Lawson Drake of Meadow Bank will receive the 2016 mentor award of the Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty during a ceremony Dec. 7 in Charlottetown.

Lawson Drake will receive the 2016 mentor award of the Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty.

(Article appeared in The Guardian. Reprinted with permission.)

The Meadow Bank resident will be recognized on Dec. 7, 7:00 p.m., during a dinner in his honour at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. It will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Walter MacKinnon at 902-566-2982. The deadline for purchasing tickets is Friday, Dec. 2.

Drake is a worthy recipient of the award, a news release states.

“He has been a superb teacher and motivator of young people. He has been a church elder and served his community in other ways as an author, historian and conservationist. He has also been an avid supporter of genealogy and traditional Scottish fiddle music.”

However, the focus of this award is his teaching and administrative roles at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Drake was a biology professor at Prince of Wales College when it went from being a two-year college program to a four-year degree-granting program. The small university turned out its first and only degree class in 1969.

Drake was selected as the first chairman of the UPEI biology department and undertook the huge job of melding students and faculty from Prince of Wales and St. Dunstan’s University into one unit and helping to blend the two sets of courses into one curriculum. He remained as chairman during those first critical seven years of the new university.

“During this time, Lawson was not only a mentor to the many students he taught, he acted as a mentor to the faculty and brought them together as a team,” the release states.

He later became dean of science and chaired the transition committee leading to the creation of the School of Nursing at UPEI. Drake was also a staunch supporter of the Atlantic Veterinary College and helped mentor the founding faculty. He was recognized as one of the Founders of UPEI and received the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Both Lawson and his wife Eileen served as mentors for their children, John and Carolyn, who are pursuing their successful careers on Prince Edward Island.

Editor’s Note: On behalf of the Community of Clyde River, we offer our congratulations to a well-deserved recipient. Lawson is a great supporter of historical activities and events in Clyde River. We have tapped into his vast knowledge a number of times.


From the article “40+ Creative Pinecone Crafts for your Holiday Decorations”

The Clyde River Women’s Institute is hosting a Ladies Night Out on Tuesday, December 6th at 7:00 p.m. at Riverview Community Centre. They will be doing crafts with pinecones. Participants can bring their own pinecones, glue guns and scissors if they can, otherwise they will be provided at the centre. Casual wear is suggested. Finger food will be provided. No cost. If you are interested in joining in, please contact Betty Watts at 902-566-2840 to register.

Editor’s note: I found an article that features 40+ ideas of how to create pinecone crafts for your holiday decorations. Lots of fun and beautiful ideas to get your creative ideas flowing. Link here.

At 7:00 PM on Monday, December 5th, Clyde River will hold a special election meeting. The intent is to fill two vacant positions on the community council. Residents at the meeting will elect a new Chairperson and a Councilor. The meeting is being held at the Riverview Community Centre – 718 Clyde River Rd. These two new members will join the current Council for the remainder of the current term which ends in two years.

All eligible residents are encouraged to consider offering to better their community by standing for one of these positions or to attend the meeting and participate in the election process. As the saying goes, “Decisions are made by those who show up”.

Candidates must be present at the meeting or submit a signed document stating they are willing to be nominated and stand for election. Candidates are nominated from the floor by eligible voters and voting takes place shortly afterwards. The election results are announced that evening following the vote count. The entire process takes about 2 hours.

To be eligible to run for municipal office, you must be:

• 18 years of age or older,
• a Canadian citizen, and
• a resident of Clyde River for no less than one year preceding the election date.

To vote in the election in your municipality, you must be:

• 18 years of age or older,
• a Canadian citizen, and
• a resident of Clyde River for no less than six months preceding the election date.

For more information contact: Administrator – Bruce Brine 675-4747 or clyderiver.cic@pei.sympatico.ca

Here is a story submitted to us from Donald E. Holmes with photography by Florence Wall. With such strong historical ties between our two communities, we are delighted to feature our first story on Kingston. We do hope Donald has some other gems like this one to contribute in the future. 

