Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blazing the Trail: Pioneers of Winter Recreation on PEI.

by Ian Scott, July 27, 2017

Over the last few years I spoke with people who had a connection to the early days of skiing on Prince Edward Island. As there has been little published on the history of winter recreation, this might be a chance to share these stories.

James William "Bill" Profit 
Ron J. Profit who practices law in Charlottetown was raised in Summerside recalled when his father, James William "Bill" Profit had a busy recreational woodwork shop behind the family home on Maple Ave., and with few suppliers of skis locally, began in the 1960's to manufacture wooden skis using a steamer box and press to shape the curved tips from steamed wood. Gradually there was demand for metal edged skis and Bill acquired the necessary supplies to ensure his Island-built skis were metal edged as well. 

Adventure seeking skiers would hike up farm hills and ski down. The first ski lift appears to be the rope tow located in Clinton, PEI. The Clinton hill overlooking the Southwest River near New London had a lodge building. Built for the summer hotel and restaurant trade, Allan Rankin, the son of the founder recalled, "Clinton Heights Motor Lodge was built and operated by my father, Robert H. Rankin. After retiring as a building contractor, he purchased land at Clinton and constructed the combined motor lodge, dining room, and lounge. He operated the facility for many years, together with the first downhill ski business on the Island. The dining room was well known across the Island. I worked at this tourism establishment during the summers, and rented skis in the winter."
Clinton Heights Motor Lodge in 1970's

After the ski hill closed many people recall the continuing operation renamed the Clinton View Lodge. Eventually it changed from a tourist hotel to a community care facility known as Perrin's Clinton View Lodge.

13 of the 17-member PEI Ski Team headed to the 1971 Winter Canada Games in Saskatoon. Picture taken at Brookvale Ski Hill.
The Clinton Ski Hill operated by Robert Rankin and his family played a key role in building interest in the sport across the province at both the recreational and competitive levels. One the keenest skiers who became a leader in all aspects of the sport was Ken Judson. I enjoyed a lunch with Ken this summer and he was quick to credit all the others who helped to build the sport. He admired Mr. Rankin's vision and role in providing a location for Ken and his friends to learn the sport. As Ken had already organized a ski group in hopes of gaining group discounts, he was approached by sport organizer Charlie Ballem to get a local ski association recognized by the Canadian Ski Association in time to send a PEI team to the first Canada Games being held in Quebec City as part of Canada's Centennial celebrations in 1967. Ken Judson's efforts worked and the first nationally recognized ski organization on PEI was formalized with Team PEI trained and competing in Quebec. 

Ken knew that a bigger operation than the fun slope in Clinton was needed to develop the sport and he gathered a small group of Summerside residents who shared his interest. Besides himself they included three other men: Creelman MacArthur, Lloyd Miller, and Laurie Coles.

Ken Judson in 2017
Their first meeting led them to believe that a profitable business could be developed of a large ski hill but by their second meeting they realized that as they all were busy with their own business interests that a non-profit approach was best so that young people and families would have access to a reasonably priced recreational activity. They determined early that it would be a full winter park, as they searched for a suitable hill.

Having heard of some good hills in Central Queens Co., Ken decided to take a detour one day when headed to Charlottetown on a business delivery. Heading inland from the Trans Canada Highway in Crapaud he soon found himself in Brookvale where spotted a steep slope and he turned onto a tiny logging road in his new Oldsmobile in hopes of exploring it further; with nowhere to turn around, he backed down to the road in the rain. He continued on to Charlottetown where he referred to a relief map to confirm elevations and decided to travel home the same route stopping at the nearest house to ask who owned the hilly woodlot. He obtained information on the owner from a neighbour and reported back to his organizing team.

Thus began the effort to purchase the hill at Brookvale from the owner, Mrs. Curley which Ken undertook concluding with a commitment by the four Summerside partners to develop the hill and sign personal commitments for a loan of $25,000 with a government guarantee provide to the bank. The next stage in 1966 saw the clearing of the hill using logging horses and the help of Boy Scouts and other volunteers to clear branches. Ken Judson and Lloyd Miller provided leadership with the daily operations getting the ski hill running with a rope tow in 1967. The hill opened on July 11, 1967 with official ceremony on July 28th of the same year. 

Ken Judson with Nancy Green in 1968
While the initial plan was for the hill to be transferred to the Provincial Government the actual transfer was delayed and thus Ken and Lorne and their team were responsible for all three years. Eventually operations as well as the bank account and loan payments were taken over by the PEI government in 1969 and Brookvale became part of the provincial park system.

Ken Judson along with his family remained involved with the sport and had received certification as a ski instructor. He started travelling to the larger hills in New England and meeting with ski leaders like Nancy Greene. As a natural leader and promoter of the sport, Ken Judson played a key role in building organizations that have allowed families to enjoy skiing on PEI, and for young athletes to gain the skills necessary to compete nationally and internationally. 

Ken Judson with Nancy Green 

Ken also recognized the early effort played by Judy Ellis in establishing the first training programs for children and adults at Brookvale. While many others have carried on the ski and snowboarding programs he credits Judy with the seminal role in getting things started in the early years. Ken Judson and Tom Richardson both took training as instructors in Nova Scotia. Operating under the Nancy Greene Ski School name, the program developed over time with Nancy Greene lending her celebrity endorsement as well as an ongoing expertise and support for youth skiing across Canada. The ski school under Judy Ellis gave skiers of all ages a solid start with safely as a key component instilled early. Many students starting as children in the program joined ski teams and saw their skills progress.

Another site which played an early role was Stratgartney Provincial Park which was the first park within a growing provincial park system. A gift of Robert Lawson Cotton (1881-1968), the park was under the direction of Wendall Profitt (1922-2017), who was able to secure a motor for a movable rope tow which was installed on the hill during the 1960’s. As a forest engineer, Wendall had started the Provincial Forestry Nursery along with J. Frank Gaudet. It was with his appointment as the first director of provincial parks that he was able to develop a network of parks and campgrounds across the Island and is referred to as the Pioneer of Provincial Parks. Standing on the top of the hill at Stratgartney in October 2011 with Wendall, enjoying its sweeping view he outlined for me the area where the ski operation was based. At that time his concern was for the whole park as a major highway was planned to run through the middle of the park. Luckily the combined efforts to mobilize support to “Save Stratgartney” worked and government rerouted the highway around the edge of the parkland, eventually expanded the total parkland holding in the general area.

