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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

In my great grandmother Mary (MacDougall) Darrach’s letters between 1904-1907 to one of her sons and his wife in Boston, I enjoyed her warm sense of humour and the poetic turns of phrase in her writing. I thought I would share some moving and entertaining lines from her letters with you, as they offer a glimpse into family life in Clyde River. Mary and John Darrach had 11 children of which nine lived. At the time of these letters, about half her children had moved to the Boston area. Fan (Frances Darrach Beer) that she refers to in her letters was my grandmother.

  • Well, we are another year nearer home. For sure my time is drawing near if we go by years, but can’t tell who will go first. There is none of us too young. Now our time is passing. It’s good to be ready. This world will keep us busy but when we come to leave, it won’t do much for us, neither will our nearer and dearer friends. Life is short; eternity is long.
  • If you could see the banks of snow. I have never seen anything like it. You would be scared to go on the roads for fear anyone would meet you and go off the track. It is out of sight in some places. As for feed for the cattle, we have plenty.
  • I wish you could see all the valentines the boys and I got from Boston. You never saw such a racket as was over them.
  • Father is about the same, complaining as usual, this wet weather is against him.
  • Uncle Alex is not feeling well, but he has to work till he drops. His money won’t help him much when he’s gone.
  • On Monday, I got three four-leaf clovers…that would be good luck for me to have my children come home.
  • I wish you were all home today and for a few months. You could fish smelts for pocket-money.
  • Poor Fan was in hope the cows won’t go dry, but instead of that, there was three cows calved, churned 16 lbs. of butter today. It makes lots of work but is good to have lots of milk. The hens didn’t lay yet. Fan thinks she’ll stop feeding them and perhaps they will lay better.
  • Uncle Alex is sometimes miserable, takes weak turns. He took a turn the other morning, They thought for sure he was dying. He made awful moans, gasping for breath. She gave him some cold water and he came to. He has no strength. She is the same old stick but I like her, poor thing.
  • We must hope for the best, such is life, ups and downs.
  • The snow was about gone before the snow came, so there is not much sign of spring here now.
  • We had a social in the hall to pay for the church organ last week. It was a poor night, too, but they made 27 dollars.
  • Well, I am back from Eldon. I went Saturday and came back on Tuesday. We had a nice drive. It was the red mare, the best horse there ever was. We could barely hold her back, just as fresh when we came near home as she was when we left Eldon. They are all well. They were awful pleased to see us. I love to see my own.
  • Give my letter to the rest to read, as I have no time to write, as I am hooking.
  • One of my geese had 14 goslings. We are milking 10 cows, three to a calf. The big mare has a lovely mare foal.
  • There is a lot losing their cows. It is hard on some for they are short of feed and no grass yet. (May 30th)
  • Fan is house cleaning upstairs since she got them away, as usual. If you sleep one night up there, she is up the next day with the broom.
  • I couldn’t get an egg what but the hens was lousy. When I would go to gather eggs, I would be full of them, so I took a shovel, broom, and a fork and I cleaned it all out, puts lots of brine and ashes into it, too. Hector helped, as it was raining and gave them all a good bath in sheep dip. It was quite a job.
  • Uncle James is getting blind, can’t butter his own bread.
  • See how sudden Mr. Jones across from us was taken, a woman left with three small children and her not a bit strong, so she has to have strangers do her work. A woman is not much on a farm; however, the Lord is good. He will provide for her.
  • Hector is upstairs getting ready to see the woman, I think Fan expects Fred, for she is dressing up, but poor me, I have my knitting, that’s all for me now.
  • Thank you for the vest you sent to John (her husband). He was so proud, he didn’t know which way to wear it, but he made up his mind it was for Sundays. It was just the thing for him, if he would only wear it every cold day, but he is saving it.
  • Mary is wearing muffs every Sunday, so she is five steps above her dandy.
  • Fan is cleaning ever since she came home. The broom lost 5 lbs. and dust pan 3 lbs. since she came home. I had them both nice and fat but now all gone. Poor father, too, he could walk in before, but now he has to sweep and scrape his feet and then she’d be shouting at him. He says he is as much trouble to her as the flies were.
  • Lizzie got jammed behind the home comfort. They all had to get up from the table to pull her out, had an awful pull to get her out, such speeches you never heard, everyone adding a little.
  • I am very tired tonight, as were hooking all day and it is very tiresome when you have to be up and down. I will be glad when it’s done. We will finish this week, 3 1/2 double weight, lots of hooking on it and it’s for Fan. I hope we have no more visitors this week till we finish hooking.
  • We finished hooking last week. We hooked 11 yards. That was pretty good. I am awful tired, as I am now weaving. I set up the loom and got to it.
  • Aunt Katy and Flo was over to Aunt Maggies and when they were going home, they got in the ice. They got a pretty good dunking. (March)
  • Uncle Alex is quite blind but he comes over to our place, just by guess. We always go to meet him when we see him coming.
  • Referring to an old lady in church, she wrote – Our minister was preaching about Abraham last Sunday and she was asking him when he came out if Abraham was in the pulpit.
  • Upon hearing that her new granddaughter was named Mary after her, she wrote – I am highly honoured to have her named after me. I hope she be spared to you and live to be a good girl, and thank you both for remembering me. I thought it would be a fancy name but is a chosen name as the mother of our savior was named Mary.