Howard Burying Ground,

Howard Burying Ground, “The Christian Cemetery”, Kingston, PEI

“That my son Roderick bury my remains in The Christian Cemetery
on the estate of the late Charles Howard, and it is my

wish that I be buried as near to the late
Charles Howard as possible.”

Such is the statement from the will of Charles Colwill, but why would one be so prescriptive? While many small pioneer cemeteries frequently succumb to neglect because rural churches close, face road widening, original family members relocate, or the community changes even in name, this is the case of one small now neglected cemetery in Prince Edward Island.

Residents of Kingston, formerly South Wiltshire, organized themselves in 1852 to collect money to build a church on the South Wiltshire Road in Lot 31. The church was to replace the local schoolhouse as the meeting place for worship.  Similar to a rural barn raising, the men of the community erected a building on a foundation of hand-hewn limestone. While the structure was no edifice, it was given a simple, apt name:  A Place for Public Worship.

The entire community contributed and everyone was welcome to worship there. As a place for public worship, it was used cooperatively by Church of Englanders, Presbyterians, and Baptists, with a minority of other denominations. What was unique or nearly so was that all denominations attended the services of the other groups thereby showing respect for those who expressed their religious beliefs in ways different from their own.

My paternal grandfather, Everett Holmes, told me that within five years of the church being built, it had become known as The English Church. However, all groups still continued to worship there. By 1875, the building had become known as the Methodist Church. That name lasted for fifty years.

With the approaching 1925 church union in Canada, uneasiness and disagreement existed not only between the Baptists and Methodists, but also among the Methodists themselves. Between harmony and cooperation often exist the twin devils of dissention and resentment. The Wesleyan minority disapproved that the original privilege of worshipping in the Place for Public Worship according to one’s tradition was surely being removed from the Baptists who insisted on adult baptism. Here, then, is the story of a small group of Baptists with some extraordinary events:  the loss of a worship location, and legacy of passion gone awry and the creation of a cemetery.

In 1925, when the United Church of Canada was formed, not everyone agreed with or accepted this union. Many traditional Church of Englanders travelled eight miles to South Milton to attend the English Church. In a number of incidents, there was an exchange or transfer of membership. No congregation, therefore, suffered drastic losses. My maternal great-grandparents, Reuben Barrett and Edith Kitson, were Church of England people who moved to Kingston from the South Milton congregation to join with the Methodist Church. The Barretts lived next door to the Kingston church and are buried in the churchyard to the west of the building. A flat stone marks their graves. My paternal great-grandparents, Captain Charles and Elizabeth Holmes, as did the Barretts, left the English congregation in South Milton principally because Elizabeth was confined to a wheelchair, which made the eight-mile journey to South Milton difficult. She was an avid Bible reader and her influence can be demonstrated in this anecdote related to me by her grandson, Gordon Holmes, Q.C., who told me this story at his Park Terrace home in Charlottetown on August 29, 1971.

Gordon Holmes’ English grandparents

In her early years, Grandmother was crippled, so she began reading the Bible a great deal and talked to Grandfather about the truth contained therein, and about baptism in particular. Being true to the Anglican tradition, Grandparents were baptized by the method known as sprinkling. But when Grandmother read and pondered over “And He went down into the water and coming up straightway,” this caused her great concern. Grandfather questioned their minister–the Church of England minister at South Milton–whose opinion was one of indifference. “It doesn’t really matter all that much.”  To Grandfather, it did matter:  he was baptized in the mill pond at Kingston Corner–coming up straightway from the waters.  His affiliation with the Church of England at South Milton ceased, and Grandfather became the first deacon of Kingston Baptist Church.


A Place for Public Worship, later Kingston United Church. The cemetery is in background to the West of the church.

The Presbyterians were divided. The “soft-shell” Presbyterians stayed in Kingston and joined the Wesleyans. Some of the Wesleyans changed to Methodist. Both continued to worship as part of the congregation of the United Church of Canada. The Presbyterians who were opposed to the union travelled three miles to the Clyde River. Curiously, none of my interviewees once mentioned a derogatory word about the Presbyterians who, like the Church of Englanders, chose to “leave” the community of Kingston to worship elsewhere. Had the Presbyterians not demonstrated the same faithfulness as did the Church of Englanders, or was this a case of Islanders guarding their families carefully?  If it were the latter, what part of the family were they guarding? What is the substance of that tenet?

