Tag Archives: Charlottetown Guardian

2021 is the new 1946

It didn’t say what they did at the Georgetown PO to keep the mail-seeking crowds away, but a polio outbreak meant strict public heath measures were in place across PEI 75 years ago. Vaccination has nearly eradicated polio worldwide, but there are still a few cases every year in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I had a great-uncle who had polio, which left him with with he called a “crooked foot” and unable to do many things. He would have an interesting perspective on COVID-19 anti-vaccination protests.

Charlottetown Guardian September 12, 1946

Fanny Brice in Charlottetown? Hmm…

The Charlottetown Guardian from August 7, 1946 contained this little item:

To my generation, Fanny Brice was just the character played by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, but she had been a Big Deal in American entertainment in the first half of the 1900s. According to Wikipedia, Fanny was married three times, all ending in divorce. Her third marriage was to Billy Rose, and that divorce came in 1938.

So, the gal in this news item was either Fanny Brice pretending to be “Sadie, Sadie married lady,” or some Boston lady pretending to be Fanny Brice. Hilarious either way.

Shooting Gallery Shore

With nothing else to do while waiting in my car yesterday, I hauled out a PEI road map and looked it over. At the west end of Summerside I saw something new to me: Shooting Gallery Shore.

Shooting Gallery Short

I would have bet my tam-o’-shanter that area is called Green’s Shore, and there is a park with that name at the foot of Greenwood Drive. And when I think of a shooting gallery, I think of those games at amusement parks where you try to hit targets and win prizes. As far as I know, that area of Summerside was never used for that type of entertainment.

When I got home and was poking around the Island Newspapers offering for August 3, 1921, this little notice caught my attention:

A rifle range west of Summerside – bullseye!

“…in the literary sense.”

The Charlottetown Guardian from this date in 1921 had many mentions of off-island visitors, including a couple of some note, Rev. and Mrs. Ewen MacDonald:

Of course, Mrs. MacDonald was only famous “in the literary sense”, not in any way that really mattered! The writer could have ended with “famous” but just couldn’t help themselves from adding a true PEI cutting down to size of someone who had, even by that time, achieved worldwide fame and admiration.

That Mrs. MacDonald was able to achieve any of what she did was an absolute miracle if you have read about her personal struggles, and in the ridiculous atmosphere that women have endured for most of human history. Case in point, an editorial from the same edition, which starts promisingly and then, well, you’ll see:

It goes on, but we get it. Dear Mrs. MacDonald. Is it any wonder she created impetuous, outspoken Anne when this was what was said of the courageous and capable women who might stand for public office? Creating an outspoken, bold girl would be a relief valve to keep from screaming, I expect.

Caught some trout, but lost my teeth

I’m not sure who was writing the unsigned pieces for the “Summerside and Western Guardian” section of The Charlottetown Guardian during the spring of 1921, but their dispatches from the Western Capital included lots of wry commentary on the social ills of the town, and amusing microfiction like “A Fish Story” below.

The Charlottetown Guardian May 27, 1921 p8

Also in this little clipping under the “Western Personals” (i.e. the reporter met the western train and chatted to those who disembarked!) is the news that a former beau of LM Montgomery, Louis Distant (I think it’s really Dystant), had visited town. If I remember correctly, Louis was more a handy means of transportation for Maud while she lived and taught school in Bideford in 1894-95 than a real love interest, at least in her eyes. And the “AA McAull” who was also in Summerside was my great-grandmother’s brother, Anthony Alexander MacCaull.

That I manage to get anything done most days is a small miracle considering the hole I can fall down from just a small section of an eight-page 100-year-old newspaper.

Still Funny?

When I read past issues of the Charlottetown Guardian online, I almost always start on the back page, where the western PEI news is given. I love the old gossip of who went to Summerside on the train, or who has a horse for sale. We were and remain a snoopy bunch.

Next to the western news on this date in 1921 was a big ad from Prowse Brothers Ltd. advertising a white wear sale, the perfect time to get new undergarments. I read and then reread the bottom of the ad, and while I think it was a joke to fool everyone on the first day of April, you can never be sure with some parts of history.


