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Montrose Farm – original Ward Farm (Google street view photo)

I was out touring around the original Ward family property on the “upper” Bannockburn Road in Hampshire this weekend with James and Carol Ward from Arizona who were on PEI for the first time on a genealogical quest.

There are two Ward houses still there at the jog in the road, one was the home of Benjamin and Hattie (Beer) Ward and across the road, the farm owned up until 13 years ago by Milton Ward. After friendly visits with the new owners, they suggested we should make sure to visit with Milton who now lives in North River.

James and Milton are 4th cousins and their first meeting was a great homecoming. James is a descendant of Alex Spurgeon Ward, one of the boys who moved to Boston around 1900. He asked Milton if he had any good stories to tell about the farm, and Milton pulled out a newspaper clipping for him to read. Always on the trail for a good story myself, I asked Milton if I could share it on the Clyde River website. Apparently, the story made The Guardian and CBC-TV news back in March, 1987.

Steer escapes from tight spot, only pride hurt

Hampshire – One of Milton Ward’s steers might think twice before he tries to escape again.

The 1000-pound steer pulled a chain over its head in the barn stall sometime Monday night and while wandering around the barn fell into Mr. Ward’s well, where it was trapped until discovered early Tuesday morning.

When Elizabeth [Lizzie] Ward got up Tuesday, she couldn’t get any water out of the kitchen tap. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong until Mr. Ward checked the barn.

“I figured it was a fuse,” he said. But when he discovered the steer stuck in the well it wasn’t hard to figure out the problem. While the animal was attempting to get out of the well, it broke a pipe connecting the tank to the pump, so no water could be pumped out.

After recovered from his surprise, Mr. Ward phoned a neighbour who had a hydraulic hoist.

Getting ropes around the steer was no easy task since the opening only measured six feet by four feet. It was accomplished by putting a rope around the steers head and pulling it to one side so the rope could be pushed down the side. Then the steer could be pulled to the other side so the rope could be brought up again.

Although the whole operation took about three hours from the time the steer was discovered, the actual lift only took about half an hour, Mr. Ward said.

“It wasn’t easy, but we managed.”

Although the steer has a few bruises it probably sustained in attempts to get out of the well, it appears none the worse for wear.

The well had been covered with two-by-five boards and a half-inch sheet of plywood “but it was made for man, not beast,” Mr. Ward said. He thought there was no need to put a heavier cover on it since it wasn’t near where the steers were kept. But now he admits he’ll have to put a heavier cover on it.

I asked Milton what the price of beef was back then and he said around 70 cents a pound, so on top of it being a prized Holstein, it was $700 they pulled out of the well that day.

Editor’s note:

  • The farm is now owned by Peter Cairns.
  • The Wards named the farm “Montrose” after the beautiful varieties of rose bushes at the front of the house.
  • Hattie (Beer) and Benjamin Ward were Davis Ward’s parents. Davis sang in the Clyde River Presbyterian Church Choir for many years. Their house is across the road from the farm.

The Annual General Meeting of the West River Watershed Group, scheduled for this Saturday, April 29th, has been postponed.

The meeting will now take place from 10:00 a.m. – Noon on Saturday, May 6th at the Riverview Community Centre.

All are welcome.

Riverview Community Centre before latest renovation

Many of you are aware of the latest renovation of the old Clyde River School House, but the previous renovation was in 1986. The following is the story that was featured in The Guardian 31 years ago (news clipping from Hazel Beer’s scrapbooks):

W.I. Renovate Old School House Into Centre of Community Activity, by Kathy Jorgensen

In 1972 the Clyde River Women’s Institute purchased the 152-year-old school house in that community and began the long task of renovating it into a community centre.

The original school house had only one room, and in 1964 a second room was added. The goal of the W.I. members was to upgrade and maintain these two rooms and have the building serve the community in many capacities.

Jean MacLean and Neila MacKinnon, both W.I. members, were involved with the renovations over the years. They talked about the work and the many needs it has filled in the community.

The two women, obviously proud of the fresh, new look that the W.I. has given the building, noted they lowered the ceiling in the old section and took out a hatch that led to a clay basement.

“We then had a cement basement poured.” said Mrs. MacKinnon.

The cloak room for the girls was renovated into a small kitchen, and later a large addition to that kitchen was constructed. Recessed lighting, paper, paint, curtains and pieces of furniture were all part of the many additions that made Clyde River Community Centre the central gathering place for special events.

The old “Clyde River School” sign has been left on the building as a matter of heritage. There renovated building was aptly named Riverview Community Centre. Behind it flows the Clyde River and a picturesque view of the river can be seen from the grounds and most windows inside the building.

