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Audrey MacPhee, Lori Perry and Alex Dixon

Audrey MacPhee, Lori Perry and Alex Dixon (last year’s clean up)

It’s a beautiful morning to clean the park. Drop over between 9:00 to 12:00 noon today to Murchison Place Park. Bring along your own garden and clean up tools e.g. shovels, rakes…some Rubber Maid totes would be great. Food, refreshments and team spirit will be provided.

Here is an interesting story submitted by Eric MacPhail.

Dunedin Bridge in Fall

Dunedin Bridge

In 2009 the old wooden-plank West River Bridge was replaced by a modern bridge to accommodate present time traffic. At one point during this construction, it was necessary for divers to examine the footings at the bottom of the river at the bridge site at the crossing of the Channel. During this work, one of the divers spotted a relatively small gravestone about 28” in width, 34” in height and about 5” in thickness. Here is a photo of the stone:

The engraving used a different font for each name indicating that each was inscribed at a different time.

This stone posed a problem for there is an existing gravestone in Shaw’s Pioneer Cemetery at St. Catherines,  P.E.I. which is obviously a memorial to these same persons. The engraving on that stone is as below.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 8.49.07 PM

Photo by Elizabeth Warwick [2012] – Appearing on site – CanadaGenWeb’s Cemetery Project

There were other children born of which I now have no definitive listing. I am simply trying to establish a link between Donald M(a)cNeill and Christina Darrach M(a)cNeill, married Feb. 1855  and currently known members of that part of the MacNeill family. I have a clear recollection of one surviving son of Donald and Christy, Alexander (Alex) who was born in January, 1865. d.1942  m. Emma MacCallum ..b. 1865 d. 1904. He lived on the land parcel now occupied by Dunedin Estates followed by his son Kenneth and Grandson Alexander (Sandy).

Alex had three sons: Hector b. August, 1896. d.1915 . Daniel b. 1898. .d. May 27, 1984 Hector  m. Doris Newson. b 1900. d.2004.. Son. Howard  b.1934  d. 1995. Unmarried.  Kenneth. b 1902  d  1986  m. Mary Cameron b. 1899  d. 1962   Children: Kenneth Jr.  b. Oct. 9, 1936   m. Joan Frizzell.  No children.  Alexander (Sandy).  b. 1929. d Dec. 2010. m. Laura MacNevin. b. Sept. 3. 1932  d. 2007  Children:  Donald, .b. 1951. Sandra.  b. 1953.  Terry  b. 1954.  Karen  b. 1956. Ruth b. 1958. Alexander b. 1960.  Allan  b. 1962. Angus b. 1965. The above children of Sandy and Laura MacNevin MacNeil would be Great-Great-Grand children of Donald and Christina Darrach McNeill.

So now we have the relationship but what about the two gravestones? Let us look for possible gravesites. In Dr. Angus Beck’s “Darrach Genealogy” he states that Alexander and Emma McNeill are buried in the Clyde River Baptist Cemetery and in actuality Plot 14, Grave 3 shows Alexander O. MacNeill, Grave 4 Hector MacNeill and Grave 5 Emma L. MacCallum. Graves 1. 2 and 6 are apparently unused. This cemetery was not opened until 1902, so I would not expect Donald McNeill’s burial to have taken place in it although Christina’s death date of 1922 would have made her burial there possible but unlikely.

Scenic 4 4

Pioneer Cemetery

The Pioneer Cemetery located farther West on the Clyde River Road on the present day Brian and Mark Livingston property, on the river side, might have been the site and Donald McNeill’s 1881 death date would have fitted that site since that Cemetery continued to be used until 1902 when the Cemetery close to the Baptist Church was opened but the 1922 death date of Christy McNeill would not fit. It is possible that when Donald was interred, a grave site was left for Christy and she was buried there. In the listing of known burials in this river side cemetery there is no indication of any McNeills being buried there.

Another possibility is the Shaw Pioneer Cemetery in St. Catherines close to the bridge under which the stone was found. This idea may have additional credence since the replacement gravestone is still in place at what might be assumed to be the original site of the missing and later recovered stone.

