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The Murray Diaries in our collection cover 1911-1925 in handwritten notes by Annabell (Henderson) Murray. She was born on July 25th, 1851 and died at 74 on January 21st, 1926. We have transcribed a few years which is quite a slow but fascinating undertaking. There is one line for each day which included the weather, the day of the week and a brief highlight or two.

As you progress through the days and weeks, you can see the flow and patterns of their lives. You may or may not know the names, but the entries give you a sense of what anyone in the community or in greater Prince Edward Island may have been up to. Here are some highlights of what was going on in April 1911 along with my notes to help fill in the background.

The first day of April was very cold with a raw wind. It was a Saturday. Charlie MacLean, Neil Darrach, Neil MacKinnon & Wall were digging a grave and the frost was three feet deep. Wall was Wallace Murray, Annabell’s son. Not sure whose grave it was as there were two deaths that week.

Mrs. Alex Darrach had died on the morning of March 28th. It was a Tuesday and rainy. Her funeral came up the ice and passed by the door of the Murray home. It was a large funeral. The roads were very bad.

Just so you can find your bearings, the Murray house is the small white house on the left after you pass the old Clyde River School (now the Riverview Community Centre) as you drive down the Clyde River Road. It was common in those days for funeral processions in the community to travel on the ice during winter and come up through the Murray property to either the Baptist or Presbyterian churches/cemeteries. A note in the paper says that Mrs. Darrach’s funeral was at her late residence which would have been down the Clyde River Road near the river, where the Brown’s live now.

Mrs. Alex Darrach was Mary (Lamont) Darrach. She was born in 1839. I see where her husband died the following year. They are both buried in the Burnside Presbyterian Church cemetery. On their headstone, it shows the name of their daughter Elizabeth who died in 1889 at 9 years old. According to the Darrach genealogy, it appears that Elizabeth is the only one of their children that made it past infancy.

In letters we have in our collection of Mary (MacDougall) Darrach from 1907-08, Mary mentions Uncle Alex, who would be Alex Darrach. She notes that Uncle Alex had taken some weak turns, and one morning they thought for sure he was dying, but they gave him some cold water and he came to. She said, “He’ll work till he drops. His money won’t do him much good when he’s gone. He’s near blind but he comes over to our place, just by guess. When we see him coming, we go to meet him.” Mary and John Darrach lived on the farm next door, now owned by Sidney Poritz.

The day before the men were digging the grave, on March 31st, Scott the miller went by the door with his horse and wagon. He was heading to town with a bag of flour on the ice. Scott’s had a mill on the Bannockburn Road for some years which was later owned by the Dixon family.

Aunt Mary McLaughlin died on the 31st. It started raining in the evening. Mary (Murray) MacLaughlin was born in 1823 and she died at 88 years. She is buried in the Clyde River Baptist Cemetery. Her husband was Donald MacLaughlin. Earlier Murray and MacLaughlin ancestors are buried in the Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery.

On April 2nd, Mary’s funeral passed the door. Wall, Ince, Bertie and Edith down. Bert Auld, Jessie and Alva (Bert’s sister) were there for dinner. On April 4th, Wall took Bertie to town. Bertram Robertson Auld was married to Jessie Ward. The Wards were from Kingston. Interesting to see Bert’s second name “Robertson”. That name was his great grandmother’s maiden name, Jane (Robertson) Beer who immigrated from Derry, Ireland in the 1830s.

On Wednesday, April 3rd, it was fine in the forenoon, Duncan MacNevin got married to Katie. Wednesday was a common day to get married in those days. Jim MacPhail, his wife and Annabell went to Riverdale, and the roads were pretty bad. It was very stormy in the afternoon and the roads were bad coming home.

On Thursday, the roads were soft but there was a spree at S. Squires. No entry on Friday, but on Saturday, it mentions that Earl Grey got into town between 3 & 4 o’clock p.m. Earl Grey was the Governor General of Canada in 1911. Here’s an interesting bio on him.