Charles Howard Jr. headstone in Howard Burying Ground, Kingston, PEI

Charles Howard Jr. headstone in Howard Burying Ground, Kingston, PEI

Now let’s walk the road the Baptists trod. Charles Howard, a staunch elderly Baptist who was greatly perplexed by the conflict in this Place for Public Worship in Kingston, chose to avoid taking sides with either the Methodists or the Baptists.

Charles donated, on the occasion of the death of his twenty-seven year-old son, Charles G. Howard, a plot of land on his own farm and buried his son Charles there on January 5, 1878.

Charles Howard headstone, Howard Burying Ground. The Christian Cemetery, Kingston, PEI

Charles Howard headstone, Howard Burying Ground. The Christian Cemetery, Kingston, PEI

Five months later, June 18, 1878, Charles Sr. was buried in this same cemetery which became locally known as “The Howard Burying Ground” although it was not restricted for exclusive use by the Howard family. Close friends were also buried there too. Here is a story related to me:

On the surface, Charles Howard was a staunch old [62 years old when he died] Baptist and as upright as could be produced.  However, behind the façade of his righteousness was a twinkle in his eye and an edge to his wit that could be matched by few. Howard recorded the name of the cemetery on his farm as “The Christian Cemetery”. The implication of his deed is that the graveyard to the west of the Church was for people who were other than Christian. To what extent did Charles Sr. know what he was doing! Whose side was he avoiding?

This name raises intriguing implications for the graveyard surrounding the Church building itself! The “Christian” cemetery was restored in 1972 as a joint project of the PEI Department of Health and the Heritage Foundation, a roadside marker, long gone, bore the following inscription:

Established Approximately 1878
Abandoned 1902
Restored 1972

How we wish that silenced tongues in the graveyard could be heard! In the context of the time the situation was understandable. It may be an Island peculiarity, or is it as Rev. Arthur Willis observed, “Islanders guarding their families”?

Buried beside him . . . never!

Nonetheless, the Howard story’s intrigue comes from a legal document, the last will and testament of Charles Colwill, a man of strong Methodist conviction and individuality. Colwill (1819-1908) was a friend of Charles Howard, and he agreed with Howard that the worshipping privileges at the Place for Public Worship should not be removed from the Baptists. Upon this principle alone, Colwill was told he could be buried in “The Christian Cemetery”. The flip side of the story is intriguing. Colwill did not want to be buried in the churchyard cemetery to the west of the church building. His last will and testament articulates his wishes in plain English so that no error could occur.  It reads:

That my son Roderick Nicholas pay all my just debts, Doctor’s fees and funeral expenses and that he bury my remains in The Christian Cemetery situated in or on the southwest corner of the estate of the late Charles Howard, and it is my wish that I be buried as near to the late Charles Howard as possible.  

Charles Colwill’s will was made in haste as the result of a dispute between him and one of his Methodist brothers, Jonathan Smith, whose differences over church doctrine and church government set these men at odds with each other. Their differences, it seems, were left unresolved.

Charles Colwill, knowing that Jonathan Smith was a faithful Methodist, decided he would not be buried in the Kingston cemetery with Smith. He made his will accordingly in an effort to outsmart Smith–he chose The Christian Cemetery of his Baptist friend, Charles Howard. In the end, however, like the twists and unveilings in a morals and manners scandal, the tables turned and Colwill was outwitted by Smith who was buried in the Cornwall United Church Cemetery beside his wife, Sarah Howard, who had predeceased him on August 24, 1887.

Sarah Howard's tombstone, West River United Church, formerly Cornwall United Church, Cornwall, PEI

Sarah Howard’s tombstone, West River United Church, formerly Cornwall United Church, Cornwall, PEI

Colwill was shortsighted not to realize that Mrs. Smith was already buried in Cornwall before he made his will, and there was no reason to expect that Jonathan Smith would be buried anywhere but in the plot beside his wife. Interment in the Kingston churchyard cemetery was out of the question. Whatever transpired between Colwill and Smith still lies indignant and silent, but not yet forgotten.

