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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Letters from The Great War – Lee Darrach

Leading up to Remembrance Day 2018, we will feature a series of transcribed letters written by former Clyde River resident Lee Grant Darrach (1882-1953) to his brother in Boston during The Great War. Lee grew up in Clyde River, PEI, one of nine children, in the home now owned by Sidney Poritz on the Clyde River Road. Lee spent time in Boston as a young man, and, in 1915, he headed over to England and ended up in the British Army. For those of you who have ancestors who fought in The Great War, it will offer some insight into their conditions. We welcome your comments and observations and for you to share stories passed down from your own ancestors in the comments section. There are 33 letters, so we will plan to publish 2-3 per week leading up to Remembrance Day. We warn readers that some of the writings describe some raw scenes, but such is the nature of war. Here is the first letter.

Eccles, England, June 20th, 1915

Dear Brother;

Just a few lines to let you know I am well. Hoping this will find you all the same. Well, I had a hard time to land here. I had to skip. They are sending everybody back that is not British born. You have got to have your birth certificate or, if you are American, you’ve got to have a passport, but I could not see through it after getting over here to get sent back. When we got to Manchester, we could not get off the ship. When the nine inspectors got on the ship, we were all lined up, so I showed him that card of Vernon’s. The card was alright but he would not take my word for being born in PEI, so it began to get too hot for me. I began looking for a way to skip, and when no one was looking, I slid down on the rope that was tied to another ship across the canal. I had just got on the other side when a bobbie seen me and order me to halt. Yes, I halted alright. You could not see my heels for dust and the damn bobbie after me. I hid under a pile of lumber from 10 o’clock Monday morning until 11 o’clock that night, so they did not get me.

We had a fine trip coming over, got weather all the way. We took horses to Avonmouth, that is five miles from Bristol. It is a military base. You could not get off the ship; there were soldiers guarding every ship. Fifteen of our fellows enlisted there; that was the only way to get off. There were 10 Americans tried to enlist. They would take them alright, but the captain would not let them leave the ship, only Canadian born. Well, when we got rid of the horses, we started for Manchester. It was 36 hours sail. We got along pretty good until we got inside Holyhead and then a submarine got after us. Well, you believe me. There was some excitement. They put every man that could lift a shovel down firing and the old ship done some zig zagging, but we were lucky there was a patrol boat came to us. They fired six shots at the Kaisers and they went down. We saw no more of them, but the patrol boat came in to the bay with us. Right on the outside of the bay, there was a big merchant ship that they sunk the day before we came. We could see about four feet of her derricks.

Well, Jack, I never seen such docks in my life as I seen in Liverpool – 10 miles of docks. There were regular canals and locks you run a ship in and they close the gate and there you are, all concrete. They got America skinned to death for big buildings and everything up to date that is in the business line such as factories here in Eccles than there is in the whole state of Massachusetts.

We came up the canal from Liverpool to Manchester. It is 36 miles and, Jack, I never seen such a sight in my life. Some of the finest bridges and factories and old mansions that I ever seen or I ever expect to see. It is worth a man’s life to see this place. Right handy where I am boarding, there is a home for Belgians. I seen a little girl yesterday about 12 years old with both her hands cut off at the wrists, little children maimed in every manner you could think of, it would make any man cry to see them that had a heart, children that could not harm anyone.

I wrote to Fulford for my birth certificate. If they get me now, I will get six months. There is all kinds of work here. When I get straightened out, I am going in the admiralty service on the transports. You get big money and a bonus from the old King.

Well, Jack, I had better come to a close for this time. Hoping to hear from you soon and give me all the news. Give my best regards to all.

From Lee

Lee Darrach
14 Irwell Grove
Eccles
Lancaster, England

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The Canoe Cove Women’s Institute is organizing a tour of historic churches in our area. Burnside Presbyterian and Baptist Churches in Clyde River are included in this tour. Check out the poster below for details on purchasing tickets.

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Burnside Church

Burnside Presbyterian Church in Clyde River is pleased to invite you to their annual cemetery service on Sunday, July 29th, 7:00 p.m.

Burnside is caretaker of the cemetery that has been in use since 1861, with a new section added in 1962. As the cemetery grows, so does the list of families who are connected to the cemetery.

The cemetery committee has endeavoured to find the names of descendants who have a loved one(s) buried there. Their wish is to include all those people who have a connection to this cemetery to attend their July 29th service.

Having their service at 7:00 p.m. in July allows us to still have sunlight that will make it possible for visitors to visit the grave of their loved one. We are planning an uplifting service of remembrance with special music and a time for refreshments and visiting. There will also be musical accompaniment as visitors enter and leave the church. The service will finish at 8:00 p.m. and visitors are then welcome to the Riverview Community Centre across the road for refreshments.

They welcome you to attend with friends and relatives to remember your loved ones that have gone from your everyday life, but who clearly live on in your memories. While death may be sad, remembrance is not.

Remembrance

We talk openly of life.
Of joyful times we had.
And the joyful times we will have together.
Death gives no joy. It has no voice.
We have muted it because there are no more time to have together.
While the remembrance of death is painful, the remembrance of those who lived,
those we loved, is joyous.
They have left footprints implanted in our minds, in our hearts,
and in the very essence of our being that shall remain forever.
Death is sad. Remembrance is not.
So, let us remember their lives. Forever.

Author, Patrick Cunningham

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Clyde River Women’s Institute welcomes you to attend their annual Strawberry Social on Wednesday, July 11th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre. You can enjoy the flavour of strawberries and ice cream along with some home-baked treats.

Enjoy the succulent sweet taste of the season and a stunning view of the river. You can un-wind and re-connect with friends, relatives and neighbours. There’s bound to be a few folks home from away. Admission at the door.

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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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