It was anxiety-ridden day on Sunday, April 9th, as Jim McPhail’s mare got into the ice at J. McLaughlin’s shore; it was pretty bad. No news on Monday and Tuesday, but it was fine both days.

On Wednesday, April 12th, they finished sawing wood. On Thursday, Hector McDougall, Alice, Collie, Heber and Harold were there. It was a big day on Friday as Diamond foaled a dandy mare. Saturday was drizzly and the roads were bad. Bell Fraser was there on Easter Sunday.

Monday, April 17th was stormy in the forenoon but it was fine in P.M. J. McLaughlin and Wall went to Dan Howard’s sale. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Wall was splitting wood and on Thursday, he was in town and roads were bad. Annabell was up to R. MacPhail’s for a visit, and in the evening, there was a party at the Scotts.

Wall finished splitting the wood on Friday. It was a fine and cold day. No news on Saturday, but on Sunday, Jessie, Annabell’s daughter, was visiting at A.C. MacLeans. Monday and Tuesday were fine, no news.

On April, the 26th, Wednesday, Jim McPhail and Victor were there for a visit. Empress went to Pointe de Chene on her first trip of the season. Harry Holman features a story on his Sailstrait blog that highlights the Empress as one of the boats owned by the Island Steam Navigation Company which crossed to Pictou and Pointe de Chene. You can read his story here.)

On Thursday, April 27, they set a goose. Jessie was at Mrs. Fraser’s washing. R. Matheson and A. Cameron were in town, the roads were bad. Inman went to town with his gasoline boat. No ice to be seen.

Friday was fine and on Saturday, the steamer made the first trip. On Sunday, there was no preaching; Mrs. Peter Warren died. The Warren’s were from Warren Grove, just down the road from the new roundabout in North River. There is a pioneer cemetery located there that was once the property of Peter Warren. I see where Elizabeth (Webster) and Peter Warren, however, are buried in East Wilshire Baptist Cemetery here.

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Here are photos from our collection of the two churches in Clyde River. Please review and add any comments and stories to offer more insight into their history. If you have any other photos of these buildings to add to the collection, please let us know. Here are a few notes about the churches:

  • The first photo features the second Baptist Church that was built in Clyde River and the one that exists today. The first Baptist Church was located down the Clyde River Road just before the Clyde River Golf Course on the left and up from the Pioneer Cemetery where early Baptists were buried. The first Baptist Church was moved and later became the Clyde River Hall that no longer exists. 
  • One of the photos of Burnside Presbyterian Church features the shed where parishioners left their horses and wagons during church services. This shed was used by both Baptist and Presbyterian churches.
  • One photo of the Burnside Presbyterian Church does include a date of 1941.
  • The photo of the Presbyterian church with the home in the background – that would be Paul and Kitty MacPhail’s home. We believe they ran a store at one time. According to the Murray diaries in our collection, their home burned down on January 2, 1911. Neil MacKinnon was one of the neighbours that made an attempt to save them but both Paul and Kitty perished in the blaze.

(Click on any photo to see enlarged views.)

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The Clyde River History Committee has accumulated almost 2000 digital photos and we plan to choose some select photos to share with our website audience as a way to invite comments, observations and stories that will bring these photos to life. Also, you may have a question about a photo, and that’s fine, too. Someone may indeed know the answer. Let’s work together to share and pass on all the rich history of Clyde River to the next generations. Our first photo features Clyde River School which now looks much different since they expanded the school in approx. 1966 and upgraded it to become our current community centre. We will plan to add a photo each week. Please add your comments, observations, stories or questions in the comments section below.

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(Photo of Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery)

Since we launched the Cemetery Stories course at the beginning of November, it has grown in popularity. We originally were focused on Clyde River and area, but we received high interest from other communities and provinces and even from the US and England. We decided to open it up, and we now have 70 participants from across PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, California, Alabama, Georgia, Vermont, Massachusetts and England.