This article covers a few individual who played an early role in winter recreation and is meant as a companion article to two others issued by the Provincial Park system which are I have copied and hosted on this blog.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Charlottetown YMCA 1856-1996

I came across a sheet of facts about the history of the Charlottetown YMCA which gave a quick snapshot of the operation in the 1980’s and I thought it might be of interest to others. It appears to have been part of a trivia contest:


Who's Who at the Y.M.C.A.
Dave Mills President
Joan Cameron Secretary
Valerie Johnston Vice-President Loran MacLellan Treasurer
David Campbell Unit Manager, Membership & Aquatics
Louis Gannon Chief Executive Officer Patty Dexter Unit Manager, Youth & Physical Education
Elizabeth Jeffrey Child Care Director
Shelley Baker Administration Director Terry Posylek Special Events Director Anna Yeo Pryme Tyme & Day Camp Director
Tim Hennessey Manager, Bowling Lanes
Paul McGuire Physical Education Director Dana Barron Health & Lifestyles Director Doug Ramsay Maintenance Supervisor Liz Hennessey Office Support Staff

History, Facts, Dates

1856 - Charlottetown YMCA founded, Captain John Orlebar first President 1859 - YMCA hired first paid staff
1893 - First ladies auxillary formed
1870 - Programs expand to the point that a larger facility was required
1871 - July 31st cornerstone for first YMCA building was laid 1873 - August 18th larger facility was opened 1886 - Gym activities for men began
1903 - First Boy's Work Secretary hired
1899 - A.W. Robb arrives as the first trained Secretary 1901 - Ladies gym classes began 1902 - Adult education classes (math, english, accounting, etc.) began
1911 - First mention of a need for a better facility, W.W. I interrupts plans
1906 - April Fund Drive, 50th Anniversary, Building free of debt 1910 - 2 bowling lanes added, YMCA helped organize Boy Scout movement on PEI 1917 - YMCA Secretaries given the honorary rank of Captain as were Chaplains
1937 - March 18-24 Y's Men met to organize Summerside Y's Men
1923 - Despite a $3,000 bank overdraft 2 additional bowling lanes were added 1925 - H-Y Grads began 1926 - Y's Men's Club formed with 34 members, later called Alpha Y's Men Canoe Cove Summer Camp for boys established
1941 - Property on the corner of Prince and Euston Street purchased
1938 - YMCA Camp Committee asked Y's Men to take over the operation of the Camp 1939 - Public meeting to plan new facilities - plans interrupted by W.W. II 1940 - Charlottetown YMCA oldest building in continuous Y operation in North America 1948 - Richmond St. building sold to PEI Government (present day Basilica Recreation Center)
1943 - New building campaign over subscribed, but increased cost developed 1944 - Holland Cove purchased by Y's Men for new camp property 1945 - Abandoned Richmond St building for temporary headquarters in the Rogers residence 1947 - May construction began 1949 - New building opened, no swimming pool

1962 - YMCA becomes member of newly formed PEI United Fund
1953 - Campaign raises $13,000 to apply towards mortgage 1956 - Board discusses clearing debt and building a pool 1958 - John Evans hired as General Secretary 1960 - Pool construction began 1961 - September building refurbished and pool opened for public use - first indoor pool in Charlottetown 1963 - 1,812 children received swim instruction
1977 - Government incentive program aids 200 volunteers to undertake Health Club campaign
1964 - Bluefins Swim Club formed 1965 - City of Charlottetown taxed the YMCA for the first time 1967 - Grant by City Council offsets taxes 1969 - 1,500 people in walk-a-thon raise $13,000, public burning of mortgage 1975 - 11,702 volunteer hours of service received from 596 citizens 1978 - October 17th Health Club facilities officially opened
1988 - Terry Moore accepts position with Saint John, N.B. YM/YWCA as CEO Louis Gannon hired as new CEO
1983 - Playschool and Kindergarten program began 1985 - Charlottetown YMCA hosts Atlantic Area YMCA Conference 1986 - John Evans retires, pool renamed in his honour Terry Moore hired as new CEO 1987 - March marks the start of Pryme Tyme after school child care program Joe Lawrence named Canadian President of Y's Men.
1989 - Charlottetown YMCA has served the community for 133 years, 40 at present site YMCA serves 2,000 present day members YMCA - Young Men's Christian Association
--------------------------------------------- Below is a brief history published by Archives PEI, the Prince Edward Island Archival Information Network with photos added.

The Charlottetown chapter of the Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA) was organized in 1856 with Capt. John Orlebar drafting the Constitution. The early program, conducted in the rented premises of Temperance Hall, consisted of literary and religious activities for young adult men. In 1870, due to expansive programming, it was decided to build a facility which would meet the needs of the organization. Located on Richmond Street, the “Y” building opened in 1873.

YMCA location on Richmond St to the right of the Free Church of Scotland.
Charlottetown, PEI.

By World War I the Charlottetown “Y” was positioning itself as a community centre and continuing to add to its facilities. In addition to providing recreational opportunities, the YMCA offered public services such as adult education classes (which began in 1902), child care, summer camp programs at their Holland Cove camp, and after school programs. Assistance was also provided to other organizations; they were, for instance, instrumental in organizing the local Boy Scout movement in 1910.

In 1886 the YMCA began offering gym activities for men. Women became involved with the organization in 1893 with the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary and ladies gym classes commenced in 1901.
Despite its growth the YMCA experienced intermittent financial difficulties which necessitated fundraising campaigns to pay off debts incurred by the expansion of facilities and programs. A new building was built on the corner of Prince and Euston Streets in the 1940's.

252 Prince St. Charlottetown - Photo by Natalie Munn,

It was expanded in 1960 with the addition of a swimming pool. In the 1980's the organization began to reorganize once more and it was decided to develop a fitness centre which would appeal to an adult clientele. Attempts to redefine itself in the community could not overcome a problematic debt load. The YMCA closed its doors in May of 1996. Retrieved – June 10, 2017

Additional notes by Vintage Charlottetown Facebook users:

When the YMCA closed the operation in 1996 the building was then operated as Charlottetown Recreation Centre, (CRC) and was managed by Joyce Gregory. It operated as the CRC until at least 2001.

