Author Archives: Thelma

Code 3610

As a former dairy farm worker (I always called myself a milkmaid so I could be a maid a-milking), I enjoyed this article that gives a great overview of PEI’s thriving dairy sector in Salty, PEI’s monthly food paper. The tip that code 3610 on a package of cheese shows it was made on PEI is one I’m going to test out on my next grocery trip.

On The Map

I’ve been recording precipitation amounts for CoCoRaHS since November, dutifully recording rain and snowfall and entering it on their database every day around 8 a.m. I told my mother this morning we received over 7 cm of snow in the past storm. This evening she told me that the CBC PEI weatherman had included the snowfall total for Foxley River in his report, and sure enough, here’s the proof from his Twitter account. Proud weather nerd here!

Vina

My mother, Vivian, says her time serving in the RCAF Women’s Division during the Second World War was one of the happiest periods of her life. That might sound bizarre to us now, but even those veterans I knew who fought in Europe only told stories of the funny things that happened, both to keep buried as deeply as possible the horrible events they saw, and knowing those who hadn’t been there could never understand what they had been called upon to do and witness.

Before enlisting, my mother had never travelled more than a few miles from home, grew up without running water or electricity, had been keeping house for her father and brother, and working hard on their farm. She served in Canada and Newfoundland, far from the battlefields, so the war really gave her adventure and freedom from drudgery. There were dozens of other women in her group, and she made lifelong friends.

Amazingly, my mother is still in contact with one of the women she trained and served with, a lady named Vina Trowsdale who lives in North Bay, Ontario. They write to each other frequently, sending long letters and newspaper clippings on things the other might find interesting.

I was just searching to see if there was anything online about Vina and found this great interview from 2015. I just showed it to my mother, and she said this is basically her story, too. Thanks, Vina!

Vina Trowsdale, 2015
Vina and Mom
Vina Trowsdale and Vivian Phillips, Foxley River, 1971, 30 years after meeting in Rockcliffe, ON

Women Leaders of PEI

I maintain a blog for the Stewart Memorial Healthcare Auxiliary (we just turned 70 – read all about it!). Dawn Wilson, the Executive Director of the PEI Coalition for Women in Government, contacted our email address last summer looking for a contact for the family of Dr. Joyce Madigane.

Dr. Madigane was a family doctor, OB/GYN and medical director at Stewart Memorial Hospital for nearly 40 years until her death in 2014. She was also my doctor for much of my life and a family friend.

Dawn wanted to ask Dr. Madigane’s family if the Coalition could include her in a series of colouring pages they were developing of Island women leaders as part of their Commemorating Island Women’s Political History project. I was happy to be able to make that connection for her. Dawn also encouraged me to send along a favourite photo of Dr. Madigane that I might have.

My connection to Stewart Memorial goes back to my grandmother, who was the first cook when the hospital opened in 1951, and my father, who helped raise funds for the hospital’s construction and was later on the board of directors. As a volunteer myself since 2002, I became “that person” who collected information and artefacts about our hospital, especially after it closed in 2013.

With the help of my friend, Fran Sark, we nominated Dr. Madigane for the Order of Prince Edward Island, which she received only four months before she died after a brief illness. I had the privilege to introduce Dr. Madigane at Government House the night she received her honour, and I was then humbled to be asked to speak at her funeral. I am now on a committee of our Auxiliary that gives three scholarships each year to people from our area who are pursuing education in healthcare-related fields.

I found the photo of Dr. Madigane I sent to Dawn in an album at the hospital years ago. It shows Dr. Madigane in 1978, just four years after she arrived on PEI from England. I’m not sure where the photo was taken, though by the snow outside the window behind her and that big red bow on the box of Turtles, I guess it was taken around Christmas. She is wearing one of her beautiful trademark headscarves. Dr. Madigane was beautiful and smart and funny. You can see all of that and more in the photo.

Dr. Joyce Madigane, Tyne Valley, 1978

Dawn emailed yesterday to tell me that Dr. Madigane’s family were very supportive of the project and liked the photo I had sent. Island artist Renee Laprise created the colouring page of Dr. Madigane from the photo, and I love it so much: the added stethoscope (which Dr. Madigane did often have around her neck), the tree just like the beautiful mountain ash that stands outside the old hospital, the beautiful drapery, and the transformation of the box of chocolates to a weighty book. She joins other fantastic Island women in a learning resource that will help teach young people about the contributions women have made to Island life.

I’m happy they called her “beloved” in the description of her page, because she was. She was so full of life, so fearless and steadfast. We still miss her, and likely always will.

I think she’d be tickled to be included with these other great women, some of whom she knew well, like Catherine Callbeck, who was the provincial minister of health early in Dr. Madigane’s time on PEI, and who gave a beautiful tribute to Dr. Madigane in the Senate. Dr. Madigane was one in a million, a great Islander, and I’m glad a new generation of young people will get to know her, too.