We received coverage in The Guardian, on CBC Mainstreet and the CBC PEI website. The CBC coverage doubled our registration within a day. Here is a link to the CBC article. We also received attention from Canadian historians and professors and they shared information on our course on their social media pages.

Cemetery Stories is a self-directed course and it’s free. We provide the curriculum outline that includes suggested readings and activities. We change topic every two months. The course runs until August 2021. Participants choose the cemetery/ies and individuals to research. Each participant is encouraged to prepare brief biographies (approx. 200-500 words) of six people within the cemetery/ies they choose.

We promote collaboration among participants, as we highlight the family names that each is researching. Through these collaborations, you can share research tips/findings and feedback on biography development. Biographies could be of ancestors, friends or an individual whose headstone struck your interest. Questions are provided to assist in biography development.

We have a few registrants from Clyde River, and we welcome more to join in. There is always an option to create a local community study group that can work together. The biographies would become an important contribution to the history of our local cemeteries. They would introduce future generations to the people that helped to build the community they live in. Here is the study outline:

Study Plan:

  1. Understanding cemetery history and gravestone design (November- December 2020)
  2. Gathering family names, photos and obituaries (January-February 2021)
  3. Gathering family stories (March-April 2021)
  4. Understanding how old-time residents managed their health (May-June 2021)
  5. Individual free time to explore and organize your research findings (July 2021)
  6. Clyde River & Area Cemetery Tours (August 2021)

You can view the full curriculum document here. To register for the course, you can link here. If you have any specific questions, please contact Vivian Beer at clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca.

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A recreation reimbursement of $30/activity is available to youth (18 years of age and under) who are residents of the municipality. The annual maximum amount is $60/child for two activities. All types of recreation that enhance a healthy lifestyle qualify. The year runs from April 1st 2020 to March 31st, 2021.

Here is the application form for reimbursement. Please send your application to Fred Beer, Clyde River Administrator, administrator@clyderiverpei.com.

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The Clyde River History Committee has decided to forego a 2021 Clyde River Lecture Series further to the COVID-19 pandemic. In place of the lecture series, we have decided to proceed with a Cemetery Stories Study Series that people can take part in via internet from their own home. This course is self-directed and will run from November to August 2021. Over the course of the next months, we will introduce topics that participants can focus on with some suggested readings and outlined activities. We invite participants to share their research with the whole group at any point and pose any questions that others can help answer. Participants can choose the family names and cemeteries of their choice.

We have set up a Facebook page “Cemetery Stories – Clyde River and Area” and we welcome you to collaborate there on this project. We invite you to share highlights of your research. If you are not on Facebook, participants are welcome to add comments to this story or email questions/highlights of your research to clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca.

Participation/Registration:

  • Participants will register for free for this course. Registration form here or email clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca
  • We will share the participant list with the study group and area of research to promote collaboration.
  • Participants are invited to offer an introduction highlighting the focus of their individual family and cemetery research so that others with a similar focus can reach out to collaborate. They can also pose research questions to the group.

Historical Period:

We will focus on the time period of 1850 to present, but, in some cases, we may reference earlier dates. For the brief bios’ writing exercise, we can go up to the present day because it’s easier to write about deceased ancestors/friends that we actually knew personally.

Learning Objective:

Primarily to build an archive of research and stories related to those early ancestors buried in Clyde River & vicinity cemeteries which will offer future generations insight into the people/personalities that contributed to the early life of the community. Some participants may choose to work on cemeteries in other communities within or outside PEI, and that’s fine as well. All are welcome.

Cemeteries:

There are three cemeteries in Clyde River, and we have identified at least 30 cemeteries in the area which represent family and community connections to Clyde River and area.

