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Archive for the ‘Prince Edward Island’ Category

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Katherine Dewar

Saturday, February 4th – 1:30-3:30 p.m. – Author of Those Splendid Girls  “The Heroic Service of Island Nurses in the Great War”

In Those Splendid Girls, author Katherine Dewar combines her love of history and knowledge of nursing to redreScreen Shot 2017-01-02 at 10.24.28 PM.pngss a 100-year-old wrong: the absence in the historical narratives of both Prince Edward Island and of Canada, of nurses’ experiences in the real War. Told through the stories of Island nurses, their experiences of mud, blood and courage reflect those of women from all provinces who served amid the horrors of WW I. Dewar identifies at least 115 Island women who answered the call to war, many of whose names have not been known until now. Granted rare access to private diaries and fragile photo albums tucked away in dusty attics, she pieces together their stories of hospitals, bombings, fear and friendships to provide this powerful new account of the war. Katherine has received several heritage awards for research and writing, most recently The PEI Museum and Heritage Award of Honour, given for an outstanding contribution to the heritage of P.E.I. over a long period of time. More info at thosesplendidgirls.ca  Books will be available for purchase ($27.95).

The lecture takes place at the Riverview Community Centre, 718 Clyde River Road. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served. We welcome our audience to also take the time to visit our large collection of archives and heritage photos at the community centre.

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Artist Julia Purcell masterfully recreates the scenic setting of Gallery 18 in New London, on a peaceful Saturday afternoon. The daylong art demonstration coincided with Purcell’s ongoing exhibition and sale called, “Finding My Voice.”

Clyde River artist Julia Purcell made the front page of the Journal Pioneer on Monday and we want to say how proud we are of her and her work. The following is a reprint of the article that appeared.

Nature of Painting

“I started this landscape painting this morning and kept going until mid-afternoon once the paint was starting to set,” said Purcell. “Then I took a break.”

Painting is one of Purcell’s greatest pleasures in life, and it brings out a world of creativity.

“I don’t want to give away my age, but I’ve been painting for 40 years. It started with my parents who are well-known painters (Joseph and Tela Purcell of Nova Scotia), and it was something I eventually got the courage to try. And with lots of practice I got better,” she added.

“It’s definitely a shortcut if you have an instructor to guide you.”

Purcell instructs many on how to paint picture perfect images of P.E.I.

Unlike watercolours or acrylics, oil paints are complicated and take a long time to dry. Knowing the chemistry of this paint is almost essential to achieving the proper effect, she said.

“Oil painting, you do in stages,” explained Purcell. “First, you do a drawing then an under painting and keep going for a few hours until the paint starts to set. Then you would generally lay aside the painting for that day and, hopefully, get back to it the next because otherwise the paint doesn’t go on as layers the way it should.”

Several people came to see the artist transform a blank canvas into a stunning landscape painting full of blended brushstrokes with vibrant colours.

“There’s nothing I would rather be doing then to paint or talk about painting. I had several lovely people spend quite a few hours with me actually. It was great,” said Purcell. “One of the ladies that came to visit me today wants to learn how to paint, and she actually commissioned me to go out and take a look at a certain area.”

The daylong oil painting demonstration coincided with Purcell’s ongoing exhibition and sale, “Finding My Voice,” which features landscapes, townscapes, portraits and flowers of P.E.I.

“The owners of Gallery 18, Aubrey Bell and Patricia Bennett, saw my posts online and asked what I was going to do with all my work and if I would like to have a show, and, of course I said yes,” stated Purcell. “That was last fall and I have been working on it all winter, through the spring and summer.”

For more information visit www.Gallery18.com.

Editor’s note: Julia leads an art demonstration at our Annual Art in the Park event held each July at Murchison Place Park. Many of her paintings feature the beauty of Clyde River.

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Drone over Clyde RiverOur ancestors would look at us strangely if we said there was a drone flying over Clyde River taking photos, but that is what is happening. Oswald tells me that Scott Stevens has been contracted by the Golf Association of PEI to take photos via drone of the 16-member golf courses in PEI. The benefit we get is to see Clyde River and neighbouring communities from a birds eye view in all their spectacular beauty. The golf course looks great, Oswald and team.

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Coming Home

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I found a little news clipping from the 1930s where L.M. Montgomery writes about PEI.

There is at least one spot left on earth where a little leisure is to be found, and that is Prince Edward Island. People there have not yet forgotten how to live. They don’t tear through life. Every time I, accustomed to the breathless tempo of existence elsewhere, go back to it, I am impressed by this fact.

