Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 9.24.53 AM

Joe Livingston in Thurri, Kenya

The son of David and Cathy Livingston and grandson of Edna and the late Bill Livingston of Clyde River left for Thurri, Kenya on February 5th for 20 days as part of a group that are visiting the Mikinduri Children of Hope mission. Ted Grant, who has led this mission for many years, spoke to Clyde River’s Burnside Presbyterian Church congregation and the church began to help the small village of Thurri, close to Mikinduri.

Joe decided he wanted to the join the KENCAN 2013 trip to visit Mikinduri and Thurri, so he worked all last summer and paid his own way which was $5000. The mission team runs a clinic in Mikinduri which includes medical, dental and vision services. Joe is part of the vision team.

The KENCAN 2013 Trip Blog talks about their daily experiences, so if you wish to read more, visit here and click on any of their stories. To read about the history of the mission and how a few folks from PEI began work in Mikinduri, read here. To view photos of Mikinduri which feature some from the KENCAN 2013 trip, visit here. In the photos, you will see “Westie” the mascot that was sent to the children from the students who raised money for the mission at Westwood Elementary School in Cornwall.

In an interview with Joe’s mother Cathy, she says that it will no doubt influence her son’s future. He is now 18 years old and graduated from Bluefield in 2012. After Joe’s first week there, he told his mother, “I am going to come back here.” Cathy said that she and David are so proud of him. We are proud of you, too, Joe.

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kirk Brown’s career spans the energy crisis of the 1970s when it seemed we might run out of oil and we were looking for alternative energy sources to now when we are seeking newer and cleaner energies. He worked with Exxon in the US and then moved on to the Ontario Research Institute and later Ontario Ministry of Energy. One day he saw an advertisement in the Globe and Mail where the newly formed Institute of Man and Resources in Prince Edward Island was looking for a Director of Research. He said the advertisement seemed to fit what he wanted perfectly, so he applied and out of 100 applicants, he got the job.

On April 1, 1977, Kirk and his wife J’Nan moved to Prince Edward Island. They first lived in a home that featured early generation solar panels in Lewis Point Park, but Kirk was keen to buy a farm. When he was a young teenager, he worked one summer on a farm in Ontario and he said it was his favourite job. So combining his two interests, the Browns purchased the MacNeill farm in Clyde River and we are glad they did.

The Institute of Man and Resources was directed by Andy Wells during Alex Campbell’s time as premier in Prince Edward Island. Campbell wanted to take a leadership role in Canada on responding to the energy crisis when the price of oil had quadrupled. Kirk said that Prince Edward Island had historically embraced wood burning energy, but to return to wood and other energies the Institute worked to develop a Canada-PEI agreement (The Agreement) to research improved wood burning systems and to look at solar and wind energies and demonstrate more efficient use of energy as a means of reducing Island household heating costs.

The Ark project in eastern Prince Edward Island is often connected to the Institute. It was a dream inspired by John Todd and the New Alchemy Institute in New England and was funded as a separate part of the Agreement to be operated by the New Alchemists. The Ark was planned to demonstrate a fully self-sustainable lifestyle. Kirk said that it turned out to be more expensive than anticipated because they were trying to integrate many new unproven technologies all at once. The Institute was asked to become the Ark project manager but eventually had to close down the operation due to lack of funding. However, there were aspects of technologies adopted there that later spawned future opportunities in PEI and elsewhere.

Shortly after starting work at the Institute Kirk was approached when plans were underway to build the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The QEH project manager wished to use something other than heavy fuel oil for heating. Kirk and the manager decided to investigate the use of municipal waste. Later Kirk went on to work at the PEI Energy Corporation, where they focused on energy strategies for public institutions. There the idea of using waste led to the Energy From Waste plant for heating the QEH. The District Heating System in Charlottetown was born out of the EFW plant. This underground system now pipes heat to many public buildings throughout Charlottetown.

The other legacy that the early work of the Institute and the PEI Energy Corporation established was wind energy. Prince Edward Island is now home of the Wind Energy Institute of Canada, and energy produced from wind turbines in PEI contributes to local energy needs and has become a valuable energy export for the Province. PEI has an excellent wind regime and was one of the early innovating regions.

