Clyde River History
The community of Clyde River, as many other Island communities, has been very active in preserving its history. Thanks to the families who have been diligent in saving diaries, scrapbooks, family Bibles, written and oral records and artifacts as well as the local churches who have valuable burial records, community history enthusiasts have been able to create a rich celebration of Clyde River’s history. The following highlights some of the history activities over the years:
Community Coat of Arms
In 1994, Clyde River was the first community in Prince Edward Island to have a Coat of Arms. The project was initiated by Dr. Edward Edmonds.
Clyde River Veterans
In 1991, Neila and Warren MacKinnon initiated the process of documenting Clyde River’s history by completing a tribute to the veterans from the community. The veterans’ photos are displayed at the Riverview Community Centre.
History and Stories of Clyde River
Also, in 1991, Neila and Warren audio-taped interviews with senior community residents, and this research formed the beginnings of creating a community history. In 2008, with funding provided by the PEI Community Foundation, a volunteer history committee was formed, tasked by Council with creating a community history book. Over the course of a year and a half, Chairperson Emily Bryant and committee members Sandra Cameron, Nancy FitzGerald, Carol Murray and Hilda Colodey added to MacKinnon’s work with information from scrapbooks, photo albums and personal recollections generously shared by community residents. With historical information gleaned by researcher Sara Richard, invaluable formatting assistance from summer student Erica Ross and editing advice from Edith Creighan, The History and Stories of Clyde River was published in 2009. The book is currently out of print, but there is a copy in our museum and the digital copy is available on UPEI’s Island Lives site.
Clyde River History Website
The original Clyde River website was launched in November 2009 for the purpose of promoting the History and Stories of Clyde River and evolved into further capturing the rich history, photographs, and ongoing events of the community. There are now over 500 stories authored mostly by Vivian Beer as well as guest writers who have connections to Clyde River. The site attracted an international audience of history enthusiasts, genealogical researchers and those with family connections to the community. These stories continue to be featured on this new community website.
Clyde River Calendar – Historic Homes and Buildings
In 2010, a 2011 calendar was designed by Doreen Pound for the history committee, featuring the beautiful historic homes and buildings within the community. This work was awarded a PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation – Heritage Activity Award.
Landscape of Memories
In 2012, Vivian Beer created a photo essay book of Clyde River for the Clyde River Women’s Institute, Landscape of Memories, describing how the landscapes offer clues to the early Scottish and English settlers in the community. Copies are still available.
Clyde River Museum – Artifact and photo collection
In 2014, a project entitled, “Capturing Collective Memories” was launched to gather photos and artifacts related to Clyde River’s history. Activities included bringing together Clyde River elders and inviting donations of artifacts and historic photos of the community. The response was overwhelming. Family photo albums and artifacts came in the mail from family connections as far away as Florida and Texas. Also, photos were scanned from local family albums. This initiative resulted in a collection of at least 2000 digitized photos and over 200 artifacts. Select photos and all the artifacts are featured in the museum located downstairs in the Riverview Community Centre. The museum is open during community events and by appointment. You will see some of our photo and artifact collection featured in stories throughout the history section of this website.
Clyde River History Lectures
A history lecture series ran for eight years 2013-2020, for a total of 26 presentations. These highly popular lectures will continue again in 2023.
Letters from the Great War
In 2019, to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War 1, letters written by a former resident of Clyde River, Lee Darrach to his brother in Boston were transcribed. Later, the letters were voiced by Alan Buchanan, and recordings are included on this site. The letters have also been added to UPEI's Island Voices site and The Canadian Letters and Images Project site.
Cemetery Stories Study Course
In 2020-21, during pandemic restrictions, the history committee created an online study course called “Cemetery Stories”. Initially, the focus was on Clyde River cemeteries, but interest spread after a featured CBC story from cemetery history enthusiasts across Canada, US and the UK. The course outline is available to any individual or group who wishes to adapt it to their own study of cemeteries.
Clyde River History Society
The work of preserving Clyde River’s history continues, and in 2021, the former Clyde River history committee was renamed the Clyde River History Society. The Society is chaired by Vivian Beer and members are Hilda Colodey, Sandra Cameron, Sarah Cameron, Rowena Stinson and Joanne Turner. If you have any questions about Clyde River history, family genealogy, or would like to donate photographs or artifacts, please contact Vivian at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society wishes to recognize all those who have worked tirelessly to preserve our community’s history over the years. We welcome new history enthusiasts to our society to ensure that our history continues to be celebrated and shared. We specifically want to recognize the years of effort of the Clyde River Women’s Institute who helped to preserve the Clyde River School that later became the Riverside Community Centre and who initiated and collaborated on many important history projects and events.
Murchison Place Park
In 1893, the property located at the intersection of the Clyde River and Dog River Roads became home to the busy medical practice of Dr. Alex J. Murchison. In addition to the Doctor’s office and dispensary, the homestead housed expansive gardens and a wide selection of trees and flowers. A century later, the family of Dr. and Mrs. Murchison donated the property for community use. The property had fallen into disrepair and had become unsafe; Burnside Presbyterian Church undertook restoring the property, but in 2003 Hurricane Juan destroyed their progress.
In 2005, the Clyde River Community Council received an Infrastructure Grant to create a community park on the Murchison property and a volunteer committee was struck to oversee the building of what was to become Murchison Place Park. Through the grant they hired contractors to remove the old buildings, level the grounds, install a chain link fence and build a gazebo. Community members spent hundreds of volunteer hours trimming trees, cleaning up debris, building a walkway, creating a flower bed and split rail fence, and constructing a tree house, playground equipment, a storage shed and seating. Volunteers planted hundreds of native shrubs and plants and created and erected story boards. The Park opened in 2007 and remains valued public space for the community and surrounding areas.
Murchison house, circa 1940 with some of the plantings.
Sketch of the property, showing the original trees and gradens.
Clyde River’s Pioneer Cemetery – Never forget those you come from
The Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery was the original Baptist Cemetery in the community and is located by the river just down from the location of the original Baptist Church which is now part of the Livingston property on the Clyde River Road. The earliest burial was Margaret Murray who died on February 16, 1842, and the last burial was Anne Murray who died on February 14, 1908. When it was decided to build a new church beside Clyde River School (currently Riverview Community Centre), the old church building was used for a community hall for many years and then decommissioned and sold. The cemetery sign features an expression in these pioneers’ mother tongue of Gaelic, “Cuimhnich air na daoine bho’n d’thanaig thu which translates to “Never forget those you come from”.
The Cemetery does not have year-round access, so there is a sign in the current Baptist Church Cemetery in the centre of the community that lists those buried there. Family names include Harvey, Henderson, Livingston, McLaughlin, McLean, Morrow, Murray, and Wares. For more history on this cemetery and genealogical details of those buried here, please refer to our story, “Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery – Never forget those you come from.”