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In my great grandmother Mary (MacDougall) Darrach’s letters between 1904-1907 to one of her sons and his wife in Boston, I enjoyed her warm sense of humour and the poetic turns of phrase in her writing. I thought I would share some moving and entertaining lines from her letters with you, as they offer a glimpse into family life in Clyde River. Mary and John Darrach had 11 children of which nine lived. At the time of these letters, about half her children had moved to the Boston area. Fan (Frances Darrach Beer) that she refers to in her letters was my grandmother.

  • Well, we are another year nearer home. For sure my time is drawing near if we go by years, but can’t tell who will go first. There is none of us too young. Now our time is passing. It’s good to be ready. This world will keep us busy but when we come to leave, it won’t do much for us, neither will our nearer and dearer friends. Life is short; eternity is long.
  • If you could see the banks of snow. I have never seen anything like it. You would be scared to go on the roads for fear anyone would meet you and go off the track. It is out of sight in some places. As for feed for the cattle, we have plenty.
  • I wish you could see all the valentines the boys and I got from Boston. You never saw such a racket as was over them.
  • Father is about the same, complaining as usual, this wet weather is against him.
  • Uncle Alex is not feeling well, but he has to work till he drops. His money won’t help him much when he’s gone.
  • On Monday, I got three four-leaf clovers…that would be good luck for me to have my children come home.
  • I wish you were all home today and for a few months. You could fish smelts for pocket-money.
  • Poor Fan was in hope the cows won’t go dry, but instead of that, there was three cows calved, churned 16 lbs. of butter today. It makes lots of work but is good to have lots of milk. The hens didn’t lay yet. Fan thinks she’ll stop feeding them and perhaps they will lay better.
  • Uncle Alex is sometimes miserable, takes weak turns. He took a turn the other morning, They thought for sure he was dying. He made awful moans, gasping for breath. She gave him some cold water and he came to. He has no strength. She is the same old stick but I like her, poor thing.
  • We must hope for the best, such is life, ups and downs.
  • The snow was about gone before the snow came, so there is not much sign of spring here now.
  • We had a social in the hall to pay for the church organ last week. It was a poor night, too, but they made 27 dollars.
  • Well, I am back from Eldon. I went Saturday and came back on Tuesday. We had a nice drive. It was the red mare, the best horse there ever was. We could barely hold her back, just as fresh when we came near home as she was when we left Eldon. They are all well. They were awful pleased to see us. I love to see my own.
  • Give my letter to the rest to read, as I have no time to write, as I am hooking.
  • One of my geese had 14 goslings. We are milking 10 cows, three to a calf. The big mare has a lovely mare foal.
  • There is a lot losing their cows. It is hard on some for they are short of feed and no grass yet. (May 30th)
  • Fan is house cleaning upstairs since she got them away, as usual. If you sleep one night up there, she is up the next day with the broom.
  • I couldn’t get an egg what but the hens was lousy. When I would go to gather eggs, I would be full of them, so I took a shovel, broom, and a fork and I cleaned it all out, puts lots of brine and ashes into it, too. Hector helped, as it was raining and gave them all a good bath in sheep dip. It was quite a job.
  • Uncle James is getting blind, can’t butter his own bread.
  • See how sudden Mr. Jones across from us was taken, a woman left with three small children and her not a bit strong, so she has to have strangers do her work. A woman is not much on a farm; however, the Lord is good. He will provide for her.
  • Hector is upstairs getting ready to see the woman, I think Fan expects Fred, for she is dressing up, but poor me, I have my knitting, that’s all for me now.
  • Thank you for the vest you sent to John (her husband). He was so proud, he didn’t know which way to wear it, but he made up his mind it was for Sundays. It was just the thing for him, if he would only wear it every cold day, but he is saving it.
  • Mary is wearing muffs every Sunday, so she is five steps above her dandy.
  • Fan is cleaning ever since she came home. The broom lost 5 lbs. and dust pan 3 lbs. since she came home. I had them both nice and fat but now all gone. Poor father, too, he could walk in before, but now he has to sweep and scrape his feet and then she’d be shouting at him. He says he is as much trouble to her as the flies were.
  • Lizzie got jammed behind the home comfort. They all had to get up from the table to pull her out, had an awful pull to get her out, such speeches you never heard, everyone adding a little.
  • I am very tired tonight, as were hooking all day and it is very tiresome when you have to be up and down. I will be glad when it’s done. We will finish this week, 3 1/2 double weight, lots of hooking on it and it’s for Fan. I hope we have no more visitors this week till we finish hooking.
  • We finished hooking last week. We hooked 11 yards. That was pretty good. I am awful tired, as I am now weaving. I set up the loom and got to it.
  • Aunt Katy and Flo was over to Aunt Maggies and when they were going home, they got in the ice. They got a pretty good dunking. (March)
  • Uncle Alex is quite blind but he comes over to our place, just by guess. We always go to meet him when we see him coming.
  • Referring to an old lady in church, she wrote – Our minister was preaching about Abraham last Sunday and she was asking him when he came out if Abraham was in the pulpit.
  • Upon hearing that her new granddaughter was named Mary after her, she wrote – I am highly honoured to have her named after me. I hope she be spared to you and live to be a good girl, and thank you both for remembering me. I thought it would be a fancy name but is a chosen name as the mother of our savior was named Mary.

