Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Residents opposed to restoring Murray River train station

Resident Wayne Burke says the Murray River train station, hidden behind trees and falling down, isn’t worth saving.Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt
Resident Wayne Burke says the Murray River train station, hidden behind trees and falling down, isn’t worth saving.
Published on August 28, 2013
Steve Sharratt  RSS Feed

MURRAY RIVER — To some people it’s a diamond in the rough that should be restored; but for others it’s an eyesore in the dust and should be torn down.
But any hopes to save the old Murray River train station may be falling off the rails as some residents insist any government funding to restore the station would be a complete waste of taxpayer’s dollars.
“Not one person I have spoken with has expressed a desire or interest in seeing tax payer’s dollars wasted on that old station,” contends resident Wayne Burke who lives next door. “Tear it down is what they’ve all said.”
A retired RCMP officer, Burke penned that sentiment in a letter to The Guardian and others in effort to bring public attention to the attempts by the village council, and chairman Garnet Buell, to save the building.
“The village wants to restore it and make it a tourist attraction,” Buell told the media. “There’s not too many of these stations left.”
The P.E.I. Transportation Department was going to tear down the 100 plus year old station as part of a plan to widen the Main Street here. However, council got a reprieve and the station was removed from the tender block which included tearing down three other buildings, including the former IGA store in the heart of the community.
However, Burke insists the train station, buried in trees, caving in, and home to rats, will cost inestimable dollars both for the village residents and Island taxpayers. Buell said he hoped to move the station to a nearby site this month but there has been no change. The station can’t be seen from the main road, but is tucked away behind the abandoned IGA store.
“I’m afraid Mr. Buell wants to save it because he used to work there in the 1950s, but it’s too far gone and it’s filled with rats,” he said. “I doubt you could even move it without it all falling down.”
Many Island communities have attempted to save former train stations and many have simply built replicas because of the condition and costs of restoration. The last train to run on P.E.I. was 30 years ago.
Burke, representing residents who support the demolition, has now requested the station be bulldozed as planned in a letter to the Premier, Minister of Transportation and other officials. The removal of all four buildings is expected to be underway at any time.
Exterminators have attempted to eliminate the rat problem associated with the cluster of abandoned buildings, but Burke says the effort simply drove them to his barn which is home to piles of rat feces. He also points out the tender for building removal includes the reclamation of an industrial septic system adjoining the building sites.
“I’ve discussed this topic with in excess of 100 residents here in the village over the past few months, and they don’t see the value and say it’s a huge eye sore in one of the prettiest communities there is,” said Burke.
The Guardian attempted to discuss the merits of the train station heritage with the head of the Museum and Heritage Foundation, but Dr. David Keenlyside was unavailable.

Tignish House

     Here's a little house at the corner of Church Street and Park Lane in Tignish.  I photographed the house first in the spring then later in summer.
     I don't know the history of the house.  The house has Victorian (around 1900) detailing, however, I suspect the house is older as there are details from an earlier period.  More exploration is required to make more conclusions.
Below are some photos of the interior.
     Meacham's 1880 Atlas of Prince Edward Island show this corner lot belonging to  E. Hackett with a Store and warehouse.  
Below: zoomed in view.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Conway Sandhill Restoration - buildings removed

This is from the Guardian newspaper's website...

