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Argyle - 1It’s summer in Prince Edward Island, a time when aside from all the tourism activity, Islanders travel anywhere from 2 to 30 minutes to stay at their cottages. It’s not that we don’t like our neighbours but it’s just that we have already heard all their stories over the winter and we are in desperate need of some new ones and we are drawn to the shore. We don’t want to move too far away from home because we want to make sure we actually know the characters in the stories.

I am in Argyle Shore. It’s where my parents took us to the shore as children and where my grandparents took my mother and her siblings in summers. My mother’s family went to MacDougall’s shore as they were relations. Our parents took us to Argyle Shore Provincial Park. You could park handy to the water. The Park had picnic tables, play equipment and washrooms close by. There was even a natural spring to keep soft drinks cold. We were fortunate if we didn’t have to stop at the cemetery on the way. My mother liked to walk through, linger and remember Argyle Shore people that she knew as a child.

The Selkirk Settlers’ migration extends to Argyle Shore. It’s MacPhail country for the most part. Historical ties run through communities from here to Wood Islands. In the Murray Diaries (1911-25), there is mention of family from DeSable down for a visit to Clyde River. The DeSable relatives took the Murrays for a drive in their new car in 1922. In Mary Ann MacDougall Darrach’s letters (1904-07), she wrote that she had travelled from Clyde River down to Eldon. I recall her writing how “good it was to see my people”. Grace Seller Inman-Morrison from Argyle Shore was asked what was the greatest thing that happened in her lifetime and she said it was the telephone. When she married and moved to another community, it offered her an opportunity to stay connected to her people.

I am staying on Harvey Inman’s shore, Grace’s son, right beside Argyle Shore Provincial Park. In fact, he manages the Park. On the field below his home place, he has created a small community of cottage dwellers. Many began renting a cottage from Harvey years ago and went on to purchase their own little piece of heaven. It’s a quiet place offering ample time for rest and reflection. As you travel along Route 19, you will see many similar cottage communities in DeSable, Canoe Cove, Rice Point, Nine Mile Creek, Cumberland, Fairview, New Dominion and Meadowbank where friends and relatives reconnect after long winters. There are Islanders, those married to Islanders, long-term summer residents from other parts of Canada and New Englanders for the most part.

There is little in the way of commerce here. The Blue Goose Restaurant and Bakery is in DeSable. Harvey’s store in Crapaud has the largest variety of offerings unless you want to make the trip to Cornwall. Anna’s Country Kitchen even has a drive through. Victoria offers fresh fish, theatre and artisan shops. But there is no need for much. The view of the Northumberland Strait sustains you. I recall when I stayed here years ago for the first time. Harvey told me it was so quiet you could hear the moon come up. Last night’s buck moon, the name for July’s full moon, performed a silver symphony reflected across the strait.

I enjoyed a visit with Harvey and Evelyn last evening and we talked about the Clyde River history lectures we hosted last winter. As a first cousin of Ron MacKinley, he also knows how to tell a tale and he recounted a few stories about playing hockey at North River Rink and the strict loyalties divided by the West River. He had viewed the photos on the Clyde River site and smiled when he saw the men sitting around having a good chat. He said in earlier days, they would have been fierce opponents on the ice.

That’s it for now from across the river on the shores of Argyle. I hear someone playing fiddle music in the distance. Harvey says there’s a wedding on Cranberry Lane.

IMG_2760.JPGI travelled out from the city to the Strawberry Social last evening hosted by the Clyde River Women’s Institute. They had a great crowd. As folks arrive, you get a little sticker with a number which is called when seats are available. Alex Dixon says he comes at the same time each year, and this year he had a higher number, deducing there were more overall. I had a chance to sit with J’Nan and Kirk Brown to catch up on their news. They are celebrating their wedding anniversary this summer and still smiling brightly. As usual, they are expecting summer visitors. Not surprising, they live in heaven down by the river.

Sandra Cameron hosted history enthusiasts in the Emily Bryant Room during the event and she had lots of visitors. There are so many things to see. Each treasure tells a story, rather, generations of stories. I recounted one story to some visitors about the small salt dish with a pink hue on the second shelf of the display case which could easily be overlooked. The dish was Lee Darrach’s, the Lee that fought in both WW1 and WW2. He was in the Halifax Infirmary during the time of the Halifax explosion. The explosion catapulted the salt dish onto his hospital bed. He saved it as a testament to having survived once again. He passed it on to his brother Hector which was then given to his grandson and he gave it us. It sits on the same shelf as Lee’s photo in uniform and the two Christmas cards and many letters he sent to his family during the war. These were donated to us from his other grand nephew in Florida. As part of the Capturing Memories project when we invited donations of artifacts, I stopped being surprised by synchronicity. These historical items were coming home along with their stories. This is a memory room, and when we linger by each humble piece, we can remember the people who came before.

