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Photo by Kim Mann, Saskatchewan, 2017 GBBC

(News release – National Audubon Society)
The 21st Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place February 16 to 19 — in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies, and beaches. This global event provides an opportunity for bird enthusiasts to contribute important bird population data that help scientists see changes over the past 21 years. To participate, bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at birdcount.org.

“The 2018 GBBC again promises to provide an important snapshot of bird occurrence in February,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program. “Some stories to watch in North America are mountain birds moving into lowland valleys and east to the Great Plains, crossbills on the move across much of the continent, and many eastern birds responding to extremes as the winter temperatures have oscillated between unseasonably warm and exceptionally cold.”

“The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to introduce people to participation in community science,” says Dr. Gary Langham (@GaryLangham), vice president and chief scientist for the National Audubon Society. “No other program allows volunteers to take an instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations that can contribute to our understanding of how a changing climate is affecting birds.”

In 1998, during the first GBBC, bird watchers submitted about 13,500 checklists from the United States and Canada. Fast-forward to the most recent event in 2017. Over the four days of the count, an estimated 240,418 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted 181,606 bird checklists reporting 6,259 species–more than half the known bird species in the world.

“Will we break last year’s record number of Canadian participants?” asks Jon McCracken, Bird Studies Canada’s National Program Director. “A lot depends on the weather, but a little snow and cold shouldn’t get in your way. Remember that you don’t have to venture far afield at all. You truly can count birds right in your own backyard or, better yet, take a pleasant winter stroll around your neighborhood.”

To learn more about what scientists discovered the past 21 years and how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit birdcount.org. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

The 21st GBBC is additionally notable because it is the February call-to-action for the Year of the Bird, a 12-month celebration of birds to raise awareness of how people can help birds by taking simple actions each month. The Year of the Bird is led by National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International, and more than 100 participating organizations. Learn more about Year of the Bird at www.birdyourworld.org.

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.

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.

 

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.

We are pleased to share this lovely memoriam submitted by Emily Bryant.

People who remain in the same area for their entire life have an opportunity to make a lasting impact on their home communities and they are a vital link for their families and neighbours. Wanda Jean MacPhail is a perfect example of one who has made an important contribution to her life long communities. Clyde River and New Haven lost a favourite long-time resident when Wanda Jean MacPhail (Livingstone) died on January 20, 2018. Of course, Wanda’s loving family, including her husband Eric, will miss Wanda most of all but all of us who had the privilege of knowing her have fond memories of this hard-working, kind woman who was friendly and welcoming to all.

Sympathy is extended to Wanda’s faithful loving family who include her husband Eric P. MacPhail, her daughters Ann and Ruth, son-in-law Allan Nelson and daughter-in-law Jo-Ann. As well, Wanda was a proud grandmother to Mark (Megan), Victoria, and Peter MacPhail, Callie and Drew Nelson, and Grace MacPhail-Wagner.

As the only child of Watson and Lillian (Hyde) Livingstone, Wanda grew up listening to a lot of adult conversation. Her mother had kept a scrapbook of community events and Wanda, who has always valued community, carefully protected this information for many years. When the history of Clyde River was developed a decade ago, this scrapbook was a valued source of historical information.  Wanda’s stories and insights were a big help as well.

It is hard to even say Wanda or Eric without saying them together ‘Wanda and Eric’, as they were a life long team. They always knew each other as, even though Eric’s family lived in New Haven, Eric chose to attend school in Clyde River – probably influenced by Wanda Livingston, a beautiful young girl. Eric and Wanda were married in 1949 and were devoted spouses for almost 70 yrs.

Wanda grew up living and working on the Livingstone farm and when she married Eric, she lived and worked on the MacPhail farm. She worked harder than most people realized and harder than most of us would or could. Not only was Wanda a dedicated mother and homemaker, but Eric would be the first to say that Wanda did more than her share of work with pursuits that he initiated such as growing cucumbers, turnips, strawberries, or summer savoury or building and operating several cottages in Argyle Shore –Desired Haven.

Clyde River and New Haven Women’s Institutes have benefited greatly from Wanda’s faithful service as did the Baptist Church in Clyde River. Wanda made and served hundreds of squares and sandwiches to help these causes. She also helped friends and neighbours experiencing illness or loss. Her kindness, quiet manner and good nature inspired everyone.

