All residents are invited to attend Clyde River’s 41st Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, March 24th at 7:30 p.m.

The meeting takes place at the Riverview Community Centre.  If by chance there is a storm that evening, the meeting will be held the following night on the 25th, same time.

The agenda includes approval of the budget and tax rate for 2015.

Clyde River

Clyde River

The AGM for the Central Queens Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation will be held on Saturday, March 21st at 10:00 a.m. at the Riverview Community Centre in Clyde River.

Learn about your community’s stream restoration projects taking place in addition to plans for the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands from BHPL subcommittee member Megan Harris.

This is a great opportunity to come out and meet your neighbours and friends and find out what’s happening in your watershed and how you can get involved. During the AGM, there will be an opportunity to renew memberships in the CQWF.

Capturing Collective Memories continues as Jane Von Bredow recounts childhood memories of living with her grandparents Dr. and Mrs. A.J. Murchison. This beautifully detailed account is the perfect gift of reading during this extended St. Patrick’s snow storm.

When my mother (Isabelle Murchison Johnstone) died of leukemia in 1933, I was sent to live with my grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. A.J Murchison. The house that once stood in the centre of what is now called Murchison Place Park became “home” to me for the rest of my life, even though I was later sent to school in Charlottetown. I returned home to Clyde River every weekend and holiday, and every summer until my grandmother’s death in 1952. I have many happy memories of my life there.

Murchison Home

Murchison Home

The sign boards in the park give an excellent and very comprehensive description of the house and surroundings, and they include detailed information concerning my grandfather’s life. So I feel there is little I can add, except some snippets that may give a picture of family life within the house.

The sign board refers to the attractive exterior of the house, the lawn with its flower beds, the tree-lined lane and the tennis court, and a child’s playhouse in the orchard. It is a true picture, and an idyllic source of memories for me. But at the same time, I’m afraid it may suggest something finer or more pretentious on the inside than was actually the case. It was, after all, just a comfortable home that had served a family of seven children. Continue Reading »

Table of artifactsAll are welcome to attend an Open House for the “Capturing Collective Memories” project on Saturday, March 7th, at 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., Riverview Community Centre. We have been very busy over this past year digitizing photos, collecting artifacts and organizing events where we had the opportunity to collaborate on identifying photos and artifacts. There has been a dedicated group of history enthusiasts that have attended all our events and have contributed their extensive historical knowledge. Now we want the rest of the community to join us to see what has been achieved, so we encourage all ages to attend next Saturday.

Highlights include:

  • Digital display featuring our collection of digitized photos. We have now collected over 1500 photos.
  • Slide presentation of select heritage photos
  • Table displays of artifacts
  • A selection of over 30 large canvas gallery wraps and framed prints of select heritage photos
  • Large historic maps of the area
  • Three display cases showcasing artifacts that have been donated to our museum collection to date
  • Interpretative tours of historical collection
  • Heritage celebration cake

As part of the open house, we will highlight the activities and achievements over this past year.

We encourage all that plan to attend to bring along any interesting heritage items they have in their own collection to exhibit. Extra tables will be available to display your items. This is a great way to invite others to help identify and offer more information on your heritage photos and historical treasures and mementos.

Refreshments will be served.

This project is made possible with funding from New Horizons Program, Government of Canada.

West River Pioneers

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 2.49.37 PMAs we dig ourselves out after the latest major blizzard, consider this article that appeared in The Guardian on September 13th, 1947, that describes the lives of our early ancestors, “The West River Pioneers”. It notes that the article was written by Alex C. Shaw.

West River Pioneers

The borders of West River, in the year 1800, had but few settlers. the land was covered with a heavy growth of birch, spruce, hemlock, and pine. After this date, and especially in the years 1804, 1806, 1808, and 1812, emigrants began to arrive and locate on the lands fronting on the West River and its tributary, Clyde River, then known as “Dog River”. Repeated trips of the ship Polly brought many of the emigrants from the western islands of Scotland. The same class settled the greater part of Township 65, excepting a settlement of Irish emigrants near Nine Mile Creek, Canoe Cove, Argyle Shore, and Desable were also settled by emigrants from the western part of Scotland.

