As Fate Would Have It    Monday, November 18, 2013

Newport General Store, King's County, PEI

Newport General Store, King's County, Prince Edward Island

"As Fate Would Have It" is a story that I have written about my great-grandfather being lost at sea...and much more. The story was recently published, along with my illustration, in the current issue of David Weale's magazine RED - The Island Storybook. Boil yourself a good pot of tea, find your favourite reading nook and settle down with a copy. There between the magazine's covers, you'll find the Island's heartbeat along with a good dose of tears and chuckles.

In a strong gale, the schooner Halcyon went down near Souris November 6th, 1907, taking with it my great-grandfather and two others. Thinking about my great-grandfather, James Stewart, his wife Elizabeth (MacLean) and their son, my grandfather, Heath Stewart, I wanted to head down east, take some photos that could accompany the story and follow my great-grandfather's footsteps that fateful day so many years ago.

On the way down to the wharf, there was once a bustling General Store (pictured above) where my grandfather Heath would treat his children to candy. Sadly, as you can see in the picture, the old place is barely standing now. The roof has caved in since I saw it last summer.

The day we went, it was quite windy and cold. So very, very cold. The farther I walked out onto the wharf, the colder I got. The colder I got, the more I thought about my great-grandfather James and the two younger men with him. I prayed that the end had been quick for I couldn't imagine how cold those waters were. Shivering, I ran back to the warmth of the car.

Newport Wharf, King's County, PEI

Newport Wharf, King's County, Prince Edward Island

From there we drove to Woodville Mills to the lot where the house that James had just finished building once stood. A Stewart cousin owns the land still and has his home beside it. Across the road there stands a lovely, large green home where Elizabeth used to visit with the Fitzpatricks. Beautiful old trees line the drive. Elizabeth, affectionately called "Lizzie" and her friend Mrs. Fitzpatrick shared the same birthday. The two women were quite isolated so on their birthday they would celebrate by take turns going to each other's house for tea - once in the morning and then again after supper!

It suddenly occured to me that I had no idea where Great-grandmother Lizzie is buried so we journeyed over to my cousin's place (Preston and Lil Stewart) in Georgetown Royalty. Preston is my grandfather's nephew and he has generously shared photos, clippings and answered questions from time to time about our Stewart family. (The alterior motive, I must confess, was to hopefully sample some of Lil's baked treats :) I learned that Lizzie has no stone so Preston showed me a photo of her final resting place. With that image in mind, we drove through a patch of snow flurries into Cardigan, I jumped out of the car, ran across the graveyard and was able to easily locate her. In the photo I took below, she is between my grand-father's half-sister Hattie (white stone on left) and his brother Horace "Leigh" (the small grey stone to the right of Hattie's). My grandparents, Heath and Wilhelmine "Billie" Stewart, who lived in Montague on the top of the Wood Island hill between Doctor MacIntyre and the Church, are laid to rest in the Community Park Cemetery in Montague (technically Brudenell, I suppose, but I've always thought of it as being in Montague).

Elizabeth (MacLean) Stewart's resting place, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Cardigan, Prince Edward Island

And finally, I'd like to share with you the illustration I did for this story. My great-grandmother Lizzie is standing in the window with my grandfather Heath as the men head down to the wharf (artistic liberty taken here for it's quite a hike to the wharf from the house and I have no photos of Lizzie or my grandfather at this age.) My grandfather is not happy and doesn't care to watch them go. That's all I can say. You will have to pick up a copy of RED - The Island Storybook to find out more ;)

A Note of Thanks - I'd like to sincerely thank David (Weale) for his encouragement and support. I'd also like to thank family members for sharing their memories, information and for their support!

Please note that all content is © StoppenLook 2013

Spooky Fall Fun!    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Last year, my little grand-niece was sitting in the back seat when she spied two HUGE dogs through the window and begged her mother to stop the car. As it turned out - these particular doggies were made from haybales!

Each year Kool Breeze Farms, which is located on the right-hand side of the road as you cross over the bridge into Summerside, puts together a delightful playground made out of haybales and straw-folk for the children.

There's even a corn maze...although it seems fairly guarded by some unusal and unique characters...

If you get scared off the playground by ole Hairy here...

You can head over to the Garden Centre where, along with fruits, veggies and garden supplies, you'll find some lovely items such as these in their shop...

Or, some not so lovely things...er, lady. Sorry Madam, but you look a fright!!

