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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

St. Patrick’s of Bayside

A recent drive past one of my favourite churches on the island reminded me of our last visit there in April when I took some photos. 

In its bumblebee colours, it sits on the shores of Grand River at Bayside in Prince Edward Island. 

The first settlers to the area came from the Outer Hebrides of the Highlands in 1792, places such as Barra and Uist. Many Scottish settlers came to Prince Edward Island and have a proud history here. The names of the original settlers include MacDonald, MacKinnon and Praught.

The first church on this site was a log building and presbytery. Construction of the current church began in 1839. Visiting clergy served the people until 1876 when the first priest was stationed here.

In 1890, the current church was remodeled and various restorations have happened over the last one hundred plus years. The building is well maintained today if its condition when we visited is any indication. 

It was surprising to us when the church was open on a quiet weekday morning. No concern for security or vandalism here. We were the only people for kilometers.

The inside of the English Gothic style church was as well maintained as the outside. The statues and ornamentation in keeping with the period and catholic tradition are evident. 

The main altar was flanked by two side altars with statues of Mary and Mother and child.

The stations of the cross looked heavy in their relief design positioned around the church. The baptismal font was a simple pedestal bowl at the front of the church.

I lit a candle for my own ancestors, some of whom were from Scotland as well. My main thoughts were of my parents who would have loved to visit this church and believed in prayer for deceased friends and relatives.

The pipe organ was behind a statue of St. Patrick in the loft. I would have loved to hear its sound fill the building. 

Imagine this church, built in 1839, by and for the hard working fishers and farmers of this area. It provided another world, a respite from the toil and difficulties of daily lives and a glimpse of a better place. No wonder she is maintained with such care and pride so many generations later.

Monday, 13 August 2018


A little boy. I expected another granddaughter last year and then Owen was born. A new little one to love and the bonus experience of a boy. We had a girl ourselves and two granddaughters already, so we didn’t know what was in store. Let the fun begin!

It it has been a joy. He is such an amazing little guy. 

His sisters had traditional male and female toys. They gravitated to the “girl” toys while he plays more with the “boy” toys. Cars, truck and trains are his favourite small toys. He hugs dolls but doesn’t play long with them, not so the vehicles.

When he selects a toy, we play a remarkably long time for his mere fourteen months. Of course Nanny provides sound effects for the toys, the usual motor sounds or the choo choo even though every toy has its own soundtrack, such as the alphabet, colours and numbers.

It recently occurred to me however, Owen will only know electric vehicles for most of his life. With their silence, I wonder what sounds he will make for his grandchildren when he plays cars with them?

I watch as Owen attempts to make the sounds I make today and marvel at his sweetness. Whatever the play becomes for later generations, I trust he will be just as charmed as I am.

Friday, 10 August 2018

The yew

Every now and then my husband and I come across a plant/tree which is unfamiliar and sparks our interest. Such is the case with these evergreen branches that grow out of the ground rather than grow from a stem or trunk and grow tall. This is the Canadian/American yew also known as the ground hemlock.

This is not the same plant which killed Socrates but it is toxic nonetheless. This coniferous hemlock, unlike the famous herbaceous kind the ancient Greeks used to kill condemned prisoners, was used by the Indigenous people of North America in their herbal medicine to treat rheumatism.

Today, ground hemlock is harvested from May-August on Prince Edward Island. Because most all of the plant is toxic, the harvesting is regulated and harvesters must be trained and licensed. The plant is used in the production of the anti-cancer drug Taxol and other similar drugs. 

This plant is part of the underbrush in the forest and is easy to overlook. It resembles fir branches growing out of the forest floor. 

It is so much more however. Because of its toxicity, it gives hope to millions of people with cancer. Ironic, though not Socratic irony. However maybe Socrates himself would stretch the definition in this case.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Adventures of a golden retriever

The golden retriever grand-dog, Georgie was included in the family get-away to eastern Prince Edward Island recently and judging by her behaviour, she thoroughly enjoyed it. Georgie took part in most activities, and when she didn’t she had a front row seat. She added to the vacation experience as only Georgie can do.

