Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Deserted House, short story by Adjutor Rivard 1932

by Adjutor Rivard
Canadian Stories in Verse and Prose, 1932
      We children were afraid of it and never ventured near.  And yet the garden gate was open – lying on the ground, indeed, with broken hinges; and no one was there to say you nay.  On the way back from school or church – we were preparing then for our first communion – it would have been pleasant enough to stop half way and rest awhile on the low steps of the deserted house; the more so as plums, cherries, apples and gooseberries ripened in the orchard close by, and self-sown flowers, over-running the walks, fought with the rankly growing weeds for a share of sun and dew.  It was free to anyone; yet we hastened along fearfully, without pausing.
     The house was to us a sepulchre by the roadside.  Planks roughly nailed across door and windows barred up the melancholy abode.  Never a wisp of smoke curled from the stone chimney; never a ray of sunlight fell across the threshold; never a gleam shone through those blinded eyes.  Sightless and deaf, the house seemed indifferent alike to the wide glory of the fields, to the swish and rustle of the wind over the meadows.  Nothing stirred its chill insensibility; no human voice waked an echo within.  Human?  - but had not he night wind borne long-drawn mournful cries to many passerby from out the dead habitation?
     One of us was tearing the boards from a window to look in, but none had the hardihood to venture. There might be something frightful beneath that roof, shadows would be stealing about behind those fastened windows.  Were you eyes to fall on a room draped in black with a coffin and a corpse and candles burning!…In the evening we kept to the far side of the road and turned away our heads; afraid of what we might see.
  If the house did not shelter the ghosts of our childish imagining, walls harboured sad memories, and departed days still were haunting the empty rooms.
     Once the abandoned house was full of life and happiness, - happiness in the laughter of many children and the light-hearted mirth of grandparents; - life made beautiful by the toil that hallows every passing day and builds strong souls.  For a century and more, sons succeeded father s in the possession of these sunny acres which never failed of nourishment for all.  For a century and more, children were born, lived there lives and died in this same house, now forsaken; and of them every one as he made ready for his last journey sent a departing glance of farewell through this window across these same woods and fields.
     But a day fell when the property descended to an heir in whom the ancient spirit dwelt not.  This lover of indolent ways grudged the earth the travail of his hands and sweat of his face, and the earth denied him increase.  Bread was lacking in the house.  In his aliened heart he cursed the soil which yearned only to be fruitful and mourned the barrenness of its untilled fields.  In a vision of easy-won affluence the faithless habitant took the resolve to desert his country.  Selling beasts, furniture, all that pertained to his farm; barring the door and the windows of this home of his people as one nails up a coffin, he went his way.
     And since the house the emigrant’s house has stood closed and empty, as though under a malediction; a place of terror for children, of melancholy to their neighbors, and open wound in the parish.
      Have those who so depart full consciousness that in doing it they meanly quit the post of honour, are recreant to high duty?  Do they lightly imagine that they are leaving behind only four walls and a roof?  In truth they had abandoned and forswear is no less than their native land!  For one, the mountains, for another, the plain.  But whether on hillside or in hollow, here lies the parish in which their ancestor’s quiet lives slipped by, the church where they bent the knee, the earth that guards their bones; the farm which throve by dint of their harsh incessant toil; the precious store of household tradition, the wholesome fireside ways; worship of the past and reverence for its memories; nay, it may be, the very speech of their fathers and the faith itself that sustained them.  This, all rich inheritance do they toss away; and their own country thrown with careless hand into the barter!
      And yet I beseech thee, O Mother Earth, set not they curse upon those who have gone, for all are not so thankless.  If some have denied and forgotten thee in the smoke and din of cities, know that hard fate alone has driven many forth, and that in remoteness they keep faith with thee, dream of thee still, love thee before the land of their sojourning.  O Mother Earth, be mindful of them under whatsoever skies they larbour, for they are yet thy children.  They keep alive their country’s soul in strange lands, and practice the lessons thou has taught them in youth.
      Await them hopefully, kind Mother.  Tender and merciful, give them welcome on the day when exile passes their enduring and fate permits them to return.  Border the way with brightest flowers, shed abroad a warmer light, deck thyself in freshest loveliest green to greet their homecoming.  Yield thy broad bosom to the plough-shares of thy returning sons, O fruitful Mother; take to they furrows the seed flung by their scarred hands; joyously send up the tall heavy-headed wheat; let the grass spring lush in the meadows and the woods be filled with pleasant sounds; waft through all the opened windows of the re-awakened house the fragrant breath of new-mown hay!
Above Photo: House in Monticello, Prince Edward Island

"Our Pioneers: ...