There is about life in Abegweit a certain innate and underlying serenity that is never wholly absent, even on days when a church tea is in the offing or the hay on the hill must be got in before it rains. They realize that eternity exists – no, we realize it. For I am one of the Islanders still, though I have made my home in another land for a quarter of a century.

You never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields of Prince Edward Island on a Summer twilight when the dew is falling and the old, old stars are peeping out and the sea keep its nightly tryst with the little land it loves. You find your soul then-you realize that youth is not a vanished thing but something that dwells forever in the heart. And you look around on the dimming landscape of haunted hill and murmuring ocean, of homestead lights and old fields tilled by dead and gone generations, who loved them – and you say, “I have come home.”

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Argyle - 1It’s summer in Prince Edward Island, a time when aside from all the tourism activity, Islanders travel anywhere from 2 to 30 minutes to stay at their cottages. It’s not that we don’t like our neighbours but it’s just that we have already heard all their stories over the winter and we are in desperate need of some new ones and we are drawn to the shore. We don’t want to move too far away from home because we want to make sure we actually know the characters in the stories.

I am in Argyle Shore. It’s where my parents took us to the shore as children and where my grandparents took my mother and her siblings in summers. My mother’s family went to MacDougall’s shore as they were relations. Our parents took us to Argyle Shore Provincial Park. You could park handy to the water. The Park had picnic tables, play equipment and washrooms close by. There was even a natural spring to keep soft drinks cold. We were fortunate if we didn’t have to stop at the cemetery on the way. My mother liked to walk through, linger and remember Argyle Shore people that she knew as a child.

The Selkirk Settlers’ migration extends to Argyle Shore. It’s MacPhail country for the most part. Historical ties run through communities from here to Wood Islands. In the Murray Diaries (1911-25), there is mention of family from DeSable down for a visit to Clyde River. The DeSable relatives took the Murrays for a drive in their new car in 1922. In Mary Ann MacDougall Darrach’s letters (1904-07), she wrote that she had travelled from Clyde River down to Eldon. I recall her writing how “good it was to see my people”. Grace Seller Inman-Morrison from Argyle Shore was asked what was the greatest thing that happened in her lifetime and she said it was the telephone. When she married and moved to another community, it offered her an opportunity to stay connected to her people.

I am staying on Harvey Inman’s shore, Grace’s son, right beside Argyle Shore Provincial Park. In fact, he manages the Park. On the field below his home place, he has created a small community of cottage dwellers. Many began renting a cottage from Harvey years ago and went on to purchase their own little piece of heaven. It’s a quiet place offering ample time for rest and reflection. As you travel along Route 19, you will see many similar cottage communities in DeSable, Canoe Cove, Rice Point, Nine Mile Creek, Cumberland, Fairview, New Dominion and Meadowbank where friends and relatives reconnect after long winters. There are Islanders, those married to Islanders, long-term summer residents from other parts of Canada and New Englanders for the most part.

There is little in the way of commerce here. The Blue Goose Restaurant and Bakery is in DeSable. Harvey’s store in Crapaud has the largest variety of offerings unless you want to make the trip to Cornwall. Anna’s Country Kitchen even has a drive through. Victoria offers fresh fish, theatre and artisan shops. But there is no need for much. The view of the Northumberland Strait sustains you. I recall when I stayed here years ago for the first time. Harvey told me it was so quiet you could hear the moon come up. Last night’s buck moon, the name for July’s full moon, performed a silver symphony reflected across the strait.

I enjoyed a visit with Harvey and Evelyn last evening and we talked about the Clyde River history lectures we hosted last winter. As a first cousin of Ron MacKinley, he also knows how to tell a tale and he recounted a few stories about playing hockey at North River Rink and the strict loyalties divided by the West River. He had viewed the photos on the Clyde River site and smiled when he saw the men sitting around having a good chat. He said in earlier days, they would have been fierce opponents on the ice.

That’s it for now from across the river on the shores of Argyle. I hear someone playing fiddle music in the distance. Harvey says there’s a wedding on Cranberry Lane.

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It was a spectacular day for a plein air or “paint out” event in and around Murchison Place Park. About 20 artists and onlookers enjoyed the light, warmth and inspiration that a summer morning in July can deliver. Two artists arrived along with Julia Purcell at 6:30 a.m. and set up their easels on opposite sides of the park. Other artists arrived throughout the morning, with baskets, easels and chairs in hand, and set up around the boardwalk and gazebo. Clyde River Artist Julia Purcell spent time with each artist, answering questions and offering tips.