Study Plan:

List of topics that will be covered in the course and schedule:

  1. Understanding cemetery history and gravestone design (November- December 2020)
  2. Gathering family names, photos and obituaries (January-February 2021)
  3. Gathering family stories (March-April 2021)
  4. Understanding how old-time residents managed their health (May-June 2021)
  5. Individual free time to explore and organize your research findings (July 2021)
  6. Clyde River & Area Cemetery Tours (August 2021)

Please link here to see the full course outline/curriculum. If you have any specific questions, please reach out. You can email clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca.

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The Central Queens Wildlife Federation (West River and Clyde River watershed group) will be holding their annual general meeting Thursday evening, October 29th, 6:30 at the Riverview Community Center, Clyde River. The public is invited to attend to hear about the watershed group’s activity this past season and provide input for the upcoming year.  They will also be looking to fill a vacancy on the Board as well.

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Little did our Clyde River History Committee know when we worked on cataloguing and photographing artifacts in our community museum two years ago that we were ahead of our time. The COVID-19 pandemic has launched many of us into a virtual world, which has made us, hopefully, much more comfortable with what it has to offer. Even though we are not sure when we will once again host history events at the community centre, we can bring you a virtual tour of our museum and heritage photo collections. I think we have something for everyone.

We invite you to view our artifacts and heritage photo albums. This virtual tour could make for an interesting interactive activity for all of us. Under each photo in the galleries, you will see a comment box. We would be delighted if you added any details, memories and stories as you view individual photos. We have also included a link to an audio exhibit, so you can sit back and listen as well.

We will be adding more photos over the next months, as we have almost 3000 digital photos in our collection which we plan to bring online.

 

Community Artifacts:

For any of you who have visited our physical museum, you know what an interesting collection we have and the memories and stories that come to mind as you view them. Some visitors have commented that it feels like a visit to their grandparent’s place. You will see a variety of items from Clyde River that were generously donated by local families and relatives living throughout Canada and the US. Items include cameras, handicrafts, school books, autograph books, blankets, community store items, tools and personal items. Link here to view gallery.

 

Cups & Saucers:

Most all of our cup and saucer collection was donated to the museum by Elizabeth Osborne. It was her mother’s, Olive (Livingstone) Osborne who grew up on the Baltic Road. However, I think many of you will quickly recognize that the patterns resemble your own mother’s or grandmother’s collection. Our history committee member Rowena Stinson has a vast knowledge of cups and saucers, so if you have any questions, please let us know and we will do our best to answer them. Link here to view gallery.

 

North River Rink Hockey:

One of our most popular photo galleries in the history of our website has been Memories of North River Rink, so this could be a good time for the men in our audience to look through the gallery and offer comments and stories on individual photos. You will definitely find many people you know. We added names under the photos to assist you. Link here to view gallery.

 

War History:

The Great War: For war history buffs, we have something for you as well. You can read letters written by a soldier from The Great War and listen to each of the letters voiced by Alan Buchanan. Even in our two months of lockdown, which is a mere glimpse of how our society can be interrupted by a world event, I think we will have even more appreciation of the unbelievable resilience these solders had, along with their families waiting at home. They went in thinking they were only going to fight a war for a few months and go home. To read and listen, link here.

WWII Naval History: For naval history buffs, here is a story and photos from HMCS Prince Henry on patrol off the coast of South America. Link here.

 

Genealogy:

Next to hockey, our most popular stories relate to genealogy. Here are a few links that will satisfy the genealogist in the family, if they happen to have any connections to our area. We regularly receive emails from those researching family history. Our committee loves to help out and we have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge along the way. And what we don’t know, we usually know someone who does.

  • Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery with photos – link here
  • McArthur Cemetery with photos – link here
  • Cemetery stories – link to category of stories here.
  • Genealogy stories – link to category of stories here.

 

General Community History:

Scrapbooks: Here are stories and photos from community scrapbooks – link here.

General stories related to Clyde River and area history: We now have over 700 stories on our site and 460 of those stories are related to history, so we invite you to delve in to our online library of stories – link here.