I’m told that Charles Colwill did get even closer to the Late Charles Howard in death than he expected and requested in his will. The gravediggers (graves were dug by hand at that time), unknowingly dug into the side of Charles Howard’s grave when they were hand digging Colwill’s grave. Undoubtedly, Colwill would have smiled or even thanked God for granting him his dying wish!

This Place for Public Worship tempest climaxed in 1878, especially for the Baptists, and, even if partially anecdotal, it must be said that they brought the trouble upon themselves. Susan Newson, a longstanding Baptist just shy of her one-hundredth birthday told me this story in her own delightful manner with a chuckle in her voice, she expressed the situation in these words:

Dan MacKinley lost his head over religion!  He was always preaching baptism, and one Sunday as the congregation was dismissed, he started again:  “People are not on the right track;  infants are being sprinkled where men should be baptized!”  At this utterance, two men of the congregation picked up Dan and carried him out of the church. On his way out, he was heard shouting:  “I’m more honoured than the Saviour–he rode on one ass and I’m on two.”

With this event, the Baptists– all of them– were without further worshipping privileges in the Place for Public Worship. Alas though, they had their cemetery!


Doris & Donald MacDonald (2016 Selkirk Award Recipients), The Honourable H. Frank Lewis & Mrs. Dorothy Lewis

It was an honour to attend the Belfast Historical Society Fundraising Dinner last evening at St. Andrew’s United Church in Vernon Bridge. They mentioned that the Belfast area at one time included what is now Vernon Bridge all the way down to Wood Islands. Belfast Historical Society Member Audrey Shillabeer offered an introduction to the Society’s work over the past 40 years before presenting this year’s Selkirk Award.

The delicious dinner was prepared by Steven & Jennifer Taran and Kim Doherty-Smith & Ken Smith along with their team of volunteers. Following the dinner, they raised some extra money with a cake auction. The auctioneer was entertaining and had a knack for loosening the purse strings of a room full of Scots. The final cake, a fruit cake prepared by Donald MacDonald went for $201! Apparently, it was made with brandy which helped to launch the bidding.

Audrey’s 2016 Selkirk Award presentation follows:

The mandate of the Belfast Historical Society (BHS) is to preserve, protect, and promote the history, heritage, and culture of the larger Belfast area. Our Society came into existence in 1976, and is 40 years old this year. Happy birthday to us!

At a 1978 BHS general meeting, then President Mary Ross first suggested the Society establish special awards to recognize adults who contributed to our Belfast community.

This award, the Selkirk Award, named for Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk, would be given for a wide range of projects. It was determined that the Award would be given annually to individuals or groups in recognition of excellence for projects undertaken about the history of the Belfast district, or for outstanding contribution to preserving the heritage of the Belfast area.

Lord Selkirk brought 800 Scots from the Hebrides to our area over 200 years ago beginning in 1803. His settlement was conceived as a “model village” designed to address the real and serious issues of the day.

For his designed community, he recruited emigrants with wherewithal and with some means— “a very fine class of immigrants,” they’ve since been called. Belfast was the first and only truly successful Selkirk settlement — the others coming within a decade in Ontario and then Manitoba.

Selkirk is said to have set “the enduring Scottish culture on Prince Edward Island” and many in this room likely trace their ancestry back to these early Scots. The Scottish-Canadian culture here in Belfast is as deep as your DNA. Matrilineal and patrilineal threads first spun in the old country are dyed deep in this unique community fabric.

Many in this room work tirelessly for the memory of their ancestors and assure that the stories move along into the future, including tonight’s Selkirk Award Winners.

In our 40th birthday year, the 2016 Selkirk Award is given tonight to two of our historical society’s own — Donald and Doris MacDonald.

Over the last ten years that I have known them, I have come to think of Donald and Doris as the “Keepers” of our historical society and, more importantly, of perpetuating our stories.

