Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sketches by Sally Blake Hooff, Malpeque

     I bought these pen and ink sketches near 20 years ago when I visited Sally Hooff's studio in Malpeque - not far from the Princetown United Church
     Sally gave a talk last spring on Malpeque - see this blog
Above: The Old Henry House once the Teachers residence, Malpeque.
 Above: old barns in Irishtown.

Below: tag behind pen and ink drawings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Charlottetown: The Life in Its Buildings by Irene L. Rogers

     I just went to the book, "CHARLOTTETOWN: The Life in Its Buildings" by Irene L. Rogers - this is the "go to" book about the history of the buildings of Charlottetown.  Below are the covers and a few interior pages to briefly display what the book is about.
     Click on image to enlarge.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Harris House, Rosebank - aka Green Acres

            I photographed this old house on April 16, 1989 just before it was demolished.   This was the home of the Loman Harris family.  In the 1980's it seemed Island Tel had taken over the property and had a central location here.  In the photos you can see piles of clay around the house - these were brought in that spring in advance of demolition.  
            The house was located on the east side of the Western Road (Rte.2) in Rosebank, about 400 metres south of the Foy Road.  Rosebank is located between Elmsdale and Bloomfield corner.
            Note the Green Acres sign above the front door - the Harris children named their old home and sealed it with a sign.  As kids my siblings and I thought this was funny.  Between 1965-1971 there was an American sitcom on TV that we watched weekly called Green Acres - about a New York lawyer who drags his glamorous wife to a ramshackled house in the country to take up farming.  
            The following information is from -  Wandering Back: History of Dock, Hills River, Mill River and Rosebank.  Published by the Three Rivers Historical Society in 1983.  Page 332 -
            In 1949 Loman Harris bought this house, which had once been the post office at Mill River East, from Fred Metherell of Mill River.  Lester Wallace of Cascumpec hauled the building three miles to Rosebank, settling it on a lot next to the farm of Vernon Ramsay.  The house was over one hundred years old and proved to be a solid one: it took six trucks and five tractors to move it; neighbours donated their vehicles and labour to help a new neighbour, amoung them were Jake Hardy, Frank Hardy, Warb Murray, Jake Murray, Doug Horne, Jacob Murray, Erskine Wallace, Bill Bell, the Warren Brothers and Ross Meggison.  Also, the men prepared a foundation of stones.
            John *Loman* Harris was born in Knutsford, PEI in 1921 to Arthur and Annie Pearl (MacNeill) Harris.  Loman married Louise Helen Saunders, dtr of Thomas and Rosella Ivy (Parker) Saunders of New Brunswick.  Loman and Louise had seven children: John, Charles, Blair, Jacqueline, Nancy, Sharon and Rose.
            The Harris family lived in “Green Acres”,  as the children had named the house, for five years, while Loman made a living by trucking from Curran and Briggs and driving the  Island Bus from Tignish to Charlottetown.  In 1956 the family moved to Toronto, Ontario and later settled in St. John, New Brunswick.
            In May 1980 Loman died while driving his truck through Unionvale (on O’Leary Road between Woodstock and O’Leary).
             PS.  I came across these photos this evening and decided to post them, not knowing much more than it was an old abandoned house when I was a kid.   I called my parents to ask them if they knew who had lived here (they live two communities over) and sure enough they knew right off, the Harris family - they also thought after that for a short time a Gallant family had lived here.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

St. Ann's R.C. Church, Hope River - 1911-1950

     I was telling someone today about this magnificent church built in 1911 and demolished in the early 1050's - the following information are scans from the book, "St. Ann's Parish History, Hope River PEI: 150 Anniversary 1843-1993"
     A quote from this book about "the 6th church of this parish" - 
     "...the cement block church, is generally considered to have been a disaster.  It began to give trouble almost immediately and turned out to be worse than the fires that had already plagued the parish.  As time went on, it gave rise to controversy as to whether it could be strengthened and repaired by bricking up walls.  It was eventually decided to repair the structure - a decision to which some were strongly opposed...After many years of trying to maintain and repair the 1911 church, it was decided in the early 1950's to build a new church.  It was first used at Christmas of 1954...It must have been a great joy and comfort to be in the new church, but since the old one had to be torn down and a new one built in its place, there was considerable debt on the parish.  This is what gave rise to the idea of Father Denis Gallant to have lobster suppers to help pay off the debt".  
     These lobster suppers began in 1963 and carry on to this day - see their website
     The following are pages from the Parish history displaying that 6th parish church, built of cement block - click on the image to enlarge.

