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Many families in Clyde River have an ancestral connection to Colonsay, Scotland. Immigrants to Prince Edward Island in the early 1800s sailed on the Polly 1803, Dykes 1803, Oughton 1803, Spencer 1806 and settled in Belfast, Clyde River and surrounding areas, becoming part of the Selkirk Settlers. Common family names are Darrach, MacLean, MacNeil, Bell, Currie, MacPhee, MacEachern, to name a few. Here is drone footage of Colonsay. Enjoy. If you have visited here, share your experience in the comments.

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.

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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.

The 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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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.

Millar MacFadyen

Millar’s Life Review was provided to us by Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner which was written by Norma Thomson (Millar’s niece, Norman’s daughter) in 1986 for a course she had taken on the Dynamics of Communication with the Elderly and their Families. Millar MacFadyen taught at Clyde River, Cornwall, Kingston and East Wiltshire Schools during his career. Millar would have been 87 at the time of this interview.

Millar, Eric & Norman MacFadyen

Millar, Eric & Norman MacFadyen

Millar was born at Kingston on June 13, 1898. He was the second oldest of a family of seven children. He traces his ancestry to the Argyles (Argyll) of Scotland. Millar’s mother descended from the Campbell’s of Mull and family history suggests he was a descendant of the 5th Duke of Argyle (or Argyll).

Millar and his oldest brother started to school the same year. He was only five years old and his brother was six. He told me back in those days, you could do that. He went to a one-room schoolhouse with approximately 40 pupils all taught by the same teacher from grades 1 to 10. The older pupils helped the teacher out with the younger pupils. He attended school for 14 years.

Norman MacFadyen, Millar's older brother

Norman MacFadyen, Millar’s older brother

By then, the First World War had broken out and his older brother had gone overseas. Millar stayed at home for two years and helped his father on the farm. During this time, he decided he wanted to become a teacher, so he wrote and passed the matriculation examination into Prince of Wales College where he obtained a teacher’s license.

From 1918-1922, he taught school at Cornwall. While there, he met and married Marion Lewis and they were married on December 20th, 1922.

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Millar’s parents: Sarah Jane (Campbell) & John Archibald

He remembers the Christmas of 1918 as a very sad time for the family, as on December 17th, his mother passed away suddenly. She was only 48 years old. The youngest of her children were twin girls, only eight years old. The first world war was just over and they were waiting for the return of the oldest boy from the war. He wasn’t able to get home until July 1920. In 1921, Eric, a brother two years younger than Millar died of T.B. He was just 21.

After his marriage, Millar moved in with his father on the home farm in Kingston. He taught school from 1922-24. He had 51 pupils in grades 1-10. In 1924, he taught at East Wiltshire for two years and then taught at Clyde River until 1932 when he returned to Kingston School and taught until 1935. He farmed and taught school for 16 years. He would get up at 3:00 a.m. and cultivate four acres before he went to school and four more acres in the evening during the busy season.

Millar & Marion (Lewis) MacFadyen

Millar & Marion (Lewis) MacFadyen

In 1941, he obtained the position of principal at Parkdale School and was there for there for 14 years. He taught grades 7 to 10. In 1955, he received a position with the Department of Education as Director of Correspondence Study and Truant Officer of Prince Edward Island. He retired in 1972 at the age of 74 years after working 17 years at the Department of Education.

When he first started teaching, his salary was $305 a year, and, in the final year at the Department of Education, $19,000 a year. When he retired, he received a pension of $3400.

Concerts were the highlight of the school year. At these concerts, they would raise money for needed school equipment. One year, they purchased a teacher’s desk and chair. Another year, it was a bookcase, and, another year, they purchased a school organ for $75. During the depression years, there was not enough money to buy paint for the school, so they held a concert to raise money to buy paint.

In those early years, grades were not mentioned, as a child started with the first primer, second primer, book I, book II, book III, and book IV. Another highlight was the Red Cross organization. He wrote a script for radio and had several people take part. This program was well received by the radio fans, In Parkdale, he organized a program where four pupils would answer questions by one of the other pupils. They had a program every Friday. Questions were asked regarding the home, marriage, boyfriends, religion, etc. The first program lasted five minutes. The final one in June was timed and it had to be discontinued after one and a half hours.

Millar said, “The students enjoyed the program and learned a great deal about Canada, people and how to conduct themselves. It was a great asset towards discipline, and it taught each one how to express themselves without fear, because they became conversant with many topics. A great need is to show that we care for other people. It also showed children that we were interested in their welfare. This is teaching democracy and that we must have as leaders people of high moral character and integrity. We must give our children the right kind of training.”