Also see history of the YMCA building (252 Prince St.) at corner of Prince and Euston Streets. on City of Charlottetown site.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Odyssey of Pierre Poirier by Georges Arsenault

The Odyssey of Pierre Poirier
by Georges Arsenault and posted to Facebook on Dec 13, 2016

On this Acadian Day of Remembrance (13 December 2016), I have a special thought for the thousands of Acadians who died during the Deportation years. I also think about my ancestors who managed to escape deportation, especially my ancestor Pierre Poirier who escaped two deportations, the one in 1755 and the one in 1758. His story deserves to be told.

I am Georges à Aldine Poirier/Perry à Léon à Romain à Léon à Joseph à Pierre à Pierre Poirier.

In the summer of 1755, Pierre Poirier was a young man married to Marguerite Girouard. They were expecting their first child. They lived in Tintamarre (near present-day Sackville, N.B.). Like most of the men of the region, Pierre was arrested in the month of August and taken prisoner by the British soldiers. While waiting to be deported, he was incarcerated with others at Fort Lawrence which was located near the place where the Nova Scotia Tourism Information Centre stands today, not far from Amherst.

The wives of the prisoners were allowed to bring them food. At the request of the men, one of the women brought a knife which she hid in a large loaf of bread. With the help of this knife, the men were able to dig a tunnel under the walls of the fort. During the stormy night of the 1st and 2nd of October 1755, Pierre Poirier and 85 other Acadian prisoners managed to escape through the 12 foot underground tunnel they had made!

Pierre immediately headed for home hoping to find his wife who was about eight months pregnant. He found the village of Tintamarre deserted. He met some Mi’kmaq who told him that all the women, children and elders had gone to Cocagne to escape deportation. Pierre headed for Cocagne where he found Marguerite. From there, the couple sailed to île Saint-Jean (PEI). It is not known if their baby was born in Cocagne or on the Island. It is known, however, that Marguerite gave birth on October 15 to a girl, Rosalie, who was baptized the following November 24, 1755, at Port-la-Joye.

Pierre Poirier remained on île Saint-Jean with his young family until 1758. That summer, Lord Rollo and a contigent of British soldiers arrived on the Island to deport the inhabitants to France. For a second time, Pierre managed to escape deportation. With quite a few other families, Pierre fled to a refugee camp on the Restigouche River at the head of the Bay of Chaleur.

Around 1761, the Poirier family returned to the Island and settled at Havre-Saint-Pierre (St. Peters Harbour) for several years. Pierre and a number of Acadian men were hired to fish cod for British entrepreneurs. During his stay at Havre-Saint-Pierre, Pierre also went to Trois-Rivières (Montague area) in the winter of 1768 with eight other Acadian men to cut pine trees for William Livingston, and later that same year he was employed as a labourer for 11 days by Isaac Deschamps to do public work on the Island such as clearing land for the settlement of Charlottetown. 

The Anglophones for whom Pierre worked in order to feed his family, seemed to have difficulty pronouncing his family name, Poirier. To their ears, it sounded a bit like Perry, a popular name in England. That is probably how Pierre’s family name was translated to Perry. It is written in a number of ways in the 18th century documents in English: Paurie (1765), Purrie (1768), Pery (1790), Perry (1795), Perrie (1798). Pierre Perry seems to have been the first Poirier to more or less adopt the surname Perry. For many years, only his descendants were known by that name on the Island.

From Havre-Saint-Pierre, Pierre Poirier moved his family to Malpeque Bay in the early 1770s where they settled in Lot 17 in what is now North St. Eleanors. We don’t know where and when Pierre and Marguerite Poirier died. They were still alive and living in Lot 17 when the 1798 census was taken. By 1799, the Acadians started leaving the shores of Malpeque Bay to settle elsewhere in Prince County. Their children, Pierre (la Grand’couette), Basile, Rosalie, and Marguerite figure among the pioneers of Tignish while the other members of the family, Germain and Madeleine, are listed among the founders of Mont-Carmel.

Rosalie, born in 1755, married Joseph Richard. They are the ancestors of the Richards from the Tignish region. Marguerite married Julien DesRoches and they have among their descendants many of the West Prince DesRoches. As for Madeleine, she married Firmin Gallant, nicknamed “Panneau”, and they settled in Mont-Carmel. Their descendants are found in large numbers in the Evangeline Region, among them are the families with nicknames such as Panneau, Cannon, Calumet, and Blague.

Several of Pierre and Madeleine Poirier’s descendants have made history : 1) Rev. Sylvain Éphrem Perrey (1802-1887) was the first Acadian born in the Maritimes after the Deportation to be ordained to the priesthood; 2) Stanislaus Perry (1823-1898) was the first Acadian elected to the Legislative Assembly of PEI and the first Acadian from the Maritime Provinces to be elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa; 3) Joseph Alphonse Bernard (1881-1962) was the first Acadian to be named Lieutenant Governor of a Canadian province. His mother was a daughter of Stanislaus Perry.

On this Acadian Day of Remembrance, I applaud my ancestors Pierre Poirier and Marguerite Girouard, remarkable survivors of the Grand Dérangement (Great Upheaval).
Note : The information about Pierre Poirier as being one of the escapees from Fort Lawrence in 1755 comes from the research of genealogist Placide Gaudet. See: « La famille Poirier (Généalogie préparée par feu Placide Gaudet) », L’Évangéline, 28 January 1943.

Photo: Léon (à Joseph à Pierre à Pierre) Poirier/Perry and Marie Bernard. They were my maternal grandfather's grandparents. They lived in Ascension, parish of Tignish. In 1915, they celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary. Léon died in 1915. He was 96 years old. Léon and Marie had 16 children, six of whom died in childhood.
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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Kirk of St. James - Charlottetown, PEI A Self-Guide Tour

This material was provided by the Kirk of St. James in Charlottetown and is distributed as a brochure for visitors at the church. Pictures have been added.