Keepers are people who manage or look after something valuable, and in some cases, something fragile were there not people to attend to it. Keepers are trusted to ensure the continuity of something.

Celebrating keeps us together. Events such as Scottish dinners, Polly Days, Tartan Days, Christmas fairs and such gatherings happen here in large part because Donald and Doris know them to be important.

Music keeps community culture alive, and Donald and Doris are the best at conceiving, planning and executing the events that bring —and keep — us together:  ceilidhs and concerts in the Gaelic tradition.

If food keeps us together, the MacDonalds have baked enough cookies, biscuits, blueberry cakes, Christmas cakes; made enough soups, chowders, and stews;  scooped enough ice cream and strawberries to assure our memories are tied to sated appetites and good company.

And, much of what the MacDonalds do is not glamorous, yet they keep on doing  what can only be seen as hard work. They have served as directors and officers in the Belfast Historical Society;  kept up with our mandate to present educative guest speakers by first finding and then engaging them — not always an easy task!  They’ve kept inventory straight, they’ve kept books and records, reported to associations, and to government agencies. They have completed grant applications, written letters, hired staff and supported them, attended partnering meetings throughout the province and so forth.

Often with sleeves rolled up, they have even kept up the maintenance of the Croft House and its grounds.

All of this is done with love, pride, dedication, charm, and sometimes — as the need arises— resurrected humour,  the latter— on occasion — needing to be fortified by a smoothing toddy.

Donald and Doris keep the vision, keep the faith, and keep our future bright!

Please help me welcome Donald and Doris MacDonald to the microphone to receive their award.

For your outstanding contribution to preserving our history, heritage and culture, I — with gratitude and joy — present to you the 2016 Selkirk Award.  Congratulations, my friends.

Editor’s Note: By 1807, Lord Selkirk had sold or granted for services 16,222 acres of his holdings to over 150 individuals on Lots 31 (which included Clyde River), 57, 58, 60, 62 and 53 — over half of that total on Lots 57 and 58. To learn more about Lord Selkirk and his Settlement, please link to this interesting article written by J.M. Bumsted for Island Magazine.


Donald MacDonald, Kim Doherty-Smith and Chef Steven Taran

The Friends of Clyde River Historical Committee reached out to the Belfast Historical Society last year to learn more about their activities and to begin discussions on how we could collaborate. Our Lot 31 is also part of the Selkirk Settlement history, and we have strong ancestral connections to the Belfast area. Vivian made a presentation on Clyde River’s work at their last annual meeting and had a chance to hear about their upcoming plans. They are a very active group that has achieved great success in preserving and highlighting Scottish culture. One of their events is an annual dinner which will take place Nov. 12th. This would be a great chance for us to meet these fine folks. Their announcement follows:


Church of Scotland

The Belfast Historical Society is pleased to announce that Harmony Meadow Farm is once again partnering with them for their third annual lamb dinner event, and this year, they are traveling to St Andrew’s Church in Vernon to host their dinner, cake auction and presentation of the Selkirk Award. This event is part of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Historical Society and is also a fundraiser for the moving and refurbishment of the Church of Scotland. The Dinner is Nov. 12th at 6:30 pm at the St. Andrew’s United Church in Vernon Bridge and includes a 3-course meal. Tickets are $30 and are available from Gordon Furness, 902-651-2866, Kim Doherty-Smith, 902-213-1364, or Donald MacDonald, 902-659-2704.

More about the Belfast Historical Society:


Croft House

On the Selkirk Settlement, they also manage a replica of a croft house with exhibits that highlight the story of 800 Scottish settlers who arrived with Thomas Douglas, fifth Earl of Selkirk, aboard the ships Polly, Dykes and Oughton. They have genealogical records of the Settlers’ descendants. The gift shop promotes Scottish culture and books of local history.

Also on site is a historic Church of Scotland (1876) and the ancient Acadian/Scottish Cemetery of St. Paul. The church was originally saved from demolition and moved from Belle River. Now they wish to move it closer to the Croft House and refurbish it.

