Friday, January 24, 2014

Maplewood Manor, Alberton

     About a week ago demolition began on the old Maplewood Manor in Alberton.  The Manor opened in the fall of 1967 taking in 51 local seniors.  The 42-year-old brick structure with a flat roof saw many local seniors go through its' doors.  I had the privilege of working at Maplewood Manor the summers of 1981 and 1982 on summer student employment projects. The first year Garth MacKay, Darlene Wallace and I assisted Doris Buchanan, the Recreation Director, with a variety of senior activities.  The second year, Donna Broderick, Susan Foley and I had the job of collecting, compiling, writing and self-publishing a booklet called, Down Memory Lane, of stories and poems of Maplewood Manor residents and seniors from surrounding communities.  
     Below is a publication produced by the Maplewood Manor History Committee in 1987.

     There's hardly a day goes by that I don't think of the seniors I got to know at Maplewood Manor more than 30 years ago.  I was amazed with their stories of long ago, ie. men and women recalling childhood school poems as if it were yesterday; the stories of a sea captains widow who sailed with her husband and saw ghosts; a well-known local historian; a man who carried rural mail for more than 50 years; a man who wanted (and eventually had) 8 nurse pallbearers take him to his grave; a mother of 19 children; at the time most residents were born in the 1880s; many were farmers, fishermen and housewives, whose grandparents were early pioneers and settlers to the area.
     Below: A pen & ink drawing I drew for our booklet Down Memory Lane of the two houses torn down to make way for the old Maplewood Manor.
    Below - pages 1 & 2 telling the story of the two houses demolished in the mid 1960's to make way for the new manor.
The Bennett House -
     Henry and Hannah Bennett bought thirteen acres of land from a Mr. MacRae in the mid-1800s where there was already built a barn and an unfinished house.  Mr. Bennett, who was a shipbuilder, had plans to finish the house but he died shortly after acquiring it.  His son, Charles, put doors and windows on the place and completed the house to live in it with his wife, Margaret Thompson.  The Bennett home, which was finished in Ash, contained all handmade furniture from New Brunswick.  Much of this furniture can be found in West Prince including the Bennett’s staircase.  This staircase was in the Alberton Museum when exhibits were displayed at Oulton’s Barn.
     The Bennett property was situated between the Bonyman’s and the Purdy’s.  Mrs. Hedly Palmer, daughter of Charles and Margaret Bennett, was born there and lived at home until she was married.  She recalls her mother’s “beautiful lilac trees” which ran along their walkway.  Also, The Purdy house next door was almost like home to her as the families visited back and forth all the time.
     The Town of Alberton bought the Bennett place from George Bennett, Charles’ son in 1965.  The house, which was torn down, was over one hundred years old. 
  Above: the Dr. Purdy house, Church Street, Alberton
Page  - 2 -
The Purdy House -
     We, a son and daughter, are guessing about some of the dates.  We’re told that the plan for the house, in question, was drawn by Mr. M.R. Leard, was bought from the builder and owner John Wilkinson in the early 1900’s.
     IT was a very large house with nine-foot ceilings.  On the ground floor were two rooms with wide doors folding into the wall between the parlour and the sitting room.  In the living room there was a black slate fireplace and mantle piece where large chunks of coal were used.  On the other side there was a dining room with hardwood floors, a table with extension leaves that eventually seated eleven family members and usually one or more guests.  The kitchen section was smaller than the main house.  It contained a pantry and two what we called “back places”.  One, where a back stairway was built leading to two rooms, one for a bath, and one for a hallway with two steps leading to the hall of the main upper floor which contained three large bedrooms and one smaller one.  A lovely stairway went down to the hallway on the lower floor and the front door entrance.
     The house was insulated with saw dust throughout, and heated by a huge hot air coal furnace.
     Our father, a dentist, lost all his dental equipment except the chair, when his office on Main Street was destroyed by fire in 1919.  He then set up an office using the parlour of the house.  Dr. Purdy also went to Tignish one day a week to see patients.
     The house was on a brick foundation and had a closed in porch which was glassed in on one end and across the front.  It had a fourteen inch shelf to hold Mother’s ever-blooming plants (until frost time).  They were topic of conversation as guests and patients entered.
     We had real nice neighbours.  On the left were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bennett and family.  On the right the Honourable Ben and Mrs. Rogers and family, then Mr. and Mrs. Rankin and family, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gard and Mr. And Mrs. Alton O’Brien and family.  Across the street was the Methodist Church now the United Church and in the parsonage next to its a different minister and his family moved in every four years.  During the winter months when some one from the parsonage would come to visit they would say, “I really came to get warm.”  Our house was an all around warm one. 
     Above/Below: the only page in the Maplewood Manor 1967-1987 booklet telling the story of a resident and their home.  I knew Louisa Fish, she was a happy person and blind when I knew her.  She came to the Manor when she was about 94 or 95 - Louisa and her brother Will lived here following their parents death.  
     I wish I quizzed Louisa about her old farmhouse - she would have had great stories to tell.  I seem to recall she had an old family trunk that she treasured and had in her room.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Baltic, Lot 18