Mrs. MacLean explained that there had been a hall in the community, but noted it was too run-down to be bothered with. It had been torn down and moved piece by piece to another location and used for a barn. Furniture in the old hall, which had been purchased by the W.I. was moved to the new community centre.

Fixing the grounds was also part of the W.I. project and much landscaping and planting had to be done. Shrubs and flowers were planted, a flag raised and the centre was ready for operation. Now with the community using the facility for teas, anniversaries, picnics, Christmas parties, children’s functions, and community showers, the W.I. feels its work has been worthwhile.

They are still in the process of paying for the many renovations and will hold an auction sale on September 10th beginning at 6 p.m. Both women noted that donations are needed for the auction and they will take almost anything.

Future plans for the centre will mean finishing the basement so it can be used as gym area. The W.I. of Clyde River will be working on that over the next year or two and looking forward to seeing the completion of this project.

The Friends of Clyde River Historical Education Committee has expanded to welcome three new members. Since our committee was established, we have initiated and managed a number of key projects that built upon earlier community-led projects.

Friends of Clyde River – Historical Committee Projects:

  • Establishment of the Clyde River lectures series that has completed its 5th year, where guest speakers present historical topics attracting record audiences of up to 100 people.
  • Completion of a year-long project entitled “Capturing Collective Memories” where we digitized over 1500 photos collected from family albums, invited artifact donations and hosted special events. The result was the curation of a museum in the Riverview Committee Centre which features over 200 artifacts and a photo gallery of early life in Clyde River from 1890s to 1940s.
  • A community website approaching 500 stories which has attracted visitors from across Canada, US, UK, Brazil, Australia and many other countries representing 216,000 page views.

With the large number of artifacts and materials we have accumulated, we brought in some extra talent with strong historical research and organization skills. In March, we began cataloguing artifacts and photos. Two of the new members are librarians with cataloguing experience. All three of the new members are avid genealogists, so they will be a tremendous resource that our local and online community can tap into. Together, the six members offer a complementary depth of experience in carrying out history projects. We thought we would offer a little bio on each of the committee members below:

We welcome our new members:

Jane Dyment

Jane Dyment has strong ties to the Island. She is the daughter of Earle Dyment from Northam and Margate, and Wanda Mann from Kensington. Growing up, she visited close and distant relatives on both side of the family, but didn’t pay nearly enough attention to their stories.

Jane graduated from Dalhousie with a Masters in Library Services and worked in Ottawa in the National Research Council’s library, later moving to corporate services. Upon retirement, she needed a project and decided to further research the Dyment family tree, later expanding to the Manns, Johnstones, Humphreys, Beers and McFadyens on her mother’s side. Living in Ottawa, Jane has unearthed, she believes, every possible Island source of genealogical information that can be found online. A couple of years ago, her cousin Nancy mentioned that her friend Katherine Dewar, an author and nurse, was finding it difficult to travel to Ottawa to consult Library and Archives Canada’s collection. Jane volunteered to help, and made, she hopes, a valuable contribution to the story of the nurses from PEI who served in World War 1, Those Splendid Girls. She also checked a few references for Earle Lockerby’s recent publication on Samuel Holland, and is now a volunteer on the Summerside Archives project on Prince County soldiers in C Company, 105th Battalion. Jane is married, with two adult children and a dog. She is looking forward to working with the Clyde River Historical Committee, and welcomes questions from Islanders starting a family tree, or getting over a brick wall.

Chair’s note: Jane is a descendant of Thomas and Jane Beer who settled on the Bannockburn Road in Clyde River in the 1830s. She is an exceptional genealogical researcher with intelligence, skill and speed, much better than Google! Check out her genealogical website at www.janedyment.ca and read the stories she wrote for our website, Cousins Lost and Found, part 1 and part 2.

Rowena Stinson

Rowena is proud to be a Parkdale girl, who was raised and still lives there. Her roots are in Clyde River though – her Dad, Lester, was born here in 1909. There was a Hickox presence in Clyde River until the early 1940’s when Lester’s grandmother, Mary Jane Hickox Arthur, left to live with her daughter in Charlottetown.

Rowena was a teacher by profession and Teacher Librarian at Westwood Primary School from the school’s opening until 2011. She is an active member of Park Royal United Church where she and her husband, Hank sing in the choir.  She has just become Treasurer of the UCW and Secretary for the Board of Stewards. She is also a member of Teachers in Harmony and Friends Choir, the Parkdale Homecoming Committee, and takes classes at Seniors College. She is seldom at home.