Abandoned/Demolished House, Richmond

     I photographed this old house in the late 1990's - a few years before it was demolished.  It was located on the corner of the Western Road (Rte.2) and Rte. 127 in Richmond.  These photos were taken in the days before I had a digital camera - these are scanned.
     I don't have information of who built this house - before it was demolished it had been rented.
     The 1880's Meacham's Atlas of Prince Edward Island shows Pat MacDonald living here with 80 acres of land.  The railroad (today the Confederation Trail) was adjacent to the property - I took the first two photos standing on the rail bed.
     The 1928 Cumins Atlas of Prince Edward Island shows Coleman and Mary Cameron living here on 78 acres.
 The above/below photos show the south facing facade of the house.
     The main part of this house is a large L-shaped with two major gables, one south facing and the other east facing (towards Rte. 2) on the inside corner of the L is a tall steep dormer gable as seen in photo below - an unusual, unique design element.  There is also a kitchen wing built out the back, westward.  I would estimate this house was built in the 1890s.
Below: Gable end facing Rte. 2 Hwy.
     Below Photos, the northeast side of the house.  Note the second floor round-top windows throughout the house.
     The last tenant of this home was Shirley Anne Dugay who was murdered (not in this house) by her estranged husband Douglas Beamish in the fall of 1994.  No one lived in the house after that - it was later demolished.

First time animal DNA used to solve crime -
     Douglas Leo Beamish, Shirley’s estranged husband, was the primary suspect in Shirley’s disappearance. Foul play was suspected from the start but without a body, it was difficult to investigate. RCMP found a plastic bag near the body containing a leather jacket with bloodstains and two strands of white hair. The blood proved to be Shirley’s and the hair was from Snowball, a cat belonging to Beamish’s parents. Douglas Beamish was staying with his parents at the time of Shirley’s disappearance. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

This Blog's 2nd Anniversary

     It was two years ago yesterday that I established this blog - and to date have 310 posts.
     I'm not the most "techy" guy when it comes to computers, programs, etc., however, I've added a couple of new features to the blog to make it more viewer friendly - if you go down the side bar and find "follow by email" in this box enter your email address - you will receive an email asking for verification then anytime a new post is posted to this blog you will automatically receive it in your email's InBox.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Boulter Farmstead, Woodstock

     In Meecham's 1880 Atlas of Prince Edward Island it shows Henry Boulter living on this property.  In the 1928 Cummin's Atlas of Prince Edward Island still shows Henry Boulter (probably a son by the same name) owning this property.  Cummin's Atlas lists the following information for each property - Owner; address; wife's name; and children's name.  Here is the information for this house -  Boulter, Henry; P.O. Coleman; Wf. Ann Roseina; Ch. Elvin, William, Ella, Ada, May.
     Today the Boulter family still owns the property and live in an adjacent bungalow.  The house was left vacant in the early 1970's when the family moved into a new bungalow- no one has lived in it since.
     The middle peak above the house is the barn in the background - it's not attached to the house.  The large size and height makes it look closer than it is.
     The old "Island-ell" style farmhouse is located on the east side of the Western Road in Woodstock just before the O'Leary Corner/Roundabout.
     I took these photos on December 27th, 2006 - the house and barn are still there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Former Borden Catholic Church becomes artists home

