and the Dinosaurs Took Over!

Thursday night, Sept. 20th was the regular meeting of the BHS and we had a enough bodies to fill a dinosaur’s belly! There was a lot of interest in our guest speakers, so our President Ian MacPherson hurried thru the particulars of the meeting to allow time for our guests to speak.
We observed a moment of silence in respect for Isabel MacDonald and Kaye Furness , two long time members and supporters, who we’ve lost this year and also for the two missing fishers.
Financially, the season is well behind last year’s. Of course, it was the 150th celebration that brought so many in 2017. But our numbers are down: as of week 11 we had 788 visitors compared to 2016 when we had 839. (2017 was 928). Dollars reflect that drop too: $5060 to $5162. (2017 was $8150). Plenty of stock to start next year!
Linda Nobles’ interest in dinosaurs began as a kid in Montreal, when she discovered dinosaur cards in boxes of Red Rose tea. As an adult and part owner of the Belfast Mini-Mills, she thought she’d never get away for ‘digs’ in the summer months.
So she had some adventures in Florida searching dark water rivers for shark and crocodile teeth. She showed us a hand-sized ebony megalodon tooth: they were the largest prehistoric shark that ever lived. It was hard to believe it was 20 million years old.
Then she discovered Paleo Prospectors. http://www.paleoprospectors.com, an organization for those interested in palaeontology that provide the food, hotels and guides so everyday people can hunt for dinosaur bones. Thru them, Linda has visited South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, looking for T-Rex teeth that sell for $8 – $10 million dollars or, if they find pieces of teeth, $1,000 per inch.

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Linda showed us a turtle shell she had found shattered, and detailed how it was to recovered and she also showed us a triceratops horn 130 million years old.
There are many dangers involved in this severest of hobbies: the heat is top most and they must remain hydrated, drinking water every 20 minutes regardless of thirst. Lightening strikes have also been a fatal danger, dry lightening strikes especially.
Chris Ruprecht is a paleo-artist from Charlottetown and a friend of Linda’s. He earned his living as a chef until his hobby took over. He brought us a model of a compsugnathus, a 45 cm/18” high, fast running, three toed dinosaur that was a scavenger during the Jurassic period. He sculpted it with various types of clay and painted it based on studies of present-day iguanas and lizards. He is going to patent the paint job. Chris has worked for Disney in the past and considers this dinosaur to be the first of three. He has renovated his garage so he can make a life-sized T-rex. He’s in talks with the Confed Centre for a 2019 show.

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Doesn’t he look like he’s going to blink…or snap at your nose?!!
Linda and Chris each have supportive spouses. Linda has a whole room with her finds and her buys. Her husband once gave her a sabre tooth tiger skull for Christmas and she brought him, too. She plans to have a room at the Mini Mills to display her hobby.
Ian continued the meeting, talking about our proposed Arts Centre and the land sites we’re considering: 15 acres behind the Croft House from the BCDC/45 acres from the Martines family bordered by the TCH and Selkirk Park Rd. One of the artifacts we’re hoping to house is the Canada Tree. Meetings have taken place with key fundraisers in Charlottetown and more are scheduled in Ottawa next week.
The Belfast People video is complete and ready for viewing: these are the interviews that took place to provide the information in the book.
The new doors needed in the Croft House as dictated by the safety report have been referred to a contractor.
The Quilt Board sign needs to be replaced. It is faded and shrinking. I researched the Boards: they are driving trails and seen in 22 states and 4 other provinces. A motion was passed to do this in the spring of 2019. The Arts & Heritage Trail will remind us!
Future fundraisers will be needed but we need to spread out the load, encourage new people to become members as more hands = less work.
Donald MacD. spoke for the cook book – he and Eliza have met and they’re going thru old cookbooks and looking outward for suggestions.
Doris MacD. asked for ideas for the Christmas Market, date, volunteers for two committees: canteen and promotion.
After the financials were discussed the floor was opened for questions to our guests and some hands on exploration by our visitors, young and old.