The first thing Julia suggests when painting outside is to set up your easel so you are facing the sun. Then when you attach your umbrella, you and your canvas will be in the shade. The canvas should be upright, not leaning back, to ensure that the lines in your painting are correct. Never place the focal point in the centre of a painting; it should be off-centred to create more interest and proper movement of the eye as one views it. Use a warm colour as a base. Julia used a yellow ochre, diluted with water to create a warm background to her scene. Add the main lines of the painting e.g. buildings and fences, to establish its overall composition and then add colour.

Julia said it is important to not waste time driving around all day in a car looking for a special location, but just pick a spot and enjoy the full experience of painting outside within a landscape.

In the middle of the Fitzgerald’s field of clover overlooking the Clyde River, Julia painted and taught her admiring audience. Julia didn’t get a chance to finish her painting at the event, but she has promised to send us a photo of her work.

Thank you to the artists and onlookers who came out on such a beautiful day. Thanks to the Friends of Clyde River for providing the beverages, Jo-Ann MacPhail for providing freshly baked muffins and Erica and Lisa Ross for set up. A big thank you to Julia for leading this artistic expedition that we all enjoyed so much.

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Shaw (1)After spending summers with her grandparents in St. Catherine’s, Judy Shaw always wanted to live in Prince Edward Island. Upon her recent retirement, she finally had the chance. This past year, she moved to the home that was built for Walter and Margaret Shaw in 1922-23 where she undertook a larger-than-expected job of renovating a place full of family memories. The design of the house is based on a home her grandmother Margaret fell in love with while working as a nurse in Boston.

A little history of the Shaw family…
Judy offered us a brief genealogy of the Shaw family since their arrival in Prince Edward Island. It was Malcolm Shaw and Catherine Livingstone who originally emigrated from the Isle of Mull, Scotland, somewhere around 1806. Malcolm soon started the Shaw Cemetery that later became the St. Catherine’s Cemetery and is now maintained by the community. The original house was 300 yards above the cemetery overlooking the Elliot River, now the West River. She believes it stood within the clump of trees that you now see by the cemetery. Malcolm’s son, Donald Shaw, came over to PEI after he finished school in Scotland. Donald was Walter Shaw’s grandfather. Donald and his wife had 13 children. Their youngest son Alex inherited the farm, as his five older brothers went to the US to fight in the American Civil War. One brother died at Gettysburg, another was wounded at Gettysburg and later died in prisoner-of-war camp, another became a famous heavyweight boxer and lived in Florida, and another brother went to California for the Gold Rush. One of the brothers returned to PEI and lived in a cabin near the homestead.

Alex Shaw and his wife had six children. Alex worked in the courthouse and assisted people in drawing up wills, working out of an office in Bonshaw. The irony of his chosen profession was that he then died without a will. Alex was responsible for where Dunedin Bridge is located. After his death, the farm was left with his wife and six children. They included William (Guy) and Walter who both remained in PEI. Their four sisters went to the Boston area as was popular with young girls in those days. One sister was killed in a train accident, another sister was killed in a car accident, one became successful in Florida, and another sister, Aunt Jean, lived in Plymouth. After Jean died, much of her furniture came back to the farm. The farm property was split in half between Guy and W.R. (Walter). Guy lived in the green house at the top of the hill that the family was born in, and Walter and his wife Margaret built their new house on their portion of land. The two properties were each sold in the early 1930s and moved through various owners, but Walter Shaw bought them both back in the later 30s and they have been in Shaw family ever since.

Renovating the family homestead…
Judy thought her renovation might take a month or so. When the moving company called her to say her furniture had arrived in PEI, she panicked. At that time, the home was almost completely torn apart in the midst of renovation. It was more work than she had anticipated. She was keen to have family input and to respect the original house and its memories. Judy had always considered this home a community place and wanted the blessing of the St. Catherine’s community. She didn’t want to make any changes that the residents would see as taking away the character of the place. She felt lucky that many of the people who worked on the house were local people, and each of them had a story about her grandfather.

Judy set out some design priorities as she approached the renovation. She wanted to keep the warmth of the place and was highly protective of the threshold in the kitchen to the point that each of workers clearly understood, “don’t touch the threshold.” She wanted to refinish the original staircase, douglas fir trim and wooden floors. Her grandmother always had a wood stove in the kitchen. She could not keep the original one, as it did not meet fire regulations, so she purchased a new wood stove for the same spot. She had hoped to maintain the original wood box in the back porch, but as the area was updated, she felt that a new wood box was in order. She also wanted to refurbish the original kitchen door and restore her grandmother’s gardens.

