Tribute to Emily and Vans

[slideshow]Last evening the Riverview Community Centre was filled to the rafters with folks who wanted to show their appreciation for the community service that Emily and Vans so generously gave to Clyde River over these past 25 years. They say all good things must come to an end, but with the many contributions this couple provided, it will be a gift that keeps on giving. We have a newly-renovated community centre and a beautiful Murchison Place Park that is a favourite spot of every kid in the area. But maybe most of all, the lasting gift is the example they have shown on how working together can accomplish great things and how being part of a community can be so much fun.

It is satisfying to reminisce about old times, but the best gift we can offer our families, friends and neighbours is to enjoy our community today. Emily and Vans likely did not realize where their involvement would lead, but as Emily and others said, when you get involved to make a difference for others, you end up getting back so much more. It is easy for different generations to go their own way, but community spirit is about people of all ages getting involved and the lasting relationships and lessons that can endure and what can be built when all our talents come together.


As part of the evening’s program, emceed by Bruce Brine, best wishes were offered by Betty Watts, Douglas Gillespie, Valerie Docherty, Carol Richards, and the following is a tribute presented by Audrey MacPhee:

Tribute to Emily and Vans

Way back in the last century, in the sixties as I recall
A handsome young man from Enmore had thought he had better get on the ball
He told his buddies “I think it’s time to find myself a mate”
So his friend returned with a proposition – I’ve found you a nice “blind date”.

“Goodness, no”, Vans replied “That will never do for me”,
“I don’t need a blind girl – I want one who is able to see.”
His friend assured him that she could see quite well with eyes of baby blue
So Vans met Emily Colwill from Northam (And we’re glad he met her, too.)

Then Emily’s off to nursing school while teaching was Vans’ fame
And soon Vans decided Emily should change her maiden name.
So there’s a wedding with a smiling bride and a groom with a quite swelled chest.
They made a home in Summerside where Gary and Greg were added to the nest.
But the call of the East brought them to Sherwood – that’s where Susan came along.
And this completes the family, and soon Vans began writing some songs.

You can take the boy from the country. but you can’t take the country from the boy.
And Vans’ boyhood desire to be a farmer and to collect some farming toys
Brought the family to live in Clyde River at the dead-end of the Baltic Road
Got himself a horse and a tractor and a little old truck so I’m told.
Pretty quiet here for the city kids who were wanting some fun – oh, my
Excitement became running out to bark with the dog if a car ever came passing by!!

Horse and sleigh rides and music and fun times for neighbours, family and friends
When you are in Emily and Vans’ company the pleasure goes on without end.
Quickly they came to love their new home and one morning Emily heard a big fuss-
The neighbour’s cows had broken out and Susan couldn’t get to the bus.
The first neighbour they met was Bill Waller Sr. who was proud of his chickens, ‘tis true
Until one Sunday morning the Bryant’s dog left several chickens all ready for stew!!

The children grew up and left the Baltic Road – the “empty-nest syndrome” did appear
A few years later, Vans and Emily retired to become busier than ever, I fear.
The house was not empty for very long as the grandchildren came along
A “Baby-sitter’s Haven” on the Bryant Estate, and more time for Vans to write songs
And to sing with Emily and their friends Marnie and Harold – better known as Jericho Road
Their talented Blue Grass music spread across PEI to crowds wherever they’d go.

Now Emily has more time on her hands and challenges are dear to her heart
She looked ‘round Clyde River and thought –“Let me see – now just where should I start?”
A member of high standing in the Women’s Institute where there is always something to do
She suggested an Apple Pie Festival and she volunteered Vans for this, too.
It began with a limit of 200 pies and over the years how it grew
Until last year it reached 951 with over 50 volunteers for their crew.
Together they made all the purchases, and organized it from beginning to end
Their magnetic personalities make it a privilege – each volunteer becoming a friend.
Vans’ teaching came to be helpful here as he gathered the money you see
Adding all the dollars up in his head – he said –no calculators for me!!

Emily has a wealth of information on funding and is willing to see each job through
Mountains of paperwork to justify and that, too, she’s always willing to do.
Many renovations to our Centre have been the result of her ambitions
Wheelchair accessibility, the level below, the History Room, all great additions.
The L.E.A.P. program for seniors – has for years been high on her list
In fact, she’s done so much – always volunteering Vans to assist.

The overgrown trees situation at the end of the Clyde River Road
Soon got Emily’s attention and this became her new work load.
Pulling weeds, cutting trees, planting and grooming soon gave it a great new spark
And for spring and fall cleanup they’ll be right there in Murchison Place Park.
Always looking to the future, they encouraged both young and old
And set fine examples and are role models to follow as the years ahead unfold

Emily you have such a caring personality I’m sure I’d have everyone’s consent
You could criticize a wrong-doer and they’d think you paid them a compliment.
Now you are almost perfect but not quite as I have to tell this tale
Once when visiting the Lieutenant-Governor at Fanningbank – you broke a stair rail.
Your humility and diplomacy and your caring ways are truly second to none
You care not who gets the credit – only that the job’s well done!!

We thank you both – Vans and Emily – from the bottom of our heart
Things will be quiet here in Clyde River since you decided to depart.
We bought a little gift for you to hang upon your wall
And when you glance upon it you’ll think – we didn’t move at all.
May God bless your move to Stratford and no matter whatever betide
May you sail along through the future with a song in your heart and God by your side.

With much love and appreciation for 25 years of thoughtfulness, caring and dedication to this community and to the growth of community spirit.

Tribute written by Audrey MacPhee on behalf of Clyde River Women’s Institute

As part of the evening of appreciation, a dedication was made to name the Emily Bryant Room in the lower level of the Riverview Community Centre.

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