Open House & Drop-in Tea

The summer season is drawing to a close with our last day on Saturday, Sept. 30th. But we’ve still got time to visit and share a cup of tea.

On Thursday, Sept. 28th we’re hosting an all day event, 9am –  5pm, an Open House for members to drop by and see the changes to our Croft House and we’ll be serving tea from 2pm – 4pm, served with some baked goodies.

It’s a chance to see Rick Barton’s historical artifacts – that means the stuff he’s found! in and around Selkirk Park Road and at St John’s church. You can even hoist a cannon ball!

And there’s FREE giveaways! Members have their choice of one of our books or the CD ‘The Island’. And membership is only $10! Everyone gets a FREE Scottish bumper sticker!

There’s also $15% off selected items: T-shirts, Clan Histories and more!

This event will replace our September meeting; Oct. meeting Thursday, Oct 26th.

Come, Chat with Friends old and new, discover your Scottish roots and share a cup of tea!

Scottish mugs on Ancient Buchanan tartan blanket.

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Wheeew! It’s shaping up to be quite the year!

We are in full swing and Canada 150 is bringing lots of visitors threw our doors. They’ve come from the Easten USA: one gent yesterday remake how forgiving Canadians are – he’d not heard one negative comment against them…I was confused until he clarified ‘about Trump, I mean’. He seriously thought we’d be down on them and all US visitors. Well, I guess he don’t know us very well!

Ontario and Quebec – we had two groups in at once one morning and they were both from Burlington! One teenager accussed  his mom of already signing the guest book because he saw ‘Burlington’ written – when she said she hadn’t the other couple’s  son spoke up and said ‘That was us!”

Our French visitors and I stumble along trying to process the story. So I (and Google Translate) have made a printed speel of the Selkirk story.

Both French and English visitors are interested in the Acadian history of our site where they settled in a vain attempt to escape the British. The only remaining sign is their graves we’ve marked with simple serene white crosses.

Our furthest visitors were from Queensland, Australia – so awesome to hear those accents! Two couples flew accross the Pacific and landed in Vancouver, travelling across  Canada by car and chasing down Scottish roots.

We also had a Rev. and her family visit – they live in a Croft House! The Smiths from Ullapool were on an exchange for a month and were vacationing before returning home. She has a parish in nearby Inverness.  So good to hear the brogue!IMG_20170801_103805031

Our challenges continued with a hesitant septic system – turned out there was a broken pipe and the grade was off. The good news is the tank was empty so we don’t have to start from scratch. The bad news is the tank was empty…..

And I guess I didn’t post any photos of the flood that started our year on a decidedly wet note. Hot water register pipes upstairs were not drained at the end of season. They froze and busted and the water rained down in the middle of the main room.

And with ceiling gyprock replaced, walls fixed and painted and our new pine floor plus the central suppport pole was determined unnecessary and removed and boy, do we look good!

Ta-dah!

So if you’re thinking about coming our way, do stop in and we’ll talk about the Scots and the Acadians, I’ll show you our new case full of artifacts and you can peruse the carefully selected items in our wee gift shop. I’d love to show you the geneologies we’ve gathered or fill you in on the history of this building itself. I’m open until Saturday, Sept. 30. (Tues – Sat. 9am – 5pm.)

Would love to see you!

 

Summer Opening Delayed – 2017

Back in December, I dropped in to deliver collected brochures and found a flood. I saw water dripping from the ceiling, an extensive puddle in the middle of the floor and it felt like a cold sauna. Help!

Fast forward to the now and we’re finishing the repairs. It was decided to take the central pillar out, inserting a beam for support, removing the carpet (Yah!) and re-inventing out lay-out.

I’ll try to get down and update you with some pictures but meanwhile we need to order all new paper supplies, clothing items and books…and there are plans for a BiG SaLe!

Opening re-scheduled for June 26, Mon- Fri. 9 – 5 that week only, then Tues-Sat. 9 – 5 for the next 13 weeks.

Hope to see you There!

Come Visit Us!

The flags are out, the path is straightened, the bagpipes are playing and we are now open for the season.