Rowena has been working on her family genealogy for many years, having picked up the desire to follow the trail left by her dad, who knew all the relatives and their stories. She enjoys research and the excitement of discovery, and has been rewarded by connecting with relatives from far and near who are also involved in genealogy. The Island’s history is rich, and Rowena is delighted to be asked to join the Clyde River Historical Committee. She looks forward to working with the committee and helping to discover and preserve more of this rich history.

Chair’s note: Rowena is our team leader in cataloguing the artifacts and photos in our collection, and we, her happy worker bees. We will be using the same cataloguing system as the provincial archives, so nothing but the best for Clyde River. She wrote the story The Hickox Family of Clyde River.

Joanne Turner

Joanne’s father Dingwall MacFadyen was born on the Bannockburn Road. Dingwall’s father was Norman, known as N.C. and Millar MacFadyen’s brother, see story here. As a returned war veteran, Norman was able to purchase a farm in Meadow Bank through the Veteran’s Land Act from Neil Ferguson who then bought a store in Bonshaw. Norman Campbell MacFadyen met his wife Lola Dingwell from Marie at a Presbyterian function in Morell. They moved to Meadowbank and farmed there. Their son Dingwell married Dophie MacLean and they also lived at the homeplace. Both families moved to Charlottetown for a while but they summered along with their children at the Meadowbank property even though there was no electricity or indoor plumbing. When electricity was installed, Dingwall bought the farm from his parents. Joanne attended Meadowbank School and later worked with the PEI Tourism Office and then at the Confederation Centre. She worked with the PEI Collection which was kept under lock and key, and that opportunity sparked her interest in history. She moved to Winsloe when she married. Joanne organized the 225 Dingwell reunion in 2000 in Pinette and her interest in genealogy and history continues to grow. She helped to catalogue the Winsloe United Church Cemetery. She tells us the decommissioned church was built with bricks made in Rocky Point and taken over on the ice in 1882.

Chair’s note: Joanne is also a descendent of Thomas and Jane Beer. She and Jane Dyment are descendants of their oldest daughter Mary Ann (Beer) MacFadyen. She is also the great great grand-daughter of Eliza Brown who was a descendant of those who settled on the Bannockburn Road. Each time we see Joanne at a meeting or event, she has a file folder with yet more historical papers. She has an enviable knack at sleuthing for key pieces of history which we continue to be very grateful for. We can attribute the Millar MacFadyenThe Old Homestead on the Linwood Road and The Howard Christian Cemetery in Kingston stories and the History of Meadow Bank series to her efforts.

Founding Members:

Hilda Colodey

Hilda’s Clyde River roots are deep – she grew up on land which has been farmed by the Dixon family since the 1830’s. After completing Grade 10 at Clyde River school she attended Prince of Wales College and graduated from Dalhousie University and began teaching at Charlottetown Rural High School. Along with several other “Rural” teachers she was part of the inaugural staff at Bluefield High School when it was opened. After short stays in Kingston and New Dominion, Hilda and her husband Jim moved to the Bannockburn Road in 1978.

Although she has lived her life steeped in the stories of Clyde River, Hilda’s interest in the history of the community was formalized when she was asked to join the committee that created the book The History and Stories of Clyde River, Prince Edward Island in 2009. Assisting with the production of the 2011 calendar of Clyde River Historical Homes, helping with establishing the Emily Bryant Room at the Community Centre and being involved with planning the historical lecture series have followed from this first adventure into recall, research and documentation. Exploring Clyde River’s history has assisted her in being a member of  committees that have published books about the history of the P.E.I. Association of Exhibitions and the history of Old Home Week.

Hilda is an adherent of Burnside Presbyterian Church, member and chair of the Clyde River Community Council and community representative on the Atlantic Vet College Animal Care Committee. She looks forward to continuing her participation in the activities of the Historical Committee.

Chair’s note: Hilda has played key roles in Clyde River as councillor and now Chair of the Clyde River Community Council and as a member of our history committee since we were established. Hilda has the deepest knowledge of Clyde River’s history within our group, so we will continue to call on her to check facts and offer advice. And what she doesn’t know, she said her brother Alex does know. Her husband Jim is also a great helper at events.