     The following article appeared in the Journal-Pioneer newspaper on January 11, 2013 -
Building a Home, one painting at a time
     The former Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Borden-Carleton was purchased three years ago by Oliver and Christie Ray, formerly of British Columbia.  The Ray’s are in the midst of renovating the church into a home.  Photo by Colin MacLean/ Journal Pioneer
     On the Ray family living room wall there hangs a painting of a young pregnant woman cradling a man’s head to her chest.
            Oliver Ray painted that image after a frustrating afternoon of staring at a blank canvas, wondering if he really had what it takes to make it as an artist.
            The woman is Christie Ray, who was pregnant with the couple’s first child at the time.
            They’ve come a long way since Oliver broke down and created that image.
            Their family has expanded to include two young children, Caitlin, and Dylan.
            They’ve fulfilled their dream of settling on Prince Edward Island. And Oliver now paints full-time, with Christie handling the business side of the art.
            They’ve even caused something of a stir in their adopted community Borden-Carleton — though the reason why doesn’t have much to do with Oliver’s paintings.
A little church on an island
            The Rays, who are originally from B.C., first came to P.E.I. on a day trip several years ago.
            Oliver was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces at the time and was stationed at an off Island base.
            They immediately fell in love with the place and set about concocting a plan to settle here.
            They finally took the plunge in 2010.
            “It was nothing short of beautiful and spectacular. I was probably in a love haze for the first six months,” laughed Oliver. 
            “We still take every opportunity we can to drive and explore the island, because we’re completely in love with it,” said Christie.
            But finding their dream home was more difficult than they’d expected.
            “We came here with dreams and plans of buying sort of a big country house and living the Anne of Green Gables lifestyle. We envisioned a two or three story farmhouse,” he said.
            They couldn’t find their dream home that was either in their price range or that didn’t need massive renovations.
            Then one of them stumbled across an advertisement of an old church for sale.
            It was the former Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Borden- Carleton, and had been an active place of worship about a year and a half before.
            The property was unconventional, but at that point the couple was willing to think outside the box. And the church, in spite of how much work it needed, met most of their prerequisites.
            “We didn’t realize how much work it would actually be. But we have a five-year plan, and the church, like Christie said, found us,” said Oliver.
            They rented a property in Charlottetown in the summer of 2010 and Oliver traveled back and forth every day to work on the church.
            They finally moved in about a year and half ago.
            Living in a church is a funny experience, said Oliver, because so many people have a personal connection to the building.
            “If you ask anyone in the area, they’ve all got some connection to this building. One way or another, they were either married here or went to a wedding here or a funeral here or something,” he said.
            “We’re finding that out as we go along. Lots of people kind of peek in the windows and want to come and visit. Which we’re glad to do. “
            To get an idea of what the Ray’s have done to the building, picture the main worship area of any average Christian church: arched ceilings with a cavernous main room, tall and thin windows.
            Then take out all the pews until it’s just a big empty room.
            Picture a box inside that room, then expand the box until it’s large enough to hold a kitchen, three bedrooms, a washroom and a living room.
            That’s pretty much their home.
            There’s enough room to add a second floor to the box, and they plan on eventually doing that. But right now, it’s still open space.
            The outside of the building has been left largely untouched — for now.
The art
"Man Writing" by Oliver Ray            
             If you’re lucky enough to get a tour of the Ray’s home, you’ll immediately notice Oliver’s paintings hanging here and there.
            Or, if you’re too shy to knock on the door or give them a call, you could take a look online at
            Either way you might notice the unique style he uses — just don’t expect a short explanation as to where it came from.
            “We have a hard time defining it,” laughed Christie.
            Oliver has no classic, or even formal, arts training. So he said he developed his style of painting through various influences, including: west coast First Nations traditions and Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.
            A lot of his subjects include one, or a small group, of people, usually in an intimate or quiet moment such as a lone man writing, or a couple dancing.
            “Oliver is a master of taking little bits and pieces of, either from our life, or from things that we see,” said Christie.
            “It’s funny being with him because you’ll see when he’s getting something like that.  He’ll be completely immersed in looking at somebody drinking coffee at one side of a cafĂ©. You can see it in his face that he’s so interested in how that looks,” she said.
            But he wasn’t always so keen to observe people.
            Oliver describes himself as a life-long introvert. And it wasn’t until he was out of his teens before he felt comfortable enough to let anyone see his drawings.
            Christie encouraged him to put his work out into the public, and to eventually make a career out of it.
            “When I look back at everything I’ve done, I always think that Christie and my relationship is the nucleus,” he said.
Finally home
            The Ray family intends to keep working on their church — they have to finish their five-year-plan.
            They are also intent on expanding their business, which they run almost entirely through their website.
            Oliver still likes to sit look at that painting of himself and Christie. He even still wonders sometimes if he’s got what it takes to be an artist.
            But nowadays, whenever he stares up at that image, it takes on a whole new meaning.
            He sees everything he and Christie have accomplished together, and the promises of everything they’re working towards. -

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vriends Poultry Farm, West Covehead

     Another book I have in my possession is a text book about Prince Edward Island, published in 1978.  On the cover is the Vriends Poultry Farm in West Covehead, located on the corner of Cass' Road and Rte.25/ Rte.6.  The farm was closed a few years ago and today the property is mostly for sale as cottage lots in Auld's Point Bay View Properties -
     Above: Vriends Poultry Farm.  In the distance is Covehead Bay and Auld Creek to the upper right.  You can see cottages there between the farm and the bay.  Today this area is a subdivision with lots for sale.
See Google Maps for a street view of this farmstead -,-63.122249&spn=0.005883,0.016512&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=46.393161,-63.122605&panoid=uosR6yJorrDaosms-kqaTQ&cbp=12,55.38,,0,0