Kirk of St. James

Self-Guide Tour

Welcome to the historic Kirk of St. James Presbyterian church.  This self-guide tour has been prepared as an interpretive guide that you may read as you discover this historic church.

The Kirk of St. James was designed in early Gothic revival style by David Sterling of the firm Sterling Dewar of Halifax.  William Chritchlow Harris, the well known Charlottetown architect was associated with Mr. Sterling in the construction and supervision of the building.  Mr. Harris was the architect responsible for designing many of the historic churches throughout the Island and many of the historic homes in Charlottetown. Construction commenced in 1877 and the building was opened and dedicated to the Glory of God on October 20, 1878.
The contractors, MacDonald and Fraser of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia were contracted for a price of $20,000.
The Kirk was built of Wallace Nova Scotia Freestone, with doorway facings, buttresses, and windows of Prince Edward Island Sandstone.  The building is seventy-seven feet long, fifty-five wide and fifty-nine feet high with walls eight inches thick.

The tower has walls twenty inches thick and the spire reaches to a height of one hundred and thirty feet and constitutes one of the Kirk’s most striking features.
The Gothic style originated in northern France about the middle of the twelfth century and in the rest of Western Europe anywhere from a generation to a century later.  This pre-dates the Renaissance which began in the fourteenth century.
The ceiling of the Kirk was destroyed by fire in 1898.  W.C. Harris designed the present ceiling which is considered one of the most beautiful examples of groined vaulting-typical of the Gothic style-on Prince Edward Island.      
This is the second Kirk to be erected on the site.  The first one dedicated in 1831 was moved to the north of the lot and used for Sunday school.  It has since been removed.

First Kirk of St. James - dedicated in 1831

Presbyterians arrived on the Island from Western Scotland as early as 1770.  Prior to construction of the first Kirk which commenced in 1826, Reverend James MacGregor made visits from Pictou, Nova Scotia.  Services of worship were conducted by visiting ministers in the eighteenth century at the Cross Keys Tavern, which was situated on Queen Street at Dorchester Street.  The first minister at the Kirk of St. James was Reverend James MacKintosh who was sent out by the Glasgow Colonial Society of the Church of Scotland.  Rev. MacKintosh was inducted on the day of dedication of the original Kirk on August 9th, 1831.

Stained Glass
in the Kirk

This portion of the tour commences at the archway over the main door on Pownal Street.  Above the entrance is a window depicting Christ the King holding the Orb of World Dominion.  His hand is raised in blessing upon all who enter to worship and adore.  The figure of the Saviour King is surrounded by cherubs in heavenly glory.

Next to the main entrance, towards Fitzroy Street, is the David of Israel window that is surrounded by symbols of agriculture, leadership, and the psalms.

The next two windows depict Saint Cecilia, patroness of music, who holds an organ, and Saint Hilda, the patroness of women teachers, who holds a book of music.  A lamp of learning appears at the top of this window.

The window above the Fitzroy Street entrance is comprised of one trefoil and two quadrifids.  The trefoil at the top contains an equilateral triangle representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as equal, yet one.  The rays of light shine forth in all directions as a light to our feet and a lamp to our path, a light the darkness shall never overcome.  The christogram in the left lobe speaks of Christ the Redeemer, who though dead yet forever lives triumphantly in full authority over the world and its people whom he has redeemed.  The descending dove in the right lobe symbolizes the Holy Spirit and the peace and purity that come through His presence among us. The tablets of stone in the right quadrifid represent the Ten Commandments and the honour and respect God expects us to show to Him and to one another issuing in harmony, righteousness, and justice.  The serpent with its head draped over the cross in defeat symbolizes evil conquered and the righteousness of God prevailing through 
the death and  resurrection of Christ.  The hive in the left quadrifid is a symbol of a faithful worker, and is an appropriate reminder of Mr. Fred Smith, our faithful custodian for many years and for whom this window is dedicated.  The bees around the hive speak of people working together within the church in harmony and co-operation.  The seven bees and seven layers in the hive represent perfection for which we must strive.  The hive resting upon the Bible suggests that the word is “as sweet as honey.He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.  Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.  Ezekiel 3:3   

“The Resurrection” on the east wall

Leaving the narthex and entering the church you will notice the massive stained glass window high on the nave to the left or south wall. Here is a portrayal of the Good Shepherd.  The adjoining panels display the scrolls symbolizing prophecy and evangelism.  This window was the gift of the Honourable J.C. Pope (one of the Island representatives at the 1864 Charlottetown Conference which led to Confederation) and William Welch, and was the result of an election wager.  Below this to the left are two windows portraying Moses and Isaiah who represent the Law and the Prophets. 

The three windows depicting Saint Stephen, Saint John, and Saint Timothy are the congregation’s memorial to those who gave their lives in the Second World War.  In the upper portions of these windows are the Coat of Arms of the Dominion of Canada, the Province of Prince Edward Island, and the City of Charlottetown.  At the base of each are the crests of the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force.

Beyond these, still on the south wall, are panels portraying two great figures of the New Testament, Saint Peter Apostle of the Jews, and Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Saint Peter holds the keys to the kingdom, and Saint Paul the sword of the spirit.
Above the door in the Prowse Memorial is a beautiful Good Shepard window.
High on the West wall near the south corner is a depiction of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. 
The large chancel window “I know that my Redeemer liveth”, is adorned with many symbols. 

Over the Holy Table in the chancel are two smaller windows.  One portrays Our Lord with the chalice of Holy Communion and the other portrays Saint James, the patron Saint of this congregation.  Saint James has the pilgrim’s staff in hand and the traditional scallop shell of his apostleship in his cap.

Above-still on the west wall-over towards the north corner is a depiction of Saint Nicholas the patron saint of Aberdeen.  Below Saint Nicholas is one that portrays the figure of Hope.