Courageously facing the heavy forests, although by no means used to cutting down or hewing lumber they soon became expert and skillful lumberers. After cutting away a small space as near the river as possible, a house was erected, mostly of round logs, dovetailed at the corners, the chinks between the logs being tightly caulked with moss, the roof was covered with bark taken from fir or spruce trees or else sedge grass from the marshes, which was abundant. The floor was the ground, smoothly packed and a huge fireplace often in the centre of the floor with a hole in the roof for the exit of the smoke, constituted the pioneer dwelling. Chimneys were built as soon as possible, oysters being burned for lime, as they existed in immense quantities.

The houses were built near the shore, as there were no roads and the river was the only means of communication. The cellars of these houses can, in many cases, yet be seen, these being dug after a floor of lumber was placed in the dwellings. When a space was cut down, the wood was cut in lengths and, after being dried in sun, were piled and set fire to, being kept burning until converted into ashes.

Potatoes and grain were hoed in, all the members of the family being engaged, and the crops raised from the rich virgin soil were wonderfully large. Year by year the area for cultivation increased and the conditions of the people became better; the thrifty housewife manufacturing flax for many uses in the family, as sheep could not yet be raised or kept from bears, which were very numerous. The nearest approach to Charlottetown by land was a crossing at Bonshaw, then by a blazed footpath to Milton, then turning in a southerly direction to the town, a distance of nearly forty miles being travelled.”


Livingstone’s ready for skating

I interviewed my mother Hazel Beer back in 2011 about Christie’s Pond on Bannockburn Road where she and her friends came together back in the 1930s for skating parties. Our Capturing Collective Memories from Seniors initiative discovered two photos. If you have any others, please let me know.

Christie’s Pond, located about a half mile in the Bannockburn Road on the left, was named after Christie MacFadyen who at one time owned the property. The size of the pond depended on how much it had rained prior to the winter freeze. Christie’s Pond was at its best in November and December before there was snow but the ground was still frozen. All the young people, around 12-15, from around the community would gather on Friday or Saturday nights.

Walter Blackett, a local hired hand at Allie McLean’s, would park his car by the pond and turn on the lights to offer enough lighting to skate at night. He even had tires for people to sit on to take a rest and he would burn one of the tires to make heat. Walter never skated; he just helped organize the set up.

My mother and her siblings/friends walked from Meadowbank Road to Christie’s Pond, down through the fields and out by Clyde River bridge and, at the end of the night, walked back home again. At home, they would warm up with some gruel, a porridge where you added milk to make it a drink.

The girls wore suits and skates that they had ordered from Eaton’s catalogue. Their tube skates were black leather. Skating suits, which were a jacket and pants, were made out of blanket cloth, navy trimmed with red or brown trimmed with beige. She said they were very warm.

If you wore a skirt, it was made of wool. Warm woolen socks would go above the knee and fleece-lined bloomers down to the knee. The outfit was finished off with a coat, hat and scarf. The hat would be long enough for you to pull down over your ears or fold up, and it would have a tassel. Their knitted mitts had sheep’s wool tacked inside.

Beer boys

Jim, Arnold and John Beer

Skating was great fun, but sometimes the boys would play hockey and interfere with those skating.

She said there were always ponds around for skating, but Christie’s Pond was the most popular. When they were older they went skating at the rink in Cornwall. They never went to town, as it was considered too far away.

They only went skating on weekends, as week nights were filled with school homework that included reading, spelling, health, geography, grammar, short stories, poems and history. You had to memorize poems and she recalled one of her favourites, “The Owl and the Pussy Cat.” If you happened to forget a word of a poem, the teacher would underline it for you to hunt up its meaning and, the next day, recount what the word meant. So Friday and Saturday nights were times to take a break and enjoy getting together with friends.

Her young friends who skated on Christie’s Pond were Olive Livingston, Hilda Murray, Mildred Murray, Ethel Livingstone, Hazel Livingstone, Irene MacFadyen, Reggie MacKinnon, Warren MacKinnon, Robbie MacKinnon, John Beer, Arnold Beer and Boyd Dixon.