Sandra Cameron

Sandra grew up in Nine Mile Creek. She graduated from UPEI as a teacher, taught intermediate level at Englewood School in Crapaud and retired in 2007. She moved to Clyde River after marrying in 1973. She has three children. She worked on the writing of The History and Stories of Clyde River, Prince Edward Island in 2009 and also on the Clyde River Historical Homes calendar in 2011.  She is a member of the Clyde River Presbyterian Church, having served for a term as an Elder. She participates in Church and Community Choirs. Sandra is a member of the Friends of Clyde River, loves history and visiting historical places, especially when it involves travel. She has been involved in multiple projects initiated by the Historical Committee including the annual lectures series.

Chair’s note: Sandra has also been on our committee since the beginning. She has a passion for Island and world history, having studied it at university, so she offers us a broader view of approaching our local history. Her strong and decisive mind and her ability to take charge of hospitality at events makes her a valuable member. Her daughter Sarah adeptly manages the front desk at our events and enjoys helping us out on projects.

Vivian Beer, Chair

Vivian grew up in Clyde River, spent 17 years in Toronto and now lives in Charlottetown, although she loves to visit the family farm in Clyde River on weekends during the summer. She is also a descendant of Thomas and Jane Beer, but, in her case, the lineage of their son James and his wife Mary Ann (Livingstone) Beer. She established the Clyde River website in 2009 at the time the History and Stories of Clyde River was launched and almost 500 stories later, she continues as writer/editor. The site has a large, loyal audience mostly from Canada and the US but also many other countries. She established the Historical Education Committee to promote the history of Clyde River and area and continues as Chair. This year was the 5th year to host the Clyde River Lecture Series which attracts large audiences. She digitized heritage photos from community family albums ranging from 1890s to 1940s. A dedicated museum room was created featuring over 200 artifacts and heritage photo gallery. Vivian has transcribed private diaries covering the years 1910 to 1926. In 2012, she photographed and wrote a book, Landscape of Memories, which features landscape and architectural photos of Clyde River along with notes on their historical significance. She takes her inspiration from her mother Hazel Beer who kept excellent scrapbooks featuring clippings of community news which was a great resource for those researching and writing the History and Stories of Clyde River.

Vivian has her own company, Merdock, where she provides marketing services. She is also Manager, HR Strategy, for the PEI BioAlliance, a bioscience cluster which employs over 1500 people.

Additional recognition:

We would like to recognize the valuable contribution that Bruce Brine has made on the committee since it was established. He is a busy administrator for the Community of Clyde River and has been an excellent resource in our initial years and, as a former Cape Bretoner, has been a great sport at diving into our local history. He will be taking a break from our committee work, but we know he will be close by if we need his superior administration and financial skills.

We have other exceptional people whose knowledge we tap into from time to time from near and far, thanks to the internet, so we have a strong team working to capture and preserve the history of Clyde River and surrounding communities. If there are others in our website audience who have an unquenchable desire for genealogy and Island history, please connect with us.

If you have any questions about the Committee’s historical work or have photo or artifact donations that you would like to offer, please contact Vivian at vivian@eastlink.ca. On behalf of our committee, thank you for being such an enthusiastic audience. Knowing how much you enjoy history keeps us motivated.

Clyde River Baptist Church, Clyde River Road

The Clyde River Baptist Church will be hosting an Easter Sunday Gospel Concert on April 16, at 7:00 p.m. Garth and Liane MacKay will be hosting a Gaither-style concert featuring special music by Grace Times Three. Everyone warmly welcomed!

You are never too old to enjoy a tasty hamburger, so the residents at Burnside Community Care are pleased to be joining in on the Burger Love celebration and entertaining their guest Hon. Wayne Easter. Chef G.V. created a classic style burger featuring local hamburger from MacPhee’s Meats in Clyde River topped with generous amounts of sautéed onions, mushrooms, bacon, and cheddar cheese. A chicken wing tops off the bun and a cucumber and carrot sculpted into a flower and leaf motif decorates the plate. Owner Alan MacPhee says, “The residents are having fun with the occasion. A delicious burger is great to enjoy at any age.” They wrapped up the meal with Burger Love trivia along with some fun prizes.

Editor’s Note: I had the opportunity to enjoy a Burnside Burger and it was as tasty as it looks.

Today is the 100th anniversary of Hector Murray’s death. He was killed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was 18 years old. Helen Smith-MacPhail from Meadow Bank, a Clyde River Lectures Series presenter, visited his grave in 2012. His picture is included in the Veteran’s wall display at the Riverview Community Centre. The gallery above includes photos of his grave; his name recorded in the registration book at Nine Elms Cemetery outside of Arras, France, where he is buried; and a letter home to his family.

Further details:

Canada’s Virtual War Memorial – Pte. Hector Murray

Community dinner for the boys going off to war