Kirk’s concern these days is still on alternative energies. The Browns use solar panels to generate hot water, and wood heats their house. But more so, Kirk is unwavering in his opinion that we need to move toward energy strategies that will minimize climate change problems and the cost that it places on our environment and quality of life for future generations.

The audience had many questions for Kirk, and his breadth of knowledge was evident as he helped us to understand the economic and political winds that drive alternative energy policies and development and how important it is to keep viable energy strategies top of mind. As a community, we are so pleased to have such a valuable resource in our midst. Thanks Kirk.

If you want to watch the daily breakdown of PEI’s electrical usage, view this graph created by Peter Rukavina here. To find out more about Peter’s research, read here.

Want to know how much of our energy is currently being created by wind? Click here. To see the PEI government wind energy charts, click here.

We include here a video interview that Peter Rukavina had with Kirk and featured on a site discussing Climate Change,  “Think About it – Climate Change.”

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had the opportunity to spend this Christmas in Southern Austria with a family from Pichla, a community with a population of 130 people. I host Austrian students each fall who attend Holland College to study tourism. One of my former students invited me to spend Christmas with her family which included her parents, sister, brother/future sister-in-law, and nephew who is almost one year old. They are a farming family within a close-knit community in the southern province of Styria referred to as the “green heart” of Austria for its ideal farming region. It is best known for its wine, apples and pumpkin seed oil.

Like our own rural communities, they are also seeing a decline in farming. My host family runs a pig farm where they prepare and smoke their own meat and sell to long-time customers within their own and neighbouring communities. On December 24th morning, 60 customers dropped by to pick up plates of cold cuts prepared by Marion, her sister and parents. It was a chance for each of the visitors to sit at the kitchen table for a chat and wish each other the best of the season.

Their celebration is on Christmas Eve which began with visiting Marion’s brother and his family. We waited outside the door until we heard the bell ring to announce that Christkind had been there. We entered and sang Christmas carols that featured Silent Night (Stille Nacht), a song composed in Austria. As the story goes, just hours before Christmas mass on December 24th, 1818, Joseph Mohr asked his organist Franz Xavier Gruber to compose music for a poem he had written two years earlier. It is believed that the organ was broken, so that evening, Joseph Mohr sang the tenor part and played the guitar and Franz Gruber sang bass. The song was well received by the audience of working people in Oberndorf who were facing economic hardship after the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815) when their community had been split between Bavaria and Austria further to the Congress of Vienna. In 1866, this carol was first published in a songbook for the churches in Salzburg. Christian missionaries introduced the song to other countries and now it has been translated in over 300 languages and dialects. Knowing this story and having heard this song so beautifully sung three times during the Christmas season, the original German version is now my favourite.

After our carol singing, we exchanged presents and had our first light meal before going to her aunt and uncle’s home where we enjoyed a delicious meal featuring typical food from Styria…local wine, cream of chestnut schilcher soup, schnitzel, vegetables, polenta and, for dessert, roast apple and ice cream. After dinner, the extended family once again sang Silent Night (Stille Nacht) around their Christmas tree decorated with lit candles. Christkind must have known I would be in Austria, as I received gifts featuring local food products from the region. Included in my gifts to them were copies of Clyde River’s Landscape of Memories book. We now have six of our books in Austria. These farming families were delighted to look at the photos and understand more about rural life in our community.

A couple of days after Christmas, we attended a mass at their local church and, after the service, we visited graves of their family members. I was struck by the beautiful designs and landscaping. Many of the grave sites were decorated with Christmas trees.

For lunch, the extended family attended a meal featuring venison at my host’s home. Marion’s aunt and uncle had visited Austrian cousins in western Canada, so they brought along their photo album from the trip. It turns out their cousins live on the same street as my brother Blois in Spruce Grove, Alberta.

Spending Christmas in a different culture introduced me to the many different rituals and foods that are part of their tradition. I didn’t understand all the German conversation that surrounded me each day, but I knew in my heart that these people with their warmth of hospitality shared many of the values of the people from my own community. And now that these people know about Clyde River, Prince Edward Island, it is only appropriate that the people of Clyde River know about Pichla, Austria.

So as we wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, they would wish us a Frohe Weihnachten und win gluckliches neues Jahr!