PEI Tourism Promotes Rural Landscapes

     I find it amusing that our idyllic country views are used in tourism promotions and literature but when it comes to saving and preserving those views and buildings there's little help.  The view on this map today would be a hilly road with trees - the church was moved and the steeple removed.
     Here are a few photos I took of this beautiful little church at the corner of the New Glasgow Road and the Bungay Road in Wheatley River before it was decommissioned and moved in the mid-2000s.
 The beautiful Wheatley River United Church before removal from the site.
 The church had beautiful detailing especially the round windows in the tower.
     The church was decomissioned around 2004 and sold to the neighbour on the other corner and moved a few hundred feet to the other side of the neighbours hedge.  At the time the PEI United Church Council required that any decommissioned United Church be sold or demolished.  If sold the steeple had to be removed so it wouldn't be confused as being a church building.  At the time I was acting Chairman of the PEI Heritage Places Advisory Board and had a letter sent to the PEI United Church Council asking they reconsider this policy - our request was dismissed.  It was a bad decision for Island architecture.
 Below/Above: The vacant site where the church once stood.
 Below Photos: the relocated church without its steeple.
     A few who purchased decommisioned churches didn't follow through with this steeple removal policy, such as the Victoria-by-the-Sea United Church, now in private hands.   I assume the PEI United Church Council decided not to enforce its' policy.
Victoria United Church
Above: former Victoria United Church

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gregor's-By-The-Sea, Brackley Beach

     My brother Kerras came across this postcard of Gregor's Hotel a while ago - it's amazing to think not one of these buildings (some were moved) remain as you see them here - information below will explain that it was bought by the Government of Canada /Parks Canada and the site completely cleared.
   The postcard measures 9"x6".
     I found the information below on the Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Record Office along with this photo.
PEI PARO Acc. 3038
Gregor's Hotel, Brackley, circa 1920s
     Ewen Houston ran a boarding house from about 1891 under the name of Seaside Hotel.  During the early 1900s, the Gregor (Charles & Walter) family took over, and in 1914 expanded to 25 rooms and renamed it Gregor's-by-the-Sea.  The hotel was known for its warm hospitality and farm fresh cuisine.  It was operated by the Gregor family until 1953, and for the twenty years by Jack and Lorna Cameron (Moore).  In 1957 the Hotel advertised a 22-room hotel and cottages, a private nine-hole golf course and driving range, ponies, dining room and close access to fishing and tennis courts.  Rates were $6.50 to $10.00 per person per day.  Parks Canada eventually acquired the property and in the 1970s the hotel was leveled.

    Also there is information about Gregor's Hotel on the IslandLives project website - see

     Here are a few facts about the Gregor Hotel from the article:  The National Park was established in 1937; in 1973 the Federal Government bought the property - the Gregor home was moved and the hotel furnishings auctioned off - the other buildings were either moved or demolished; another property purchased by the Government in 1982 was the Lodge operated by Sadie, Elaine & Willard MacCallum - here too was an auction and the buildings demolished.

Lecture Series kicks off on January 7

Winter Lecture Series 2013
Saltwater Heritage: The History and Conservation of our Coastal Architecture to be presented at Beaconsfield
     You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.  Never is that more true than when speaking about the coastal architecture of Prince Edward Island. Our coast and the sea, and the structures built along them define us. It is by this shifting margin of land and water that we have lived, worked, traded, built, and played for generations – yet, over the years, we have continued to lose this early architectural heritage, which includes factories, stores, ship-building yards, homes and cottages. Often this loss occurs through erosion, indifference, and a limited understanding of progress. While some loss is unavoidable, valuable traces can still be retrieved through records, research and photographs, and the safeguarding of remaining architectural structures. All this is possible providing we look out again – to the shoreline. Here, unique architectural structures and landscapes speak to Island stories of transportation and safe returns, of community life, as well as of industries of today and of earlier Islanders.
      To celebrate and conserve our coastal heritage, the Institute for Architectural Studies and Conservation, in association with Beaconsfield Historic House, invites you to join them for the annual January lecture series, themed for 2013, Saltwater Heritage: The History and Conservation of Our Coastal Architecture. The Institute has assembled a group of specialists to explore stories of our connections with Island shores. Beginning January 7, 2013, the series will be launched with Harry Holman’s Weeping Saltwater Tears: Charlottetown’s Disappearing Maritime Heritage. The Director of Culture, Heritage and Libraries, sailor and former Provincial Archivist, will draw on his extensive knowledge of the local waters and present an illustrated lecture using historical and contemporary images to reveal the changes to waterfront and maritime architecture and institutions.
     On January 14, Carol Livingstone, President, PEI Lighthouse Society and Josh Silver, Red Seal Carpenter and Learning Manager, Heritage Retrofit Carpentry Program, Holland College, will present Lighting the Way: History, Form and Function in Lighthouse Conservation of PEI. Together, they will explore these iconic forms of coastal architecture and the close relationships between their architectural features and their varied designs.
Parks Canada Historian, Dr. Monica MacDonald, will visit us from Halifax, January 21, to speak about one of the most stately seaside summer residences of PEI, and national historic site, in her illustrated presentation, Dalvay-by-the-Sea: A Historical Overview.  She will look into the many lives of this former retreat of American industrialist, Alexander McDonald.
     Completing the series on January 28, Boyde Beck, popular historian, author, and Curator of History, PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation, tells the fascinating story of Green Park and Beaconsfield, the former houses of shipbuilders, James Yeo (Jr.), and James Peake (Jr.), and the industry that made them in his talk, Green Park and Beaconsfield — Two Shipbuilding Stories.
Saltwater Heritage: The History and Conservation of Our Coastal Architecture, runs on Mondays in January 2013 (7, 14, 21 and 28) from 7 pm, atBeaconsfield’s Carriage House. Admission is open to the public by donation. Storm dates to be announced via local media.