As part of the Capturing Collective Memories from Seniors Project, we have reconnected with folks who grew up in Clyde River and now live in other parts of Canada and the US. One of those is Katherine Livingstone Bick who attended Clyde River School from 1939-46 and went on to become a scientist working in the area of Alzheimer’s disease, even before it was recognized as a disease. Intrigued by her journey from her humble beginnings in a one-room school, I asked if she would share her story.

Katherine Bick, Ph.D.

My father was Spurgeon Arthur Livingstone (1989-1947), the eldest child of Archibald D. and Elizabeth Stewart. Grandpa Archie (1867-1930) died before I was born, but Mrs. Archie (1878-1974), my Grandma, was a major influence in my early years. Her parents were Isabelle (MacDonald) MacKinnon and Angus Stewart from Springton. My Grandma was an indomitable woman, way ahead of her time in her views of women’s roles. My mother was Flora Murray (1908-1990), the youngest daughter of Christy MacPhail of Meadowbank and William Murray of Scotch Settlement, New Brunswick. Grandpa Murray and the Clyde River Murray’s were cousins and visits were frequent. Our farm was originally the Fraser farm on the Baltic Road in Clyde River, between John Murray and Jim Livingstone. Everyone in the area was interconnected by marriage or birth. My roots there go back to at least the early 1800s.

When I attended Clyde River School from 1939-1946, it was one room with all 10 grades but usually not more than 25-30 pupils. I had two exceptional teachers, Christine MacNevin from Canoe Cove and Rita Cruwys, later Mrs. Allie MacLean, for my last two years. I never really followed the standard pattern, as these two women let me proceed at my own pace, allowing me to move on when I had mastered a topic and often letting me help other students.

My mother was very involved with my schooling and inspired me to love and enjoy learning. So while I spent less than ten years at Clyde River School, I did not skip any course material. When I took the Province-wide exams for entrance to Prince of Wales, I came third for the Island, certainly a tribute to my schooling.

As Clyde River was a small school, I remember many of my fellow students. Growing up in a farming community where I was literally related in one degree or another to everyone made for a very safe environment. Everyone had chores to do, so there was little time to get into too much trouble. I was terrible at sports as I was extremely myopic but no one realized it. I always sat in the front row, still do! But my ball playing skills were laughable. I never saw the ball until it was too late to swing at it!

Further to my results in the Prince of Wales entrance exams, I won a scholarship to pay my fees, and so my father was persuaded to allow me to go to town. Miss Lily Seaman, the registrar, was convinced that I could do the first two years at PWC in one year. It was an ambitious schedule that would have been okay but for the death of my father in February 1947 when I was 14.

Over the following summer, it was apparent that we would need to sell our farm. My mother went into nurses’ training in Charlottetown, and I returned for two years to graduate from Prince of Wales College (PWC) in 1949. While there, I was torn between my love of literature and history and biology. Professor Bigelow was the biology professor, and he was such a kind, gentle man who really encouraged me. I should not pick out just one professor, as the faculty knew and cared deeply about all the students. Looking back, I think that is my enduring memory. We were so nourished in many ways by our professors.

After graduation, I was recruited by Acadia alumnus Athol Roberts to attend Acadia University with a full scholarship. Of course, I went gladly, as without the scholarship, it simply would not have been doable without my working for some years to gather the money to attend. I loved the campus, so green and a small town where, once again, the faculty were involved in teaching and mentoring us. As my thank you, I have set up a modest fund at Acadia to provide the same gift to others.

Acadia Biology Department became a true home, as we were a small band of brothers and sisters who worked hard and had fun doing so. Dr. David McCallion was my honours thesis advisor for a project using histo-cytological techniques in a study of liver damage after x-irradiation. I learned the genetics of the time from Charles Bishop and was introduced to forest ecology and botany by Chalmers Smith. I graduated in 1951 and stayed on for a year to add to my honours research. Not convinced that I wanted to go on to a doctorate, I worked for two years with Robert Begg at the J.B. Collip Medical Research Lab at the University of Western Ontario.

Both he and McCallion encouraged me to go on and were instrumental in my receiving a full scholarship to Brown University in 1954 to get my Ph.D. I continued research on liver responses to injury by carbon tetrachloride, as they were influenced by diet.