The following are the original german lyrics of Silent Night along with the English translation:

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! (Silent Night! Holy Night!)

Verse One:

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute heilige Paar.
Holder Knab im lockigten Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!

Silent night! Holy Night!
All are sleeping, alone and awake
Only the intimate holy pair,
Lovely boy with curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Verse Two:

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Gottes Sohn! O wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da schlägt uns die rettende Stund’.
Jesus in deiner Geburt!
Jesus in deiner Geburt!

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, O how he laughs
Love from your divine mouth,
Then it hits – the hour of salvation.
Jesus at your birth!
Jesus at your birth!

Verse Three:

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Die der Welt Heil gebracht,
Aus des Himmels goldenen Höhn
Uns der Gnaden Fülle läßt seh’n
Jesum in Menschengestalt,
Jesum in Menschengestalt.

Silent night! Holy night!
Which brought salvation to the world,
From Heaven’s golden heights,
Mercy’s abundance was made visible to us;
Jesus in human form,
Jesus in human form.

Verse Four:

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Wo sich heut alle Macht
Väterlicher Liebe ergoß
Und als Bruder huldvoll umschloß
Jesus die Völker der Welt,
Jesus die Völker der Welt.

Silent night! Holy night!
Where on this day all power
of fatherly love poured forth
And like a brother lovingly embraced
Jesus the peoples of the world,
Jesus the peoples of the world.

Verse Five:

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Lange schon uns bedacht,
Als der Herr vom Grimme befreit,
In der Väter urgrauer Zeit
Aller Welt Schonung verhiess,
Aller Welt Schonung verhiess.

Silent night! Holy night!
Already long ago planned for us,
When the Lord frees from wrath
Since the beginning of ancient times
A salvation promised for the whole world.
A salvation promised for the whole world.

Verse Six:

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Alleluja,
Tönt es laut bei Ferne und Nah:
Jesus der Retter ist da!
Jesus der Retter ist da!

Silent night! Holy night!
To shepherds it was first made known
By the angel, Hallelujah;
Sounding forth loudly far and near:
Jesus the Savior is here!
Jesus the Savior is here!

Website featuring history: Click here.

Vienna Boys Choir performing Stille Nacht:

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 was a very happy night for this writer, Emily Bryant, and I want to express sincere gratitude to the Clyde River Community Council for spearheading a nomination that led to me being the proud recipient of a 2012 Order of Prince Edward Island award. Doug Gillespie, Council Chair, read a citation just before the award was presented by Hon. Frank H. Lewis and Premier Robert Ghiz. Doug was so complimentary that I didn’t think it was about me -ha,ha. In fact, I like to think this was about all of us who worked together on projects over the last number of years -each one goal-oriented and hard working.

I know preparing the application for the Order of Prince Edward Island award is a complicated process. It involves hours of meeting and lots of coordination to get people who know me to write support letters as well as writing up the application. I was very pleased that Doug and Hilda Colodey, whom I’m told did a lot of the background work, were present to help me celebrate. I was told that evening by members of the selection committee that the application prepared for me was “very professional and inclusive”. That meant it included my work with mental health services on PEI as well as my experiences in Clyde River. I have a lot of different people to thank individually as well as this collective “Thank You.”

The pictures tell the story of that night. It was a gala affair, and Vans and I and our entire family were able to enjoy the evening. I was especially happy that my mother, Hazel Colwill, who just celebrated her 95th birthday, was able to attend. That meant it was a four generation celebration for us. Mom got to talk to Maitland MacIsaac, the Chair of the evening. He was the Principal at St. Eleanor’s School where she taught 40 some years ago and this was nice for both of them. Knowing Dorothy (Millar) Lewis, originally from the Tyne Valley area, made visiting Fanningbank at the time when Hon Frank H. Lewis is Lieutenant Governor special for all of us.