     Thanks to my brother my collection of old Island community histories continues to grow.  Yesterday he brought me a copy of "|History of Baltic Lot 18" by the Baltic Lot 18 Women's Institute.  Wow, the Women's Institute of Prince Edward Island surely compiled and saved alot of our community history for Islanders.  This book was published around 1975-76
     Here's the book cover along with a few interesting photos from within.  As I always say, these community histories are a great source of vernacular and other architecture.
     Page 13. The school in Baltic was established in 1848 .  In 1872 the school shown above here was built.  They were No. 99.
     Page 16.  Reminiscences of the Baltic School and Community 1915-1916 by Jean MacFadgen
     At the beginning of the school term, the middle of August, after I received my First Class Certificate from Prince of Wales College in 1915, I went to the pretty undulating countryside, sparsely wooded, of Baltic, Lot 18.  The one-room school was similar to all on P.E.I. at the time, rectangular in shape and one door, opening into an entry, before the main portion was reached.  The seating was double and an elevation of possibly ten inches was across one end, upon which was the teacher's desk and chair.  Behind this were the blackboards and maps which could be rolled, as needed.  The long pointed rested on the sill with the chalk and brushes.  The top of the ot-bellied stove be used for heating water.  The coal was kept  in a building adjoining "the boy" and "the girls", outhouses behind the school.
Page 20.  Above.

     Page 24-25.  Mill Dam Baltic, above.  Baltic once had one of the first six grist mills on P.E.I.  This was around 1825.  Others were at Hamilton, Long River, Rustico.  An added feature at the Baltic mill was an outhouse with twenty holes, which gives some knowledge of the number of folk who did business there, and whose every need was considered.  George Bearisto built and operated the first grist mill in the Baltic area...  There were many owners over the life of this mill - they were George Riley, James Bernard, Charles Burt, George Burns, Frank Hillman, V.L.A., Alexander MacKenzie, Bruce MacKenzie, and William Hunter.
     In 1965 the mill site and house were sold to L.D.C. ( PEI Land Development Cooperation), a year later the buildings were demolished and the pond became a public area for fishing.
     Page 47.  The Champion House above is a simple gable style house with a shed roofed back porch.  The front entry /door bay is unusual.  It is built in a bay shape with five sides, the door in the middle and long narrow single-hung windows on each side, just like a bay complete with hip roof.  It appears the front door has narrow shutters on each side.  The roofs are cedar shingles and you can see a ladder leading to the chimney on the left side. 

City of Charlottetown: Repairing Historic Windows

     This is a great little booklet about your historic windows and how to repair or replace them.  It is available online at The City of Charlottetown's website.  It was compiled and written by Darrin Dunsford, William Chandler Architects Inc.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Public Archives 2014 Almanac & Miscellany Celebrating 1864