The Clyde River History Committee would like to thank you all for your contribution to our physical and virtual museum. We hope you enjoy your visit.

 

Want to contribute to our Virtual Museum?

If you have artifacts or heritage photos that you would like to add to our collection, please let us know. Set aside any artifacts you wish to donate until after the pandemic, but please send any scans of heritage photos to clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca in the meantime.

If you are interested in sharing photos of artifacts that will remain in your family’s collection, we would love to see snapshots of them for interest sake and make them a part of our virtual gallery – we will just indicate that they are part of a private collection. A few photo hints: if it is a small piece, just set on a white sheet in a naturally lit area and take a landscape style photo. If it is a larger piece, take a landscape shot of the object using natural lighting. We can always adjust and crop photos after. If you have any questions, please let us know.

 

Interested in participating in a Virtual History Huddle?

We would be open to hosting an online history circle (huddle) if there is enough interest. We could use a platform such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. We would definitely be happy to organize. We could establish a theme and each participant could share their research/comments on the topic. It could be an interesting experiment, as we have a broad geographic website audience. If you are interested, please email clyderiverpei@eastlink.ca and let us know what subjects you would be interested in discussing. The only criteria is it would have to some how relate to the history of Clyde River and area. Depending on the topic, we could invite a special guest with expertise in the area.

In the meantime, please enjoy the virtual museum tour and stay safe.

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Our third and final lecture for 2020 will take place this coming Saturday. All are welcome to attend.

Saturday, February 22nd, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Olive Bryenton, Ph.D. – Pioneers in Aging

Olive Bryanton, Ph.D. (Guardian Photo)

Combining her lifelong interest in older adults and lifelong learning, Olive graduated with her PhD in Educational Studies at UPEI in May 2019. Her study topic was “Pioneers in Aging: Women Age 85 and Older Living in Rural Prince Edward Island.” Olive will talk about the 10 women in her study and their experiences and continued contributions to rural communities. Because these women consented to participate in her study knowing they would not be anonymous, she has their permission to make them visible. By telling some of their stories we will learn why we are fortunate to have these “pioneers in aging” living in our communities and how their voices contributed to a new program for older adults living in this province.

Olive Bryanton grew up and spent the early part of her married life in Malpeque and Summerside. She spent most of her life in Hampshire, where she and her husband Harold raised their five children. Olive began her university educational journey as a mature student and continued her studies into older adulthood.


Our lecture series takes place at the Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. This presentation is followed by refreshments. Our museum will be open to view our collection of over 200 artifacts and heritage photos. For more information on this series, please contact Vivian Beer, vivian@eastlink.ca.

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Saturday, February 8th, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Gary MacDougall, The News Media: A work in progress

Gary’s talk will touch on a history of the Charlottetown Guardian; the issue of fake news, then and now; and a look at the impact social media plays in our news consumption. Gary will also discuss some of the more unusual questions he fielded during his time serving as managing editor of The Guardian.

Gary MacDougall

Gary MacDougall is a retired P.E.I. journalist. He had a 47-year career in the newspaper industry, with over 20 of those years serving as managing editor of the Charlottetown Guardian. In 2017, he received an Atlantic Canada Journalism Award in the Lifetime Achievement Category. In 2013, MacDougall was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to journalism on Prince Edward Island. He has recently published his second book, “Wayne Gray: A Man of Vision.” His first book, “Forbie,” was published in 2018 and has become an Atlantic Canada best seller. MacDougall and his wife, Ola, live in Cornwall, P.E.I. They have two sons and four grandchildren.


The Clyde River Lecture Series takes place at the Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. All presentations will be followed by refreshments and a social time. These events are a great chance to get out in the winter to learn about and discuss our interesting local history. Our museum will be open to view our collection of over 200 artifacts and heritage photos. For more information on this series, please contact Vivian Beer, vivian@eastlink.ca.

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