Archive for the ‘Gillespie’ Category

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-3-10-00-pmIt is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Douglas Stewart Gillespie of Clyde River. Doug was an active community member, having served as councillor for 8 years and then Chair of the Clyde River Community Council for the past 11 years. He was very proud of Clyde River and all the great things that had been achieved over the years. And he was also proud that we had a website to broadcast all the good news to our larger online community, including his Gillespie cousins.

Clyde River was his home place and he spent his early days at Clyde River School. He grew up on the Bannockburn Road, nearby his current home that he and Thelma built after they returned from New Brunswick and where they raised their three children Ryan, Amanda and Mark.

Doug was a Clyde River booster. He helped found and promote (and peel apples) at the annual Apple Pie Festival. He made a point of having Council recognize and celebrate achievements of community residents by presenting plaques, sending cards and adding news to the website. He led the campaign to have Emily Bryant awarded an Order of Prince Edward Island. He encouraged Council to support the production of the History and Stories of Clyde River book.

As Council Chair, he oversaw the formation of the Friends of Clyde River which is actively preserving and promoting Clyde River and Island history. On behalf of Council and the community, he made many contacts with government regarding issues such as road safety and turning lanes, signage, infrastructure proposals, emergency preparedness – all in the interest of keeping Clyde River the safe and attractive community it has always been.

Doug regularly attended Burnside Presbyterian Church where he was a member and had served as one of its trustees.

Doug was very proud of his family and his Gillespie heritage. He would always be ready to tell the story of the mineral that was discovered by his ancestor Frank Gillespie in 1922 in Alaska – story here. When Vivian Beer came across a poem that Frank had written about his PEI home, he sent it to his niece Patricia Murray who translated it to a song and performed it at a Concert in the Park held at Murchison Place Park. He was keen to celebrate his dear daughter Amanda’s accomplishment of receiving her Bachelor of Education, story here, and helped us connect with his wife Thelma when she took her adventure in the North, story here, and share his visit from Gillespie Cousins, story here.

On behalf of the community, we wish to offer our condolences to his family. We will continue to champion our community in his memory.

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graduation 2014 (1)

Amanda Gillespie, daughter of Doug and Thelma Gillespie, recently graduated from UPEI with a Bachelor of Education: Early Years Cohort, with a specialization in Indigenous Education and a certificate in Enterprise Education.

Amanda received a Faculty of Education Prize that is awarded to a second year Education student who has embodied the principle of social justice, collaboration and global mindedness and achieved a high level of scholarship and involvement throughout the B.Ed. program.

Amanda plans to stay on the Island and is seeking a teaching contract. In the meantime, she will continue tutoring and substituting.

For those who attended the breakfast for Amanda earlier this year, here are her comments on her teaching term in New Zealand.

I had a wonderful time in New Zealand. I learned a lot through my teaching experience. The students were fabulous. The education system concentrates on teaching to the individual learners needs instead of to the class. There were many rotation workstations, weekly assemblies to praise student accomplishments, integration of Maori culture, and exploration time where students could find their creative side. One of my favourite aspects of the New Zealand educational system is how physical fitness is integrated into the daily lessons. If students were finished early, having a hard time concentrating or were upset, they were sent out to run the track. Every classroom had a door to the outside. After the students came back from their run they were more focused and ready to work. The kids needed to let out their access energy, I wish that this was a regular practice for students here in Canada.


Amanda in Matamata, New Zealand, where the Hobbiton was filmed. (Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies)


Hiking up a hill in Waitomo, New Zealand, with sheep in background

It is great to hear your update on New Zealand and we wish you the best in your future career.

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Amanda at her 2013 placement in Korea

Amanda with her kindergarten students in South Korea

Come warm up with Thelma Gillespie’s famous homemade soups and sandwiches, made to order, and delicious desserts on Sunday, February 2nd between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Gluten-free and vegetarian options available. This delicious lunch will be accompanied with a perfect cup of tea or coffee.

Your support will go towards assisting her daughter Amanda Gillespie with her six-week practicum placement in Stratford, New Zealand. There, Amanda will be volunteer teaching in a Maori community. She is currently completing her Education degree, with a specialization in Indigenous Education. As a requirement to graduate, she is to teach in an Indigenous community.

Amanda received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at St. Thomas University and then travelled to Seoul, South Korea, where she spent 3 1/2 years teaching English as an Alternative Language in South Korea. It was in Korea where she discovered her passion for teaching.

The fundraising lunch is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12 years old. All your support will be greatly appreciated as it brings Amanda one step closer to following her dreams!

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Frank Gillespie

Frank Gillespie was born in 1871 in the farmhouse by the old forge on the Bannockburn Road in Clyde River with the heart of an adventurer. In 1889, he and his brother Richard travelled West. They arrived in Vancouver in 1896, but they couldn’t find work, so they went down to Bellingham, Washington, where they worked as deck hands on a boat going to Skagway, Alaska. When they arrived in Alaska, they heard that gold had been discovered on Bonanza Creek in the Yukon, so they were determined to go.

We are not sure how they made their way from Skagway to Bennett Lake, but according to the book, Klondike by Pierre Berton, they would have had to cross the 30 miles of White Pass, a trail that led through a treacherous mountain area, so dangerous for horses that it was renamed Dead Horse Trail and closed in late 1897. In the History and Stories of Clyde River, it indicates that they arrived in Yukon in 1897, so it is possible they took this route. Later there was an alternate trail opened that could accommodate wagons, but they would go when the muddy ground was frozen.