Letters are such a wonderful treasure which connect us to those ancestors we would love to sit and have tea with for an afternoon. We’d likely get a job hooking or weaving though.

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The Clyde River Council has once again applied for funding to hire a summer student under the provincial Jobs for Youth program.  Young people living in Clyde River and 16 years of age or older, who are interested in being considered for the position must submit an application with the provincial Employment Development Agency.  This can be done on the provincial government website, www.princeedwardisland.ca. Once there, search for “”Apply to the Seasonal and Student Job Registry”” to find the application.

The successful candidate will be employed for 8 weeks in July and August doing a variety of tasks including lawn and garden maintenance.  The Council hopes to know by early June if their application is approved.

If you have any questions, please contact Bruce Brine at clyderiver.cic@pei.sympatico.ca.

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Marilyn MacLean, of P.E.I. Potters Cove, shows some of her work during a craft fair at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN – The Guardian

Reprinted with permission from The Guardian: Thirty year passion for pottery turns into side business for PEI Artist

Marilyn MacLean’s successful pottery business appears to be fate.

MacLean, who has nearly 35 years of experience making pottery, has seen the demand for her product grow rapidly since starting her side business P.E.I. Potter’s Cove about a year ago from her Clyde River Home.

The name has an interesting story behind it, said MacLean.

According to the community’s website, a previous MacLean family that lived in the area in the 1850s had a property boundary marked by a cove named “Potter’s Cove” because of the brick kiln that was once located there.

“I thought it was fate, it was like it was meant to be,” said MacLean, whose business previously went by “pottery by Marilyn MacLean”. “I’ve had a passion for pottery for over 30 years and finally I realized my dream of having a home studio.”

MacLean said she fell in love with pottery by accident after applying for Holland College’s graphic design course.

However, the course was filled and MacLean didn’t want to put her education on hold for a year.

“I thought I’d try another medium and pottery was in the course catalogue,” said MacLean. “The rest is history.”

MacLean later worked at The Dunes before taking business at Holland College.

She has worked at Bell Aliant, formerly Island Tel, for the last 25 years, but has never stopped creating pottery.

Once the college closed its fine arts program almost 20 years ago, several former students formed the P.E.I. Potters Studio Co-op in Victoria Park and MacLean was invited to be an instructor.

MacLean is still one of the co-op’s three instructors and teaches both adults and children pottery.

However, last spring saw MacLean realize her dream of making her own home pottery studio.

Starting with a few items for sale, MacLean’s products were in New London’s Village Pottery all last summer.

While she has had orders from as far away as Oregon and British Columbia, MacLean has seen much of her sales come from other local craft shops as well as through individuals at craft fairs and Farm Day in the City.

With somewhat of an overwhelming demand for her products, MacLean said she hopes to keep her production on a lower scale until turning it into a new full-time job once she retires.

“I’ll do my best to make everybody happy and enjoy the success and I’d imagine it will just get better,” she said.

MacLean said she feels her involvement in pottery was fate and noted that she is a “medical miracle.”

When MacLean was born, she spent two years in the hospital while on oxygen, which resulted the loss of sight in one eye.

“It’s odd that life is just, it’s so special and I don’t take it for granted,” said MacLean. “That’s my purpose in life, to spread the love and passion of pottery.”

The Guardian article here.

Editor’s Notes:

Potter’s Cove is referenced in story here. See the location of Potter’s Cove pinned below on satellite map:

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Our third and final lecture is this coming Saturday. See you there.