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

J’Nan said that when they purchased the 122-acre River Crest Farm originally owned by the Darrach’s and then the MacNeill’s, the 2 1/2 story barn and implement shed were stocked full with old farm equipment, including a mussel mud digger, box sleigh, buggy, market cart, hay loader, potato hiller, walk-behind seeder, turnip chopper, cream separator, horse-drawn side-bar mower and manure spreader. The mussel mud equipment was used to gather shellfish rich mud from the West and Clyde River to fertilize fields as the one featured here on the Virtual Museum site. They gave a horse buggy and market cart to Billy Waller. Much of the farm equipment went to the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and some to Laurie Blue. J’Nan said at the time, if she had bought a horse, she could have started pioneer farming.

In 2010, the barn received a heritage designation for “its age, rare construction and integrity of original architectural elements.” Significant elements included a gambrel roof (hip roof), the construction with the north side built into the side of the hill protecting it from north winds (also referred to as Pennsylvania style) which makes it one of the few left in PEI, the placement of the doors, double barn doors, placement of windows, series of six-paned windows on the south elevation, cedar shingle cladding and the integral location of the barn in relation to the house and yard. The old barn is the first building to greet you when you drive into the yard before you walk through the gates and follow the red brick path to the house.

The barn raising was led in 1937 by Clyde River builder Kenison MacKinnon who was 43 years old at the time and with the help of the owner and neighbouring men. Beams from a previous building which had been hand adzed on one side and sawn on the other with mortised joint holes were incorporated into the structure of the new barn. Kenison was featured in the History and Stories of Clyde River where he said he raised many barns in Clyde River and he didn’t mind one bit. The book goes on to recount a story where he once fell off the roof of the barn he was building for Angus Cameron, but he dusted himself off and told the concerned men standing around him that he had just come down for another package of shingles. Kenison lived for 102 years.

It’s a long way down Kirk and J’Nan’s lane, about 100 yards short of half a mile, or 750 meters if you prefer. Kirk said the lane was a concern for others interested in purchasing the farm when the MacNeill’s put it up for sale. The local people were aware of PEI winters and how such a lane could be difficult. Well, even though the house is a long way from the road, it is also a long way from the river. It was typical in those days to place the house and buildings in the middle of the property, so you would be no more than half the length of your property away when you were out farming your fields.

It’s a beautiful property with a perfectly-centered view of the West River where it meets the Clyde River. Along with the neighbouring Darrach-Poritz farm, it’s the first land an immigrant would meet as they came by boat down the West (Elliot) River to the community of Dog River later Clyde River. The Darrach’s first saw it in 1806. Kirk said even before that time, the lay of the land in relation to the rivers would have also been a popular spot for Mi’kmaq that were known to travel over for the summer from Nova Scotia. Kirk and J’Nan explored down by the river, but they did not find any artifacts; however, they did find where later immigrants had dumped some old stoves that were long rusty.

J’Nan adapted the basement of the barn which is the first floor on the south end to raise goats from 1978 to 1987. She supplied goat milk to Garden City Dairy in Charlottetown. She then sold her 58 goats to a goat dairy in Ontario; there were 29 milkers and the rest were kids and two bucks. After that, they still raised lambs and goat kids each year until this year. The only livestock in the barn now are chickens they raise for food along with some Jack Layton election signs. Livingston’s, who now farm their land, pasture a few cows in the front field and they enjoy their company. J’Nan says the cows are timid, but when she feeds them over-ripe pod peas and corn stalks they warm up to them.

The wooden-fenced yard that is bordered by the barn on the West and the Second French Empire style home on the East and a woodshed to the north provides a cozy area for a rooster and his brood of hens. I managed to capture a photo of them under the large red pine tree before he rustled them through the bushes behind the house. Another hen in a cage was protecting her little chick. This Ameraucana breed of hens originating from Chile were adapted from a number of sources and lay blue eggs. Sloped down from the yard is a garden of corn, sweet pea, dill, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, onions. Behind the house are fruit trees and bushes. In the home’s solarium are herbs. The self-sustaining practices help to make being a long way from the road or a local store of less concern.

The old barn received a new breath of life this month when a wedding took place on the main floor. The Brown’s had chipboard screwed down to prepare for a good ol’ barn dance. J’Nan told me she was going to hang some quilts up on the wall, along with strings of lights and decorations. The band was to play from the loft area.

The barn is now 75 years old, and it’s a great old building that was well-built and well-loved with good stories to tell, and it was surely swaying and jigging to the music during this latest celebration. We wish the barn many more years of happy memories.

