Monday, October 31, 2011

Martin Heartz, mason

Every now and then I come across text referring to construction on the Island early in it's settlement - here is one such bit of information:

In 1805 Jacob "Martin" Heartz, ( of Sleepy Hollow) married Ann M. Dawson, an Irish girl from County Caven - they had ten children.  Martin was a very hard-working stone mason and did considerable work around the neighbouring countryside.  Lord Selkirk's Diary of August 15, 1803, contains data about "M. Heartz, mason" and that he built chimneys for the Belfast settlers.

cf. "An Island Refuge: Loyalists & Disbanded Troops on the Island of St. John."  Edited by Orlo Jones and Davie Haslams.  Abeqweit Branch of UE Loyalists Assoc. 1983.  Page 101.

Old farmstead Victoria West

Before you get to the churches on Rte. 130 there's an abandoned farmstead on the south side of the road.
 The house is an Island-ell style farmhouse.

Victoria West Schoolhouse

This schoolhouses is across the road (Rte 130) from the Victoria West United Church.
 Above: The front faces south.
 Above: the multi-window facade faces west.

Victoria West United Church

Just up the road on Rte 130, not far from the Victoria West Presbyterian Church is the Victoria West United Church.  The exterior has been moderized with new windows, doors and siding.
I will provide more information on this church when available.
 Below:  the photo below was taken in 2002 before changes to the exterior.  c.f.

Victoria West Presbyterian Church

I took a quick detour off Rte. 2 on Saturday morning to take photos of these two Churches.  This is the Victoria West Presbyterian Church, built in 1887.  As you travel on Rte. 130 west you can see the steeples of this church and about a half mile further up the road the Victoria West United Church. 
Below: I took these photos around 11am - as I took a side view of the window the light reflected the colour of the stained glass.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Robert Harris, Canadian Artist

     I was looking for a photo this afternoon and came across some information about Robert Harris.  Here's an interesting painting - he has wonderful sketches of Prince Edward Island landscape. 
     THE SETTLER’S HOME signed and inscribed watercolour and graphite on paper. “Peggy’s House Lot 65” is inscribed on the work. Private Collection.

Robert Harris (artist) self-portrait cf.
Robert Harris, artist (b at Vale of Conway, Wales 18 Sept 1849; d at Montréal 27 Feb 1919). Robert Harris is best known for his painting The Fathers of Confederation, which was burned in the fire that destroyed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa in 1916. Robert Harris immigrated to PEI with his family in 1856, including his brother William Critchlow Harris. He studied in Boston, Paris and Rome and travelled extensively in Europe, Canada and the US. He did illustrations for publications in Boston, Halifax, Montréal and Toronto, and was commissioned by George Brown of the Globe in 1880 to go to Lucan to sketch the prisoners accused of murdering the Donnellys. A distinguished portrait painter, Harris portrayed over 200 of the leading personalities of the day, including Sir John A. MacDonald, George Monro Grant and Lord Aberdeen. Robert Harris lived much of his life in Montréal teaching at the Art Association there. He was a founding member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1880 and of the Pen and Pencil Club in 1890. Elected president of the RCA in 1893, he worked for 13 years to promote young Canadian artists by having them represented at all major international exhibitions of the period. Two of his most popular paintings, A Meeting of the School Trustees and Harmony, are in the National Gallery of Canada. In 1928 his widow built the Robert Harris Memorial Gallery and Library in Charlottetown, PEI. This building was replaced in 1964 by the Confederation Centre and its gallery houses an extensive collection of Harris's works.

Notre Dame Convent to close, Charlottetown

141-year-old P.E.I. convent to close

A date hasn't been set for the Notre Dame Convent's closure.  Province of PEI.
The Notre Dame Convent in Charlottetown has been slated for closure, though a date has not been set.
The congregation has said the building and the nuns who live there are aging.
As part of a long process that's involved a close look at all their buildings in English Canada, the Sisters of Notre Dame have decided the Sydney Street convent will close in the future.
They say the 26 nuns who live there are aging, and many need nursing care. And there just aren't enough young nuns joining the order to keep the building viable.
The convent opened in 1870 as a school. The sisters of Notre Dame were teachers.
They taught hundreds of Catholic girls there over the years, and it finally closed as a school in 1971.
Carolle Anne Blanchard, who went to school there from grades one through 12, said she has many fond memories.
“Art and there were plays and the camaraderie of my friends who are still good bosom friends today," she said. Blanchard and others say they'd like the exterior of the historic building preserved.
She said she'd like to see room set aside inside to commemorate the school.
“But it needs to be put to a more productive use. I would suggest perhaps nursing care or perhaps assisted living, condos and apartments maybe.” Blanchard said.
This isn't a new issue on the Island.
Mount St. Mary's in Charlottetown has been trying to sell its property for the last three years.
And there have been other convents on the Island that have closed their doors in the past.
The nuns who still live there will have to move when the convent does close.
The nuns were reluctant to talk to the media.
But spokeswoman Sister Catherine MacDonald from the nuns' English headquarters in Nova Scotia did confirm "we are closing down Notre Dame Convent in the future. As an aging community, we have to move along with life. It is never easy."
She said the organization would have more information for the public next year, likely in the spring.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

MacAusland's Woolen Mill

MacAusland's Woolen Mill describe themselves as "The only mill in Atlantic Canada still producing traditional blankets of 100% virgin wool."  cf.