There are perhaps two or more reasons why that the wandering stone could have gotten from Shaw’s Cemetery to its discovery site under the bridge. The first reason is that it could have been a deliberate act of vandalism. Could there have been a schism between or among some family members concerning this stone and one decided to settle things by removing the subject of the dispute and dumped it under the bridge from where it would have been unrecoverable at that time. Game over!  In those days there was a greater respect for property and the word, “vandalism” was probably unknown. Then, too, Cemeteries were a place of  solemn doom which most would hesitate to enter at night which would have to have been the time if this nefarious scheme was to be enacted undetected.

Secondly, there could have been a more benign reason. It has already been noted that Donald’s inscription appears to have been done at a different time than Christie’s using a different font. Donald was buried some time in 1881 while Christie’s burial was after her death in 1922. Is it possible that sometime, following Christie’s passing, the family decided that her lettering should be done and removed the stone from its cemetery site and moved it to Charlottetown to be engraved. The simplest way to make this move would be to put it in a horse-drawn cart in the Cemetery, move it from there to the nearby wharf attached to the bridge and transfer it to one of the gas engine powered boats which made regular trips from there to Town. These boats took passengers, farm produce or any cargo that needed transport which was  much shorter, quicker and more comfortable journey than continuing with the horse and cart whose top speed was the walking speed of the horse.

On arrival at Paoli’s Wharf in Town one of the local truckers, with a horse-drawn sloven, which was a four-wheeled wagon that was built close to the ground for ease in loading and unloading heavy cargo, would haul the monument to its destination for the engraving. The return trip would be by the same route with the horse and cart waiting as the boat tied up. The monument would be raised up from the boat by manpower pulling it up by ropes attached to it. But something went wrong. Perhaps one of the ropes broke, a man’s foot slipped or a wave rocked the boat resulting in the stone dropping into the river and sinking like – well – a stone. It was lost forever until the alert Scuba Diver saw it in 2009 when working on the new bridge and it was successfully brought to the surface.

There are many questions unanswered:

  1. How and why did the monument get in the river?
  2. Who had the new monument prepared and set in place?  And when was this done?
  3. How was the assumed correct burial location found?
  4. Does anyone have any record of these events on paper or in family memory?
  5. Why was the spelling on the replacement stone changed from McNeill to MacNeill? This is probably because of the change that many of the McNeills and most of the other Mc’s made in the 1920’s in the belief that Mc denoted Irish Catholic while Mac denoted Scotch Protestant so most of the Scotch Protestant Mc’s changed to Mac. This is not necessarily true.

There is one more significant part of this MacNeill mystery that should be recorded and it is regarding the marriage of Donald McNeill to Christina Darrach which is still held in family recollections. Donald lived on the farmland now owned by Dunedin Estates while a family of Darrach’s lived in Long Creek.

Donald happened to be visiting there shortly after a baby girl had been born. Donald was 20 years old and some of the family members were teasing him about not having a girlfriend. Donald responded by saying that he did not need a girlfriend because he was going to marry that new-born baby girl in twenty years time. And this he did in 1855 and both of their names are forever inscribed together on, not one but two,  gravestones.

After note:

The foregoing does not belong to any part of a MacPhail family but it is all of such profound interest to any native of  P.E.I. particularly considering all Islanders’ well known conviction that any Islanders’ business is their business, too. The ‘The West River Gravestone’ is an intriguing tale leaving so many unanswered questions. It is my hope that someone may recall a buried memory or even find some written record which will provide more information than is now presently available.

I thank Sandra MacNeill MacDougall for providing much of the information and apologize for any errors I probably have made. I am pleased to have been associated with this family in this project..

Eric P. MacPhail, January 27. 2014

Editor’s notes:

  • Link to site featuring photo of headstone has been added, click here. (CanadaGenWeb’s Cemetery Project)
  • Photos added by Editor.

The Clyde River Council has once again applied for funding to hire a summer student under the provincial Jobs for Youth program. Young people living in Clyde River who are 16 years of age or older and interested in being considered for the position must be registered with the P.E.I. Employment Development Jobs Agency. Register online – link here.

The successful candidate will be employed for 8 weeks in July and August doing a variety of tasks including lawn and garden maintenance.  The Council hopes to know by early June if their application is approved.

If you have any questions, please contact Bruce Brine at clyderiver.cic@pei.sympatico.ca or 675-4747.

Save these Dates!

Clyde River will be busy with upcoming events and you can be, too.

