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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Clyde River History Society attended the launch of the book, We’ll Meet Again, this past Saturday at Trinity United Church in Charlottetown. Author Katherine Dewar, who has participated in our Clyde River Lecture Series, presented her latest book that features the fascinating stories of women who took part in World War II in varied capacities.

Katherine said that she had to write this book or their stories would be lost. Reading The Guardian, she would see the obituaries of these veterans, and that spurred her to get started. She set out to research their stories and interview the ladies still living. It was their chance to tell their stories. Research assistance was offered by Jane Dyment who is a member of the Clyde River History Society. Jane is a descendant of Thomas and Jane (Robertson) Beer of Clyde River and lives in Ottawa. She was able to conduct research at the National Archives on Katharine’s behalf.

During the event on Saturday, Katharine featured Jean MacLean from Meadowbank, earlier from Clyde River, and a member of the Clyde River Baptist Church and Women’s Institute over the years. Jean was one of the six ladies in attendance for the launch, and she wore her WWII uniform. An excerpt of her story was presented.

Katherine also recognized Norma MacLean who lives in Charlottetown now but was very involved in Burnside Presbyterian Church and the Women’s Institute in Clyde River. Norma is now 101 years and was not in attendance at the launch. You may recall an earlier story where we recognized her 100th birthday last year.

Further stories:

  • CBC PEI story featuring book launch: The heroic PEI women who served in WWII – and where you can meet some of them – read
  • PEI Historian’s new book aims to preserve the ‘amazing stories’ of WWII women – read
  • CBC Video featuring Jean MacLean finally receiving membership to legion at 96 – link here to watch the video

The book is available at local bookstores. 

 

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As part of the Cemetery Stories Course, the Clyde River History Society is hosting a cemetery tour in Clyde River on Saturday, August 21st, 1:30-3:30 p.m. It’s mostly a chance for course participants to finally get to meet each other. We will visit the two cemeteries connected to the Presbyterian and Baptist churches. We will offer a brief introduction and then the group or smaller groups can tour through cemeteries. Our history society members will be available to answer questions. After the tour, we will enjoy some refreshments at the Riverview Community Centre. It’s all within a short walking distance and there is lots of parking. We will begin at the Burnside Presbyterian Church Cemetery (intersection of Dog River & Clyde River Roads) at 1:30 p.m. If it is raining on the 21st, we will reschedule it to the following Saturday, the 28th. To gather an idea of numbers, please let us know if you are hoping to attend in the comments below or email vivian@eastlink.ca.

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No worries, this bear was found in Clyde River in 1843. Donald Murray from the Baltic Road had been having some trouble with them. As the article says, they “had been making too free with his sheep.” Having lost a prime sheep, Donald was “determined to watch for the marauder”. He was only watching for about five minutes when the Bruin (brown bear) made its appearance and was instantly destroyed.

We find out that Donald took the bear skin to town to sell. “A large bear, in capital condition, was brought to town for sale yesterday, weighing 300 lb.” It turns out the skin was not at its best given the time of year, so it would not fetch a high value. We are unable to report if Donald even covered the cost of his prime sheep.

Sometimes when a man killed a bear, they earned a nickname, so I’m wondering if Donald became known as Donald “Bear” Murray, like a local folk hero. I have MacDonald relatives on my mother’s side from across the river which were referred to as the Bear MacDonalds. The story goes that one of them killed a bear with their hands, or that’s how the story evolved. My father would tease her by times when she got a little angry, “that’s the Bear MacDonalds comin’ out in ya.”

Having lived for more than a year with COVID restrictions, there’s a good chance that the Bear MacDonalds have been comin’ out in us, too.

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Photo Stories: Horses

There’s a reason that cars took a long time to be adopted in Prince Edward Island. Islanders loved their horses. They depended on them for so much, to plow the fields, go to church, visit neighbours, and go to the Charlottetown market. Men in the community would challenge their neighbours to ice racing on the river. They took pride in their horse power. They gave them names. Strong work horses were hitched to a box sleigh in winter to carry goods to the market, or logs to the local sawmill. Refined horses were hitched to your finest sleigh or carriage to go to church or head out on a Sunday tour. Can you think of anything better than taking a carriage ride on a warm summer day?

Even after folks had cars, there were still families in Clyde River that kept a horse into the late 1950s and would use it like we would a second car, especially, in winter when you could attach it to a sleigh. For those of us who have pets, we know first hand how attached we can become. Horses depended on us and they became so well trained to the point where they would know the way home, like an early driverless car. Click on the album below to see the beautiful horses you would have found in the community if you could go back in time.