It’s been a long snowy winter for us here on PEI but it only makes us welcome the sun more. Our stage is ready for picnickers and our story is ready to be told so come along and we’ll spend some time talking about Lord Selkirk and his historic settlement, the Acadians and their serene graveyard, and/or the Belfast Riot – yes, we had a bloody battle happen not far away.

If you are arriving by ferry in Wood Islands, head left toward Charlottetown and we’re only ten minutes down the road. See our ‘Contact Us’ page for detailed directions.

Church of Scotland on the grounds at Croft House

Church of Scotland on the grounds at Croft House

The Croft House honours the memory of our Scots ancestors.

The Croft House honours the memory of our Scots ancestors.

picnic at the park

picnic at the park

Entry to ancient Acadian Cemetery

Entry to ancient Acadian Cemetery

Piper warm up

Piper warm up

Rob and Audrey putting up the Royal Stewart bunting

Rob and Audrey putting up the Royal Stewart bunting

Tartan Day 2014

The sixth of April is designated as Tartan Day in PEI and was celebrated in style this year by the Belfast Historical Society.

St. John’s Presbyterian Church on the Garfield Road in Belfast entertained a great crowd of lovers of all things Scots with various bits and swaths of tartan seen on audience members and performers alike.

The old timbers of the ancient church reflected the sounds of guitars, pipes and drums and here is a pictorial diary of the event.

A lovely evening to celebrate Tartan Day

A lovely evening to celebrate Tartan Day

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Victoria Sweet practiced a bit before the program started. She is an accomplished musical artist, playing the keyboard, flute, small pipes and Celtic low whistle. Her husband, Graham, accompanied her with vocals and guitar.

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The evening got off to a rousing start, led by the Belfast Pipe and Drum.

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Ian MacPherson was the MC for the evening and here, pictured, is Donald MacDonald, a director of the BHS as he introduces Patricia Murray. A swath of Royal Stewart dress tartan adorns the wall behind him.IMG_3880

The concert was dedicated to the late Stanley Bruce who was instrumental, politically, in getting legislative approval for Tartan Day in 1992. PEI was the second province to recognize the date, it being initiated in NS. It is now celebrated across Canada. He is pictured on the right in the picture with the banner in his Bruce tartan from last year’s concert. His wife, Anne, was presented with a bouquet of flowers.

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Patricia Murray, an Islander living now in Moncton, is a celebrated Celtic performer and was accompanied by well-known Island musician Frances McBurnie.

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The Sweets, Victoria and Graham, then performed some well-loved Scots’ melodies.

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The audience consisted of some well-known and loved Islanders. In the forefront is Hazel Davies, President of the BHS. It warmed our hearts having her there after the health issues she has overcome since last summer.

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Mary MacGillivary followed, accompanied by Ben Reid and Robin Brooks.

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Darlene Compton, of the BHS, then presented the Selkirk Award to Margaret Ross MacKinnon for her dedication to all things Scottish.

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Margaret Ross MacKinnon with the Selkirk Award.

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Rob MacLean, son of J. Angus MacLean, performed the Scottish poem titled the Immigration of the Islanders by Malcolm Ban Buchanan. It tells of the Scots leaving Scotland for the New World,. The poem includes actual sailing instructions for leaving the Isle of Skye.

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The entertainment ended as it had begun, with the Belfast Pipe and Drum. Refreshments were served in the church basement, allowing performers to mingle with the public for conversation and reminiscences.

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The Selkirk Award.

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Margaret Ross MacKinnon and Donald MacDonald under the Lion Rampant with the Selkirk Award.

The Seventh Son

The shores would have been thick with trees but that deep red soil a balm to farmers' hearts.

The shores would have been thick with trees but that deep red soil a balm to farmers’ hearts.

Continuing to read from the book ‘Lord Selkirk of Red River’, details of the settling of the land are fascinating to read and pulls you right into the times.

‘…He started surveyors at work, arranged for the building of a storehouse for provisions encouraged leading settlers to take parties over portions of his land, and set out to explore it for himself. For the next two months he traveled tirelessly, overland by stout Canadian pony and around the shores in a canoe, planning and laying out in his minds eye. Wherever he went he read the quality of the soil in what grew wild upon it. He might sleep on the ground, in a hammock slung between trees, or in the house of an established settler whom he would question searchingly on the problems his people must face, how best to clear land, the expectation of harvest in successive years, the application of his own knowledge of farming to these some-what different conditions. By flickering candlelight or leaping flames it all went down in his diary in immense and careful detail.’