Former Steadman's building in O'Leary demolished

     Another old building was demolished in O'Leary in mid December.  In recent years this old abandoned store has become an eye sore and was recently ordered demolished by Village Council.
     The following is from the Journal-Pioneer newspaper on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012.
Equipment claws away at the former Stedman's building in O'Leary Tuesday.  Reacting to safety concerns expressed about the structure, O'Leary Council issued an order in October for the building to be repaired of town down.

by Eric McCarthy/ Journal Pioneer
O'LEARY - Demolition equipment made quick work Tuesday of a vacant building in the heart of O'Leary's business core.
The former Stedman's department store building, which measured 80 feet by 80 feet and over 60 feet high at the peak, had most recently operated as a liquidation centre.  It had gradually been stripped of its roof shingles and siding in recent months and was no longer in operation.
Its condition had prompted neighbouring businesses to raise safety concerns with the community council.
Council issued a letter to the property's owner on Oct. 22, ordering that the building be fixed or torn down within 30 days.
Equipment moved onto the lot Monday and went to work Tuesday.  Loads of debris were trucked to the former O'Leary dump property for subsequent disposal.  The Main Street property had been a scene of retail activity in O'Leary since early in the 1900s.
Florence Turner, a longtime O'Leary resident, said Bill Kennedy operated a store there as early as 1913 or 1914.  It subsequently burned and Hal Jelley opened a large store there to sell furniture and other merchandise.  When that burned,, Jelley built another store on the property and sold half of it to Denziel MacNeill in 1963.
MacNeill acquire the rest of the building the following year and operated a clothing and general merchandise store for many years.
It went through three more owners since then.  A doctor's office occupied part of the property for about two decades.  There was also a pharmacy in the building a few years ago.
O'Leary Community Council chairman Stanley MacDonald expressed optimism that the owner will see fit to develop commercial space on the prime piece of real estate.
Charlottetown developer and one of the owners of the building, Cliff McQuaid, said he has no plans for the property.  He siad there were plans when they purchased it, and that was to relocate the O'Leary Liquor Store to the site, but those plans fell through.
Equipment claws away at the rear of the former Stedman’s building in O’Leary Tuesday. Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer

Another Farmhouse lost to Fire

     Last week there was another fire which consumed a rural farmhouse - the following is the article in the Guardian Newspaper.  Every year a few of these old houses burn for one reason or another.

Canavoy fire

Published on January 4, 2013 - Provincial fire marshal Dave Rossiter is back today at the scene of a residence fire in Canavoy which severely damaged a two-storey older residence owned by Everett Coughlin on the Old Mount Stewart Road. - Guardian photo
c.f. -

     The following was in the Guardian Newspaper website on January 4, 2013.

CANAVOY — Provincial fire marshal Dave Rossiter is back today at the scene of a residence fire in Canavoy which severely damaged a two-storey older residence owned by Everett Coughlin on the Old Mount Stewart Road.  Rossiter was on the site Thursday as well following the fire, which broke out at approximatelty 11 a.m. in bitterly cold conditions Wednesday.
East River fire department responded to the blaze, assisted by St. Peters, Morell, Mount Stewart and North Shore departments.  Coughlin is the owner of the construction company Hammer & Spike.  Rossiter said he had a few followups to do and will not likely have a cause of fire determined by the end of day today.  The home was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene. It appeared the fire started around the top part of a chimney near the roof.  There was no one home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. The home was almost completely gutted.  The exterior of the house is now encased in ice from the water poured onto the flames by firefighters.