Letters are such a wonderful treasure which connect us to those ancestors we would love to sit and have tea with for an afternoon. We’d likely get a job hooking or weaving though.

Bruce Brine accepting the Erland Lee Award

Bruce Brine has been awarded the Erland Lee Award of Appreciation, a prestigious award that is given to a man who exemplifies those qualities of Erland Lee which led to the founding of Women’s Institute. Erland Lee was farmer, teacher and head of a Farmer’s Institute in Stoney Creek, Ontario. He was a forward thinking man and provided the assistance needed to launch the first Women’s Institute that is now found around the world.

Bruce’s name was put forward for the award for PEI by the Clyde River W.I. Here is an excerpt from their nomination:

It is with great pleasure that the Clyde River Women’s Institute is submitting the nomination of Bruce Brine as a candidate for the Erland Lee Award of Appreciation.

Since becoming Administrator for the community of Clyde River in 2009, Bruce has given his full support to W.I. activities and endeavours, and he has strengthened the relationship between the Community Council and W.I. as both groups work to enhance our rural community.

Each year, in his administrative role, Bruce applies for government assistance to hire a summer student. He then spends many volunteer hours mentoring and training the student in the duties involved in keeping the community’s public spaces – the Community Centre, Park and Pioneer Cemetery – looking their best. In addition to facilitating the Community Council’s and the Women’s Institute’s joint efforts in maintaining the outward attractiveness of our community, Bruce has been instrumental in assisting the W.I. in obtaining funding from provincial and federal sources for infrastructure upgrades to our Community Centre.

Since 1973, the Centre has been owned and managed by the Clyde River Women’s Institute. The addition of insulation, a new furnace and energy efficient windows has made the former schoolhouse a comfortable site for Institute and community events, and the improved air quality is beneficial to the community museum that is being developed in the basement of the Centre. Bruce’s help in achieving these improvements to our building has been invaluable. As well, Bruce is generous in volunteering his considerable technical expertise to historical lectures, watershed presentations and private functions at the Centre.

Bruce Brine has certainly made an outstanding contribution to the Clyde River’s Women’s Institute as we strive to fulfill our national aim to promote women, families and communities.

His name will also be forwarded for the Canadian Erland Lee Award.

Editor’s note: On behalf of the Friends of Clyde River and our website audience, we congratulate you on this award. Bruce has worked oftentimes behind the scenes over the years as Community Administrator. Bruce, you have done an exemplary job of running the community’s business and it’s your time to shine and receive the recognition that you so richly deserve.

Canada Day Celebrations: Sunday, July 1, 12:30 to 2:00, Riverview Community Centre: It’s a birthday party! Be a kid again or still. Enjoy hotdogs, cupcakes and ice cream. Help us raise the flag, sing the anthem and celebrate Canada’s big day.

Strawberries and Ice Cream Social: Wednesday, July 11, 6:30 to 8:30, Riverview Community Centre: The big summer event for Clyde River Women’s Institute is, of course, the annual Strawberries and Ice Cream Social where young and not so young gather to enjoy the scrumptious desserts and meet friends and neighbours. Admission at the door.

Art in the Park: Saturday, July 21, 9:00 to Noon, Murchison Place Park (shine or light rain): Art in the Park welcomes all levels of painters, especially the beginner. Come on out for an enjoyable morning of painting with new and old friends under the dappled canopy of the park. We also welcome those who enjoy watching art being created. All are invited to join a free demo and painting lesson in an interactive workshop style with artist Julia Purcell, starting at 9:30 am. Get started working in Plein Air painting and learn to develop a well-built start for your painting by using a view finder to shape a limited focus, plus many other painting insights. Bring your own painting materials and easel if you have one. View finders will be provided. If you plan to participate in this lesson, we ask you to pre-register by emailing juliampurcell@gmail.com. Coffee and water provided. There is a washroom on site.

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 and 16 years of age or older, who are interested in being considered for the position must submit an application with the provincial Employment Development Agency.  This can be done on the provincial government website, www.princeedwardisland.ca. Once there, search for “”Apply to the Seasonal and Student Job Registry”” to find the application.

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.

Spring clean up of Murchison Place Park will take place on Saturday, May 12th, 9:00 a.m. until noon. Take along a rake, work gloves and any other useful garden equipment e.g. wheelbarrow. Refreshments will be served. The rain date will be the following Saturday, May 19th.

It’s a great time to catch up and clean up.

West River Watershed

For the past several years the West River Watershed Group has been doing work during the summer months to improve the health of the Clyde River. Next Tuesday evening, members of the group will be providing an update on the work to date and the plans for the coming season.

Their presentation takes place at 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 17 at the Riverview Community Centre. Everyone is welcome to attend and find out more.

The Clyde River Council is seeking a new municipal administrator.  We are looking for a well-organized person who can work on their own and with Council to ensure the smooth running of the community’’s official business. The administrator works from home and must have a telephone, computer and internet access.  Click here for an outline of the duties involved.  This position is part-time and paid through a fixed regular stipend.

Start date: June 1, 2018.

Interested candidates should send an email outlining their professional and personal qualifications and experience to clyderiverpei.cic@pei.sympatico.ca.

For more information call Hilda Colodey at 902-675-3171.