The book goes on to describe the trials of dealing with cautious and stubborn Scots who had precious little money and were ‘suspicious of every effort to hurry their decisions.’ Apparently one large farm-owner was trying to attract the Highlanders with an offer of a free cow with each farm but had no takers because the Highlanders thought the offer too good to be true. Selkirk felt amused exasperation!

There were also  rival proprietors who tried to lure them away to western and northern PEI as well as Quebec. There was much arguing among the settlers and Selkirk, who had offered partially cleared land near the shore for at a dollar an acre and half a dollar an acre farther inland, adjusted his price to half payable in cash and half paid in produce.

It worked. The lots were snatched up. But Selkirk had envisioned the farms as large wheels around small villages, The settlers all wanted some shore frontage and so the lots were long narrow farms with log houses at the front – ‘almost a continuous village running for miles.’

Selkirk prepared to leave in late September ( the ships had arrived in PEI in early August), thrilled to see the progress – settlers had moved off the shore into cabins, they were comfortable with logging and clearing land and Selkirk felt confident as he sailed off.

Come to PEI and see the areas now – Belfast remains a busy little village and our shores and farmland stretch for miles.

And PEI is celebrating this year. For 2014 marks 150 years since Confederation, the time that these northern colonies joined to become Canada. There are celebrations all over our Island and we welcome visitors to join with us.

excerpt from ‘Lord Selkirk of Red River’ by John Morgan Gray, 1963

This is the shore the settlers saw as they unloaded their supplies...210 years later

This is the shore the settlers saw as they unloaded their supplies…210 years later. Mary Angela White photo

 

Chapter One: The Seventh Son, page 20

“…A condition of them (the emigrants) remaining bound to him required that he undertake to accompany them, to see his promises fulfilled, and if they were to move in 1803 he must contract for supplies and ships before he could know their destination or even be certain they would sail at all. And, when at last it was settled, he had to turn his back on Britain just as the menace of renewed war with Bonaparte laid him open to charges of desertion of which his enemies would one day take full advantage.

If it worried him, he scorned to show it, Sand once the coast of Scotland had sunk into the mists astern he had little enough time for remote problems. Sailing in the ship Dykes, slightly ahead of the Polly and the Oughton, he had locked himself up for five weeks with a shipload of the most lovable, disputatious, an immovably stubborn people ever to land in British North America, any one of whom, it may be assumed, would have been pleased to discuss land grants with him the whole way across the Atlantic, and many of  whom probably did.

…If the voyage was an omen, the colony seemed born under a lucky star for on August 3 well aheda of expectations, the Dykes was in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The wind failed them them for a few days, as they went slowly in past the Magdalen Islands and the North Cape of Cape Breton. In idle contentment the people looked at these outer fringes of the promised land while they fished for cod and mackerel over the side.

He had hoped to arrive first at the rendezvous, in order to have some kind of shelter ready for the other settlers. But, in site of the Dykes’s swift voyage, the Polly with the people from Skye on board had arrived two days ahead of them. She rode gently at anchor in the agreed spot while the long and confusing business of unloading onto distant beaches by small boats went forward. Selkirk had now to lose still more time calling on the governor and being drawn reluctantly into Charlottetown’s modest social round…

….A few days later he sailed back to his grant and landed in Orwell Bay after dark. Word of his coming spread to a few of the settlers and they gathered to welcome him, like a Highland chieftain, at his landing. The scene at the water’s edge brought back to Selkirk a memory of Seaforth being greeted by his people at Kintail, on his own first trip to the Highlands eleven years before. In his romantic nature there was always a lurking wish to be a Highland chief and he treasured the scenes that established some claim to the title. He looked now with pleasure along a mile of shore where his people had constructed scores of lean-tos out of evergreen boughs. Before each shelter burned a great fire round which settlers moved with their pots and pans or squatted contentedly in the summer night, It was a wild and beautiful scene, this first ragged edge of settlement crouching between the forest and the water.”

The book continues to follow the day-to-day setting up of the colony and goes on to follow Lord Selkirk on his life and travels.