...They built better than they knew.”
cf. Wandering Back: History of Dock, Hills River, Mill River, Rosebank
Prince Edward Island

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Former St. Anne's Parochial House moved today in Emyvale

     I just heard on CBC Radio's Mainstreet program that the former Parochial House at St. Anne's Parish in Emyvale was moved today.  It was bought by Jean-Serge Gagnon of Fredericton, N.B. and his wife.  The house was moved 1km to their new lot on the Kingston Road.  
     Buildings cannot be moved on Prince Edward Island during the months of July and August due to the extra tourism traffic.  The weather was too wet to move the house earlier this month - they got it moved just in time!
     The 13-room house was built in 1907, designed by well-known Island Architect William C. Harris.  Below are photos from CBC Radio P.E.I. website.  The rear kitchen wing to the house was built sometime in the 1950's according to the new owner.  
News - Mobile manse
Photos from CBC Prince Edward Island website:
Refer to previous blog post about the house...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Help Preserve the Paton-Bassett House, Charlottetown

     This story was aired on this mornings CBC Radio's P.E.I. Island Morning program.  Georgina Bassett grew up in this house and now owns it - she is anxious to repair the exterior and is going to crowd sourcing to raise funds.  The house is important to the City's inventory of unique architecture.  Georgina said she's constantly being contacted about the house and often talks to passersby, cruise passengers and tourists who stop to photograph the house.
     I had a tour of the house in 2008 and only took a few photos - see below.
 241 Prince Street, Charlottetown
     Here's the link to the Crowd Funding site - Georgina's message is noted below.
     We are restoring and renovating the exterior of our 126 year old house in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Can you help?
     So far we've redone the front, back and north side of the brick, replaced the roof, deck and railings. There's still one side left of the outside that needs to be completed.
     The masonry is approaching retirement, he's been a true gem and we really would like to complete the entire restoration of the exterior before he retires for good.
     Any and all help greatly appreciated! 

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     Below is information from the book: Charlottetown: The Life in Its Buildings by Irene L.  Rogers Page. 208.  
     241 Prince Street.  (in book cover photo above, this house is 2nd from the right). James Paton was a prosperous merchant and this house, designed by Phillips and Chappell, was rich in detail and material.  The chimney stack on the front facade must be, without doubt, the most decorated one in town.  Besides protruding rows of brickwork, it has a pediment, a row of columns, cut stone quoins, a window, and the best of all, the date 1887.  The flues go up on either side of the narrow window and join at the top.  Even the stone basement on this house is part of the design, repeating as it does stone at the apex of the gable, around Windows, and around the door.  Bricks set on edge are another decorative feature at the plate line and again on a belt course between first and second storeys.  The house is so rich in detail one almost misses the attractive ironwork on the roof of the rounded bay.  A slate roof completes the building.
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The house is listed for sale as well - see the listing and a few photos below...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Acadian Bread Oven Workshop - June 8th

Farmers' Bank of Rustico Lunch and Learn 
     A course will be given on how to build an outdoor Acadian Bread Oven by Arnold Smith at the Farmers' Bank of Rustico (2188 Church Road Rustico) on Saturday June 8th starting at 9:00 am.
     The session will feature a hands on demonstration and participation in building a full sized bread oven which will replace the one now existing at the Doucet House. As well, a lunch which will be cooked in the traditional way in the stone fireplace of the Doucet House will be served to participants.
     Admission: $50.00 per person - $80.00 per couple.
     Book your ticket at or call Theresa Gallant at 963-2997.
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     Here are a few photos from the "Building an Acadian Bread Oven Workshop" held at Doucet House, Rustico in June 2004 with Jef Ackenbach and Perry Everett of Annapolis Thatching Co-op Inc. from Annapolis, Nova Scotia.  They have conducted considerable research into 17th and 18th-Century Acadian building techniques.
     First you mix sand, brick clay, marsh grass and water and shape them in to cobs, once they have rested for a bit then you can start to shape the bread oven.
The first fire to bake the clay - then its ready to make bread.
We had a great day and learned alot!!
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     Below is an excerpt from the Journals of Rev. Robert William Dyer of Kildare/Cascumpeque, P.E.I. on his travel from Kildare to Tignish to see the newly constructed St. Simon St. Jude Cathedral.  The previous two pages were missing from the manuscript and this is where his comments end on the topic of local Acadians.  Rev. Dyers Journals cover a period of 42 years: 1841-1859 in Newfoundland and 1859-1883 in Prince Edward Island
September 10, 1859
“...they are all little farmers, I think; a fine part of the country, fine land and a large portion cleared, but badly cultivated.  One thing we noticed as we passed which seems peculiar to the French, is an oven where they bake their bread, built of mud, on some little framework some distance from the dwelling house.  This is, I should think, a safe, but rather an unhandy usage. We arrived in Tignish about half past 5 o’clock…”
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     Below are photos from the Mont Carmel Parish 100th Anniversary Book 1912, showing an Acadian woman with a bread oven.
1812 - 1912
Premier Centennaire
Paroisse de Mont Carmel
Ile du Prince Edouard
Le 20 Aout, 1912