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Archive for the ‘Museum archives’ Category

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.

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.

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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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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The Clyde River History Committee is launching a new project this fall to further capture our Clyde River history – called “Photograph an Artifact.” We invite anyone who is interested in having artifacts in their private collection to be photographed for a community digital photo collection to contact us. You don’t have to donate the item(s) to the museum to take part. 

An artifact could be furniture, books, documents, clothing, sporting equipment, crafting/personal items, toys, kitchen tools, dishes/glassware, farming implements/equipment – anything that offers a glimpse into the early history of Clyde River before the 1960s.

We would not identify the owner or where the items are located. We simply want to take photos of the artifacts to build our photographic collection for historical education purposes. We will most likely feature this photo collection on our website, so people can have a further glimpse into Clyde River’s past. 

If you are interested in participating in this project, please email Vivian Beer, Chair of the Clyde River History Committee at vivian@eastlink.ca  or call 902-367-1818, and we can set up a time to take photos. For those living away from PEI, if you have any historical items that are connected to Clyde River’s history, we welcome you to email us photos of these artifacts – please connect with us in advance and we can send examples of the specifications for photo submissions. 

The Clyde River history collection now includes over 200 artifacts and about 2000 digital photos, so we look forward to expanding our digital photo collection through this project.

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The 6th Annual Clyde River Lecture Series begins this Saturday, January 27th, at 1:30 p.m. Have you ever wanted to know all the great work that the PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation does and how we can engage ourselves in preserving Island history? All are welcome.



Saturday, January 27
th – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.Dr. David Keenlyside – “An overview of the work of the PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation” – The Foundation manages seven PEI museums (Elmira Railway Museum, Basin Head Fisheries Museum, Orwell Corner Historic Village and Agriculture Heritage Museum, Beaconsfield Historic House, Eptek Art & Culture Centre, Acadian Museum, and Green Park Shipbuilding Museum & Yeo House) and is responsible for more than 90,000 artifacts. The Foundation manages the PEI Museum & Heritage Awards and publishes the popular Island Magazine. David will offer an update on the current work of the Foundation and some guidance on how we can help preserve Island history.

Dr. David Keenlyside is Executive Director of the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation. Originally from British Columbia, David is an archaeologist by profession and worked at the National Museum of Man and later, Canadian Museum of Civilization for 35 years as Atlantic Provinces Archaeologist. David has a broad range of heritage interests and has served in various capacities on professional and volunteer organizations across Canada.

The Clyde River Lectures take place at the Riverview Community Centre at 718 Clyde River Road. The presentation 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 Clyde River artifacts and heritage photos. For more information on this series, please contact Vivian Beer, vivian@eastlink.ca.

To read about the other two lectures on February 10th and 24th, click here.

Please note: David will be taking along a few books featuring Island history from the Beaconsfield bookstore that you can purchase.

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The Friends of Clyde River Historical Committee received a donation to our archives of a small trunk/sea chest with the initials H.S.B. on its lid in brass nail heads. This trunk belonged to Barbara Stewart’s great-grandmother, Helen Stewart Birnie Stewart. It probably accompanied her in 1846 when she travelled to the Island with her husband Robert Bruce Stewart and their young children. Barbara wrote the following article to provide some background. 

My great-grandmother, Helen Stewart Birnie Stewart was born in London, England, April 20, 1815 (died 1871).

Her father, George Birnie, was born in London in 1785, the son of Alexander Birnie and Anne Bayley. Alexander Birnie and his brother James were born in Aberdeen, Scotland. In London, they became ship owners and captains of whaling ships, operating in the South Pacific. James Birnie settled eventually in Australia.

George Birnie emigrated to PEI in 1809. In Charlottetown he met and married (27.12.1810) Magdalene (“Lany”) Stewart, the daughter of Captain John Stewart. Their home was at 26 Great George Street, Charlottetown. With their first three children, they returned to London in 1813. Helen and the last two children were born in London. The Birnie family firm became bankrupt in 1838, and George Birnie returned soon after to PEI.

The Birnie children remained in London with their mother. Son George Jr. emigrated to Australia where his uncle and family were established. In London, daughter Matilda married William Johnston and they, too, settled in Australia, as did the remaining Birnie daughter, Elizabeth.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-12-23-49-pm

Strathgartney Homestead, home of Helen and Robert Bruce Stewart in Bonshaw

In London, June 27, 1838, Helen married Robert Bruce Stewart. His father, David, and uncle Robert, natives of Scotland then living in London, were acquiring land on the colony of PEI. In 1846, with their five children Helen and Robert set out for PEI to settle on the property the Stewarts then owned here.

That same year, Magdalene Birnie returned to the Island to join husband George. They died here – George 30.10.1863, and Magdalene, 21.08.1865. Both are buried in the Old Protestant Burying Ground – photo of George Birnie grave here and photo of Magdalene’s grave here.

Helen and Robert Bruce Stewart had eleven children, eight of whom lived to adulthood. Helen died August 19, 1871. She was buried in the family cemetery at Strathgartney which her husband established upon her death. From then until 1931, several family members were buried there. The last was my grandmother, Anne Warburton Stewart, who died September 5, 1931.

IMG_7806The family cemetery is located in a grove of trees just in behind the Communication Tower and several meters in from the new route of the Trans Canada Highway. The cemetery is maintained by the parish of St. John Evangelist Anglican Church of Crapaud. A path leading to the cemetery is accessible from the communication tower site.

My grandfather, Robert Bruce Stewart Jr., was the oldest son of Helen Birnie and Robert Bruce Stewart. My father, Walter Fitz-Alan Stewart, was the second of Robert Jr.’s sons.

The small trunk/sea chest, with the  initials H.S.B. on its lid in brass nail heads, belonged to my great-grandmother, Helen Stewart Birnie Stewart. It probably accompanied her in 1846 when she travelled to the Island with her husband and their young  children.

In July 2016, her trunk was given by my family to the History Committee of the Friends of Clyde River for their museum.

Barbara Stewart
Montreal, January 30, 2017

Thank you to the Stewart family for this donation which represents an important part of the history of Prince Edward Island.

Editor’s notes:

  • Island Magazine feature: Robert Bruce Stewart and the Land Question 
  • Link to Strathgartney Cemetery – Canada Historic Places here.
  • Public archives letters (George and Alexander Birnie), more info here.
  • Mount Stewart is named after Captain John Stewart.
  • Walter Fitz-Alan Stewart was a farmer, fox rancher and Liberal MLA, more info here.

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