Thank you J’Nan and Kirk for touring me through the old barn and the rest of the property. It is not hard to tell how much you deeply love your home place and how much you have respected and treasured its history. Thanks for taking care of this old barn so well. It supports my theory of how some buildings choose who owns them.

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Like the brook that runs past the Sawyer’s home in Clyde River, so also does the talent and creativity that runs from mother to daughter. Sharon says that Abby started drawing horses when she was three years old, and now as a teen, she still draws and paints them, and she also owns a miniature horse. Her passion for horses was part of her reason for joining 4-H when she arrived in PEI and led to another artistic achievement we covered in an earlier story.

The family owns a cottage in Argyle Shore near their good friend Harvey Inman who also owns miniature horses. Abby’s painting of these horses in the fields of Argyle Shore featured in the slide show was chosen as part of a 2011 summer exhibit, entitled “Visual Arts by Newcomers to Prince Edward Island” which meant it was on display at the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island’s residence while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited and stayed overnight at Fanningbank. What an honour and memory for a young talent.

The Sawyer’s moved here from Massachusetts after summering in Argyle Shore, and the narrative that informs Sharon’s art is her early days in Catholic School where she confesses she had some difficulty following all the rules or, to use an artistic expression, “colouring inside the lines.” She spent a bit more than average time going to the principal’s office, but the upside was she had access to the supplies’ closet where all the crayons and paper were stored. A few of the Sisters were supportive of her artistic creations and encouraged her talent.

A prominent feature of her fabric art are the faces that she meticulously sculpts and places within fabric wardrobes. We have included some close-ups, so you can gather a look at their expressions. For the artist’s interpretation of the featured fabric art, visit Sharon’s blog, Fiber Artist in Prince Edward Island here and scroll through her stories.

Note: to watch the slide show at your own pace, hover your cursor over bottom area of slide show and click on stop icon in middle, then you can click on forward arrow or back one to view the photos.

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Julia is a wonderful artist and she is also a wonderful art teacher. Her local students already know that, but now she is attracting students from other parts of the world. A video was produced that showed her leading an art class at her home which was placed on YouTube. As a result, Julia is receiving requests from visitors to have watercolour art classes with her during their trips to PEI this year.

When I stopped by yesterday, a couple from Syracuse, New York, and their daughter who lives in Atlanta were arriving for their class. They travelled to PEI to celebrate their wedding anniversary and their daughter, to celebrate her birthday. They were eager students as they sat down. Julia had watercolour paper ready and mounted on cardboard, along with brushes and palettes at each of their places around the table.

The students’ class is within Julia’s gallery by a large window overlooking her front gardens. Her paintings are all around on walls and easels, with smaller ones set on shelves of book cases. The house is a perfect retreat with all wood walls and vaulted ceilings, giving her students a warm, spacious cabin-in-the-forest type of feeling. I couldn’t help but think how rich Julia’s daughter Renee’s classical violin music would sound inside this wooden space. Artistic talent runs in the family here.

One of the things that makes Julia such a good teacher is even though she has painted all her career and has an impressive collection of art, she is still full of childhood wonderment about art, and her enthusiasm ignites the same feeling in her students. She shares interesting facts about art history, she tells them how to create a colour, and emphasizes how important it is not to leave your brush in water after you are finished painting…all in an atmosphere of playful abandon.

Julia told them about the Clyde River website, and they were keen to know more about the community, how many people live here and the website address to read stories about the place they were spending their Saturday morning, celebrating precious milestones in their lives and creating treasurable memories. They understand beautiful places; they live among the spectacular Adirondack Mountains in New York, or as they refer to as “the real New York” not the city of New York.

If you know of visitors to PEI, or maybe you and your friends, that would like a group art class with Julia, you can contact her at purcellgallery@pei.sympatico.ca. View the video produced on her art classes here.

Julia and her daughter Renee will be featured at this year’s Art in the Park event at Murchison Place Park on August 11th, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. More information here.

