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..


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 .


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.


SBC launching major fundraiser

The Stanley Bridge Memorial Society is launching an ambitious campaign to raise $100,000 for renovations to the Stanley Bridge Centre by 2020.

The Stanley Bridge Centre, a former United Church, was decommissioned in 2009. A lot has happened since the building became an iconic community landmark, including its successful transformation into a multi-purpose facility that has hosted many entertainment, history and cultural events over the past several years including the more recent Father Bolger history circle.

The campaign will help pay for much-needed renovations including a new kitchen, washroom and roof.

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Parading the boats on River Days

Hundreds of people assembled at the Stanley Bridge wharf the evening of Aug 25 for what many consider one of the marquee events of the River Days Festival – the parade of boats. More than a dozen illuminated vessels passed under the bridge at the Stanley Bridge wharf and then glided back in the gathering darkness to loud cheers. Fireworks lit up the sky shortly after 9 pm.

Photos by Jim Brown


River Days Festival opens Friday, Aug 24

Has it really been a year since the last River Days Festival?

The 16th annual Stanley Bridge/Trout River event is bigger and better than ever. It kicks off Friday, Aug 24 with the festival’s official opening at the New London Community Complex at 6 pm, featuring lots of mussels and other tasty fare as well as toe-tapping entertainment. River Days concludes on Sunday, Aug 26, but before then dozens of fun events and activities are on tap for everyone in the family, including the must-see bridge jumping competition.


River Days opens Friday, Aug 24

From left, Trudy MacLeod, representing the Trout River Environmental Committee, Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers and Malpeque Liberal MP Wayne Easter were on hand to officially open the 16th Annual River Days Festival, Aug 24-26, at the New London Community Complex. Phyllis Carr, on behalf of River Days, presided over the opening. The event also featured mussels and a cake celebrating the 50th anniversary of the New London Rural Community Fire Company.
Photos by Jim Brown


New London Rural Community Fire Company marking 50th anniversary Saturday, Aug 25 at fire hall

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Would you believe several firefighters, who were around when the New London Rural Community Fire Company began service 50 years ago (incorporated in 1968), are still on the roster? They are Dale Parsons, Peter Elsinga, Douglas Cole and Joe Reid.

Fire chief Allen Cole and the entire New London Rural Community Fire Company will be welcoming area residents to the fire department’s 50th anniversary celebrations on Saturday, Aug 25 at the New London Fire Hall

Fire chief Allen Cole, son of Douglas Cole, says two of the four “originals” are 86 years of age (Douglas Cole and Joe Reid) and although they are not on active fire service still provide valuable support around the department including working in communications and taking supplies to personnel on fire calls. The others are in their 70s.

At the other end of the age spectrum is a 17-year-old junior firefighter.

They and the rest of the 38 person fire company will be celebrating the department’s 50th anniversary on Saturday, Aug 25. Everyone is invited to the bash at the New London Fire Hall, running from 9 am to 6 pm.

Among the guests are Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry, Malpeque Liberal MP Wayne Easter and Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers, with other local and provincial dignitaries expected as well.

A memorial service will be held for New London firefighters who have passed on.

There have been many exciting changes over the past five decades including a new fire hall, built in 2009 with impressive community support at a cost of approximately $750,000. The department has also seen an increase in fire trucks from two to the current six.

There will be a free breakfast, free bouncy castles for the kids, fire hats and T-shirts to give away, and of course, all the department’s entire collection of emergency vehicles will be on display to impress kids of all ages. Many family-friendly activities are slated for the day.

The celebration concludes with fireworks in the evening.


MacCaull and friends light up the stage

Acclaimed Island musicians Roy MacCaull, Marcella Richard and Larry Campbell took to the Stanley Bridge Centre stage on Aug 19 to deliver another rousing performance. Mixing popular original tunes with country, gospel and folk favorites and a salty splash of homespun humor, the talented trio provided a memorable evening’s worth of entertainment. Don’t worry fans, you will see them (and Roy’s magic mandolin) at the SBC many more times!
Photos by Jim Brown


Kitchen scorched in South Rustico restaurant fire

Firefighters rushed to South Rustico early Saturday morning after a kitchen caught fire at the The Olde Forge Country Kitchen. There were no injuries.

New Glasgow firechief Jason Peters said there was extensive damage inside the building from smoke and fire. The exterior looked unaffected.

Firefighters got the call at 6 am and investigators are “leaning” towards one of the kitchen appliances as the cause, he said.

Mutual aid support was activated and firefighters from New Glasgow, New London and North Rustico fire services answered the call.


Northern Star newspaper has folded

A trusted friend to many in the central North Shore has folded after 23 years. The Northern Star newspaper, published monthly, hit the newsstands for the last time on Aug. 1. It was launched in October, 1996. Publisher Paul Blacquiere described the Northern Star as “the original Facebook” for many of its readers.

Jim Brown photo


Resort Municipality seeking candidates for Council

By Jim Brown

Want a part-time job that pays $1,463 a year, but offers a great opportunity to serve the public? Then you might want to rush down to the municipal office in Cavendish to put your name in.

The Resort Municipality is short two candidates to fill its slate of councilors for the Aug 13 election, so it has extended the nomination period, as per the Municipal Government Act, to 2 pm, Aug 3 from July 27.

The Resort Municipality’s Council has a mayor and six councilors, with the mayor earning $2,195 a year. The planning board chair earns $1,777 annually.

Currently four candidates have declared for the six council positions. They are George Clark-Dunning, Kenny Singleton, Linda Lowther and Lee Brammer. Mayor Matthew Jelley has been acclaimed.

The province has changed the election process, with new legislation dictating an annual general meeting is no longer required by municipalities. In the past, the election nomination process would run at the same time as the AGM or a public meeting where people could be nominated from the floor and asked if they wished to stand for election. If the candidates didn’t face any challengers they would be acclaimed.

The Resort Municipality has 280 year round residents, a number that swells to more than a thousand if seasonal residents are included during the summer, according to Brenda MacDonald, the Resort Municipality’s CAO.

Giving seasonal residents an opportunity to vote is why elections are held in the summer and not in November, as is the case with other municipalities on PEI.

Brenda confirmed the tab will be higher for this election, which could cost as much as $3,000, since there will be additional ads in newspapers, advance polls and other expenses related to conventional elections.

That compares to about $500 for previous elections.

If there are any bugs in the new system the province will have a chance to fix them before the November municipal elections.

On election day, Aug 13, polls are open from 9 am to 4 pm. An advance poll will be held on Saturday, Aug 11, from 9 am to 12 noon.