J’Nan invited me to drop down to her farm to get a dozen blue eggs from her Ameraucana hens after the social. She and Sidney Poritz who owns the adjoining property debate which of them has the more beautiful land. I am happy to stand on her front yard looking across their fields to the rivers. It’s where the West River and Clyde River meet. Sidney lives on the homestead of my great grandparents. That is where Lee Darrach was raised. I have the letters his mother wrote to her boys between 1904-07 talking about daily life. This was all Darrach property at one time. J’Nan recalls Mrs. MacNeill who lived here before she and Kirk purchased the farm. Mrs. MacNeill told her “the view sustained me”.

As I drove out the long lane from J’Nan and Kirk’s, I was struck by the sunset over Dunedin. The synchronicity of this moment was not lost. I stopped, took a few shots and emailed my favourite to J’Nan with a subject line “Sunset in Heaven”.

Editor’s note: Earlier stories were written on the Brown’s (This Old Barn has some Stories to Tell) and Poritz (Darrach-Poritz Homestead) properties.

The Friends of Clyde River invites everyone to our annual Art in the Park event on Saturday, July 16, from 8:30 a.m. until noon at Murchison Place Park. Guest artist Julia Purcell will lead an art demonstration. All are welcome to take along their art supplies to paint/sketch or, if you just want to relax and listen, that is great as well. We offer a special invitation to families to come out and paint together.

Take this opportunity to stroll through the park to see the many recent improvements that have been made which include new play and swing sets, areas landscaped and new trees added.

Art in the Park will take place in fair weather or light rain. Please check this website for details if the weather is uncertain.

Murchison Park is located on the corner of the TransCanada Hwy and the Clyde River Rd. Coffee and treats will be provided in the early morning but feel free to take along a lunch.

Strawberries

Strawberry Social

The Clyde River Women’s Institute will host their annual Strawberry and Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, July 13th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre, 728 Clyde River Rd. Come meet your friends, neighbours and, of course, those home from away, and enjoy a dish of ice cream with strawberries and sweets. Take out not available.

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We congratulate Cedric Stead on receiving his Duke of Edinburgh Award. He is shown here being presented with the Award by Lt. Gov. Frank Lewis. (Photo credit: Brian Simpson)

Cedric is the son of Steven and Lisa Stead, Clyde River.

What a wonderful turn out on Saturday, May 14th to prepare Murchison Place park for the 2016 summer!! Even though, as JoAnn MacPhail explained, it is closed now for updating and exciting new equipment.

About 30 people pitched in to rake and sort and organize the park, and it looked great by the time everyone left. Best of all, some younger, new-to-the park volunteers gave encouragement to those who have been around since the beginning of this Park, now 10 yrs. ago.

Once again Kevin and Lisa Ross and their three now grown up “E” girls had the most volunteers from one family. New volunteers, the McQuaid boys, Ben and Brent, worked very hard and were a big help. The impressive Angela Sanderson and —— Irving (sorry, can’t remember the first name) explained how they use leaves for compost for their garden and that their tomato plants in their greenhouse are ready for planning. This young couple are role models for environmental awareness with their solar panels, wind energy and smart house construction. Jeff Cameron was glad to help as his family use this lovely park.

Emily and Vans Bryant were happy to return to chat with their friends from the past and see how well this park has survived the winter. However, the early birdhouses and some of the original add-ons have not stood up to weather’s beating, so they join the Park Committee in welcoming new equipment this season.

Rev. Steven Stead brought Montgomery to help this year. Now all of the Stead boys have had their hand in the park clean-up. Of course, Alex Dixon and Alan MacQuarrie are always a big help with JR tagging along. Christine Young has been here to help every year and she’s such a great worker.

Nancy and Mike Fitzgerald wanted to make sure the perennial plants are in good shape as Nancy had planted many of them. Grace and Melody Sider were very careful to uncover the plants in the heritage perennial section and soon these flowers will bring color. Meanwhile the yellow tulips are inviting at the park’s entrance.

Of course, there were snacks for everyone and lots of chatting and the work ended as the rain started. Just turned our perfectly. The rest of the work can wait until a warmer day.

Thanks to Emily Bryant for this report. Sounds like a great success. We look forward to all the new improvements.

Note: Click on any photo to view enlarged photos in gallery.

The Murchison Place Park Cleanup is on this morning. Come in as early as you can. Many hands make light work.

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Audrey MacPhee, Lori Perry and Alex Dixon

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