Saturday, February 24th – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.Dr. Lewis Newman – “Changes and Improvements in Medicine & Medical Technology in my Time” – Dr. Newman’s presentation will reference vaccines, Small Pox, Malaria, Polio, artificial limbs, artificial joints, organ transplants, thermometers, endoscopies, CT/MRI/PET scans, blood glucose monitoring, insulin pump, cataract surgery, key-hole surgery, artificial insemination, oral contraceptives, and gene therapy. He will also touch on the Tuberculosis pandemic that affected almost all Island families in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Dr. Stanley “Lewis” Newman was raised in New Haven. He spent his early school years in New Haven and then Borden School for Grades 9 & 10. He attended Prince of Wales College and went on to Dalhousie for his undergraduate and medical education, graduating in 1969. He began his general family practice in Sydney, Nova Scotia. In 1971, he moved back to PEI and had a general family practice in Charlottetown at the Polyclinic until 2006. Between 2006 and 2012, he was a Hospitalist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. For 15 years he was House Doctor at Beach Grove Home. He retired in 2012.


The Clyde River Lecture Series takes place at the Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. Dr. Newman’s presentation will be followed by refreshments and a social time. Our museum will be open to view local artifacts and heritage photos.

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Saturday, February 10th – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. – JoDee Samuelson – “Watermills in PEI, especially those in Clyde River” –For her Master of Arts in Island Studies from UPEI, JoDee wrote her thesis on water-powered mills on Prince Edward Island and Gotland Island, Sweden. Her interest in mills began while she lived in Clyde River, across the river from the Dixon/Scott Mill and down the road from the Beer’s Sawmill on the Bannockburn Road. JoDee will pass along her research on the mills on the Clyde River that at one time provided flour, oatmeal, and sawn lumber for a prosperous ambitious community.

JoDee Samuelson grew up on the Canadian prairies and has lived on the beautiful south shore of Prince Edward Island for the past 30 years. Jody is an award-winning filmmaker and writes a column “The Cove Journal” for Charlottetown’s monthly arts magazine, The Buzz.

JoDee will have Old Mills of Prince Edward Island maps for sale at the event – $15 each.

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Our research continues into our collection of Clyde River School textbooks (1880s-1920s). We came across a spelling book used at the beginning of the 1900s – Gage & Co’s Educational SeriesThe Practical Speller – 20th Century Edition – printed in 1901 (208 pages). A sobering message is found in the preface, pointing to the importance of teaching spelling:

Is a Speller a Necessary School Book? The old-fashioned spelling book has been discarded by teachers generally. Many valid objections were properly urged against it use and it passed away.

Entire dependence upon oral spelling may also be fitly styled a method of bygone days. Unfortunately for the old spelling book it was associated with all the folly and weakness of “oral spelling,” and this partly accounts for its rejection.

What have the reformers given as a substitute for a Speller? They took our bread and have given in return but a stone. The bread even though a little stale was much more wholesome than the stone. In Canada parts of the lessons to be found in the Readers are taken as dictation lessons, and the pupils are turned loose on society to shock it by their bad spelling, and disgrace the school which they attended, and which they should have been taught. The readers to not contain all the words that boys and girls will have to spell in life, and if they did, the lessons are not arranged in proper form for spelling lessons. Only a comparatively small portion of readers can be written from dictation in schools. Bad as were the old spellers, they were infinitely better than nothing. This fact is now recognized in Great Britain and the United States, in both of which countries many valuable spelling books have recently been issued. That these were necessary in England is clearly shown by the fact that at a recent Civil Service Examination “no less than 1861 out of 1972 failures were caused by spelling.”

A practical dictation Speller is clearly a necessity, and this work has been prepared to supply an obvious want in the program in Canadian schools. The claim to the name “Practical” is based on the fact that is not a mere collection of thousands of “long-tailed works in osity and ation,” but contains a graded series of lessons to teach pupils the proper spelling of the words which all have to use.

A glimpse at parts of the textbook (click on any photo to enlarge and advance through gallery:

Editor’s note: If you wish to view the full digital copy, we found an edition here at archive.org.

 

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In gathering artifacts in Clyde River for our museum, we have been given a good number of textbooks from the Beer family which were used to teach the children of Clyde River School from the late 1880s to the early 1900s. In reviewing these, I have discovered the delightful education they received despite their humble rural upbringing. It’s no wonder they acquired abilities to recite great poetry, calculate math easily in their heads, and name off the countries of the world and, as a result, were interested to know about the world. As I go through these texts, I would like to offer you a glimpse into a child’s education at that time. We will begin with a Geography book, Calkin’s Introductory Geography – The World: An Elementary Geography, from 1885 written by John Burgess Calkin.

John Burgess Calkin was born in 1829 in Nova Scotia and became a leading figure in Nova Scotia public education. Calkin was principal for many years of the Provincial Normal School that later became the Nova Scotia Teachers College. He authored several textbooks, best known for his geography and history texts. He passed in 1918.

