Clyde River Launches Book of its History
Article that appeared in The Guardian, November 19, 2009
A patchwork of time…
By Mary MacKay, The Guardian
New book detailing the history of Clyde River pieces together prior interviews, scrapbooks and other information with research of today for a complete community history package
Not only do the two heritage quilts dating to 1904 and 1921 bear the hand-threaded signatures of people who paid 10 cents to have their names inscribed to raise money for a local church, they also bear testament to the families who have been the backbone of the community of Clyde River.
“What’s really neat about it is the names are of people who keep appearing over and over in the Clyde River history book,” Emily Bryant says of a new community compilation, The History and Stories of Clyde River, Prince Edward Island.
Bryant is one of five members on the Clyde River History Committee that also includes Sandra Cameron, Hilda Colodey, Nancy FitzGerald and Carol Murray of Cornwall, who are presently or formerly from Clyde River. The committee produced the new book, which was printed by Kwik Kopy in Charlottetown.
Fortunately for the history committee, much work had already been done in terms of collecting invaluable local information and stories before they started this project a few years ago.
One invaluable resource was a series of scrapbooks carefully complied over years by four local women and a diary kept by an early female resident of the area.
In 1991, Neila and Warren MacKinnon taped interviews with local seniors, including veterans from the Second World War.
These proved to be an amazing resource for direct-from-the-source quotes from people who have since died.
“They interviewed people who are no longer here . . . so we had access to their insights,” says Bryant.
“And we had a student, Sara Richard, in 2008 (through a Heritage Canada program). She painstakingly listened to all of these old cassette tapes and (transcribed) them . . . . So we’ve quoted those people a lot of times in the book.”
Richard also conducted interviews with past and present residents of the community.
“We (also) had this great Tea to Remember event where we brought them all together, the seniors of the community,” FitzGerald says of this fun event which resulted in a wealth of memories and historical information.
The committee then divided up the sections and spent the whole winter writing.
Another student with the Heritage Canada program, Erica Ross, came onboard in the summer of 2009 and assisted the history committee in putting it all together in a publishable package.
“We wanted to dedicate it to the founding families so we put that right on the cover,” Bryant says of the Gaelic phrase, Cuimhnich Air Na Daoine Bho’n D’thanaig Thu: Never forget those you come from.”
The book details the origins of Lot 31 and the challenging beginnings the original settlers had to contend with when they arrived from Scotland in the early 1800s.
“The names we have used in the founding families are the ones that came between 1806 and 1848,” Bryant says.
Cameron explains that the list is a collective of 15 surnames, including Darrach, Hyde, Murray, MacPhail, Livingstone and more.
Letters were then sent out to a representative of each of those families, if any were available, asking them to prepare a short history of their lineage for inclusion in the book.
Photos of the original homesteads were also included if they were available
By 1881, there were more than 250 families in the area. Businesses popped up as need dictated, including a store, post office, a number of mills, a blacksmith shop, a tavern and a doctor’s office, as well as two churches and a school.
The book committee also included some local lore that captures the imagination.
“I should explain that we called it ‘history and stories’ because some of the stories may not be of historical value but they make the book very interesting,” Bryant says.
They also delved into the social life of the area — the way things were before the modern technology.
These insights of the simple joys of Christmas concerts, playing ball and being a teenager in Clyde River came from the shared memories from the 1991 interviews and from many of the seniors who attended the Tea to Remember event in 2008.
This history book takes readers right up to the here and now in Clyde River, but history is always in the making.
“I guess we were thinking of future generations (during the creation of this book),?but it was an exercise for ourselves, too, to validate where we are in the community and how it has changed, but it’s certainly surviving and evolving,” Colodey says.
“And it will be a benchmark for people 50 years from now if they are still living here and want to see how far we’ve come in that sense.”
Books can be purchased for $20.