Together with earlier immigrants from the Highlands and Hebrides, the Selkirk settlers established an enduring Scottish tradition on PEI. The Selkirk Settlement has been designated a National Heritage Site.

In Memoriam: Hilda Beer

Hilda Beer

Hilda Beer attending Landscape of Memories book launch at Riverview Community Centre

In writing memorials for our community website, one knows it is only a matter of time before you must write one for a dear family member. Emily Bryant had kindly prepared the lovely tribute to my mother back in 2012. The other challenge for me now is to write a piece on someone who would not want me to be too showy in my praise.

When I reflect back on a woman I have known my entire life, who I grew up next to and who was my second mother, it is difficult to narrow down the many wonderful memories and qualities that I cherish. She represents a generation that is all but gone from our lives. The Murray Diaries written by Hilda’s grandmother offer insight into what built this generation of strong and steady folks, not easily knocked down by events or influenced by trends. They knew where they came from and their values, they knew their relations from near and far and they abided by their faith at all times. They were born at the end of The Great War and lived through The Depression and World War II. They were there for each other during times of celebration and times of sorrow. They saw unprecedented growth in technology and medical advances but never lost sight of the difference between a need and a want. They considered life to be a precious gift.

Aunt Hilda’s mother Katherine lived until she was 100 years old, having descended from strong MacDonald genes, the same as my mother and their long-living cousins. Hilda’s father, Wallace Murray, died when she was nine years old. I had the honour of transcribing 5 of the 15 years of Murray diaries (1911-1926) that recounted her father’s daily life which she joyfully read. I still recall the time she came over to scan and enlarge a small family photo when she had a chance to see the face of her father and she kept it framed in her bedroom from then on.

Aunt Hilda was my mother’s first cousin, their mothers, Katie and Janie, were sisters. The two families were very close. They lived directly across from each other, one on the Clyde River side and the other on the Meadowbank side of the river, and as kids, they would run down to the bottom of the fields to talk across the water. As young women, they married brothers Arnold and John Beer, so we children, Blois, Doreen and I, were double relations and neighbours to their children Donna and Fred. Cousins and sisters-in-law Hilda and Hazel enjoyed working and raising their families on a farm, were members of Burnside Presbyterian Church, participated in the Missionary Society and were life members of the Clyde River Women’s Institute.

The W.I. ladies remember Hilda as a dedicated, graceful and humble worker – beautiful inside and out. She was true to the Mary Stewart Collect. She preferred to be in the background, but her quiet strength was a great source of wisdom. She was a wonderful baker and took pride in the presentation of food and arranging things to look nice. Audrey MacPhee recalls Hilda then in her 90s arriving at the Centre with her basket over her arm which held goodies for the Strawberry Social, even though it wasn’t expected, and her saying “Oh, it’s not much”. Also, in her 90s, she came both days to the Apple Pie Festival and “crimped to perfection” dozens and dozens of pies, all the while enjoying the camaraderie of other community volunteers and instructing young helpers.

Hilda believed in living a healthy lifestyle. She ate organic vegetables from her own garden before it was popular to do so and walked every day that she could. Her and Uncle Arnold only retired from farming in their early 70s but continued a regimen of daily walks to the back fields of their property. They graciously hosted many visiting Beer, Darrach, and Murray relatives; church guests; and family gatherings at their home. After Uncle Arnold’s passing in 2001, she spent winters in Charlottetown but enjoyed summer retreats back at her country homestead. We enjoyed visiting her there and she always had delicious cookies. She was blessed with great health up until a year ago when she developed Fibrosis which compromised her breathing. Her mind and memory were intact. She was a valuable resource on Clyde River history projects and attended many of the historical lectures and events along with her daughter Donna.

Hilda was proud of her family – Donna (Glydon) and Fred (Jeannie), her grandchildren Joelle (José), Jason and Jeff (Mariska), and she was especially blessed to live long enough to see her great-grandchildren Jonas, Jorgia, Henry and Matilda. Each one of her family has a knitted afghan that she lovingly made for them over long Island winters.

Aunt Hilda was part of a generation of solid folks that offer great examples of how to live life well.