A couple of things that I noticed while there - the playground where the haybale animals, creatures, straw-folk and all sorts of other things such as straw trains and trackors are, is free of charge. There is a charge to go through the corn maze. There was also a large sign saying that they have an annual scarecrow contest in September!

Oh! And the huge haybale puppies are there again this year ;)

Great scared-silly fun for the whole family!

The Evolution of the Island Peekabout Series    Monday, September 23, 2013

When I first had the idea for the Island Peekabout series, I had originally thought to make little paintings of typical Island places that I think of as "home-like". I also wanted them to be rather, ahem, simple.

However, as I did each one, the detail came out more and more - which is in my nature. I also began to see that folks appreciated these little paintings and the ones with more detail seemed to fair best.

The second revelation for me came during my painting demos at Avonlea Village. My paintings tend to have some aspect of whimsy in them but I wasn't all that sure that "whimsy" would sell. Through feedback from the Artisan Studio at Avonlea and other folks, I realized that everyone likes something that tugs at their heartstrings and makes their heart smile...and to prove it, they bought my prints...not only of the Peekabouts but of whimsical little bunnies and other creatures!

So, the Peekabouts had evolved into miniature oil paintings with more detail. Now, with completion of the fifth Peekabout named "Puddles", it has dawned on me that my little pieces of the Island should not only take in physical places but also introduce/promote the Island culture. I am also "brave" enough to forge ahead and say that the future Peekabouts will be quite whimsical while still maintaining the Island flavour I hold dear.

What do all these musings mean? :) It means that the Peekabouts have found their way into one cohesive body of work. They will be of Island creatures big and small set in Island settings doing traditional things - most likely with a nostalgic feel. Right now I'm thinking about a little red fox sitting at his desk in a one-room schoolhouse - another would be, for instance, a little beaver playing the spoons at a jig; a ewe spinning wool by an Island farmhouse window...

Occasionally (and I'll let you know when I do) one of the Peekabouts will contain a character from the trilogy I'm writing as a way to introduce them to you. They are rather sweet little characters...except for one who is rather grumpy but he does have an awfully big heart so...

Would love your comments or feedback. I do hope that you are enjoying this journey with me. It would be some lonesome without you!

Wilna

 

A Visit to Greenwich    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Greenwich National Park

My husband's family arrived from the States and I was brainstorming places that  we could take them. I had "lived away" for most of my life (only returning last summer) so although there are places near and dear to me, there are still places that I haven't seen. One such place was Greenwich National Park. I had seen photos of the most popular trail over the water and dunes (there are three trails) and it was on my wish list.

We headed out from Charlottetown along St. Peters Road (Veteran's Memorial/All Weather Hwy) and about 35 minutes later found ourselves in St. Peters - a small, picturesque village right on the water. The Confederation Bike Trail runs right through the village.

A hop and a skip from there and we arrived at the interpretation centre of Greenwich National Park. The centre, which features more than 20 exhibits, is worth going through prior to setting out.  For those of you interested in the Park's beginnings and its heritage/ecological history, TVO has an interesting 23 minute video: Great Canadian Parks - Greenwich National Park. If you prefer to read about it, the Legion Magazine has a very good article: The Dunes of Greenwich

We decided to follow the Greenwich Dunes Trail which has the floating boardwalk over Bowley Pond. Wild roses greet you as you pass a couple of picnic benches nestled in the woods away from the path. Following the trail, you have a nice view of St. Peters as you pass the grounds where the old homestead stood. A couple of birch trees mark the spot. A hum of busy, contented bees rise from a haven's nest of purple fireweed just prior to the entrance of the woods. Don't mind the bumblebees and they won't mind you - they are much too busy! I learned this from my Grammie Stewart when we'd be picking blueberries together out in the fields down Montague way.

The woods are lovely. One minute you will be craining your head skyward to take in the treetops and then stooping low to examine an unusual berry or flower. There are two trees with knotted bottoms standing nonchalantly by a park bench - you can't help but notice them!

One of the things that really made it interesting is the amount of information you receive about the wildlife and plants just from reading the numerous information displays set along the trail. Don't miss out by rushing past them!

The boardwalk starts in the woods near the Reindeer Moss. When you emerge from the trees, it truly takes your breathe away. Your eyes travel along the floating boardwalk and over the pond to beautiful dunes.