To the right of these, on the north wall, are windows depicting Saint Kentigern, the patron saint of Glasgow, and Saint Margaret of Scotland.  The upper portion of this window depicts Edinburgh Castle, the centre of Saint Margaret’s great work in the restoration and extension of the Church of Scotland in the eleventh century.
Further along the north wall, to the right of the organ pipes is the Aubery Blanchard Memorial window in honour of a young engineer who drowned in the St. Lawerence River in 1905.
Beyond this are windows portraying Saint Ninian, who was the first Apostle of Scotland, (in the panel below is his little church at Whithorn, the first stone sanctuary in Britain) and Saint Columba, who was the sixth founder of the great Iona mission, and the Apostle to the Highlands.  The panel below features a coracle, the vessel which carried Saint Columba and his monks across the sea from Ireland.
To the right of these on the east wall are windows depicting Saint Mark with the symbol of a lion above him, and Saint Luke with the symbol of an Ox above him.

Above the balcony on the east wall is a large window portraying The Resurrection.  The panels on either side depict sacramental symbols, seraphs and angels in glory.  To the left of this is a smaller window which is an interpretation of Revelations 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.”

Located in the church hall is “the Hosts to God” which portrays Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus surrounded by all the animals that are mentioned in the gospel story of the nativity.  It was designed by Island artists John Burden and Blaine Harabi.

  “The Hosts to God” in the church hall

Celebrating 50 years of fun in the snow! - History of Brookvale

This press release was posted on the Prince Edward Island government website on Jan 26, 2017. It provides an excellent list of key dates in the development of the Bookvale Provincial Park, located in Brookvale, PEI.

Erin Curley considers Brookvale Winter Activity Park home – and not just because she’s skied there since she was three years old.

What is now Brookvale sits on land that was once owned by the Curley family. Erin says her grandmother Rose Curley always wanted her community to thrive. So in 1966, Mrs. Curley sold the land to Ken Judson, Lloyd Miller, Laurie Coles, and Creelman MacArthur, who had a loan guarantee from the province and an understanding that government would eventually assume ownership.

“My grandmother believed so much in helping her community that, even though it broke her heart,” Erin said, “she gave up her family farm so the ski park could grow.”

It’s in her blood

Erin says the ski park, its staff and customers are like her family.

“My mother died young, and my father was a massive influence on my life,” says the 37 year old. “My dad, Vernon Curley, dedicated his life to two things: his daughters and Brookvale Ski Park.”

She spent many years sitting next to her father while he groomed the hills. She volunteered at Brookvale until she was old enough to apply for a job and then started working at the Nordic site when she was 21.

At 27 – encouraged by her father -- she applied for a job as the ski school coordinator. Today, Erin Curley is the coordinator of the Brown's Volkswagen Snow School, helping 400 skiers and snowboarders learn or fine-tune their skills every year.

“From my grandmother's sacrifice to my dad's dedication, I am who I am today because of them – and I work every day to make Brookvale better than it was the day before,” Curley says. “Skiing and snowboarding change people's lives; I've seen it a million times over the years and I'm just grateful to be a part of it.”
What’s planned for the 50th anniversary?

Saturday, January 28, 2017, staff, officials and outdoor enthusiasts will mark the day 50 years ago when Premier Alex Campbell opened the province’s only ski park to the public (that was on January 28, 1967).

There will be indoor and outdoor activities for everyone. The hill will be open regular hours from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. At 2:30 the official ceremonies will get underway honouring some of the park’s founders and long-term dedicated employees.


1966 – Trails were cut, a double rope tow was installed and a bunny hill was provided for beginners.  Two army huts were set up to provide a lodge, ski shop and restaurant.
January 11, 1967 – Brookvale opened for alpine skiing. Allan Holman, of Holman’s Department store, opened a ski rental shop on the premises.

January 28, 1967 – The hill was officially opened by Premier Alex Campbell.

1968 – The Nancy Greene ski school was started under the leadership of Tom and Pat Richardson.

1969 – The provincial government assumed operation the ski park.  The intermediate run, a toboggan area and a T-Bar were added.
Brookvale Ski Park
1970 – Due to lack of snow the hill opened for only two weeks, February 23 to March 7.  This was the shortest ski season for Brookvale.

1973 – The trail system was expanded.  A new professional snow groomer, a Bombardier, was purchased.

1974 – A new, updated ski rental facility owned and operated by the provincial government opened.  The first groomed, cross country trails were added.  These trails were on private land, courtesy of the owners.

1978 – CBC and the PEI Ski Association co-sponsored a ski day at Brookvale which attracted over 6000 alpine and cross country skiers, along with many snowmobilers.

1986 – The first snow making machine was tested on one trail at Brookvale.

1989-90 – A new base lodge was built and a 15 metre extension was added to increase the height of the hill.

1992 – A quad chair was installed to more efficiently and comfortably transport skiers to the newly renovated trail system.

2007-2008 - A new maintenance shop was completed. The PEI Ski and Snowboard School was purchased and taken over the provincial government.

2009-2010 – The T-Bar was removed. A new nordic ‎snowmobile and tow behind grooming system was added.‎

2015-2016 – Upgrades to the snowmaking equipment included a new 150 hp water pump, two new portable stick snow guns and an additional portable stick gun.

Brookvale Provincial Ski Park - 50 years of history!

This history was originally drafted by Jeannie Lea an active volunteer involved with ski organizations on PEI. It was issued as a background document by the Provincial Government of PEI during the period that Jeannie served in the cabinet of Premier Catherine Callbeck (1993 to 1996). In 2017 Erin Curley, Brown's Volkswagen Snowschool Coordinator with Tourism PEI, updated this to cover the entire 50 year period. Sincere appreciation to both Jeannie and Erin in allowing us to share this document and for their efforts to record ski history on PEI.

50 years of history!

The mid sixties on P.E.I. saw several attempts made to develop ski operations.  These hills developed the interest for the sport of Alpine skiing among several Summerside families.

It was learned by these enthusiasts that the first Canada Winter Games were to be held during our Centennial year 1967 at Quebec City in February and that Alpine ski racing would be included.  Prince Edward Island would be eligible to send seventeen skiers if there was a ski club registered with the Canadian Alpine Ski Association.

The interest was there and a club was formed in the winter of 1966.  The next requirement was a steeper and longer hill.

Summerside’s Ken Judson, one of the original skiers, recall’s “Many Saturdays and Sundays were spent with Lloyd Miller driving through the country, carrying our skis, walking up and skiing down hills, looking for the right one”.