In terms of what Judy wanted to change, she wished for more modern conveniences like a brighter kitchen, windows that opened, a few more closets, a laundry and bathroom area off the back porch and a more open-style living room.

All new electrical wiring was required. As for heating, the house had an old furnace needing replacement and one huge vent that went up through the center of the house which meant that while the furnace was going, walking across the vent could render one airborne. There had to be a whole new vent system installed, so appropriate head space in the basement was sacrificed in favour of comfortable warmth in each room. When they cut the hole for the vent in the living room, they discovered four ceilings. They removed the lower ceilings, opened up the room and added support beams that are stained to look like they had always been there.

Judy confessed the tearing apart phase was difficult. Her instruction to all workers was “think before you cut”. She jokes now that there was some finger-pointing by the workers as to whom actually was responsible for cutting holes. She said that sometimes she had to leave the house while the was work was being carried out.

The home had different varieties of wood flooring throughout that were refinished. The bathrooms had to be updated. The fireplace and mantle featuring black walnut from a tree on the property was sympathetically restored. The kitchen door was refinished after painstakingly removal of multiple layers of paint and stain. It had been the original outside door before the back porch was added.

The front of the house was in the most disrepair and she didn’t want to lose its basic style. She has simplified the design and is very pleased with the result. There are huge windows on what was the outdoor front porch that is now winterized.

She feels all the effort has been worth it. Local St. Catherine’s native Reigh MacNevin, who attended her presentation, was the contractor on the job. Judy said that he was great to work with and remained calm throughout the project. Judy did all the painting and when she ran out of steam, Sheila, Ray’s wife, would drop over to help, which renewed her fortitude.

The home is now bright and the wonderful warmth that she so desired to maintain is there. She enjoys spectacular views from the kitchen bay window and is happy with the rooms throughout the home, although there is still a bit more work to be achieved. The back porch that features a cathedral ceiling will be painted the colour of Island mud which Judy thinks is appropriate for a mudroom in PEI.

“Memories are what make the renovation of a family home difficult,” Judy says. When her parents came down this past Christmas, to Judy’s relief, her father, who was born in the home, said, “I just think this is great” and spent many hours sitting in the now winterized front room fondly looking out toward the country road and across the fields toward the West and Clyde Rivers.

Interesting things found in the house during renovations included a bottle of lineament and a 1921 issue of Grain News in perfect condition.

Walter’s 1966 Chrysler car…
Judy has received calls every year about buying her grandfather’s old car. Her cousin in Nova Scotia owns the 1966 Chrysler that was stored on the property for 34 years. He came to retrieve the heritage auto this past summer with the plan to restore it and drive it back to his son’s wedding in Keppoch this summer.

The gardens…
The gardens will be Judy’s 2014 project. She has loved gardening all her life, so she looks forward to this Spring. The first job will be sowing grass seed to eliminate the mud further to construction work. She wants an old-fashioned cottage garden that will respect the essence of her grandmother’s gardens. Someone in the audience asked about the goldfish pond. She said the old goldfish pond was falling in and has already been filled with soil. The area will become an outdoor seating spot. People recalled the beautiful pond that was covered over in the winter while her grandparents stayed in the city, and how it was interesting to find out in Spring how the goldfish had weathered the cold months.

The barn…
The men in the audience were keen to know what the plans were for the barn. Judy said it is a beautiful barn with a root cellar underneath. One half of barn is in good shape but where the cattle were is in worse condition. Lawson Drake mentioned that Walter’s barn was the envy of many farmers in the area. Judy’s motivation in renovating the barn is to get some sheep. She owns a border collie, so she thinks it would further enrich their lives on the homestead to tend to a small flock. Judy is a graduate of agriculture who thinks the time has come to embark on a practical experience of farming.

A community treasure…
Many people in the audience had wonderful, humorous stories and expressed their grand affection for her grandparents and spoke about entertaining visits to their home. Others remembered how trips through St. Catherine’s meant slowing down by the Shaw property to enjoy the beautiful home and gardens.

Judy, we wish you many happy years in your home and we appreciate your achievements in restoring this homestead and your contribution to preserving your family’s history and the rich history of the area. As one audience member stated, “We look forward to you returning to tell us about the renovations to the barn and gardens another year.”

Author’s note: It is my plan to tour the Shaw family homestead and gardens when this tireless winter has passed and capture the historical beauty of this family and community place.

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