The preface of this geography book sets the tone:

The school is merely an introduction to the child’s education. Its chief aims should be to strengthen the desire to know more of those objects which it brings into view, and to point out the paths that lead to the unknown. On parting company with his teacher, the pupil is prepared to become an independent worker, and to pursue his way with ever-increasing interest and power.

The textbook performs its proper function when it becomes an auxiliary of the school in working out these aims. While it conveys valuable truth respecting its subject, its higher purpose should be to awaken an interest in that subject, and to lead to systematic and persevering effort in searching it out more fully.

In studying geography, children need to realize that they are acquiring knowledge of things which have a real existence in the world around them, and that this knowledge has been gained by such observation as they are capable of exercising. The only sure way of securing this is, at the outset, to take them to something that is tangible. The first knowledge presented must be concrete, and should be given through oral lessons on their own neighborhood. In this way, beginners acquire clear and definite ideas as to the nature of the study upon which they are entering, and they are led upward from things to definitions and principles.

In following that approach, he begins the book with a chapter: “The School District or Section”, where he describes the school-house in a country community in a way that they will understand the underpinnings of grasping geography.

This is a picture of a school-house in the country. The boys and girls are assembling for school. Around their homes, scattered here and there through the neighborhood are hills, valleys, level fields, and woodlands. It is summer, and the country is very beautiful. The farmers are busy with their haymaking in the meadows. Near by are patches of grain and potatoes and on the sunny slopes are orchards which, in the autumn, will be laden with apples and pears. A way up on the hillsides are the pastures where the cows and sheep are quietly feeding. In the valleys, the brooks which have come down from the springs among the hills are winding their way, and hasting to the sea. Here, on holidays, the boys love to fish or sail their tiny boats, and girls love to stroll along the green banks and gather wildflowers.

He goes on to describe that other children may live on the seaside where the land is rocky and they have views of sailing ships. Yet others live in the city where there are no fields or brooks, but rather houses and shops with narrow streets between them where there are many kinds of things such as printers who print books and newspapers. Or others may live near coal mines and the men are miners or places where the men are lumbermen and when the spring comes, they float logs to the mills and saw them into lumber.

He suggests to the children that they should create a little geography of their own neighborhood to understand what kind of place they live in – observe all the features of their home and the places near it. They should make a little drawing of their school or at least a floor plan. From there, they can draw, the playground and any other objects around. Then, they can draw the neighborhood in which they live, marking the roads, the buildings, the brooks, the fields and any other things that they have observed. The result will be their own community map.

He continues by describing the province they live in, their country – Dominion of Canada, where if they travelled west, they would see lakes larger than their province and see mountains where at the peaks there is snow all year long, and, on the west coast, they would see another large ocean. The text then leads down through North America where the country is warmer and the waters of the east and west draw closer and then to South America.

In the next chapter, he takes students on a “Voyage Round the World” where they leave Halifax by steamship and sail east across the Atlantic Ocean.

In a few hours we lose sight of land, and there is nothing to be seen but the sea, with here and there a distant sail. We see no path, nor any sign to direct us; but the captain, with his compass and chart, can take us directly across the pathless ocean as if he followed a beaten track. He needs to know his duty well and to manage carefully, for sometimes we are surrounded by fog, so that we can scarcely see from one end of the ship to the other. In such a fog, we might run against another ship, or against rocks, and be dashed to pieces.

Who wouldn’t be captivated by this adventure? Throughout the book are detailed drawings of scenes from different cultures. It is easy to see how he was able to capture a child’s imagination and build a curiosity of the world which would remain with them throughout their lives.

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At the back of the book, he lists populations within the Dominion of Canada and other countries. Here are a few from within the Dominion:

  • Prince Edward Island – 108,981  – Charlottetown – 11,485
  • Nova Scotia – 440,572 – Halifax – 36,100
  • New Brunswick – 321,233 – Fredericton – 6,218
  • Quebec – 1,359,027 – Montreal – 140,747
  • Ontario – 1,923,228 – Toronto – 86,415
  • Manitoba – 123,200 – Winnipeg – 7,744
  • British Columbia – 49,459 – Victoria – 5,925
  • Districts & Territories  56,446 – Includes Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Athabasca, Keewatin, Northwest and Northeast Territories.
  • Below, they list Newfoundland with a population of 181,753  – joined Canada in 1949.

Dominion of Canada 1880s (click to enlarge photo)

Central Europe – 1880s

Click here to view a digital version of the book updated and reprinted in 1898.

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