After hearing about the hills in the Kelly’s Cross area, one of Ken’s trips to Charlottetown in October ’66 on a muddy, clay road, landed him at the bottom of the best hill he’d seen on the Island.  “There it was!”  It was steep, it faced North, it wasn’t as long as I had hoped, but it had potential”. 

A small company was formed by four individuals interested in developing the hill and to further develop the sport.  It included Ken Judson, Lloyd Miller, Laurie Coles and Creelman MacArthur – all from Summerside.

The group approached the Premier of the day, Alex Campbell, to try and convince him that the Province needed a winter ski park.  They met with success and the Province guaranteed a bank loan in their names with the understanding that the province would eventually take it over.

The four partners divided up the work and with the help of many volunteers the hill was developed. The land was purchased from the Curley family.  Cross country trails were also cut at this time with the help of the Boy Scouts.  Two army huts were acquired and turned into a club house, ski shop and restaurant.

By Christmas of 1966 the park was ready to go, however, a problem – no snow!  Finally, with the help of Mother Nature, snow arrived and the hill (or mini mountain as it was called) was officially opened by Premier Alex Campbell on January 28, 1967.

That first season a ski racing program was started.  As reported in the Guardian “thirty-one competitors turned out at the park to ski in the first giant slalom to be held in the history of PEI”.  From this auspicious event a team was selected.  In February 1967 the team was sent to compete at the Winter games in Quebec City.  It was reported that the racers were petrified when they saw Mount Ste Anne.  The Winnipeg Free Press quoted the Manitoba coach as saying “He thought that he saw members of the PEI ski team faint at the site of the mountain”.

Alan Holman opened a ski shop providing ski equipment rentals which advertised “Everything you need to enjoy skiing is waiting for you in Holmans Ski Shop, Brookvale, Mini Mountain”.

In 1968 a Nancy Greene Ski School was started.  Nancy Greene herself visited the hill several times to help set up the program.  Qualified instructors included Ken Judson, Don Bartlett, Tom and Pat Richardson.

Betty Blake, who was involved for fourteen years with the ski school, recalls the Richardsons as the driving force behind the ski school.  Over 80 children were involved in the early days.  Unit three school buses were used to transport those from the Charlottetown area to the hill.  “It was a wonderful experience being involved over the years.  A common bond seems to form between skiers of all ages.  Many Island children learned how to ski because of the program.  The people working at Brookvale were all very co-operative”.  In 1992 the ski school grew to over 250 students enrolled.

In 1971 at the winter games held in Saskatoon the P.E.I. Alpine ski team placed 7th out of twelve teams, beating Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Yukon and Northwest Territories. It was especially gratifying to beat team Manitoba. This was a remarkable achievement given the early stages in the development of the sport on the Island and the size of our only training hill at Brookvale. This training hill was only long enough for 10 race gates most standard race courses are 60 gates. Racers who placed well included Brett Judson, Mike Read and Rick Zuliani.

At this time Senator Lorne Bonnell was the minister for parks in those early days. The late Brigadier W.W. Reid was the Deputy Minister. The Provincial Government did not take the facility over in the second season so again the original four ran the hill.

In 1968 the Provincial Government took over the facility and still maintains it to this day. At this time there was a double rope tow. The Government then installed a t-bar, developed the intermediate hill and tobogganing area. An unsuccessful attempt was made to have a skating rink at the park.

Frank Curley, who has worked at the Ski Park over the years, recalls the shortest ski season occurred when the hill was only able to open for a very short time from February 23 – March 7th in 1970. He also remembers that in 1973 the first sophisticated, New Bombardier snow groomer was purchased.

In 1974 a new updated rental shop was opened by the Government. The inventory included approximately 100 pairs of cross country skis and about 50 pairs of alpine skis. The first “groomed” cross country ski trails were added using private land, with the permission from the land owners.

On a special “CBC Day” in 1978 it was estimated that over 6000 people used the park facilities.

In 1986 the first snowmaking equipment on P.E.I was purchased for Brookvale Ski Park. The ability to make snow would greatly help keep the facility operating despite the weather conditions and uncertain snow falls.

A new lodge was built in 1990 for the upcoming season of 1991. Also, an extension of 50 feet was added to the top of the ski hill. In February of 1991 saw P.E.I. hosting the Canada Winter Games. Unfortunately due to the size of our ski hill we were not able to hold the alpine ski section of the games.

In the fall of 1991 big changes took place with the replacement of the old system by a quad chair lift and new T-bar. Also, many of the runs were reshaped and greatly improved. Brookvale has almost tripled in size going from 13 acres of ski able terrain to the 35 acres it is today.

Twenty five years ago on January 28th 1967, Premier Alex Campbell opened the facility and was pictured in the guardian skiing through a ribbon with Elizabeth Miller, a young skier. In 1992, the modern facility featured a quad chair lift, new t-bar,50 foot extension to the hill, modern lodge and many miles of top cross country ski trails. Minister of Tourism and Parks, Hon Gordon MacInnis officially opened this updated park on its 25th anniversary.

In 1999 the tubing hill was built and lift installed on the west side of the property on the old McManus property. The last year for the tubing hill lift was 2006.

In 2007-2008 The new maintenance shop was finished. The PEI Ski and Snowboard School was purchased and taken over by the government. In 2009 the T-Bar was removed, a new Nordic Snowmobile and tow behind grooming system was purchased to keep the cross country trails in great condition. In 2015-2016 big upgrades came to the snow making at the hill, upgrades included a new 150 horse power water pump and 3 new portable stick snow guns.    

Friday, January 13, 2017

Eight Bells For The Fairy Queen - by Lorne C. Callbeck

Eight Bells For The Fairy Queen
Published in My Island, My People by  Lorne C. Callbeck[1]
It was Friday, the seventh day of October, 1853.

Captain Cross rose, as was his custom, from his bed early and dressed himself in preparation for the enjoyment of his regular before-breakfast canter in Charlottetown's Victoria Park.

A violent storm of wind and rain had roared across the Island during the night, and, as he emerged from his doorway, he observed that everything was dark, that trees were still swayed by a lusty wind, that the sky was overcast and lowering. It was anything but a pleasant morning, and a man with a lesser reason for leaving his house would have gone in again and shut the door behind him. Not so the valiant captain.