     There's a new Almanac from the Public Archives - here's information and the link.
January 16, 2014 
Public Archives provides a glimpse of the Island’s past
Tourism and Culture
A new almanac from the Public Archives and Records Office will provide readers with an overview of life on Prince Edward Island 150 years ago and will be a great addition to the 2014 celebrations, says Minister of Tourism and Culture Robert Henderson.
“This new almanac gives a month by month accounting of important events that occurred here on the Island in 1864 and explores different themes including land issues, major towns and even fashion,” says Minister Henderson. “It is an excellent resource for history buffs and for anyone that has an interest in learning about life on Prince Edward Island in the mid-1800s, or keeping a diary of events and activities in 2014. It also aligns perfectly with one of the primary goals of the 2014 celebrations – honouring the past.”
One thousand copies of The Public Archives 2014 Almanac and Miscellany Celebrating 1864: A look at Prince Edward Island in the Year of the Charlottetown Conference will be published by the Queen’s Printer. Copies will be made available for borrowing from all public libraries on Prince Edward Island and will be given out at special heritage events throughout the year. A free, downloadable, electronic version of the Almanac is also available on the Public Archives and Records office website.
“Staff at the Public Archives conducted an intensive search of records to locate references to the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 and other important events held throughout that year,” said Provincial Archivist Jill MacMicken-Wilson. “The intent of the project is to make Islanders and visitors more aware of the important events of 1864 and the celebrations of 2014, and to perhaps introduce Islanders to the lost practice of record keeping in almanacs.”
Not only does the almanac provide a glimpse of the Island’s history, but it also gives individuals an opportunity to keep records of events in 2014. A monthly 2014 calendar is provided in each chapter as well as several blank pages for record keeping. There are also advertisements from 1864, diary entries, photos, clippings from various publications and other items from the Public Archives.
To celebrate, the Public Archives is holding a draw to give away 200 hard copies of the 1864 Almanac. To enter simply send an email containing your name, address and phone number to The draw will be made on Heritage Day in February.
To download a pdf or e-book version of the Almanac, visit
      Also see Guardian newspaper article online...

P.E.I. Lighhouse Society - NOW ONLINE!
See recent article in the Journal-Pioneer newspaper -
Lighthouse Society now online
Eric McCarthy / Published on January 15, 2014
      As a well-known historian on Island lighthouses, Carol Livingstone has been called upon to help public school and university students come up with material for class projects. 
       Carol Livingstone, left, and Kilmeny Boates leaf through Livingstone’s large supply of lighthouse photos.   They picked from that collection in selecting photos for the P.E.I. Lighthouse Society’s new website.
     Livingstone’s resource service might soon be in less demand, but not because lighthouses have lost any of their lure. Now, much of the resource material is available online at the Prince Edward Island Lighthouse Society’s new website. Livingstone and Kilmeny Boates got the site up and running just before Christmas. 
     The site is registered at four domain names, or .com and or .com.  “It’s worth our investment to nail it down,” Livingstone said of the identity.
     The site contains photos and information on 63 lighthouse and range light structures spread out along the Island’s 1,100 kilometers of jagged coastline. The close to 900 photos include interior and exterior photos of the structures as well as some shots of the local scenery and historical photos of lightkeepers who maintained the lights before electricity was installed. Prince Edward Island is believed to have the highest concentration of lighthouse structures of any province or state in North America. Approximately 35 of those structures are still listed as active aids to navigation.
      Livingstone, a past president of the Lighthouse Society, provided most of the photos for the website from what Boates described as her “mountains and mountains of photos.” She’s been in them all and knows their history and unique features.
      Boates first became involved in lighthouse research while working on an internship in 2010. “It fast became a passion,” she admits.
     Descriptions and dimensions of the structures, their history, driving directions, special activities and events that occur on the sites and whether they are publicly or privately owned is some of the information provided.
     Livingstone, the “Lighthouse Lady,” and Boates will continually add information and photos and are interested in hearing from anyone who has material to share. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Doull-Clark "Rolling Bank Cottage", Wilmot Valley

     I've been noticing this old house for many years as I travel the Blue Shank Road between central and western P.E.I.   The house is set not far off Blue Shank Road on the MacMurdo Road (Route 120) in Wilmot Valley.  The house is situated on the east side of MacMurdo Road with the Wilmot River below/south of the house.
    Today I finally stopped to take a few photos with my smart phone - the real camera was at home.
     The house was built by George Doull about 1850.  George was a carriage maker - the 1861 Census taker notes that he had a shop near Rolling Bank Cottage and had made four carriages.  Later Doull moved to Summerside where he became known as a fine furniture builder.  Wm. Charles Clark (and Margaret Lefurgey) bought the house from the Doulls.  The Clarks had eleven children.   The following information cf.
     This house is in the "cross-gable" design which has a front gable who's eaves reach across from side-to-side of the front of the house to meet with the main house end gables.
     The Meachams's 1880 Atlas of Prince Edward Island shows this property belonging to Charles Clark with 100 acres.
     The Cumins 1928 Atlas of Prince Edward Island shows this property belonging to Fred Clark with 90 acres.  Married to Ethel Walker with eight children.
     Today the house remains in the Clark family.
Above: the Wilmot River to the left - to the right is the south yard of the house.