Below:  north side of the mill - to the left is Rte 2 Hwy (aka Western Rd.)
Below: their brochure.
Below is information from their website
The mill started as a sawmill and gristmill back in 1870.  The business was founded by Archibald MacAusland, who had to convince the locals he wasn't crazy for starting up a mill and wanting to weave blankets.  Business operations were later assumed by Archibald's son, Fred MacAusland.  The original operation included a carding machine to convert raw fleece to batts which the mill sold by the roll for handspinning.  The MacAuslands realized the woollen products were their best seller and in 1932 the mill produced its first blanket, now the staple of the operation.  Fred MacAuslands sons, Eddie and Reg, inherited the business.  They handed it down to their sons, Harry and Allan.  Harry's son, Dale and Allan still run the mill today, making it a fourth generation family business.  There hasn't been a lot of changes over the decades.  The mill suffered a major fire in 1949, with only one piece of equipment surviving, an extractor made of cast iron and a copper basket.  Another major change was in 1973, where the entire mill converted to electric motors to run the machines.  The mill had, until then, operated by water turbines and diesel.  That isn't to say, though, with the fire and introduction of electricity, that the mill is operated by new machinery.  A machine to wash the wool was purchased in the last few years to replace the conventional "oversized" washing machine they had been using.  Built in 1949, the machine works better than the washing machines they had to continually replace.  The mill still uses old fashioned machinery to produce a top quality product woven with old fashioned charm. 
Below:  Old photos from their website.
Below:  the MacAusland Residence beside the mill.  It's built in the Fox-House style - a popular style in the early 1900's.  See old photo above with this house in the background.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A country drive with my Grandmother

On Sunday afternoon past my parents and I took my 92-year-old grandmother, Empress (MacNevin) McDowell,  for a drive out to the area she was raised - Milo, Brae, Mt. Royal.  Below is a photo of my grandmother and following a cartoon drawn by Wayne Wright of Summerside for her 90th birthday.
I took the following photos.  Below is the house of Horace MacNevin (son of Alan & Lulu) located on Rte. 140 in the Brae - Horace moved out of the house a short time ago.  The farm that had been owned previously by Clarence Johnstone and of which Augustine Guillemont had been the pioneer settler.  Their house had formerly been the home of Herbert Craig...  cf. Past & Present: A history of the Brae, 1979.
We continued on to Rte. 14 (Milo Rd.) into Milo and our first stop was at my grandmother's grandparents home which has been for sale now for a few years.  My great-great-grandfather Neil "Tidy" MacNevin and his wife Sarah Beer came to this farm in 1888 - it had been formerly owned by Laughlin MacLean.  Because of the Methodical manner in which he carried on his farming work and his insistence on neatness everywhere about his home, farm buildings, barnyard, fences, etc. he was known as Tidy Neil - his children were known as "The Tidy's" Past and Present: A history of the Brae.  At his death in 1926 Tidy Neil passed his farm onto his son George and his wife Nettie - when my grandmother Empress was a young woman she worked as a housekeeper for her uncle and aunt for $6/month .  George passed the house onto his son Rod and later he sold it to out-of-the-family to the present owner William Wedlock.
Below:  Tidy Neil MacNevin.  On the back of photo is written, "Pa & Evan".
Below:  the main barn on the Tidy Neil farmstead - he had all his farm building lined in a straight row behind the house.  My grandmother said he like to have a different building for different purposes.
Below: the machine building.
Below: the pig house and hen house.
The following photos are from the real estate website
Below: here's a photo of all the farm buildings neatly aligned and still very tidy looking 85 years after Tidy Neil's death.
From here we drove down the road westward and saw Uncle Colin (Tidy) MacNevin's farmstead - here's his barn - the farmyard now forms part of a home-based car dealership.
Below: The next place was my grandmother Empress' home - she was the first in her family to be born in this house on September 6th, 1919.  My great-grandparents, Jack "Tidy" MacNevin and Lucy Enid Milligan kept the place tidy and nice - not much like it looks today.  The house has had its windows changed and the verandah is closed-in.  The barns are all gone and the farm has grown up into forest.  My great-grandmother Lucy use to say it made her sick to think the hard work she and Jack Tidy did to clear the land so many years ago had been re-forested.  Jack Tidy died in 1945 - a few years later the farm was sold out-of-the-family.  Lucy moved to O'Leary - in 1957 she married George Collicutt.
Below: my great-grandparents L-R: John "Jack Tidy" MacNevin, Lucy Enid (Milligan) MacNevin with their son Dave.
Below: Lucy MacNevin on her 95th brithday - at the time she was still living in her little house in O'Leary.  She died two years later on September 23rd, 1989 at the age of 97.
Below:  the barnyard at Jack Tidy's homestead - here is Jack Tidy with his daughters Orilla and Millie.
Below: my grandfather Roy McDowell sitting on the verandah of the MacNevin house, behind you can see the original house Jack Tidy and Lucy lived in before building the new Island-ell style farmhouse in 1918-1919.
We then carried on up the road on Rte 14 and on the corner to Rte. 164 is the abandoned farm of George MacWilliams - here's the barn below.
We carried on to Mount Royal on Rte. 140 and saw another abandoned home - that of Jimmy Griffin's.  A beautiful setting and much detailed Island-ell farmstead.