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Our dream of sharing a travel bubble with Nova Scotia has been dashed, at least for the near future. In our history album, we find some photos of travelling on Northumberland Ferries’ first ferry, MV Prince Nova between Wood Islands and Caribou which served between 1941 and 1958. You can only imagine the relief they felt with the war being over, doing their best to return to family life. The thrill of getting in our car, loading onto the ferry or crossing the bridge, and embarking on an adventure will be ours again. Here are a few photos of heading out on the Prince Nova to visit relatives in Halifax in the late 1940s.

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Photo credit: Department of Defence, Library and Archives Canada: Two aircrew examining a target drogue at No. 10 Bombing and Gunnery School, RCAF, Mount Pleasant, P.E.I., 1944

Editor’s note: Here is an upcoming event that was inspired by the Clyde River Cemetery Stories Course. Richard Newson is one of our participants. We have over 70 course participants from across PEI, Canada, some in US and England. Richard’s initial research and connection to an Australian family came much earlier, but he decided to create a remembrance event this year. Story follows.

On this Anzac Day, April 25th, there will be a graveside remembrance of John Leighton (Jack) Buttsworth, a young member of the Royal Australian Airforce who died in an accident on February 16th, 1945, while training at Mt. Pleasant Airfield No. 10 Bombing and Gunnery School at 24 years of age.

A genealogical researcher and family relative of Jack in Australia, Judy Sanders, stumbled across a newspaper article on Jack’s death which appeared in an Australian newspaper in 1945. She saved the link to the story on Ancestry.com, attached to Jack’s name. Meanwhile in Prince Edward Island, Richard Newson had noticed Jack’s war grave and wondered who this young man’s family was, so far away from home. He connected with Judy through Ancestry.com and sent her a photo of Jack’s grave.

“Richard and I corresponded regularly after that. While I was looking into Jack’s life in Australia, Richard was researching his war time service in Canada,” said Judy.

Richard added, “I regularly visit the grave of John Leighton Buttsworth in Summerside People’s Cemetery and send photos to Judy after each visit. To mark the anniversary of Jack’s death one year, I bought a can of locally brewed beer and stood at his grave to share a drink with him.”

Jack grew up in rural Australia. He joined the Australian Light Horse and then transferred to the Australian Imperial Force. After training in numerous camps in New South Wales, he travelled to the Middle East, to participate in the campaign at El Alamein. Three major battles occurred around El Alamein between July and November 1942, which became the turning point of the war in North Africa. The Australian 9th Division played a key role in two of these battles, forging its reputation for defending Tobruk during 1941.

Jack then returned to Australia with the famous 9th Division and took part in troop marches. From there, he moved from the army to the Royal Australian Air Force. Jack then travelled to Canada to train at the Mt. Pleasant Airfield No. 10 Bombing and Gunnery School. He was accidently killed when he walked into the path of a plane’s propeller.

Jack was laid to rest in Summerside People’s Cemetery with full air force honours. He is also remembered on several public memorials in Australia including the historic Wilberforce Park war memorial that remembers those from the local area who served in the two world wars.

Richard says, “I continue to research Canadian newspapers and connect with history groups to try to learn more about John Leighton Buttsworth’s time in Canada. I’ve even shared with Judy the type of music Jack could have listened to while he was in Prince Edward Island.”

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand which commemorates those who served in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. This date was chosen as it marks the anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign when WWI troops landed April 25, 1915 on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey), where both Australia and New Zealand incurred mass casualties over eight months.

Anyone is welcome to attend the remembrance on Sunday, April 25th at 4:00 p.m. at Jack’s grave in Summerside People’s Cemetery. The best access is from Maple Grove Road and his grave is near vault. COVID protocols will be in place.

Note:

Originally, the aerodrome in Mt. Pleasant was a Relief Landing Field for No. 9 Service Flying Training School located nearby, but in 1943, it became a bombing and gunnery school with 44 buildings, including 5 hangars, and 1800 personnel. It was closed in 1945.

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In our Clyde River historic photo library, we have various landscapes of Clyde River and also Meadowbank from as early as 1914. If you have others in your collection of photo albums, we invite you to send us digital versions. This photo gallery will keep you busy for a while. We encourage you to add comments below on what you notice in the photos. We also welcome your stories and memories. To better view the photos in a larger format, please select any photo and click arrows to move through the collection. If you are newer to Clyde River and have any specific questions, please feel free to add your question below.

 

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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 an 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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