Mac Dixon's Mill 25 years later

     My brother sent me these photos yesterday as he was travelling around central PEI.  It's the old Mac Dixon Mill in South Melville.
     In my 67th post on this blog, June 2011, was about this old mill - these photo I took were taken in 1989 - 25 years ago.  Amazing to know the old mill is still here after all these years - although not in the greatest condition.
     In 1987 or 1988 two prominent Island businessmen talked about purchasing this mill and restoring it to operate as a tourist destination.
     In Meachams 1880 Atlas of Prince Edward Island it shows three separate parcels of land, each 50 acres around the mill, owned by John, William and George Beer.  It notes this as a saw mill.
     The McAlpine's Prince Edward Island Directory 1880-1881 notes Geo. Beer as a tanner; and Wm Beer with saw and grist mills in Hampton district.
     In Cumins 1928 Atlas of Prince Edward Island it shows Manford Beer owning the mill property with 80 acres of land.
     On the "Old Mills of Prince Edward Island" map by JoDee Samuelson 1996, it shows this as being a saw mill owned by the Beers. 
     So not sure when the Dixon's took over the mill.  I know Mac told us about his father going to Boston to get the bran duster.
Refer to previous posts about Mac Dixon and this mill...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

McNichol-Best House, Cardigan

     The previous post of the Dundas farm may have a connection with the Best family (of Banting & Best, inventors of insulin).  Here's another connection the Best family has to Prince Edward Island - it's a house and property purchased by Dr. Best in Cardigan in 1973.
     The McNichol House of Cardigan is featured in H.M. Scott Smith's book The Historic Houses of Prince Edward Island on page 128.  ( sorry for the fuzzy photo - my scanner is not working - I took a photo ).  I will note a few excerpts from the book below to explain this house.
     The house is situated on the Cardigan River...It's a large rambling, multi-gabled house built partially of Island sandstone with multi-paned windows and a slate roof...It was built in c.1920 as a summer residence for James McNichol, a United States Senator from Philadelphia, and his wife, the former Margaret Donahue of Cardigan.  Senator McNichol died just prior to its completino.  In 1973 it was sold to the renowned Dr. Charles H. Best, co-discoverer of insulin.  Dr. Best died in 1978, but his daughter-in-law lived here after 1983.
     Below are drawings from the Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Record Office website.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Abandoned House and Barn, Dundas

      I took these photos in May 2009.  The house and barn are located in Dundas at #4371  Annandale Road (Rte. 310) not far from the side road, Dundas Farms Road.  
     Years ago there was a large farm in this area - something to do with PEI Government and an experimental farm.  I don't know more than that.  
     The house style is unusual for a rural setting.  It's an asymmetric, confused Queen Anne-like style with many additions and detailing.  It features three bay windows - on the left the bay has a square projecting dormer above; on the right a simple bay window with hipped roof; and on the front a 2-storey bay appearing as a set-in tower with a bell roof.  The house has a trapezoid gable/attic window and much gingerbread from eave brackets to verandah detailing.  The shed roof porch on the right front and side was likely once an open verandah.
     Here's a link to a 360 degree view of the large room on the main floor, left side of the house.   It looks like alot of files, file cabinet, etc. - must have been used as an office? Interesting!
     Here's one of the barns on the property - there are 5 or 6 more - I just photographed the older barn.  All is abandoned!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Books: Acadians of the Maritimes & Prince Edward Island

     My reference library has the following books on and about Acadian life and folklore - most have been translated in to English for folks like me who do not speak french.
     "Acadia of the Maritimes" features good information about the construction of the Acadian home.  
     The following books (not a complete list) about Acadian life on Ile-du-Prince Eduoard /Prince Edward Island are by well-known Acadian historian Georges Arsenault - must-have books about Acadians.
     The following images come from website.