Volunteers help restore Conway Sandhills to the way nature made them

Published August 26, 2013
Eric McCarthy
The Journal Pioneer
MILLIGAN’S WHARF -- Diane Griffin admits she’s been captivated by the Conway Sandhills since her days as a university student. Even then, she said, she made visits to the sandhills to help conserve the property.
            She would later work for the Nature Conservancy of Canada in helping to obtain sections of the sandhills for conservation.
            The NCC now has the ownership of nearly one-half of the shifting sand dunes that form a protective barrier for Prince Edward’s Island’s north shore from Cascumpec Bay to Malpeque Bay.
            Although she is no longer an employee of the NCC, Griffin, like 27 other interested people, showed up Monday for an NCC-organized cleanup of a section of the protected sand dunes.
            “This is special,” said Griffin. “Prince Edward Island doesn’t have wilderness anymore. This is wilderness.” She was helping fellow volunteers restore it to its wilderness state by removing what was left of an abandoned and fallen down shack.
The shack had likely been used as a temporary shelter for duck and goose hunters suggested fellow volunteer Kelvin Morrison. Among the debris were the rusted metal frames of a couple of single cots.
            This particular shack was located in a low spot, likely for shelter.
            The NCC was hoping for 20 volunteers and was pleased to have more, because they had four such shacks to remove. Asphalt shingles and other debris harmful to the environment were bagged up and hauled back to the Prince Edward Island mainland. The wood was piled on the beach and burned.
            Among the volunteers who signed up for the cleanup were Diana and Peter Carver of Summerside. It was how they chose to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary. Diana had been involved in a similar cleanup on Governor’s Island last year. Although she had seen that Island all her life, the 2012 cleanup was her first opportunity to visit the place.
            She shared the same excitement about visiting the sandhills for the first time.
“It’s more like the history of it. And you get to see P.E.I. from a different perspective, because we are all inland now,” Carver commented.
            “I think it’s just a new perspective,” Carver said, adding that she wanted to help the NCC turn the property into a sanctuary.
            Roland Millar, who was at Milligan’s Wharf to see the volunteers off Monday morning, reminisced about having spent several springs over on the sandhills. He had hauled a house there in 1946 and lived in it each spring during lobster fishing. “I just hauled it over. I didn’t ask for permission or anything,” he said. A team of horses brought the house there over the ice. His wife also lived on the sandhills for one spring while working at a lobster cannery there.
            After Milligan’s Wharf was built, around 1960, most of the houses and shacks that had been on the sandhills were hauled back home. Several of them are located at Milligan’s wharf. Millar has his old house at his home place and still uses it as an outbuilding.
            Guy Lewis still has a shack on the sandhills. It is outside the protected area. He dropped by Monday morning just to make sure the working bee wasn’t going near his structure. It wasn’t.
            Lewis said the structure has been in the Lewis family for about 40 years and is used for camping and shelter during hunting season. “They don’t realize, if someone gets stranded over there and there’s no shacks what’s going to happen,” he said, but was satisfied the ones being removed from the NCC property had deteriorated to the point that they wouldn’t provide shelter anyway.
            Until recent years Millar used to visit the sandhills every summer. “It’s a nice peaceful place to spend an evening. I just enjoyed being over there,” he said.
Millar said the sandhills look very much the same as they did in the 1940s. “It’s shifting sand. It changes a little bit,” he stressed.
Indeed, the plotter on the boat used to ferry volunteers to the sandhills suggested the boat was right on the sand dunes when it was actually safely between the red and green channel markers.
            The NCC still permits people to visit the property said Brittany Clifford, the coordinator of Monday’s cleanup. People are allowed to go there for picnics and walks on the beaches but she asked that they leave the property in the condition they find it and that they not disturb rare plants and animals.
            Griffin added her own advice: “Make sure the area is as tidy as you found it, or maybe even pick up any garbage that washed in.”
Below images cf. article - by Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Gertie Morrison lugs a section of an abandoned Conway Sandhills shack to the beach for further dismantling and disposal. Eric mcCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Volunteers Diane Griffin and Kelvin Morrison sort through what's left of an old shack on the Conway Sandhills Monday. Twenty-eight people answered the Nature Conservancy of Canada's call for volunteers to help in restoring its protected property to its natural state. Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Those buildings at Milligan's Wharf used to be on the Conway Sandhills. They were hauled back home after the wharf was built around 1960. The Nature Conservancy of Canada organized a working bee on Monday to dismantle some abandoned shacks from the section of sandhills now in its ownership. Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Barb Trainor, left, and Diane Griffin display some of the debris they helped gather up from an abandoned shack on the Conway Sandhills. Groups of volunteers cleared away the remnants of four shacks Monday from a portion of the sandhills now protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Old Barn, Meadowbank

    I was out by this way yesterday and photographed these old barns.  They're located on the south side of Route 19 in Meadowbank overlooking the West River - a short distance before you cross over the West River Bridge towards New Dominion.