Read Full Post »

This winter when people in Clyde River are talking about their memories of the past year, Thelma Gillespie will be able to share stories on her northern adventure. Thelma is working for five months in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories as a cook for Northwest Territories Construction’s work crew. There are 13 men from Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island, Ontario and BC employed on paving and water and sewer projects from May to October. They all live in a work camp with trailers that offer accommodations, laundry, main office and kitchen/dining. Thelma says that she loves her fully commercial-designed kitchen. She prepares breakfast and evening dinner each day for the workers. The crew makes their own lunch, so she fills the fridge with easy-to-prepare foods for their convenience.

Thelma arrived on May 20th when the lakes were still frozen; she confesses that she wondered what she had gotten herself into. But once she settled and started her work, she says she finds it enjoyable. The weather started warming up, and they are having a hot, sunny summer; in fact, on Sunday when I spoke to her on the telephone, it was 27 degrees celsius.

She averages a 15-hour day, seven days a week, and has taken only two Sunday mornings off since her arrival. Her work day begins at 5:15 a.m. and can end as late 9:00 pm in the evening. She shops for groceries 2-3 times per week. She works on her own and can set her own pace.

Thelma told me that they must love her cooking, as there are never any leftovers. The workers arrive home quite hungry at the end of the day. She likes to prepare a few extra treats for the weekend, and one time she made lemon, coconut cream and raspberry pies. The pies were all gone by the end of that Saturday.

The fathers with young children at home find it hard being away from their little ones, so there are lots of Skype conversations. Because of the time difference, however, the kids are already in bed on the east coast by the time they are finished for the day, so chats with their children are mostly on Sundays which is their only day off.

Thelma says this is the longest she has been away from home but is happy to be taking this adventure. She misses her family and community events. She checks the Clyde River website every day to read the news. When I asked her what Douglas was cooking for himself while she is away, she said quite a few TV dinners from what Amanda tells her.

She enjoys the telephone calls that she receives from friends and neighbours back in Clyde River. Maybe others will want to add some comments for Thelma below this article. I am sure she will love reading them. She leaves Yellowknife to return home to Clyde River on October 15th just before winter sets in.

For more information on Northwest Territories Construction, the company Thelma is working for, link here.

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Clyde River folks along with the rest of Islanders certainly look forward to the seasons of local berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, gooseberries and elderberries. We wait to hear when the latest berries are ripe, ask the price being charged, choose our traditional farm, market or store and take home our first boxes of local flavour. Some berries are eaten fresh, some made into jams, others made into pies, and yet others frozen, so we can enjoy them in the depth of winter. Well, there are parts of Canada that only dream of such a luxury, but there is now a berry for the many regions of our country where climates are too cool for traditional berries. The berry is called Haskap. We can enjoy Haskaps as the first berries of the season, as they are ready in mid-June.

The haskap berry was already established for many years in Northern Japan and Russia, and scientists at the University of Saskatchewan have further developed varieties to thrive in Canada as well and exotic northern names include Tundra, Borealis, Indigo Treat and Indigo Gem. Don Northcott’s company in Clyde River, Phytocultures, is one of few licensed propagators (plant breeders) for haskaps in Canada, and his company is further developing varieties to achieve refined flavours, uniformly-shaped berries for increased commercial potential, and hardier plants for northern climates. They have been shipping plants across Canada and the Northern US.

“The Haskap berry is exciting news for the Northern berry industry, especially in regions that have had difficulty growing berries and are susceptible to late Spring frosts,” says Don.

Last year, Quebec lost much of their blueberry crops to frost, so along with a global over-production of blueberries and the fact that the same equipment can be used to harvest Haskaps as blueberries, Canadian growers are taking a very serious look at this new business opportunity.

So now that I have your interest, you ask, “So what do they taste like?” Well, they have a taste all their own; like a cross between a grape and a blueberry, not overly sweet and a light taste. Each variety has its own nuance of flavour. The berry is indigo blue with a delicate, velvety skin. Each berry has a good amount of succulent juice that is red like a raspberry. What is very sweet are the antioxidants offered by these berries which is almost three times that of blueberries. What a healthy way to start the berry season.

No wonder Don has to protect his berry treasures with nets. The birds of Clyde River have discovered them, and they sneak inside the nets, hide under the haskap bushes and eat to their heart’s content. When I arrived to take photos, some birds were happily flying within the netting, so Don had to chase them out. He caught one well-nourished little bird before releasing it.