Strolling along the boardwalk we saw a beaver house (we believe he was out visiting his neighbours), a frog, ducks and geese. On your left, the dunes rise out of the water while on your right your eyes are dazzled by low hills of various shades of green. Benches along the way provide a place to rest and enjoy the view.

At the end of the boardwalk you will climb up a path over the dunes and be on a lovely, sandy beach. There is a lookout point down the beach a ways on your left. You may be tuckered but you really should check it out.

We had a wonderful day - you will too!
(Tip: On the way back, stop in at the Morell Bakery for some really good oatmeal cookies ;)


Here are a couple of more links for you to enjoy:

Greenwich National Park map
Greenwich National Park's website

The perfect afternoon - "Mouse-hunting" in Charlottetown!    Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eckhart the Mouse

Unknown to many, there is a wee mouse darting in and around historic downtown Charlottetown. One so infamous that he was actually thrown off Church property! 

Eckhart the mouse, is the main character in a charming Island storybook written by David Weale and illustrated by Dale McNevin.

In the summer of 2009, the business group Downtown Charlottetown, created a historical scavenger hunt by placing nine little Eckhart statues in and around the downtown area. They also made available a map of clues to help track down the little fellow. (Some are quite easy to find but not all...keep looking!)

Trouble began when St. Dunstan's Basilica ordered that the mouse which had been placed on church property be removed. No rodents allowed! You can read more about it here: Fictional mouse banished from church grounds.
As David Weale explains in this article: "Eckhart the mouse is named after one of the great Roman Catholic mystics of the medieval age, Meister Eckhart, who was excommunicated by the church for his views," he said. "Now it's happened again. His little namesake has been excommunicated."

So, there you have it. The Island's famous little Eckhart, the first excommunicated mouse! Have fun finding him while learning a bit about Charlottetown's history along the way! 

If you really want to get to know Eckhart, you must pick up a copy of Crumbfest - it's sweet and special and such a nice keepsake for both those of us here and those of you visitng "from away".

You can download a copy of the map here: Eckhart in the City or visit the Island Tourism Office in Founder's Hall - it looks like this...

"Milk & Cookies"    Monday, June 10, 2013

(Original posting from StoppenLook.com 11 March 2013)
 
Moving home last May was really quite a bittersweet experience...it still is.
 
It's so beautiful here that it takes my breathe away. Yesterday, my husband and I were driving in the country and we couldn't help admiring how the grey, weathered fences and dark evergreens had sketched the outlines of little patchwork fields in the snow.


It wasn't long before we came to the top of the big hill that leads down into the little community of Hunter River. This is one of our favourite places and we knew that we couldn't go through the village without first stopping by The River Bakery & Cafe.

Once inside, you have to go by big, old-fashioned loaves of bread, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, squares and pies to get to the little cafe. If you aren't tempted going in, even with a full belly, trust me you won't make it past all those goodies on the way out!
Especially, the cookies. 
Specifically the ginger-snaps.
Remember I mentioned about my move home being bittersweet? Well, this is partly why. While I lived away, many loved ones passed on. One of them being my Grandmother Stewart ("Billie", as she was affectionately called).Grammie Stewart (Billie)

The other day, much to my surprise, I saw a post on Facebook about my grandmother's cookies. Someone from "the Hill" (the Wood Island hill in Montague) was reminiscing and missing times past when my Grandmother would bake her big, plump molasses cookies and the aroma would drift across the street to their place.

Well now, I'd have to say that biting into one of these bakery gingersnaps throws me right back in time, plunking me smack down on one of the old high-backed chairs at my grandparent's dining table. A tall glass of cold milk and a plate of her delicious cookies in front of me. They are that good.
Sitting on the the high-backed chair at Grammie's table.
How wonderful it was to be at Grammie's if only for a bittersweet moment...
 
So in closing I'd like to give thanks to the Father Above...
Thank you for my Grammie Stewart.
Thank you for bakeries like the little one in Hunter River that remind me of how lucky I am to have had her in my life.
And thanks for the milk and cookies. 
 
 
The drawing of Grammie that I did when I was four.
If you look to the right side of the picture by her hand, you will find her rolling pin! 
 
 
 

A Walk on the Island's North Side    Monday, June 10, 2013

Wise Island Fox
(Original posting from StoppenLook.com 4 May 2013)
This past week was quite a high what with pulling everything together to launch my children's site Tuesday night. Prior to the launch, I hadn't stuck my head outside for quite some time so when my husband and I woke up on Wednesday we decided that we'd pack up our cameras and get some fresh air in the countryside.
 