The horse he would ride this morning was a new one and his very own, having just arrived from his father's estate in Devonshire, and was stabled in the town at the Royal Oak. It was, therefore, with something more than his usual anticipation that Captain Cross hurried through Brighton, where the only moving things were the flying leaves and the only sound that of their rustling as his riding boots swept through them. All else was peaceful enough, but as he approached Black Sam's Bridge[2] the ringing of eight bells broke in upon his senses.

His natural reaction was to pause and look toward the harbour, it being reasonable to suppose that a ship was entering or leaving port. He saw none; but even as he stood scanning the dark grey waters the ominous sound reached him again. This time, it seemed to come, not from the harbour, but from the heart of the town.

He waited a few moments before shrugging the mystery from him and was about to resume his walk when the dull clanging was repeated: no given number, but a continual, dreary toll, like a fog-bell on a rockbound coast.

The captain's curiosity was aroused now, and he made his way along Government Pond to ascertain if some foreign ship was entering the harbour and, not knowing the channel, was calling for help lest it run aground.

He observed the harbour carefully but neither smoke nor sail was in sight; the Fairy Queen was still tied up at Pownal Wharf; and the only object he could make out was a canoe being paddled by three Indians from the encampment on Warren Farm toward the town. He noted that the wind was strong. It swept in from Northumberland Strait and Hillsborough Bay, making the water very choppy, and giving the Micmacs considerable difficulty in navigating their frail craft. Here he again heard the doleful bell, and again he placed the source in the town.

 By this time, the captain was so deeply interested that, forgetting all about his net mount in the stable behind the Royal Oak, he determined to get to the bottom of the strange phenomenon. He hurried across Christian's Bridge and made his way up Kent Street. When he reached the Pownal  Street corner, where the Charlottetown Hotel now stands, his ears were once more assailed by the dismal totalling of the bell coming, as he now reckoned, from the Kirk of St. James[3].

Accordingly, he turned north on Pownal Street, wondering, as he hastened along,  who would be ringing a church bell at such an early hour and for what purpose. No Presbyterian in his right senses would permit himself to be buried before breakfast. Queen Victoria was in good health, and no local dignitary that he knew of had given out that he proposed to pass away. Captain Cross was exceedingly puzzled.

As he drew near the Kirk he heard the bell ring eight times—no mistake about it. He scrutinized the belfry, but finding no solution at that altitude he lowered his eyes to the main door, at which time, if he were a Biblical scholar, he may have said: "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" Far there, standing on the steps, were three women dressed in white raiment and having bare heads and feet.

The strange creatures seemed unmindful of the presence of the captain, and he eras considering the expediency of addressing them when another mournful clang of tie bell redirected his gaze upward. This time he was convinced that he saw the ringer through the belfry vents. It, too, was a woman clad in white apparel.

The mystery was by no means clarified when he lowered his head to study the trio on the steps, for all he saw was the church door closing behind them. The poor captain rubbed his eyes, but that exercise availing him nothing he ran up and pulled on the door handle. The door was locked!

Davy Nicholson, the Kirk sexton and a worthy character about town, was another citizen who was up and out early that morning, and hearing the bell of his church clanging in a dull and sporadic fashion he decided to find out what scoundrel had unlawfully usurped his place at the end of the rope. As he strode up Queen Street with this objective in mind, it occurred to him that the Rev. William Snodgrass, D.D.[4], might be able to explain the matter: in consequence of which notion he gave the bell some competition by applying his knuckles rather briskly to the manse door.

All Davy learned from his call was that he had lost some valuable minutes, and, leaving the reverend gentleman shaking his head in his doorway, he hurried off to the church, where he came upon the confounded Captain Cross staring wild-eyed at the front door.

The two men, after exchanging their reasons for being on the Kirk property at such an early hour, tried to enter the building but found that all the doors were securely fastened, which was one part of the mystery that the faithful sexton could understand. Next, they peered through the small windows at the sides of the main door and saw, to their utter astonishment, the form of a white-robed woman ascending the steps to the belfry. Davy wasted no time; and leaving the gallant captain on guard he dashed back, as fast as his legs would carry him, to Queen Street to fetch the minister and the keys.

 While the sexton was absent on his errand, Captain Cross continued to investigate the premises, and to explore his mind for some theory that might explain how ladies could walk straight through a solid oak door with no injury to either flesh or wood. His eyes having deceived him, he decided to test his ears, but the wind, which fell about the building in savage gusts, created such a confusion of noises that he could scarcely detect the fall of the footsteps and the murmur of the voices of the four females within. However, he was given little time to devote to the difficult task of sifting out the jumble of sounds, the sexton soon returning with the keys in his hand and the Rev. Dr. Snodgrass in tow.

The door was quickly unlocked, the three men hastened to the foot of the tower, and Davy and the captain ascended the steps to the landing, from which they climbed the ladder that led up to the belfry. As they climbed up, they thought they heard the muffled toll of the bell above the roar of the wind that made the 'cry tower creak and quiver. Dr. Snodgrass, who had remained in the porch, failed to hear it.

The sexton threw up the hatch and clambered in, the captain following close on his heels. Once inside, it was necessary to shut the hatch in order for both men to stand under the bell, which they found to be still vibrating from the last stroke of the tongue. No trace of the four women was found, and Davy even thrust his head oat through some of the apertures in the belfry walls, as if he expected to see them perched on top of the tower or floating away over the treetops.

Descending to the porch below, where Dr. Snodgrass awaited them, the captain narrated the bizarre adventures that had befallen him since he heard eight bells at Black Sam's Bridge. But his arguments, despite the force of his personal convictions on the strange circumstances, failed to convince the clergyman, who, though acceding that the bell might have rung, strongly ridiculed the grotesque idea any women, either real or ethereal, had any connection with the mystery.

 The reasoning of the minister made such an impression of his sexton that he wall moved to repudiate his claim of seeing a white-clad female ascending the tower stairs, and he now offered the view that the strong wind had set the bell in motion. The captain, however, who may have been a bachelor, remained adamant in his story, maintaining that "There was a woman in it somewhere."