I married a fellow graduate student in applied mathematics in 1955 and had my first child in 1956 and still finished my doctorate in three years. I am rather proud of that, I must say! My second child was born in 1958 just after we moved from Rhode Island to California.

In 1959, I joined the UCLA Department of Pathology working with W. Jann Brown who was applying the new microchemical assays pioneered by Oliver Lowry to work out the sequence of various lipids in the fetal mouse brain. That was really my introduction to the then almost unknown field of neurobiology, and I learned brain cutting and neuropathology as well.

From 1961-1966, I was on the faculty of California State University, Northridge, then primarily a teaching institution. In 1966, my husband had a great opportunity in the Washington D.C. area, so we moved back East where I had a four-year sabbatical as my boys were very involved and needed my presence.

In 1970, I went back as a laboratory instructor at Georgetown, soon became a full faculty member, mentored graduate students and taught both undergraduate and graduate courses.

In 1976, rather tired of academics and my attendant poverty, I moved to the Neurology Institute at the National Institutes of Health. There my task was to develop research programs focused on the degenerative diseases of the brain, I had thought I might work on developmental disorders, but there were excellent people doing that. So I tackled Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s, trying to encourage the best minds to think about these seemingly intractable issues. In this, I was lucky that Robert Katzman and Robert Terry had written persuasive editorials in the Archives of Neurology that same spring. This call to action convinced Donald Tower, Director of the Institute, that we needed to do something, and he picked me to get it started. Thus began a most fruitful and rewarding, both personally and professionally, partnership that changed my career.

We organized the first North American meeting on senile dementia and related disorders in 1977. From that came the seminal publication, Alzheimer’s Disease: Senile Dementia and Related Disorders, that declared that the most common form of dementia was Alzheimer’s and that it was not an inevitable consequence of ageing but a disease.

About the same time, the impetus for attention to Alzheimer’s came from the families who were living with loved ones in what has been called the never-ending funeral. Along with Katzman, whose mother-in-law was afflicted, and Jerome Stone, a successful Chicago businessman whose wife was ill and several others, we established the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association, now simply the Alzheimer’s Association.

Soon after, my dear mother who was then 70 was clearly becoming demented and paranoiac, and at her autopsy, we found that she had Lewy Body dementia. Several of her brothers and sisters from her large family also died with symptoms of dementia, occurring in late life.

I spent a happy and productive time (1976-1987) at the Neurology Institute and became Deputy Director in due course. My arm was twisted to take on the position of Deputy Director for Extramural Programs for the National Institute of Health (NIH). I did this reluctantly and I think I had some successes, e.g., more attention for pre-and post doctoral support for women and underserved minorities. But, in general, it was a politically fraught time and my Island spirit could not bend so easily with the winds. So, I resigned in 1990. And one week later, my second husband died very suddenly.

I then took a position for two years with a major dementia research institute in Florence, Italy, funded in part by an Italian Pharmaceutical firm and the National Research Council of Italy, working both in Italy and the US and with WHO (World Health Organization) sponsored epidemiological surveys on dementia. Subsequently, I became a scientific consultant to the Charles A. Dana Foundation and the Dana Alliance For Brain Research.

These days I am mostly retired, enjoying international travel adventures and my two great-grandchildren. I live in a retirement community in Chapel Hill North Carolina, quite near to my son and daughter-in-law and in close contact with all three of my grandchildren.

It’s pretty clear that my choice of universities was determined by the scholarships that I received which helped to pay for my education. And that would not have happened without the amazing support from mentors, some of whom I knew and others who knew only of me and my origins.

I have come ” home” to the Island almost every summer since the 1970s. For me, it is a renewing place, full of memories both happy and sad, but always renewing. No one who has grown up on a small mixed farm in pre-mechanized days can ever not be aware of the great web of life and the efforts that must be expended to simply make a living. We were never rich in worldly goods but beyond millionaires in quality of life, in family love and support.

My father was not a schooled man but he was educated, a progressive farmer who believed in crop rotation and who sadly did not live long enough to fulfill his dreams. My mother was very intelligent and worked diligently to foster a love of words and learning. In retrospect, I had a magical childhood and was supported by the whole community in their love and care.

Editor’s note: Dr. Bick (Katherine) will be taking along some photos to add to this story when she visits this July.

Continue Reading »


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