Working with the small committee that wrote the community history, I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with Wanda and Eric. I enjoyed these hours and we all were richer by the contribution they made to the book: The History and Stories of Clyde River. They offered wonderful oral history and interesting and humorous stories. Eric could eloquently describe many aspects of life in this community, but it was Wanda who laughed and was animated when she talked about Clyde River School and the fun she and her friends had at the River or when playing games. (I saw the same twinkle in her eyes when she spoke of her grandchildren.)

Wanda was happy that their daughter Ruth chose to live in the Livingstone house. This historic house on the Clyde River Road was built in 1840 and, beginning in 1998, it was lovingly restored by Eric and Wanda. By 2003, these renovations were completed by Ruth and Allan Nelson and they have lived there ever since.

When Wanda and Eric moved into Burnside Community Care, Wanda could look out at the River she loved and her childhood home. Sadly, illness took away some of Wanda’s joy and the last months have not been easy for her. It is important for us to remember Wanda as the kind, strong, smiling wife, mother and community worker that she was for most of her long life.  I think she would want this to be her legacy.

Rest in Peace, Wanda Jean MacPhail.

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.

Clyde River History Committee member Joanne Turner has found another gem about the early history of the James McCabe family that settled in what would become Pictou County, Nova Scotia in 1767, 251 years ago. The writer of this family history, Layton McCabe (1854-1944), married Annie Tyler Fraser (1871-1953) of Clyde River and his brother Spurgeon McCabe married her sister Harriett Crawford Fraser. Annie and Harriet were sisters of Edith Rebecca Fraser who married Charles D. MacLean. An earlier story on the MacLeans of Meadowbank is featured here. The history of the Fraser family on the Linwood Road was featured in, “The Old Homestead on the Linwood Road”.

Although the following writing is about the Fraser in-laws’ heritage, we do share ancestral connections to Pictou County, and the early stories of settlement would present similar challenges no matter which side of the strait one landed. So let’s take a little visit over to Pictou and back two centuries.

Hardships of Pioneering in 1767 – written by Layton McCabe

From different sources, but chiefly from Reverend George Patterson’s history of the settlement by pioneers of Pictou County, N.S., I have gathered the following facts in regard to the coming of our great, great-grandfather, James McCabe, a man who had been educated in Ireland for a Roman Catholic priest, but instead, had become acquainted with and married a Protestant girl of a good family of some means, and had emigrated from Ireland to a British colony in Pennsylvania, North America, some time previous to 1767. (He notes that it may have been only a short time previous, or it may have been fifteen or twenty years.)

At this time there was a small town at Halifax, a village at Truro, and settlers had taken up land on the St. John River, and had occupied the borders rich in marshlands of the Bay of Fundy. But, as yet, there were no European settlers on the north shore of Nova Scotia from the Strait of Canso to Bay Verte, and possibly as far as the Miramichi River.

Large grants of land were held by companies farther south in which is now the United States of America, who were continually sending out families to occupy their lands in Nova Scotia. Such a land company in Philadelphia, who owned a large tract of land in Pictou County gave a power of attorney to John Wykoff of Philadelphia (merchant), and Dr. John Harris of Baltimore empowering them to sell, in the name of the company, their lands on such terms as they should see fit. They also dispatched a small brig called “The Hope”, Capt. Hull of Rhode Island, with six families of settlers, with supplies of provisions for their use. One of these families was that of James McCabe, his wife and six children, one servant and two slaves.

The Hope sailed from Philadelphia toward the end of May, 1767, called at Halifax to get information regarding the coast round to Pictou. They reached Pictou on June 10th.

The people of Truro had heard of their coming, and five or six young men set out through the woods to meet them to aid in building camps and commencing operations. Two of these young men were Thomas Troop and Ephriam Howard. These young men in passing two of the mountains on the western border of the country named one Mt. Thom and the other Mt. Ephraim (names by which they are still known).

Reaching the harbour on the same afternoon in which the vessel arrived, they made large fires on the shore to attract attention of those onboard, who seeing them, supposed them to be made by natives of whom they stood in terror. The vessel accordingly stood off, and on, until next morning, when they saw by the aid of spy glasses that they were men who cheerfully hailed them. During the night, a baby boy was born, who lived to grow up, and who died in 1809, and was buried in Pictou graveyard, where his monument may still be seen, describing him as “the first settler English-born in Pictou County”.