Originally we had planned to go over Stanley Bridge way but ran into a detour with the bridge closeout (I'm assuming from the last storm we had). I then remembered that the National Park over Cavendish way should be open so we headed north!
 
What a beautiful day to be there! It was sunny and warm. The water was crystal clear. We ran into only one other person there who, like us, had come to walk the quiet shoreline.
 
There are so many different kinds of shorelines along the Island. On the south side, you'll find sandbars that stretch for miles during low tide. On the north side, you'll find dunes of white sand. All over the Island you will find rugged, red rocky cliffs.  If you are really lucky, you'll find a patch of small, wild strawberries growing near the schrubs and grassy tops of the clifftop.
PEI National Park
I love these cliffs - as a child, I used to scramble down the cliffs to the shore to hunt for pieces of coloured salted-glass and find unusual pieces of driftwood that contained "spirits" (outlines of animal and people faces). I also treasured the small, pretty rocks and seashells (especially sand dollars). Back then, you were warned about (and had a healthy dose of respect for) the cliffs but Island children knew how to shimmy down the cliffs to the shore. Having heard the many stories told by our parents and grandparents, our parents trusted that we would use our "street-wise" country sense - it was all part of growing up and learning how to make and learn from our decisions.
 
 While on the beach, we came across two underground streams that were creating a mist across the shore as they made their way to the ocean. It was so peaceful there that we took a few moments just to close our eyes, soak up the sun and listen to the ocean.
 
These are moments that life is all about and everyone should make time for. They cost nothing yet are priceless.
 
On the drive back through the National Park, "Mr. Fox" decided that we would not get past him without the password - or food. Preferably the latter. We worried that he was so tame and in the middle of the road. I had to slow down and, as I did so, he immediately came to the window on the driver's side. Once he was beside me I could tell that he was an elder red fox and judging from his wise and patient eyes, he knew full well that he had just cut me off!
 
He only got a hello from me so then went around to the other side and implored my hubby for a treat. Instead, he was asked if he'd mind a photo shoot. To my hubby's delight, he seemed quite flattered at the prospect.
 
After a few shots, we said our goodbyes. As I drove away, I looked back at him in the rear-view mirror. At that moment, a huge hare leaped out from behind the bushes, past the red fox, across the road and dove into the bushes on the other side. I guess Mr. Fox was still bathing in our admiration for he just sat there, on the side of the road, and watched the hare disappear!
 
I would like to thank my husband, Reza, for letting me use his photos! All the photos in this blog were taken by him :)
Island Red Fox
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wood Islands Provincial Park and Lighthouse    Friday, May 31, 2013

Driving down to the Wood Islands pier, you will see the Lighthouse in the distance off to the left. Turn left before the ferryboat toll booths onto the Wood Islands Park/Lighthouse Road  - this will lead you to the lighthouse. Prior to the Lighthouse Road being built (1937-40), “keepers of the light” used get here by rowboat or walk up from the west side of the beach. (Photo above: The Wood Islands Lighthouse in the foreground with one of the range light buildings in the background).

We were lucky enough to come by just as one of the original “Fuddle-Duddles”(1), the MV Holiday Island, was coming to port so we pulled in by the fishing sheds to watch her.

It was quite a nostalgic moment as memories flooded back from a time when her path was the Borden-Cape Tormentine run. She was put on the Wood Islands-Caribou run after Confederation Bridge was completed in 1997. As when I was younger, I was thrilled to watch her approach, see them lower the ramp to unload the cars from the upper deck while the heavier trucks rolled out from the bottom. 

Northumberland Ferries Limited (NFL) started its ferry service between Wood Islands and Caribou in 1941 with its first ferry being the MV Prince Nova.

(Pictured right: The MV Holiday Island heading back to Caribou, N.S.) 

Continuing on our way, we drove past a miniature replica of weathered wooden fishing sheds complete with its own wharf and lighthouse. A great curiosity for children as one can actually go into and around the little sheds via a mini wharf. These little buildings sit along the more gentle banks of the north side overlooking a sea-pond sheltered by a low sand dune. (Picture below right: One of the replica fishing sheds).