      I photographed these barn three years ago when the vegetation around the barns was well groomed.  The following photos were taken on September 2, 2010.
Note the "For Sale" Signs on the end of the large barn.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Unearthing our past at Orwell Corner

Archaeology students at the dig site in Orwell Corner.

     There is a very special thing happening at Orwell Corner Historic Village this summer.  
     Birds are singing in a canopy of old trees, citronella incense is billowing in the air and you can hear continuous scraping sounds.
     On their knees, a team of archaeologists are unearthing a two-storey, six-room wooden, 1870s house, trying to piece together the lives of the people who lived in it before it caved into the ground a hundred years ago.
     And they’re opening the site – and its wonderful historical artifacts – to the public as part of the province’s Public Archaeology Project.
Archaeological Dig at Orwell Corner
Highlights from a public archaeology dig at Orwell Corner Historic Village. The dig explored the remains of a 19th century house and was led by Dr. Helen Kristmanson, Director of Aboriginal Affairs and Archaeology for Prince Edward Island. 
Dr. Helen Kristmanson shows some artifacts to an aspiring archaeologist.
To date, thousands of artifacts have been excavated from this half-acre parcel of land behind the main building. Everything from fragments of window glass, floor and ceiling planks and hardware to personal items like buttons, boots, jewellery, hat pins, hair combs and smoking pipes, to everyday household items  like bottles, spoons, china and ceramics have been unearthed.
     Summer staff are on site with photos, historical information and dowels to hand to curious passersby interested in joining in.
     Children are encouraged to get their hands in the dirt and see what piece of history they can dig up.
     “Archaeology connects us to our history, to the lives of the people who lived before us, and helps build pride in our Island heritage,” said Archaeological Intern Meghan Ferris.
     One of the most significant finds on this site was the old coal stove, which fell through the floorboards and dragged many well preserved artifacts with it.
     Provincial archaeologist Dr. Helen Kristmanson feels the project helps visitors understand archaeology and connect with the Island’s rich history and human heritage.
     You feel a very personal connection, when you unearth someone’s comb, which has been buried for 150 years, she said.
     Site manager Tom LeClair, said the open dig is really helping visitors feel a part of the unique “going back in time” experience that Orwell Corner offers.
     “We’re getting a lot of good feedback, people are really enjoying it,” he said.
     The team found a looking glass, its warped glass surface crusted with red clay. It has since been catalogued using national codes that identify such remnants of the past and stored in a container showcasing the dig’s greatest hits. 
     Imagine if the person whose eyes peered through that looking glass almost 200 years ago could have spied the painstaking work being done on the spot they once lived, the careful and meticulous reconstruction of their once-loved possessions to help retell the story of their lives.
     For more information, follow the public archaeology program on Twitter (@ArchaeologyPEI) and read more and
     If you think you’d like to try your hand at archaeology, visit the site or contact Tracy Power ( to volunteer.

