watch fields, roads and barns. Please remember, do not approach/follow or call out to her. We need eyes out there to help us track where she is.”

Anyone with any information that could help reunite Tawnya with Gucci is asked to call 1-902-316-0939 or 1-902-393-0553. Tawnya says the calls should be made after recent sightings, preferably right after she is spotted. Gucci can cover large distances in a short period of time, so if someone saw her a couple of days earlier she may have long left that area.


Uncertain times for those who travel and play music

By Rachel Beck Colwill

Rachel Beck Colwill is a PEI singer-songwriter, now living in Stratford, who was nominated for many music awards. Her single, Reckless Heart, reached No. 1 in the CBC Top 20 Music chart. The video for another chart-topping tune, Hearts on Fire, was filmed in Stanley Bridge.

These are uncertain times to make your living travelling and playing music at public gatherings. These are uncertain times for many. Let’s do our best to stay calm and support each other however we can.

My newsfeed is filled with artist friends around the globe who are having shows and festivals cancel with little warning. Public health is, of course, the number one priority — but these cancelations mean the income my friends were counting on has disappeared. Moreover, many of them have already spent money on travel arrangements, purchasing merch to sell on tour, marketing, publicity, and a host of other things, all with the expectation of income on the road. They can’t get refunds on those investments.

Please, if you can, choose some of your favourite independent artists and go to their websites. Purchase a CD or vinyl or a shirt or whatever sweet original merch they have. Purchase directly from the artists. Let’s make sure our creators can continue creating.

On another note, if you are based in or around Charlottetown and you are self-quarantined for health reasons, I am happy to help you out if you need grocery or pharmacy runs or anything at all. I have a van, I have flexible work hours, and I’m a pro shopper. Please just reach out.


It won’t go back to normal after this pandemic fades away

By Jim Brown

On March 14 I drove to Summerside to stock up for the inevitable day when I will have isolate myself from others, and I saw many shoppers flashing bright smiles at the grocery stories I visited. But others couldn’t hide their disappointment and frustration when they couldn’t find toilet paper or hand sanitizer, or other items on their list.

Later I read PEI had recorded its first case.

COVID-19. The coronavirus. The gravest threat we have faced as a country and as a civilization since the great flu pandemic of 1918.

Only in 1918 the world was much bigger. There were no transatlantic flights. No commercial flights at all across vast oceans. Travel between continents took weeks, not hours. Supply chains for everyday products didn’t extend thousands of kilometres.

We have an economy based on our mobility. What if we can’t fly, drive or move around freely? What if we were told we have to isolate ourselves from others so that our elderly and most vulnerable can live?

What happens when our entire world is disrupted, when everything that connects us to each other is suddenly taken away?

Parliament has been shut down for five weeks, schools are closing, professional sports venues have gone dark – and so have universities, colleges, art galleries, libraries, concert halls, churches, public offices – and the list gets longer by the day.

It’s humanity’s vanishing act. We are disappearing from public spaces, leaving a haunting emptiness behind.

Even the poorest Canadians have Internet access and cable television, but there are no sports or live entertainment shows to watch. Only a 24/7 stream of frightening news about a virus that is devouring our way of life.

It looks and feels like the death of hope.

We, humans, are a fiercely optimistic species. We are resilient, we fight back, we expect things will get better, because there have been dark times before, an entire dark age when the black death culled much of humanity.

Yes, humanity has been through worse.

I believe we will come through this, but we won’t go back to the way things were before.

Whether it’s two years or two months, when the virus fades away we will emerge into a transformed landscape.

Many bedrock assumptions will fall away like dry leaves from an autumn tree.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where demand for consumer goods, for services, for other trappings of civilized society in the 21st century will be fully restored. Jobs we took for granted and thought would be around forever will be gone.

Our world will have shrunk dramatically – to the dimensions of a city or a county or even a village. We will have learned to look after our neighbours, families and friends – watch over and care for them without actually being physically close to them.

When the great tribulation eases the world we rejoin will be a poorer one in many ways, and perhaps a better one in a few others.

I can’t imagine living in America and not watching the scaffolding of a universal health care system take shape. So many Americans will have died in a patchwork system that buckled and broke despite the heroic efforts of besieged health care workers, many of them sacrificing their lives so that others may live.

The long con has run its course, bringing civilization to its knees.

Even the most tribal of partisans in America will have been forced to confront an ugly truth – they were lied to and made complicit in one of the largest heists in history – the looting of their country.

They will have seen grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons, struggle to breathe and then die.

I think the world’s industrialized nations will turn their backs on a predatory ideology that maims and kills so many for the sake of a very few. They will demand a much more compassionate system of government that blends the best of capitalism and socialism – a form of communalism that ensures everyone’s basic needs are met.

Consumerism will become a dirty word since we will know, after the pandemic, there are more important things in life than material goods.

No, we won’t go back.

We won’t let one tenth of one per cent of the population control nearly all of the world’s dwindling resources, and our lives.

Corporations won’t be allowed to continue poisoning the commons we all own – oceans, lakes, rivers, meadows, rainforests, the blue skies above.

Industrial activity will have declined sharply during the coronavirus pandemic. Pollution and greenhouse gases will have been slashed.

I believe corporate culture will have changed forever.

We will no longer live and die by the value of our gross domestic product.

It’s a mug’s game predicting the future, but I feel this in my bones.

Will it happen? I honestly don’t see how it doesn’t.