Wednesday, May 20th – 7:00 p.m. – West River Watershed Update – Riverview Community Centre – For the past several years the Central Queens Wildlife Federation has been doing work during the summer months to improve the health of community’s rivers.  Once again, Megan Harris, West River Watershed Coordinator, will be providing an update on the work to date and the plans for the coming season.  Megan’s presentation takes place at 7:00 pm Wednesday, May 20th.  Everyone is welcome to attend and find out more.

Saturday, May 23 – 9:00 to 12:00 noon – Murchison Place Park – Bring your own garden and clean up tools e.g. shovels, rakes…some Rubber Maid totes would be great. Food, refreshments and team spirit will be provided.

Wednesday, July 1st – 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Riverview Community Centre – It’s a birthday party! Be a kid again or still. Enjoy hotdogs, cake and ice cream. Help us raise the flag, sing the anthem and celebrate Canada’s big day.

Wednesday, July 22nd – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. – Riverview Community Centre – The big summer event for Clyde River Women’s Institute is, of course, the annual Strawberries and Ice Cream Festival where young and not so young gather to enjoy the scumptious desserts and meet friends and neighbours.  Admission at the door.

Saturday, July 25th – 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon – Murchison Place Park – Clyde River Artist Julia Purcell will lead a Plein Air event. We welcome beginners to seasoned artists for a morning of painting in and around the park. Bring along your own art supplies, easel, hat, sunscreen and lunch. We also welcome those who enjoy watching art being created. Coffee provided.

Make the most of this summer and join in.

The Central Queens Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation is hosting a Parent–Youth Outdoor Camp the weekend of May 29-31 for youth aged 10-13 accompanied by a parent. The camp will be held at the Riverdale Scout Camp on Riverdale Road in Green Bay along the scenic West River.

Activities throughout the weekend include tutorials on bait-fishing and fly-fishing, fly tying, archery, orienteering as well as canoeing. Campfires and campfire cooking will be included if the forest fire index allows.

Accommodations and food are provided. Registration is $30.00 (non-refundable) per child. Space is limited. For more information or to register contact Nancy Durant, at 902-675-3277 or nancy.durant@bellaliant.net.

Church Shed

Burnside Church Shed

Burnside Church Shed

Jane Von Bredow sent this photo of the Burnside Church shed. The picture was given to her by Bertie Hyde and she thinks it may have been from the 1930s. We welcome your comments offering any further clues from this photo and memories/stories passed down to you about the church shed.

Jane recalls her memories of the shed:

“I would dash through the shed quite often on hot, bright summer days en route to get something at the store or to get the mail, as it was a convenient shortcut from the Murchison Garden. When you entered, it was dark at first, coming from the bright sunshine and refreshingly cool. During the nesting season, the many barn swallows that nested there would be irate at the intrusion and would swoop down on me. I wasn’t really frightened by them but they were very persistent and I usually ended up hurrying to get away from them.” Jane Von Bredow

Jane also came across a clipping from The Guardian archives:

When at Clyde River corner one cannot fail to notice the well-equipped horse-shed the people worshipping in the Presbyterian Church have erected to shelter the horses used in conveying them to the house of God. Worship within the sanctuary can be better enjoyed when one knows the dumb animals, man’s good friends, are being sheltered from the wind and storm. Last winter the heavy snowfall and storms wrecked the old shed causing it to break under the weight of snow which engulfed it. The progressive spirit of the people of this place has been shown in erecting a new one, which is larger and better built than the old one. There is a higher pitch to the roof so if we had a repetition of last winter’s storms, the snow could not lodge on the roof and cause damage to the building. Its dimensions are about one hundred and twenty feet by thirty with a good driveway through the building. (The Guardian, March 3, 1924)

Thanks, Jane, for finding this nugget of history. The photo also gives us a glimpse of the Clyde River Road.

The Old Home - Artist Audrey MacPhee

The Old Home Place – Artist Audrey MacPhee

Millie’s Marvels are a group of artists who meet weekly to paint together at the Burnside Presbyterian Church in Clyde River. Their artistic works are on display until May 8th at Cornwall Town Hall. The show is called “Beginners’ Choice”. Millie Kikkert’s budding artists are Wanda Corney, Audrey MacPhee, Phyllis Taylor, Gloria Sauvé, Betty Watts, Ada Drummond, Lois Gass, Jean Beer, and Donna Clow.

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