Digging up the Past - Stanhope Dig
     Parks Canada senior archaeologist Charles Burke chats with Keen Huie, a California resident who lives on PEI for part of the year, at an excavation site of PEI's first Scottish settlement, located on the National Park's Farmland Trail.  The dig is behind Burke, while a number of artifacts discovered over the past five years are between the two.
Published on August 15, 2013
Mitch MacDonald
The Guardian
STANHOPE - Bear tankards, a thimble, and an entire plate are some of the more than 200-year-old items that have been uncovered at an archaeological dig here.
     Parks Canada's efforts to dig up the past at the Farmlands Trail in the National Park this week is winding down.
     Today is the final day for this year.
     The excavation began in 2008 and was designed to give the public an opportunity to participate in discovering the first Scottish house settlement in PEI.
     "That's the working theory we've been going with ever since," said senior archaeologist Charles Burke.
     He said all pieces found in the past five years date back to the period between 1770 to 1810.
     "The artifacts all confirm that date."
     While thousands of pieces have been dug up during the past several years, Burke said much of this year's work relates to a final assessment of the site.
     That includes recording geospatial date, database updating, final photography and onsite plans and maps.
     Burke, who has been at the site all week, has also been discussing the dig with visitors on the trail.
     On Thursday, he saw more than 20 individuals on a guided walk pepper him with questions about the dig.
     Janette Gallant, public outreach education officer for Parks Canada on PEI, said the group is happy to have Burke working on the site.
     She said bringing the guided tour to the site falls in line with Parks Canada's mandate of protecting and presenting the country's natural and cultural heritage.
     "We try to bring people along to understand what kind of work is being done so we can understand the heritage values of the area," she said.
     Gallant said Thursday's group was a mix of individuals interested in archeology, people who wanted to for a walk on the trails, history buffs and descendants of those who had lived in the area.
     A public presentation themed "Archaeological Investigation in Stanhope" also took place earlier this week.
     Artifacts found during the past half-decade weer shown to both those int he walking tour and at the presentation.
     one of the more interesting discoveries was a thimble, which Burke said is a rare find.  He said that's because most archeologists' find more items that belonged to men rather than women. 
     Another interest discovery was an entire plate, which Burke described as "remarkable."
     Full pieces like the plate are often found in old latrines, he said.
     "Because people would loose things in latrines and don't go back for them," said Burke. cracking up the guided tour.
     However, it appears the plate was likely just forgotten in the basement of a home.
    "It's rare that you find a whole thing and when you do it's almost always a case of it was lost it just fell out of people's existence," said Burke "how it got there we don't know but somebody left the plate in the basement of this house.
     More information on the dig can be found by calling 902-672-6350.

Acadian National Feast Day - August 15

Come celebrate August 15 at the Acadian Museum
     On the occasion of Acadian National Feast Day, the Acadian Museum, in Miscouche, invited you to an open house activity on Thursday, August 15, from 1-4pm.
     There will be a guided visit of the wonderful photographic exhibition, "Island Acadian Men' with historian Georges Arsenault, curator.  This exhibition pays tribute to Island Acadian men and boys through a display of beautiful old photographs dating from 1896 to 1960. Most of the exhibition's 65 photos come from family albums from the various Acadian regions of Prince Edward Island.   He will tell stories about several of the photos.  The tour will be in French at 2pm and in English at 3pm.
     Refreshments will be served.  Admission is free.  Information: 902-432-2880.
Presently on Display - Island Acadian Men: A Journey Through Generations. 
Until Oct. 31, 2013
Five generations of the Poirier family, 1903
     Taken by the photographer W.S. Louson, this famous photo features five generations of Acadians from Tignish, Prince Edward Island, born between 1806 and 1898.  From L-R: Joseph, Francois, Jean, Gilbert and Colas.
Public Archives and Records Office of PEI

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

PEI Lighthouses Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - Lecture Augt 19

     I was to this lecture last winter at Beaconsfield - it was excellent - they had good information and images!

     Join us Monday, August 19 in Montague where Carol Livingstone and Josh Silver will present Lighting the Way: PEI Lighthouses Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, at the Freight Shed on the Montague Waterfront.

     Lighthouses have a long history on PEI going back to 1845 when the Island received its first light on land donated by the Earl of Selkirk at Point Prim. Its construction was in response to increasing ship traffic and subsequent merchants’ and ship owners’ pleas to the Colony’s House of Assembly. Since then, many more lighthouses and range lights have been constructed and today, over 50 dot the coastline of our beautiful Island.
     To celebrate and encourage preservation of these coastal beacons, the Institute for Architectural Studies and Conservation invites you to join them Monday, August 19th at 7.30 pm for an illustrated talk entitled, Lighting the Way: PEI Lighthouses Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, at the Freight Shed on the Montague Waterfront. Carol Livingstone, President, PEI Lighthouse Society and Josh Silver, Red Seal Carpenter and Learning Manager, Heritage Retrofit Carpentry Program, Holland College will explore the history of these iconic forms of coastal architecture and identify their function and architectural features.
     Admission is by donation and light refreshments will be served, so please join us and bring a friend for a lovely summer evening on the Montague waterfront. For more information, please visit our website at or call 368-6600.
Above: my photo of the North Rustico Lighthouse
Above: my photo of Cape Bear Lighthouse.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wells/ Clark/ Ashley House, Union (beside Alberton)