Further to an account offered by Richard’s son to The Yukoner Magazine, the brothers had a harrowing experience up the Yukon River. Being experience loggers, they cut down some trees to build a raft that would take them from Bennett Lake to Dawson on the Yukon River which covered a distance of 500 miles (800 km). Along their journey while they were camping in a sheltered bay, they woke up in the morning to a cold wind and light snow. Even though Frank was not feeling well, they decided to continue on. They had trouble controlling their raft and the snow turned into a blizzard. The raft started breaking up, one log after another breaking away. Cold and bewildered, their endurance was waning. Their feet and hands were numb and they were losing hope of ever reaching Dawson and wondered why they had ever left their home in Prince Edward Island. Although their parents were religious, they were not that serious about praying until that day on the Yukon River. Their fervent prayer lasted half an hour until they saw a dim light in the distance. The storm abated somewhat, at least enough to bring what was left of their raft ashore at a settlement called Stewart River. After a hot meal and warm beds, they went on to complete their journey to Dawson.

In Yukon, Richard mined and became the District Mining Recorder in Dawson City and Frank continued to prospect.

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In 1921, at 50 years of age, Frank discovered a new mineral specimen with the chemical formula of BaFe2+Si4O10 with a composition of 29.5% barium, 12% iron, 24.13% silicon and 34.37% oxygen. He discovered it in a glacial deposit, one hundred miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska along the Upper Ross River. A specimen was brought to the Chemical Laboratory of the U.S. Geological Survey by Dr. Philip S. Smith. In early 1922, the mineral was named Gillespite in his honour. The mineral’s distribution is in the USA, near the head of Dry Delta, Alaska Range, Alaska; from Trumbull Peak, near Incline, Mariposa Col, and on the Esquire No. 7 claim, Big Creek, Fresno Co., California; n the Gunn claim, in the Itsy Mountains, near Macmillan Pass, Yukon Territory, Canada; in the La Madrelena mine, Tres Pozos, Baja California, Mexico.

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The Brooklyn Standard Union article

Pictured here is a newspaper clipping from The Brooklyn Standard Union: Sunday, January 28th, 1922.

Frank had no formal education, but during his lifetime, he was a carpenter, timberman, prospector and miner. As a carpenter, he helped to build Chateau Mayo Hotel “that became the heart of the thriving silver centre in the early 1900s and Mayo landmark until 1986.” according to the Historical Society of Mayo. He also worked on the construction of Galena Creek Bridge at Silver King, a mine established in 1913 that ran until 1917. Frank remained in Yukon, never married and died in 1958 at the age of 87.

Richard “Dick” moved from Dawson City to Mayo in 1921 to become their first Mining Recorder. A log cabin was built for him to use as the Mining Recorder’s office. Link here for more information on Mayo. Richard eventually retired in Newton, B.C. and his descendants still live there.

Neither Frank nor Dick made the journey back to Prince Edward Island.


Richard Gillespie’s granddaughter visited PEI for the first time in 2011 and we featured a story at that time. To view it, click here.

Frank and Richard are great uncles of George, Ethel, Wayne, Carol and Douglas.

More details on the Gillespite mineral, click here.

More background on Klondike Gold Rush, click here. Includes a description of the journey from Skagway to Dawson City and the challenges of weather, terrain and rapids.

To view a google map created to show the Gillespie boys journey, click here. Includes an approximate location of where Frank Gillespie discovered the new mineral based on descriptions.

References: The Yukoner Magazine, Issue #23Handbook of Mineralogy; Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences Archives, 1922; The Brooklyn Standard Union, 1922; Kerrilee York, Doug Gillespie and Carol Murray.

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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.

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British Columbia cousins to the Gillespie clan

In this picture, taken in Clyde River, September 2011 are Lorraine and Bernard Portier of Vancouver, British Columbia. Lorraine is the granddaughter of Richard Gillespie, formerly of Clyde River and, therefore, a cousin of Sadie and John Gillespie’s family – George, Ethel, Wayne, Carol and Douglas. This was Lorraine and Bernard Portier’s first visit to Prince Edward Island and they enjoyed it so much they are looking forward to a return visit. What an experience for Lorraine to stand in front of the building where her grandfather once went to school!

There is an interesting history here. In 1889, Richard Gillespie and his brother Frank left Clyde River to find work in the western parts of Canada. They worked as deckhands on a northward bound vessel and after a difficult and dangerous journey, arrived in the Yukon in 1897.

These brothers worked hard and fared well in the mining industry. Richard mined and became the District Mining Recorder in Dawson City. His brother Frank was also successful, discovering a mineral that was named Gillespite. (Douglas Gillespie, the current Chair of the Clyde River Community Council has a sample of the Gillespie mineral.) Neither of these brothers returned to live on Prince Edward Island. Frank remained in the Yukon and is buried there. Richard retired to Newton, B.C. and his descendents live there.

Highlights of Lorraine and Bernard Portier’s visit to PEI included tracing Lorraine’s grandfather’s family heritage and meeting extended members of the Gillespie family. Wayne Gillespie and his sister Carol Murray showed them around our Island. They really enjoyed their tour and dinner with their “new” cousins at the home of George and Beverly Gillespie.

Note that the History and Stories of Clyde River included the story of the Gillespite mineral, and this history helped to reconnect these family connections.

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