When we pulled up by the lighthouse and stepped out of our car, it really felt quite magical. This attractively built heritage lighthouse dating from 1876 seemed isolated - floating on an island at sea - even though the busy docks, ferry and fishing boats were nearby. Pristine white with red trim, the tower reaches 40 feet into the sky. In March of 2009, after 133 years in its original location, it had to be hauled back several yards/metres from the eroding, steeper southern cliffs. It is interesting to note that this spot is the southern most part of Prince Edward Island.

Unfortunately, we were too early to see inside the lighthouse as it does not open until after June 10th, however, I can tell you that it is home to a lovely gift-shop and museum featuring the history of the lighthouse, ferries, rum-running, fishing and, for those of you with steady hearts...tales of the fiery phantom ship of Northumberland Strait! You will also see a bedroom, kitchen and keeper’s quarters kept in period style.

This lighthouse housed not only the keepers but also their families. Originally, the main floor consisted of a kitchen, sitting-room and two bedrooms with another four bedrooms upstairs.  (You will find photos of the interior if you follow the links provided below).

In the yard to the left of the Wood Island Lighthouse, you will find a patch of Victorian rosebushes planted by George Stewart, who was a keeper of the lighthouse for 23 years (1949 – 1972). There is a delightful interview with George sporting a pipe and twinkling eyes from a 1976 edition of The Eastern Graphic Magazine that you can find on C.W. Jeffery’s blog “PEI’s Heritage Buildings” (see link below). According to this article, when the Stewarts arrived, there was no furnace, electricity or phone... and no phone the whole time they were there!

Facing west and north, you will find several picnic benches, barbecue pits, an activity area with swings and washrooms. If you walk west towards the far end of the Island, you will see the “canal” or “steel pier” slicing through the land to make way for the ferries. A great spot to watch the ferries come and go.

Note:

We were puzzled by a fairly large lighthouse tower perched a short distance from the rose bushes (the one in the background in the first photo above). Not far from this tower, another smaller, block lighthouse looked like it was “waiting”. Kris Rollins, Chair of the Lighthouse Committee for WIADC, was kind enough to reply to our musings via email. She explained that these two “range lights” used to help guide the ferries and fishing boats through deeper parts of the channel. They had been located on the steel pier but decommissioned years ago and were under threat of being destroyed until rescue efforts secured their new home in their present location. They will be used for future museum/storage space. 

A special thanks to Kris Rollins and a heart-felt thank you to those who have worked so hard to save these heritage gems, their history and their stories!

Wood Islands Lighthouse

Wood Islands & Area Development Corporation (WIADC) Facebook Page

Wood Islands & Area Development Corporation (WIADC) Website

Historic Places, Prince Edward Island

Lighthouse Friends - Wood Islands, PE

PEI Heritage Buildings (C.W. Jeffery’s blog - interview with George Stewart)

(1) Back in 1971 the MV Holiday Island and her sister ship, the MV Vacationland, were nick-named the “Fuddle-Duddles” after Prime MInister Pierre Trudeau’s response to an allegation that he had mouthed a “not so nice word” in the House of Commons...ahem!

(Pictured above: A view of the replica fish sheds. The Wood Islands Lighthouse is just to the right up on the hill.)

 

Meet Bosley, Raja & T-O!    Saturday, May 11, 2013

StoppenLook at these three adorable greyhounds...
Bosley, Raja and T-O!

These lovely, retired racers were adopted by friends of ours, Jeff & Marco. They now get to stretch their legs running around the Island countryside!

Marco was kind enough to send along some interesting information about these sweethearts:

  • They are in the top 10 most gentle dog breeds.
  • They can run up to 39 to 45 miles per hour, in 3 to 4 strides.
  • The breed is over 4000 yrs old, they were used in Egypt to catch rabbits (Don't tell our bunny Nim!!)
  • Some famous people that owned a Greyhound: Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus & Al Capone.
  • They are very quiet and need very little exercise.
  • They come in 18 primary colors and 55 different color combinations.
  • Many people that are allergic to dogs are not allergic to Greyhound because of their sleek coat and skin type.

After their racing career most of the racing track will let people adopt these wonderful dogs and they make a fantastic new family addition friendly pet.*

When I met Bosley, Raja and T-O, I was struck by their beauty but then when I realized how gentle and sweet they are (and, I'm not allergic to them), I immediately fell in love.
Their gentleness, good behaviour and sweetness (not to mention their fashion sense!) speaks volumes about the attention, care and love they get at home :)

*As with any pet, never under estimate the time, care and cost necessary to ensure their health and happiness!

(Image courtesy of Marco LeBoeuf & Jeff Haight)

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