I picked a box of the Indigo Treat variety; they felt silky and dropped easily off the bush into my hands. I prepared them as part of a dessert where I added whole haskaps as a topping on ice-cream along with others crushed as a juice and drizzled on top. The purple and burgundy presentation is attractive. They would work well on a vanilla yogurt as well. Haskaps have all the flexibility of other berries and can be made into jams, jellies and wines.

If you are interested in growing Haskaps, the bushes are attractive and could be placed within your landscaping and offer you some early Spring berry treats. But remember, the birds like them as well, so you may require a little netting, or one bush for you and one for the birds. You can plant the bushes in Spring or in Fall. Contact info@phytocultures.com for more information.

Read Full Post »

Jack Kelly (Photo: Atlantic Business Magazine)

2012 is the third year that Jack Kelly has been chosen to be among the top 50 CEOs by Atlantic Business Magazine and among three chosen from PEI this year. Jack is CEO of Bulk Carriers, located at the corner of the Bannockburn/Baltic Roads and Trans Canada Highway in Clyde River.

Bulk Carriers is a family operation started by Jack and his wife Carlotta. In the early days, a motor carriers license had to be issued by Public Utilities Commission for a carrier to transport any commodity. Jack received a license, the same as the one previously held by his father, which allowed his company to transport petroleum products on behalf of Gulf Canada Ltd.

With one company truck and a tanker trailer owned by Gulf, Jack transported petroleum products throughout PEI. Within a few years, they expanded their operations to include transportation services to most of the major oil companies. They also included transportation of bunker fuel and asphalt cement.

One of the memorable projects was transport of asphalt cement from Montreal to Borden, PEI. The shipment was for the new Confederation Bridge, and the special nature of product made it necessary to maintain minimum commodity temperature of 250 degrees in the middle of winter. Their success in this endeavour led to many other contracts through Atlantic Canada.

In the 1990s, Bulk Carriers realized they had to change their business direction. The asphalt business was seasonal, dependent on weather and reactive to demand for equipment. The tanker business became unprofitable because of regulatory changes and industry consolidation.

Bulk Carriers transitioned into hauling produce and food products up and down the Atlantic seaboard and across Canada. Shipments include food products, vegetables, fruit, and fresh and frozen fish.

The company now owns 60 new and late-model trucks and 75 refrigerated trailers and use the latest technology for maintaining every aspect of its trucking operations, dispatch, GPS tracking, fuel consumption and temperature monitoring. They have utilized GPS tracking since the year 2000, so dispatchers can always tell exactly where their shipment is and when it will arrive. The tracking system is integrated into both the accounting system and the truck’s power unit. Recently, they have installed scanners in every truck cab, so drivers can submit their records, receipts, and customers can sign off as a delivery is made. Jack’s son, Tyson Kelly, is their V.P. Logistics. Jack’s other son, Blaine is V.P. Fleet Maintenance.

V.P. Finance Carl Chapman says, “The scanners help the support staff meet their goals of invoicing for a run within 48 hours of the delivery.” This gives them confidence that they have all the information that the customer requires, especially about additional charges and that drivers get everything they are entitled to in their pay package.

Jack Kelly says, “We manage our operations to be very efficient with the equipment we buy and how we use it. We tweak highway speeds. We have auxiliary power units that allow the driver to turn the rig off at a truck stop and still heat or cool the cab which reduces idling costs. We train our drivers and pay them premium for reaching our goals for ideal consumption levels.” Keeping their costs under control prevents rate increases for customers.

Jack’s business philosophy is one he learned from his grandfather and that was to treat people the way you would like to be treated. “Customer service is our top priority,” says Jack. “I have been influenced over my career in meeting the challenges from our customers to provide the best service possible to exceed their expectations.”

Bulk Carriers now employs more than 70 people. Carlotta just retired. Jack’s two sons will carry on the family business into the next era. The team has a clear focus on finding ways to improve operations and utilize technology which will continue to move the company forward.

Congratulations to Jack on this award for recognition of his leadership, hard work and dedication to his company. For more information on Bulk Carriers, visit www.bulkcarrierspei.com

About the awards, link here.
Full list of 2012 winners, link here.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »