Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Bible Christian Church - from Benjamin Bremner, An Island Scrapbook

From Benjamin Bremner, An Island Scrap Book - Historical and Traditional, published by Irwin Printing, Charlottetown: 1932, page 109

The Bible Christian Church in Prince Edward Island, under the pastorate of the Rev. Francis Metherall.  The latter was appointed by the Conference of the Bible Christian Connection of Cornwall, England, as a missionary to this Island in 1831 and set sail for the scene of his labors in 1832, arriving after a voyage of nearly two months in Bedeque, from whence he journeyed to Winslow Road where he began his labors as a missionary.  

Among the people in this vicinity were the well known families of Ayers, Esserys, Bryentons, McCoubreys, Yeos, Pickards, Holmans, Turners, etc. Mr. Metherall labored earnestly and successfully for many years and established connections in almost all sections of the Island except for Charlottetown. He died June 1875 at the age of 84 years having been 53 years in the ministry. The Charlottetown connections were established in January 1857 with Rev Cephas Barker as its first minister.

The large building on Prince Street nearly opposite Trinity United Church was the home of the congregation and was dedicated in August 1858.  

The following were the Charlottetown ministers up to the time of the Union of the four divisions of the Methodist Church: 

  • Revs. Cephas Barker -1856,
  • John Chappell -1865, 
  • George Webber -1870, 
  • William S Pascoe -1870,
  • John Harris -1870,
  • S H Rice -about 1880.  

(Mr. Pascoe was considered by the townspeople generally as a prince among preachers.  Of course it is well known that the United Church of Canada was not in existence until many years later.)

The Church building was afterwards disposed of and renamed The Lyceum, being thenceforth used as a theatre or for public entertainment, political meetings, ect, the lower front being turned into a grocery conducted by the late Michael Duffy Sr.

Referring to Mr. Duffy I’m reminded of a rather good story concerning him and the late lamented Rev William Dobson DD.  The latter was for some time pastor for the First Methodist Church, living in the parsonage where the Heartz Memorial Hall now stands.  Between Dr. Dobson and Mr. Duffy a very warm friendship existed and many a merry quip passed between the two, for Methodist Minister and a very devout Roman Catholic.  The story tells how Dr. Dobson stepped into Duffys shop one fine morning and asked “Duffy, can you give me a good Protestant turnip?” The other replied “Faith I can” and going to the cellar soon returned with a very horrible specimen, full of hairs, cleavages, and divisions and placing it in front of his reverence said “There ye are” Dr. Dobson responded with “Duffy you had me that time.”!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

'This is Acadie' - P.E.I. celebrating 300 years of French being spoken

By Daniel Brown (daniel.brown@theguardian.pe.ca) Local Journalism Initiative Reporter and published in The Chronicle-Herald on May 08, 2020 Updated: May 09 at 6 a.m.

Acadian historian Georges Arsenault holds a photo of his maternal grandfather's grandparents, Léon Poirier and Marie Bernard. they were married in Tignish in 1846 and had 16 children, six of whom died in infancy. In 1915, they celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary, and Léon died later that year at the age of 96. He was a great-grandchild of Pierre Poirier. Photo credit - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter 

Pierre Poirier had a loaf of bread to thank for getting him out of prison.

It was the summer of 1755. Recently wed and living near what's now Sackville, N.B., Poirier was one of many Acadian men in his region invited to a British-run information session regarding land.

Georges Arsenault, a P.E.I. historian and descendent of Pierre, confirmed that this was just a ploy.

"Once they got there they were imprisoned," he said.

The men were held at Fort Lawrence, N.S. during what was the beginning of what has since become known as the Great Upheaval. For about three months, Pierre waited to be forcibly deported, while his wife, Marguerite, fled to escape the same fate.

They were just some of the many early Acadians whose plight played a role in shaping the Maritime provinces. This year, Prince Edward Island is celebrating the tricentennial anniversary of these first French settlers.

"In 1720, that's when the first settlement was opened on the Island," Arsenault said. "French has been spoken on the Island for 300 years."

It might mark the first time this centennial is recognized on P.E.I. That's because it wasn't until the 1960s that the French language started to become more celebrated across the Maritimes – a shyness that may have been influenced by the hardships their ancestors faced, Arsenault said.

Léon Poirier and Marie Bernard got married in Tignish in 1846. They had 16 children, six of whom died in infancy. In 1915, they celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary, and Léon died later that year at the age of 96. He was a great-grandchild of Pierre Poirier. - Contributed
Pierre was unable to be with Marguerite during his incarceration, but some of the prisoner's wives were occasionally allowed to bring them food. With a little planning, one of these women baked her husband a large, inconspicuous loaf of bread.

Little did the British soldiers know that she had hidden a knife inside of its crust.

The prisoners used it to dig a 12-foot tunnel underneath the walls of their confinement. On a stormy October night, about 85 of them, including Poirier, managed to make their escape and avoid being deported,

He went straight home to his village to reunite with Marguerite, who by this point was about eight months pregnant with their first child. But alas, the community was deserted.

Having grown up in the community of Abram-Village, Arsenault has always valued his family's history. He believes it's important to know because it wasn't as well documented when he was in school.

"When I went to school, I couldn't speak French," he said.

His years of Acadian research led him to publish a few books, his most recent being Illustrated History of the Acadians of Prince Edward Island. It was written to act as a resource for people wanting to learn more about this 300-year journey, he said.

"There's about a quarter of Islanders who claim they have French ancestry," he said. "I'd like to encourage people to read up on the history."

During Pierre's journey, he met some Mi'kmaq people in the area, who Arsenault notes had resided in the Maritimes well before the colonies. They informed Pierre that the people of his village fled to Cocagne, N.B.

"That's where it's told Pierre found his wife," Arsenault said.

Having reunited at long last, they arranged to set sail for the colony of Île Saint-Jean as refugees. The same month Pierre escaped incarceration, Marguerite also gave birth to their daughter, Rosalie.

They settled there until 1758, when they were forced away to escape deportation a second time. Eventually they were able to return and settle down for good, but many Acadians still found it hard to secure land and stable work because of their language, Arsenault said.

Many P.E.I. communities inherited their names from the early French settlers, Arsenault said. These include:

Bay Fortune
While some used to have French names but have since been translated, such as:
St. Peter's Harbour (Havre-Saint-Pierre)
Wood Islands (Île à Bois)
Cape Bear (Cap à l'Ours)
North River (Rivière du Nord)

Alvina, left, and Alcide Bernard lead the parade and showcase their Acadian pride during the Acadian Festival in Evangeline in 1992. - Photo credit, Georges Arsenault/Special to The Guardian

Today, Île Saint-Jean is known as P.E.I., and French is looked at much differently.

P.E.I. Lt.-Gov. Antionette Perry is part of a committee planning celebrations for this year’s Acadie 300 Î.-P.-É. While it has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be events offered to some extent soon, likely via virtual platforms, she said.

Like Arsenault, she is a descendent of Pierre Poirier.

"We're all connected some way, there," she said.

That's because, according to Arsenault's research, Pierre was likely the first to change his surname as it was difficult for the English to pronounce. He changed it to Perry, Arsenault said.

Pierre and Marguerite's lineage still lives on today. Their children were among the pioneers of Tignish, and many of their descendants made names for themselves, whether as the first Maritime Acadian to be ordained a priest or the first elected into the House of Commons.

Acadian on both sides, Perry is grateful for the sense of freedom she feels in living her heritage on P.E.I., where the French language has since become a vibrant and lively part of Island life, she said.

"I know that I would not be able to live my culture as fully as anywhere else in the world. Because this is Acadie, after all."


GUEST OPINION: Many connections to Holland

As published in The Guardian on June 23, 2020

This clipping from Jan. 26, 1943, shows Princess Julianna of the Netherlands at her Ottawa home with her children. - islandnewspapers.ca - Contributed

Travel restrictions this spring limited overseas activities that would have involved Islanders as part of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Holland, yet it remains important to recognize the close connections that exists and grows between the Island and Holland. Within agriculture alone, studies show that 53.8 per cent of Prince Edward Island's immigrant farm population in 2006 was from Holland.

Canada and Holland also share a unique royal connection as our respective heads of state have been primarily women for the last century and a half. In Holland, three queens have served in the role for 133 of the last 140 years while Canada has seen two queens serve for 132 of the last 183 years.

During the Second World War, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, third daughter of Princess (later Queen) Juliana and Prince Bernhard was born in Ottawa cementing a bond with Canadians celebrated annually with tulips. In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs in gratitude for Canadian hospitality in sheltering the future Queen Juliana and her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Out of this grew the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. Festival founder and photographer Malak Karsh appreciated that royal gesture of thanks, "The gift of tulips brought colour back into a very gray world. We celebrate this gift, the spirit of spring renewal."

P.E.I. also played a war time role as CFCY radio station in Charlottetown was the location Princess Juliana used in 1941 to convey a message of hope to Dutch citizens at home as well as a birthday greeting to her mother in Britain. The recorded message was intended to bolster hope for the Dutch Resistance and those attempting to survive the harsh Nazi occupation. After the message was recorded at CFCY, it was broadcast over shortwave radio while the Dutch government-in-exile, headed by her mother Queen Wilhelmina, was based at Stratton House near Piccadilly in London.

Unlike the Vichy French government which in defeat accepted a policy of collaboration with Hitler, Holland was the third largest oil producer in the world and crucial war resources were at stake. When Prime Minister Dirk Jan de Geer proposed a return to the Netherlands and a similar approach, Queen Wilhelmina realized that collaboration with Nazi Germany would mean the oil-rich Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) would be surrendered to Japan and fuel the Axis war machine. A puppet government she would not accept; as head of state she replaced key members with a cabinet prepared to lead their occupied nation from a distance.

Lt. Col. Keith Rogers was the founder of CFCY and the story of the 1941 royal recording session was told by his daughter, Betty Rogers Large in her award-winning book Out of Thin Air in 1989. Full disclosure – Betty was my mother-in-law and after learning of the story, I sent a copy of her book to the Dutch royal family and received an appreciative response.

Many special tulips have been in bloom across the province thanks to the Liberation 75 organization which exists to generate celebration ideas related to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Europe. The colourful displays across Canada have been a fitting way to remember the personal sacrifice of more than 7,600 Canadians who died in the Netherlands as well as those in the larger European operations. After a long fall and winter of 1944 leading to the renewal of spring in 1945 tulips have become a symbolic reminder of how Canadians liberated Holland following the “hunger winter” when even tulip bulbs were resorted to as food for residents.

Great respect for Canadians continues today in Holland with various school events; family connections abound both from the 1,886 Dutch women who married Canadian soldiers after the liberation, and also among those families who found a new beginning in Canada through immigration since.

Veseys in York previously honoured the 70th anniversary with 100,000 tulip bulbs given to organizations across Canada for planting. John Barrett of Veseys commented at the time that, "We're sort of hoping to try and keep that memory alive in Canada to the same degree that it's been kept alive in Holland." Hopefully this year will bring more awareness of the connections between Holland and Canada that grew from such difficult circumstances. Kudos to everyone working hard to commemorate this milestone.

Ian Scott is a past executive director of the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation who lives in Charlottetown.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

GUEST OPINION: 1918 and today

Published: May 11, 2020 -- by The Guardian, Charlottetown, PEI -- Ian Scott, Guest opinion

The Spanish influenza epidemic on P.E.I. led the provincial health officer to close schools, cancel worship services and prohibit public gatherings. A notice was published on page 2 of the Oct. 26, 1919 Guardian edition. - Contributed

Guardian coverage has mentioned two interrelated topics: past epidemics (April 8), and the strong leadership bringing us through the current time. Readers may also be interested in knowing that 400 Islanders died with the pandemic influenza of 1918 (aka the Spanish flu). As many Islanders died within months on peaceful P.E.I. as had died in four full years of the First World War – the bloodiest war the world had yet seen.

Perhaps a few names, first published by Boyde Beck, will put a face on those Islanders who died in the 1918 pandemic.

Nan Downey, a nurse at the Prince Edward Island Hospital, died nine days after falling ill; she was just 28 and before it was over, two doctors and several more nurses would die. Frank Cameron went to work at the Bank of Commerce on Monday but was too sick to work by Wednesday and dead by Sunday, at age 25. Mrs. Horace Smith a mother of five, died as her husband lay recovering from war wounds in England. James Trainor the well liked, 36- year-old barber, left a wife and five children. Multiply those four tragic stories 100 times and you get a sense of the family impact in every community across our close-knit province.
This is an operating room at the old Charlottetown Hospital (pre-1920). 

Unfortunately some local voices that could have supported the push to defeat the disease tended to diminish its impact and considered it just another seasonal flu or bad cold. We now know the enemy was an H1N1 virus that would eventually kill in various waves at least 50 million people worldwide. To get a sense of how deadly, one isolated Alaska village saw 72 of the 80 adult inhabitants dead in five days.

Fast forward 102 years and the leadership we see across our country in public health officers who include many talented women with great ability and knowledge. They are an example of choices made for careers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and medicine) which require advanced degrees and years of study, something that was not always available to young women. Dr. Bonnie Henry in B.C., who has deep Island roots, is the daughter of Bill and Susan Henry of Charlottetown and is a graduate of Dalhousie. Cutting her teeth working for the World Health Organization and Toronto Public Health with SARS, Ebola, and H1N1, she is widely recognized for her leadership in B.C.

Our own Dr. Heather Morrison’s career as a UPEI graduate and Rhodes scholar was well covered in Jim Day’s article on April 25. The two continue to play exemplar roles in “bookending the country” if you will, and are examples of successful career choices in STEM fields that are making a difference for the public. Thankfully, with the benefit of science and public health policies built on knowledge of pandemics in the past, we are in good hands – but don’t forget to wash yours.

Ian Scott is a past executive director of the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation who lives in Charlottetown.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

CBC Compass -- Where The Name Came From

CBC Compass -- Where The Name Came From by Ian Scott

The local supper hour CBC news broadcast on Prince Edward Island has remained legendary especially when occasionally threatened with replacement by a national news show. Attributed as having maintained the highest penetration in a local market of any local news show in Canada it has retained its audience despite the arrival of many other news options. Interest in local news is a key part of Island life thus Compass is a daily staple in most households, yet many were unaware of the origin of the name until recently. The story goes back to the period when CBC was establishing a corporate presence on PEI. While affiliate CBC stations had existed locally with both CFCY radio and then CFCY-TV (which opened July 1, 1956) the need to establish a full corporate presence in every province caused CBC to purchase CFCY-TV from the local owners, who were descendants or family of CFCY radio's founder Col. Keith Rogers.

The 1969 purchase led to the building of a new facility on University Ave. Veteran CBC manager Gordon Smith was brought in for the transition and to manage the operation; he learned quickly that Charlottetown Rotary Club was a valuable organization to support and also provided an opportunity to meet other community and business leaders. It was at a Rotary lunch table that he admitted the challenge of obtaining a highly visible location for the new building to a fellow Rotarian who happened to be in a management role with the Charlottetown Research Station run by Agriculture Canada, affectionately known then and now as "The Farm" in the heart of the community. From that conversation came an agreement for CBC to acquire a rather low-lying part of the property that was difficult to crop due to drainage issues but was highly visible next to major federal operations like Agriculture Canada and the RCMP on a major artery of the city. A prime location in the growing commercial part of the city, it would become a visible anchor for the operation.

The new CBC building at 430 University Ave. became home to operations of the renamed TV station CBCT, and then in 1977, CBCT-FM arrived bringing a full CBC radio station to PEI. An expansion to the building and a major renovation currently underway in 2020 continues to adapt the building to the many platforms maintained by the public broadcaster.

On Island Morning broadcast during August 2013 Ken Bolton then aged 70 indicated that "In 1969, Whit Carter and I hosted a new show on CBC here in Charlottetown called Compass, I think I actually came up with the name."

While the show was a team effort, a later broadcast clarifies the origin of the Compass name and how it came about.

Broadcast on CBC Compass, on April 9th 2020 was a brief item read by Compass host Louise Martin that honoured R. Gordon Smith at the time of his passing and told of the naming of Compass – the CBC nightly news show for PEI.

"Gordon Smith was the manager hired to start up CBC operations on PEI during the late 1960s and 70s and supervised the construction of the CBC building on University Ave. We asked him about the name of the show and he said, that he was playing with a knife on his desk one day spinning around and thought of the name compass.
Our deepest condolences to his family and friends and we thank him for everything he has done. His legacy will not be forgotten and lives on every night here on Compass."

The obituary of Gordon Smith, (below) was published in The Guardian gives additional background on his lengthy career as a broadcaster and manager.

R. Gordon Smith
Published in The Guardian: April 09, 2020

SMITH, R. Gordon (Major (Ret’d), CD2) R. Gordon Smith, of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, passed away peacefully on April 6th, 2020, at the South Shore Regional Hospital with his children by his side. Born in Saint John, N.B. on October 26, 1923, Gordon was the son of the late Frank P. and Sarah C. (Lacey) Smith. He was a veteran of the Second World War, serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) from 1941 to 1945. He continued to serve Canada in the militia from 1954 with 3rd Field Artillery, 2nd Battalion N.S. Highlanders, P.E.I. Regiment, and finally as Militia Area Atlantic Public Affairs Officer, retiring in 1983. Gordon had a remarkable career in broadcasting, which began in 1946 as a weekend fill-in at CFNB in Fredericton while attending the University of New Brunswick. And with that, he had found his calling. Gordon went on to work as an on-air personality, sportscaster, and manager at CFBC Radio in Saint John, N.B. from 1948 until 1962. Continuing his broadcasting journey, he and his family moved to Sydney, N.S. where he ventured into television as program director and on-air host at CJCB-TV. Gordon remained with CJCB-TV until mid 1967, at which time he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Sydney. In 1968 he and his family transferred to Charlottetown, P.E.I. where he oversaw the merger of an affiliate (CFCY-TV) into CBCT, which included being location manager, on-air responsibilities, as well as coordinating the 1972 construction of the CBCT building. Late in 1974 he became a part of regional management team for CBC, based in Halifax, until his retirement in 1986. Gordon was a true Maritimer, having lived in cities and towns in all three provinces: Saint John, Sydney, Charlottetown, Halifax, Mahone Bay, Mader’s Cove, and Bridgewater. Following his retirement, he volunteered his time and expertise, serving on numerous boards and committees in both Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. Gordon’s legacy will be one of a courageous, intelligent man with an exceptional life story, unparalleled integrity, countless friends, and a family that loved him unconditionally. He is remembered and deeply missed by many. Gordon was predeceased by his loving wife of 57 years, Lois (Lodge), as well his siblings: Donald, Ruth Peacock, George, Freda Taylor, Shirley, and Bob. He is survived by his three children: Tony (Lynn Lantz), Sara (Stephen) Harding, and Becky (Bruce) Campbell; grandchildren: Jennifer (Rob Bustos), Christine (Morgan Smith), Geoffrey, Alex (Samantha) Harding, Ryan (Katrina Lapierre) Harding, and Sherri Campbell; great-grandchildren: Ronan Bustos, Jacob and Olivia Harding, and Hugh Smith; sister-in-law Joyce (Moore) Smith; nieces and nephews: Cecilia Bowden, David (Marie) Peacock, Janet (Bob) McKinney, Keith (Sydney) Peacock, Stephen (Brenda) Smith, and Roger (Joanne McFall-Smith); numerous grand-nieces and nephews across Canada; and his dear friend and companion, Wilma Chandler, and her entire family in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Cremation has taken place. There will be no funeral or visitation. A graveside service and celebration of life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the VON of Lunenburg County—in appreciation of their caring support of Gordon over the years—or an alternate charity of choice. Arrangements are under the direction of Mahone Funeral Home, and condolences may be sent to www.mahonefuneral.ca “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Rails-to-Trails – celebrating 30 years

Guest Opinion by Ian Scott as published in The Guardian, June 10, 2019

- 123RF Stock Photo

 It was great to read the "Trail blazers" coverage on June 3, and Bryson Guptill's, "A walk around PEI? The next big thing?" on June 6 which both brought back rich memories of the early efforts to secure the abandoned rail lands in public hands for trail conversion. 

It was August 3, 1989 - 30 years ago that Rails-to-Trails was born at a meeting Gordon MacQueen and I organized with Ron Hately as primary guest speaker. 

Gordon knew Ron, a cyclist, who had travelled the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I knew Don & Florence Deacon who were international hikers.

Gordon and I were keen to do the leg work but knew we needed someone with Deacon's seasoned ability within the political realm. 

Retired from municipal and provincial politics in Ontario but full of energy, he was careful about which new causes he would embrace. I pitched the idea to him and after talking with Florence he agreed to a plan where I would volunteer as secretary and Gordon as treasurer if he would accept nomination as chairman. 

We asked him to also speak about their recent hiking tour in England. 

Ernie Morello had just completed a major plan for government called Charlottetown Routes for Health & Nature which included rail lands in Charlottetown; he agreed to be our third speaker.

Gordon was action oriented and arrived at the meeting with a cash box and receipt book declaring that "we better sign people up when they arrive." 

He deposited his own $10 bill into the cash box to become the founding member of an organization that didn't yet exist, and continued signing up members arriving at the public meeting. 

With the three speakers and election of an interim board the evening was a huge success although we eventually learned that a number of the people at the meeting would make their own case for private ownership of the rail land by adjacent land owners.

Harry Holman joined the board and as an historian knew the historical significance of the PEI Railway. He developed the slide show that guest speakers would take across the Island to make a case for preservation of the railway lands and creating a new resource. Dean Shaw likewise joined the first board and provided his office boardroom for meetings, drafted documents to register the organization, and with Gordon MacQueen was a keen salesperson for memberships. Within 19 days memberships in the fledgling organization reached 140.

A presentation by Harry Holman called PEI Railway Past & Present in Sept. raised membership to 200 and the show was on the road - Summerside - Kensington - Montague.  A newsletter kept people informed and meetings with government led to the desired response where the Province bought the land for a linear park which they administered while continuing to work with volunteer organizations and municipalities. Doug Murray, a civil servant led the process taking it from a tangled mess of old spikes and rough gravel into a smooth trail bed with interpretative panels and services at the various trail heads across the province. Even retirement has not stopped him from continuing to expand the system into spur lines that connected Stratford to Murray River in recent years. A project that has included many levels of government and many volunteers, the Confederation Trail remains an example of the importance of cooperation to realize a dream. Similar resources elsewhere that remain undeveloped are evidence our model works well.

Congratulations to everyone who continues to dream of new trails and kudos to Bryson Guptill for his vision of a 700 km trail around the Island, placing us in the league of other international hiking and cycling destinations.

As we approach the 30th anniversary date this summer I recall Don Deacon's towering stature with his helmet rising above any vehicular traffic as he biked around the city from his Water St. home, and the ever jovial Gordon MacQueen in his final years telling me how his morning walk on the Confederation Trail before the city awoke, was a wonderful tonic to start each day. 

Not only were they each believers in building dreams for others they both knew the personal value of making use of these trails. 

To all the dreamers, and to those continuing to advance the cause, 
Happy Trails.

Ian Scott is a trails advocate and craftsperson in Charlottetown.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Bears on Prince Edward Island

While viewing today's pastoral landscape across PEI we often forget a time when large wild mammals were part of that landscape. The bear is one that did survive into modern times and thus stories exist of encounters with bears and of the "last bear" on PEI.

Two articles are great sources for research on bears including:

This "dancing bear" appeared in Charlottetown in 1890s. PARO PEI Photo.