The grand-dog loves the water, fresh or salt. Given the chance, she will always get wet. She was off-lead on a few occasions to enjoy the sea and she took full advantage.

Georgie tried to get in the kayak with our daughter. She would have been a risky passenger though because she’d want to jump in the sea. However, Georgie responded to our calls which is unusual unless you mention a treat.

Anytime she was off-lead at the beach, Georgie rolled in the sand. 

She prefers being dirty and smelly to clean any time, though she enjoys the pampering when she’s groomed. We were lucky Georgie enjoyed the water hose at the house as well.

Georgie found a seal carcass, skin and bones, on the beach the first day we released her. It was difficult to wrestle it away from her. 

Of course, she knew exactly where we disposed of it and headed for it any chance she had. We had to relegate her to the deck a few times when some of us were on the beach.

The grand-dog really enjoyed the family soccer game and inserted herself into the middle of the play every opportunity she had.

There was lots of room in the van and Georgie was included in our excursions off property as well. She especially enjoyed the ice cream in Souris and the water at Knox’s Dam. However she never strayed too far from one year old Owen because he is most likely to drop food or actively feed her.

The golden loved clams and was known to eat any, shell and all, which lay on the sand. A tight grip on the lead was essential on the beach.

The first few nights around the fire were nerve wrecking because Georgie didn’t understand the danger. By the end of the week however, she stayed close beside us without much effort on our part.

Taking a dog on vacation requires lots of work. However, if you are like us, your dog will provide wonderful stories and memories for years to come. I couldn’t imagine ever leaving Georgie out of a family vacation on the island.

Monday, 6 August 2018


Our grandchildren were born on Prince Edward Island and they enjoy island life. However one part of that life they didn’t experience until recently was clam digging. The girls and I went clamming at the beach house and had a lot of fun.

Many people wait until low tide as we did. 

Then you find holes in the sand which indicate the presence of clams below. You dig quickly into the area and if you’re fast and accurate, you find a clam. We found soft shell and razor clams this way.

A bit further out in the sea grass, we found quahogs, 

larger, hard shelled clams. These can be eaten raw but if cooked are tough so people grind them up to include in chowder. A occasional scallop was in the same area. 

The site has oysters on the sand as well but since the area is leased to fishermen, you cannot gather them.

There are regulations with regard to numbers and size of clams you can keep. We placed all of them back in the sea however. 

One day soon, we will dig clams and keep the regulation size ones for a meal on the beach.

Note:  Some people use a plunger in shallow water to raise the clams from just below the sea floor. We haven’t attempted this method.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Gannets at Cabot Beach

The last Northern gannet I saw was along the shore of the Evangeline region of Prince Edward Island. The huge birds with a wing span over 2 meters, fish off the coast of the island this time of year. This one had seen better days unfortunately.

Gannets don’t nest on PEI. The nearest colony is located on Bonaventure Island, off the east coast of Quebec. 

I’d heard stories of fishers from around our island home, watching the birds offshore make their daring dives from above into the ocean and disappear for a time underwater. We had never seen them however until one day recently at Cabot Beach on the north shore of the center of the island.

The tide was low and I went to the water’s edge. Off in the distance, I saw a white bird dive into the water. Gannet! Another one flew in and did the same. They disappeared for a time then surfaced and floated around. Of course, I had my camera close by.

I was so excited to see these marvelous creatures! The distance tested the zoom on my camera and the pictures are not great. However, in my thrill to see them, I feel compelled to share the best photos nonetheless. One was taking off while the other watched the cormorant nearby.

Gannets are a wonder of nature!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Buffaloland Park

The name is a misnomer since the animals are bison, but the interest in these animals is the same whatever the name. 

These bison are the descendants of a breeding pair of the animals given to Prince Edward Island by the province of Alberta in 1973. 

The province established Buffaloland Park for them.


Four years ago, the government sold the park for $1.00 to a charitable foundation run by the Buddhist community on the island. The herd today totals 56 animals with 5 new calfs this year.

At one time there were as many as 30 million bison roaming North America, and were an important part of the food chain for the Indigenous people. Now the population is estimated to be around 500,000 animals. This small herd gives us a sense of the what those huge herds must have been like and the majesty of these noble creatures.