Tyne Valley Sports Centre

There was sad news this morning that the sports centre in Tyne Valley burned overnight. Thankfully no one was injured, a miracle when six fire departments and heavy equipment were on the scene. Photos show the frame of the building is mostly still standing, but the interior is gutted and a lot of history is gone: trophies, plaques, photos, files and records. Just stuff, in the end, but it all told a story.

Before the sports centre was built, most communities in our area had a small outside rink, often just a clearing on a pond that was kept free of snow by skaters and hockey players. Then for many years after the Second World War, a rink at the former RCAF Station Mount Pleasant was also used for hockey and skating parties.

My father was an enthusiastic hockey player and coach. He would work in his general store all day and head to a rink on many winter evenings, often ferrying a load of players in the back of his pickup truck. It was a tough game, with little protective gear and certainly no helmets!

Lot 11 Seniors Are Champs 1960
1960

People from Foxley River to Lot 16 supported the building of this central facility, just as they had the building of the Stewart Memorial Hospital in the early 1950s. Government funding was secured as part of the centennial celebrations of the 1864 meeting of the Fathers of Confederation, which saw lots of government dollars flow across the Island.

The community held a parade and carnival to coincide with the official opening of the building in August 1964. This was the beginning of the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival that continues to this day. I’m proud to say my father was one of the people who helped create both the sports centre and the festival.

The shock and grief of this loss has already been followed by a strong outpouring of support and a drive to rebuild. I know of no stronger community, no people better equipped to come together for a common cause. Everyone will pitch in and work hard and, best of all, appreciate and lift each other up while doing it. We have excellent young leaders in our community, and they will create something even better, I know it.

Parade and official opening of Tyne Valley Sports Centre, August 1964

There’s Still My Joy

I first heard this song in 2008. My father died that October, so Christmas was destined to be quiet and strange. He had had dementia. We lost him slowly and painfully over six years, hundreds of small goodbyes and flickers of hope, a human game of snakes and ladders, but rigged with many many more snakes.

I was listening to a Christmas music station on our television the week before Christmas that year and in the midst of all the fa-la-la-la-las and jingle bells came Roberta Flack’s clear and tender version of this song. It made me stop and sit and listen. The only other time I remember having that happen was while I was shopping in an enormous bookstore in Toronto and hearing Norah Jones singing Don’t Know Why. Same kind of calm, quiet, sweet song cutting through jangle.

There’s Still My Joy isn’t well known, but should be. It just popped up on my iPod and I searched for Flack’s version to share. Seems the Indigio Girls do a lovely version too, but here is the queen of my teenage angst, Melissa Manchester, with a beautiful version of the song she cowrote with Beth Neilsen Chapman and Matt Rollings. They sang my spirit back to life.

I brought my tree down to the shore
The garland and the silver star
To find my peace and grieve no more
To heal this place inside my heart

On every branch I laid some bread
And hungry birds filled up the sky
They rang like bells around my head
They sang my spirit back to life

One tiny child can change the world
One shining light can show the way
Through all my tears, for what I’ve lost
There’s still my joy
There’s still my joy for Christmas day

The snow comes down on empty sand
There’s tinsel moonlight on the waves
My soul was lost but here I am
So this must be amazing grace

One tiny child can change the world
One shining light can show the way
Beyond these tears for what I’ve lost
There’s still my joy
There’s still my joy for Christmas day
There’s still my joy for Christmas day

Green Black Green Black Green Green oops…

The Waste Watch Residential Collection Calendar brochure for the first six months of 2020 arrived in the mail last week. I use that brochure to mark on our household calendar which weeks are for compost and which are for waste, plus the once-a-month recycling.

I got to May and the familiar green/black/green/black pattern for compost/waste/compost/waste broke! The last week of May and first week of June were both green, indicating we should put our compost cart out twice in a row. I checked the calendar for the other region of PEI (that has a waste pickup the week we have compost), and they had two consecutive weeks of waste collection.

I thought that maybe they had to move the schedule around so were repeating the weeks to get them into a new order, but there wasn’t any note saying “hey, this is why your compost is going to be picked up twice in a row.” Hmmm.

Curiosity got the best of me and I had to know if this brochure was correct. I waited a couple of days in the hopes that I wouldn’t be the first calendar nerd to call Island Waste Management Corporation‘s customer service line. They really do have the friendliest staff, so when I explained what I had discovered on their calendar, the lovely woman on the other end said that they had already received a few calls about this, which they really appreciated. The brochure had gone to the printers before it had been properly proofed, so the calendar should not have two consecutive weeks of green or black.

So, ignore the calendar, keep the compost/waste pattern going, and we’ll all get through this together.