Millar emphasized that in the old days, teachers taught and did not emphasize their salary. He said, “Today, we need good leadership and the guidance. Our forefathers have left us a good heritage. We must make changes as time passes on but let us preserve the best things of the past and make changes for improvement. Remember, without a good past, we cannot have a great future. Let us remember that the little schoolhouse has produced great leaders in the past.”

Millar attended the Presbyterian Church all his life. He became an elder in 1950 of Zion Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown. He was Clerk of Session for ten years and taught bible class for 15 years. When a charge did not have a minister, he took his turn in the pulpit. He was secretary of the Men’s Association for nine years and of Presbytery for three years.

He retired in 1972 at 74 years of age, and since that time, he has written three books of poetry and several single poems. He was a member of the Gideon Society for several years and during those years preached several sermons. He was a delegate from the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation to the Canadian Teachers’ Federation twice, once in Winnipeg and once in Toronto. Millar’s first train ride was in 1941 when he travelled from Charlottetown to Winnipeg to attend the meeting.

He remembers his first car ride and that was in 1916. A friend of his was driving around and picked him up to take him for a ride. He was much older when he had his first plane trip, when he travelled from Charlottetown to Toronto for a funeral. He said, “It was necessary for me to get to my destination in a hurry, so it was my only choice to go on the plane.”

I asked Millar what his favourite word was. He said “Sui Generis” which means unique, unequalled or unparalleled.

I asked Millar if he had his life to live over again, what would he do differently. He answered, “Nothing different, I have thoroughly enjoyed my life.”

Editor and family notes:

  • Millar lived 99 years, 1 month. He died July 14th, 1997.
  • Clipping about Clyde River School examinations include a thank you letter from students, click here.
  • Millar was principal of Parkdale School during his career. When some of his former pupils had a reunion at the new Parkdale School on Confederation Street, they planted a tree and placed a plaque in the front yard for Millar. It was a very special time for him. He was very proud and overwhelmed.
  • There is a book of Millar MacFadyen’s poetry in the museum collection at the Riverview Community Centre.
  • Millar was also a descendant of Thomas and Jane Beer. Their first daughter Mary Anne (Beer) married Archibald MacFadyen. Their son John Archibald married Sarah Jane (Campbell), and their son was Archibald Millar. Refer to lineage on http://www.janedyment.ca, click here.
  • Both Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner and Jane Dyment who are members of our History Committee are descendants of Mary Anne (Beer) and Archibald MacFadyen. Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner is a descendant of Millar’s older brother Norman, making Millar her great-uncle.
  • Millar was Roger Younker’s grandfather. Roger was the News Anchor for CBC Charlottetown’s Compass program for many years.
Millar's childhood homestead, Bannockburn Road

Millar’s childhood homestead, Bannockburn Road

  • Millar’s home place was on property now owned by the Dixon family on the Bannockburn Road, just a 1/4 mile past the Kingston/Clyde River border on the right-hand side. The house is no longer there.
  • Millar’s mother’s obituary stated she “was taken suddenly ill with heart trouble.” Her children were Norman, Millar, Donald (Eric) (died of T.B. at 21 years old), Margaret (Florence), Jeannette and Alexandrena. Another of her daughters predeceased her, Rebecca Louise at 7 months, 13 days. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Donald E. Campbell of Darlington. She is buried in the Clyde River Presbyterian Cemetery. More details on obituary and genealogy at www.janedyment.ca, click here.
  • When Millar’s grandparents (Campbell’s) moved to Charlottetown, they lived in a house at the corner of Kirkwood and University Avenue which is now the location of Shopper’s Drug Mart. The home was referred to as Argyle Cottage.

Our 5th Annual Clyde River Lecture Series is back after attracting record audiences in 2016. The series has become the place to be on Saturday afternoons during an Island winter, where you can enjoy entertaining stories from the past along with warm hospitality and refreshments. All are welcome to attend. We invite you to take along any memorabilia or photos related to the topics. Tables will be set out to display your items. The lectures take place at the Riverview Community Centre on Clyde River Road.

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Photo credit: The Guardian

Saturday, January 21st, 1:30-3:30 p.m. – Carol MacLellan – “The Attraction of Old Home Week” – depicting 125 years of the Provincial Exhibition

Everyone who grew up in PEI has great stories about Old Home Week. Carol says she had enough stories and photos for many books. This rich history covers an important part of Island culture where rural and city folks have come together since 1888 to celebrate at an agricultural fair in Charlottetown. Carol will introduce how the book came about as well as discuss the involvement of the Old Home Week Board and History Committee. She will talk about the interviews, research and how they organized and designed it to make sure they covered the many wonderful aspects of the exhibition. Books will be available for purchase at the event ($20).