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In the foreground is the sabre tooth tiger skull! and Russell&Darlene in the back…

 

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Here is young Harry Lewis who was fascinated and full of questions for Linda.

Lunch and conversation was enjoyed and we managed to turn the lights off before 10pm.
Watch Coopers’ for posters about upcoming events – we’ve been promising a concert all summer and the Christmas Market date is yet to be decided.
Finally, I’d like to say ‘good-bye’ as the manager here at the Croft House, after six years. It’s been an honour to tell your unique story and meet so many wonderful visitors and Polly descendants. It was so different from my nursing career, so nice not to work shifts and so close to home. Other than that, meeting the visitors has been the highlight…counting up cash, not so much!
~Mary

Dinosaurs!

Amateur paleontologist Linda Noble from Belfast has a passion for dinosaurs that dates back to her childhood. “I was just a little kid and I collected those dinosaur cards they had in tea. I must have been ten or eleven.” 
Linda will be the guest speaker at the general meeting of the Belfast Historical Society, Thursday September 20, at 7:30pm at the Croft House, 136 Selkirk Park Road, Eldon.
Her adventures have taken her to many locales. Below, she  is shown with a colleague, surrounded by sandy dirt and tiny tools, digging up a skull of a triceratops in South Dakota.

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She will be speaking about her experiences, showing pictures and bringing examples for all to see. 
Here she is showing that no hill is too high as they search in Montana.
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She has actually found some specimens at a nearby beach: six footprints of a large salamander that are three hundred million years old.
So mark the date: this Thursday at 7:30 in Eldon – all are welcome.

Church Memorial Service

On a sunny, hot August Sunday (the 12th) we held the Memorial Church Service at our Church of Scotland.

This wee church was moved from Belle River, a few kilometres away, when it was going to be torn down. The historical society bought it for a few dollars – either $10 or $100 and then moved it to it’s present location for about $15,000!IMG_6742

It’s all original inside right down to the pews, pulpit and collection plates.IMG_6758We’ve installed some story  boards on the walls that tell of the history of the church and of the ‘MacDonaldites”. And on the other wall, we present the sad story of the Acadians who were here in the 1750’s.

This Sunday, August 12, we had Rev.Dr. Jack Whytock speak and he, too, talked of the history of the church and it’s members. Psalms, prayers and scripture readings sounded once again between the old plaster walls.

Here’s our President, Ian MacPherson welcoming Rev Dr Whytock.

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Summer 2018

The Croft House sits among the trees on Selkirk Park Road, nestled in the evergreens with front beds of heritage  perennials and a pesky pink morning glory that stives to take over the world! Zoe was here to clean out the beds and bring back some order and it shows.

And inside has had a do-over too. The highlight is, as ever, the sandstone fireplace that is reminiscent of our Scottish heritage. Scots would have had access to granite which is naturally occurring in Scotland as sandstone is on P.E.I.

Our ‘Wee Gift Shop’ has expanded to include Clan Crest Glassware and an extensive jewellry case full of Scottish silver necklaces and pendants, pocket watches and rings. We have Quaichs large and tiny and sgian dubhs, too. And Heathergems!

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We had a donation of a plaque honouring J.Angus MacLean from Tony Giacomelli who was touched by Angus’s book and the descriptions of his escape from Europe during the Second World War.

New to the book world is “Skye Pioneersand ‘The Island'”. Orginally printed in 1929, it’s been reprinted by John Westlie so stop searching the second-hand bookstores and come here instead! It’s only $30.00.IMG_6426

We also have copies of the updated ‘The MacLeods of Prince Edward Island” for $45.00. Also from John Westlie:  he added the material left in Harold MacLeods desk, with the assistance of Harold’s widow.

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I’ve started to catalogue Elinore Gillis’s paintings and folk art so here’s a wee taste: it’s ‘Chester Ploughing the Field’. Her husband Chester owned Selkirk land on Point Prim, farmed for centuries. IMG_6432

Many of her pictures are life right here in Belfast and we’re hoping to build a suitable location to display her treasures.

Everything is set up just the way we like it and we’d love for you to visit!

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.

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.