At the time of the arrival of these first settlers of Pictou, a great unbroken forest-covered the whole surface of the country down to the water’s edge, pine and hemlock and spruce on all the lower levels, and hardwood, birch, maple and beech farther up on the highlands.

The natives had been hostile to the new settlers up to this time claiming the land and constantly tried to prevent their settlement on the north shore of Nova Scotia. The small group of settlers spent the first night on shore under the trees, without even a camp, feeling lonely and discouraged at the prospect of toils and danger before them, and made up their minds when daylight arrived to go on board the little vessel and return to Philadelphia, but when morning came, there was no vessel to be seen. The captain and the land agent had slipped out of the harbour in the night and left them to their fate.

So with mattocks (an axe on one side and a hoe on the other) they commenced the erection of rude huts in which to live. A half-acre was assigned to each family, and they thus proceeded to lay out a town and Lot no. 1 being James McCabe’s, he immediately set to work to clear his half-acre, which he accomplished, his descendants boasting that he cut down the first tree felled by a new settler in Pictou County. He cleared his land by digging away the earth from the small trees and cutting the roots, hauling them out into the tide water to be carried away by the current.

He planted his lot of potatoes, using a mattock, placing the seed under the moss, which served as manure. The land seemed poor, and the tubers did not grow larger than potato balls. The settlers later got farm lots, McCabe having been shown better land up the West River about five miles, a place now called Loch Broom.

Owing to having been educated as a priest, McCabe gained an influence over the natives, who led him to take up land where they claimed was more fertile, which proved to be true. But he, being Roman Catholic, could not hold a title to any land, as the company’s grant bound them to settle their lands with Protestants, and for this reason the deed of his land was made in his wife’s name; her maiden name had been Anne Petigrew. The six families with their six lots was the beginning of the town of Pictou.

In the following Spring, 1768, the settlers having no seed potatoes had to go to Truro, on foot, by a blazed trail, a distance of fifty miles or more, requiring three days to go, and three to return, each man bearing a bag of seed potatoes on his back. This seed produced a quantity of good potatoes, but these were consumed almost before the winter set in, leaving the families only way of procuring food by hunting and fishing. Moose and bear and rabbits were plentiful, the meat of which was used for food, while the skins were used for clothing and footwear.

They also added to their larder by fishing in the streams and lakes for salmon and trout, which were plentiful, but were often taken from them by the natives who claimed all the land and all the game. The natives would shoot to kill on the least provocation, but the native women would often go out of their way to warn the settlers not to come near their camps when there was danger.

In the Spring of 1769, the settlers had to once more make the long wearisome trip to Truro for seed potatoes, but this time they cut the eyes out, and thus succeeded in carrying back a larger supply which produced enough food during the following winter, with seed enough left for another year’s crop.

I visited the old homestead where James McCabe settled at Loch Broom; on my last visit to Nova Scotia, I found the sixth generation of the name now occupying the farm. It was very interesting to me to be shown over the place, to see the old relics, some of which had been brought from Ireland so long ago, and also to be shown the spot where the first Presbyterian Church was built in Pictou County, the land donated by an old pioneer, and where the people are now about to erect a monument.

The present dwelling house is a three-story French-roofed building, and the land produces good crops, especially hay.

These lines give us an idea of the hardships and dangers endured by our forefathers in carving out homes for future generations.

Layton McCabe, Alexandra, PEI

More resources:

  • The Hope People
  • History of Pictou
  • The Log Church at Loch Broom – The current Log Church at Loch Broom is a replica of the original built in 1787. Under the direction and initiative of Rev. Frederick Pauley a stone cairn was erected and unveiled on August 15, 1965 to mark the site of the church. The land for the cairn and the church was donated by Alvin McCabe – a direct descendant of James McCabe – the pioneer who donated the property for the original log church. July 29, 1973, as a result of the dedication and untiring efforts of numerous volunteers and Rev. Pauley, construction of the replica log church was completed. (sourcePhotos of the Loch Broom log church
  • Genealogy: James McCable married Ann Pettigrew, 2nd generation – John McCabe married Eleanor Moore; 3rd generation – James McCabe married Nancy Whidden; 4th generation – Edward McCabe married Sarah Higgins, 5th generation – Jacob Layton McCabe married Annie Tyler Fraser of Clyde River.
  • The writer of this article, Layton McCable, was born in Higginsville, NS, where his mother Sarah Higgins was born. He later lived in Alexandra, PEI.