 The church was locked up again, the minister and the sexton left for their homes and Captain Cross proceeded on his tardy way to the Royal Oak. Although Dr. Snodgrass gave no credence to the wild tale of the two laymen, a subsequent event was to bring the strange happenings of that morning back to the thoughts of this doubting Thomas and he came to ponder over them a great deal. It is known that he called at several houses in the neighbourhood and learned that Dr. Mackieson's  housekeeper, as well as certain other veracious residents, had heard  the familiar bell of the Kirk of St. James at the same hour as that reported by the captain and the sexton.

It was Friday, the seventh day of October, 1853.

Captain Bulye rose, as was his custom, from his bunk early and dressed preparation for his regular bi-weekly run to Pictou with mails and passengers.

When he came on deck he observed that the weather was bad, and a survey of the sky showed that little improvement could be expected for some hours. He saw that a strong gusty wind snatched the smoke from the stack of the Fairy Queen, scattering it crazily up the river; that the waves leaped against the wharf, stretching long, foamy fingers up the piles as if they would pull them down if they could; that the boat rocked restlessly at her mooring, making her hull screech against the wharf stringer.

The Fairy Queen was scheduled to sail at six o'clock and the passengers, dividing their attentions between bearing luggage up and holding hats down, were already coming down Pownal Wharf. All were aboard before the appointed time, but the captain passed the word around that he would delay the sailing until the wind showed signs of abating.

As the morning grew older, the wind began to lose its ferocity and the harbour waters became less turbulant, but, notwithstanding these apparent improvements, the captain withdrew the order to sail when he learned from three Indians, who had landed at the wharf, that from their encampment at Rocky Point they had seen heavy seas running in the bay.

If he were a superstitious man, Captain Bulye might have hesitated on that account as well: for it was Friday; the Fairy Queen's complement, from himself down to the cabin boy, was thirteen; and thirteen passengers had come aboard. It was eleven o'clock in the morning when Captain Bulye gave the order to cast off the hawsers and sail.

Other than an unpleasant rolling and shaking, the little steamer experienced no great difficulty in Charlottetown's protected harbour; but when she got out into Hillsborough Bay savage waves pounded against her hull, making her toss and pitch to violently that it was soon realized that she would have a very rough crossing.

Off Pictou Island the tiller rope broke, the vessel became unmanageable, and a leak developed in some undiscovered place. When it was found that she could make no headway, the anchor was let go over the bow in order to bring her head into the wind. This manoeuvre, however, made little change in the Fairy Queen's peril and she pitched about helplessly in the wild seas, the waves battering her sides and breaking over her deck. She began to take water at an increasing rate and by 5:30 o'clock in the afternoon it had risen to such a height that the boiler fires went out. Crew and passengers alike were set to work at the buckets, and although they toiled until they were exhausted the leak defied all efforts to keep the ship afloat.

The Fairy Queen carried two lifeboats—one with a capacity of ten and the other twenty-four persons—and the captain ordered them lowered as soon as it became apparent that the steamer was in danger of foundering. They were kept astern by a long painter. Just before eleven o'clock, the mate and eight other officers and crewmen pulled them alongside and clambered in, and the captain, who should be the last man to abandon a doomed vessel, swung himself in after them. Later, at his trial in Pictou, he testified that he did this in order to direct the loading of the passengers.

The frantic passengers lined the rail, crying to be saved, but the mate sprang for-ward and cut the rope, unheedful of the screams that fell about him and drowned out the very howl of the wind. The lifeboats drifted clear and their inhuman occupants pulled for the shore of Nova Scotia, leaving the thirteen passengers, a, fireman, a seaman, and the cabin boy to their fate.

After being subjected to a series of heavy seas, the Fairy Queen capsized at midnight and all on board were precipitated into the boiling Strait. Fortunately, the upper deck, abaft the funnel, was torn away, and nine of the sixteen people managed no save themselves by means of this floating piece of wreckage. They drifted ashore on the north side of Merigomish Island after eight hours exposure to the storm and cold.

The next morning a tugboat was sent out from Pictou to search for the wreck and to pick up any survivors who still might be clinging to bits of wreckage. She discovered the Fairy Queen about three miles from Pictou Harbour, bottom up, broken in two and the bow anchored. There was no trace of the four women and three men who perished.

The story of the phantom bell-ringers and its strange coincidence with the wreck of the Fairy Queen is a cherished legend of the people of the Kirk of St. James in Charlottetown, and to this day the weird experience of Captain Cross, Davy Nicholson, and Dr. Snodgrass is accepted for what it is worth by the members of the congregation. You will find people who are willing to talk about it, but no one who will try to explain it.

 A new generation of worshippers responds to the musical summons of the bell Sunday mornings and comes to sit in the pews of the modern Kirk, a gothic edifice erected in 1878 on the site of the wooden church of Davy's time. They have their little day too, and when one of them is carried from the church by friends the bell is heard to toll slowly and solemnly. But all who hear it above discordant din of the city traffic know that the current successor of Davy Nicholson is in the belfry.

On the wall of the alcove in the northwest corner of the sanctuary hangs a large, white marble tablet. Whenever the eyes of a churchgoer turn in its direction he is reminded of the legend. He remembers, then, that three members of the old congregation went down with the Fairy Queen.

[1] Eight Bells for the Fairy Queen was originally published in The Atlantic Advocate, April, 1963.

[2] From Spring Park, in the present area of Royalty Mall, flowed a stream which ran under Black Sam's Bridge on Brighton Road, then spread out into Governor's Pond, and finally passed under Christian's Bridge by Government house and into the harbour.
[3] Among the memorial tablets on the walls of the present church is one to Reverend William Snodgrass, D.D.

[4] Dr. John Mackieson was born in the parish of Campsie, in Stirlingshire, Scotland, on October 16, 1795. He came out to Prince Edward Island on the brig Relief, arriving in Charlottetown on November 15, 1821. He married Matilda Brecken, youngest daughter of the Hon. Ralph Brecken. They had a family of six children. He died on August 27, 1885. He was an active member of the Kirk of St. James. His house, number 238 Pownal Street, still stands. Many reports on his cases may be read in History of the Practice of Medicine In Prince Edward Island by Dr. R.G. Lea.