Carol MacLellan is a retired teacher having taught all grades from 1-12, starting in a one room school to teaching English in High School.  She was Allied Youth Advisor to her students for 20 years and 4-H Leader including Overall Leader for 16 years with the Pleasant Valley 4-H Club. After retirement, she served for 14 years on the Provincial Board of Women’s Institute, the last three representing the National Board of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada. While she was Chair of the Women’s Institute handcrafts and Arts Show at the Provincial Exhibition, she was asked to become involved in writing the history of Old Home Week. “The Attraction of Old Home Week on Prince Edward Island,” depicting 125 years of the Provincial Exhibition.

Screen Shot 2017-01-02 at 10.20.09 PM.pngSaturday, 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).

Screen Shot 2017-01-02 at 10.27.33 PM.pngSaturday, February 18th, 1:30-3:30 p.m. – Alan Buchanan, Storyteller – “Home from Boston: Stories of Island Family Connections in the New England States”

Many Islanders, especially from large families, went to the Boston area in the early part of the 1900s to find work, but they would always return in summers to visit their Island siblings and cousins and enjoy their ancestral Island home. This will be an opportunity to hear Alan’s entertaining stories but also to share your own. For those Boston area cousins that follow us here on our website, we welcome you to email us your stories as well in advance of the event and we will make sure to share them.

Alan Buchanan was born and raised in Belfast, Prince Edward Island. He has had a varied career, but lately has become best known as a storyteller. His career on-stage began with the production, Belfast People, in the 1980’s. Since then, he has been a member of the award-winning group, Hedgerow, and has also been featured on local, regional, and national radio broadcasts, including the popular CBC comedy show “Madly Off in all Directions”. Several summers ago, he was a member of the cast of Story which played to sold-out audiences at the Guild in Charlottetown, and for the past two summers he has been a part of the fabulously popular Four Tellers at the King’s Playhouse in Georgetown. His hilarious stories centre on the colourful characters and cultural quirks he observed growing up in a rural community.

Following the lectures, 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. If you have any questions about the lectures, please contact Vivian at vivian@eastlink.ca.

Clyde River Community Council invites all interested residents to attend a public information meeting on two topics that will affect our community in the future. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, January 17th at the Riverview Community Centre, 718 Clyde River Rd.

Cornwall Bypass – At 7:00 PM, staff from the provincial Transportation division will present information on plans for the completion of the Cornwall Bypass. This will include information on work planned in Clyde River. The presentation will be followed by a Question and Answer period.

Municipal Government Act – Following the first presentation, members of the Clyde River Community Council will present information on the recently passed provincial Municipal Government Act (MGA). This new legislation requires significant changes to the way all municipalities on PEI operate and are structured. This meeting is the beginning of a dialogue process on how our community moves forward under the MGA. The presentation will be followed by a Question and Answer period.

For further information contact: Bruce Brine, Community Administrator, at clyderiver.cic@pei.sympatico.ca

Rachel O’Connor, Breanne Burgoyne, Kristie Rogers, Lauren Lenentine, Coach Pat Quilty

Clyde River’s Breanne Burgoyne will be representing PEI’s Junior Women’s Curling on Team Lenentine at the 2017 National Junior Curling Championships in Victoria, B.C., January 21-29. Her teammates include Rachel O’Connor (Charlottetown), Kristie Rogers (New Haven) and Lauren Lenentine (New Dominion). Breanne, Lauren and Rachel have curled together for nine years. This year, they welcomed Kristie Rogers to their team. Coach Pat Quilty has been with them from the beginning and has spend countless hours preparing them for this achievement.

Breanne says, “Putting my excitement and appreciation into words is impossible! My team and I are so honoured to represent the Island in B.C. This honestly is a dream come true; however, this is only the beginning.”

In April 2016, they ended their season by winning the Atlantic Under 18 Championship in Halifax. As they entered this curling season, their goal was to represent PEI at the 2017 National Under 21 Championships in Victoria. They worked hard, on an off the ice, through the Summer and into the Fall. They travelled off island on numerous occasions this past Fall to compete with some of Atlantic Canada’s strongest competitors, including against the Nova Scotia team that won the world championship in 2016. They were determined to meet their goal and were focused on one outcome at the provincial play downs held in Montague over the Christmas holidays. Their dedication paid off.

There will be a Meet & Greet Fundraiser for the team at the Cornwall Civic Centre, 29 Cornwall Road on Saturday, January 14th, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (storm date – January 15th). Chili and snacks to be served. Donations to cover expenses will be graciously accepted, and a Gift Basket will be drawn for on January 17th. For any additional information, please contact Jennifer Lenentine at jenlenentine@hotmail.com or call (902) 393-2625. Make sure to follow @TeamLenentine on Twitter.