     I had a chance to see through this 1850's house the other evening - located at 33 Dock Road.  The present owners have just listed it for sale -
     The house was originally built by William Wells (1830-1909).  He was the son of James II Wells; and grandson of James I Wells, a shipwright first employed with James Hill, who came to the Dock to take up land and where boats were also being built on the Dock River. 
     William Wells first married Barbara Stuart Ramsay (1838-1886) - they had ten children including two daughters who married into the Clark family.  William's second wife was  Jane Brander (1837-1894) and his third wife was Mary (MacArthur) Donald (?-1920). 
     The following information comes from the book: Wandering Back:  History of Dock - Hills River - Mill River - Rosebank. 1983.  Published by the Three Rivers Historical Society.  Printed by William & Crue, Summerside.
     William had a brother Malcolm and one sister Jane. "Little is known about Malcolm, although he was the original owner of the Dock Carding Mill, to which his brother succeeded."  - pg. 97.  "Over a century ago, a carding and grist mill, operated by a local farmer, William Wells, was located at the pond.  He made use of the availability of water to generate power to run the mill.  An unfortunate accident in the mill caused William's daughter, Jean F., to be killed when her hair became entangled in the carding machine." - pg. 24
     Following the Well's living here, the Clark's lived here for years until in the 1960's when Charles Ashley bought it.  The Ashley's sold the house 3 years ago to the present owners.
     Below are photos from the above noted website.
     Above: the front entry door facing north - you can see the square newel post to the left edge of the phone - this is not original - the stairs from the main floor to second was rebuilt likely around 1900.  Below: the former dining room with piano window and modernized fireplace to the right.
     Below: top of stair over the front entry facing North.  The original stairs and handrail can be seen here.  This stair goes to the large third floor.
     Below:  interesting detailing on this second floor bedroom located on the northeast corner of the house facing towards the town of Alberton and the intersection of Rte. 150 and Rte.12.  This is the only room with this detailing - it's unusual, however, likely original to the house with panels below the sill to the floor.  Much of the glass in the windows are original throughout the house.
     During renovations to this house over the past couple of years the owner has found a couple of letters (one dated 1859) and a prayer book.
     The present owner told us that kitchen wing from the back of this house was moved across the road and renovated for the use as "Union (or Dock) School".

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Churchill Presbyterian Church

     Here's some photos of the Churchill Presbyterian Church - I was in the area the other day following more talk on the news about the small community be virtually destroyed due to the re-routing of the TransCanada Highway (aka Plan B) which travels from Bonshaw, through Churchill out to Strathgartney. 
     The church sits close to the highway - it seems as though it won't be moved or destroyed during the re-routing process, however, it seems the church is no longer used.  I found some information about the parish that the church belongs to - Central Parish Presbyterian Pastoral Charge website ( )   
     "In 1938 application was made by Canoe Cove, Churchill and Nine Mile Creek to be received into the Presbyterian Church of Canada.  This was granted by the General Assembly and these congregations joined with Clyde River to form Central Parish."
Above: Southwest view.
The classic thistle ironwork atop the Presbyterian steeple.
Below: decorative cut shingles on the tower.
Above: South side. / Below: Southeast corner.
     The doors were locked, so I put my camera lenses flat against the windows and took the following photos of the interior.
 Above / Below: Entry Porch - stairs to balcony.
      Below: when you enter church the altar is to the north/left side of the church.
Below: island sandstone splash pad.
 Below: Window on East Wall.
 Below: Fence around property and cemetery.