Alice Marie Bramfitt was born on this day in 1886 in China, where her English parents were working as Christian missionaries. The family had returned to England by the 1891 census.

Marie served in England as a nurse in the First World War, met and married a Canadian soldier, and travelled with him back to his home province of Prince Edward Island in September, 1919. They settled with his parents in Harmony, a community a couple of miles from Tyne Valley.

Marie never celebrated her birthday with her new PEI relatives as she died on January 7, 1920. The official cause of death was suicide, but her husband, Thomas Corbett Ellis, was later tried for her murder. He was found not guilty.

I learned about this story last summer when I noticed the name of Dr. John Stewart in an article about the Ellis trial on the front page of the June 21, 1920 issue of The Charlottetown Guardian. I collect articles mentioning Dr. Stewart as part of my interest in the history of the Tyne Valley hospital that was named in his memory, so it was he who led me to this sad tale.

It was probably the family connection that drew me in further as I worked out that Thomas Corbett Ellis would have been my maternal great-grandmother Eva Hardy’s second cousin. Eva probably knew him, and certainly would have known about Marie’s death, but my mother hadn’t heard this story before, and she was raised by Eva and often talks about Eva’s talent for storytelling and sharp comments about others. This would have been both a compelling story to tell and pass judgement on, but because my mother, who was born in 1922, would have been so young when this story was ripe, other current events might have knocked this gruesome story off Eva’s setlist as the 1920s passed. Or it could have been just too terrible and shameful a tale to retell.

As soon as I read about Marie last June, I was compelled to go to the Presbyterian cemetery in Tyne Valley to visit her grave and pay my respects. I walked up and down the rows of headstones, saying hello to lots of my long-gone ancestors as I went, but her grave seems to be unmarked (a fact I confirmed with a friend who is working on a history of Tyne Valley and also knew Marie’s tale). I was disappointed, but not surprised, as I’m sure the Ellis family wanted both the memory of Marie and this story to disappear, just as they themselves did to other parts of PEI and the United States not long after Marie’s death.

There’s a lot more to this tragedy, but today I’m only thinking of Marie, married late in life for the era and probably looking forward to a great adventure in Canada. What she found instead seems to have been a sad existence living with Thomas’s parents and sisters in the back woods of PEI, cut off from all she knew. My heart aches for her.

I have lit a candle tonight for Marie.

I’m not the only one who thinks there is more to this story. From the RCMP case file via Guy Bramfitt.

Valued Member

We have subscribed to both of PEI’s daily newspapers for as long as I can remember. This morning we only received The Guardian and a letter explaining that the Journal Pioneer has been “combined” with The Guardian. Most of our neighbours only receive the Journal as it has always been the paper for the western end of PEI and The Guardian for eastern areas, so they will be very surprised and possibly upset by this change in routine.

I also found out this morning that I am now a member and not a subscriber, which I suppose is to give me the sense that I was part of this business decision and approve it, rather than being a customer who paid for a service that I’m not going to receive.

In the Saltwire Network CEO’s letter, they say their advertising revenue dropped by nearly two-thirds almost overnight, so they have been forced to temporarily lay off 40% of their workforce, including journalists. Instead of publishing nearly three dozen papers today across Atlantic Canada, they published four.

Other than being quite a thin paper, today’s edition doesn’t really seem much different from recent ones. Both of PEI’s dailies were already carrying heavy amounts of content from the other Saltwire Network papers and the Postmedia Network and were starting to look like each other, save for different local advertising and obituaries (one of the big reasons we kept The Guardian). When you read one, you had almost read the other as much of the local content in each was shared.

We were already seriously considering dropping our subscription to The Guardian this spring because the price for each was closing in on $400 a year. My mother does not use digital technology so receiving the newspaper is a big thing for her, but the content duplication was becoming very obvious and we couldn’t justify spending nearly $800 a year anymore. I think that decision has probably now been made for us, despite the assurance that this is a temporary measure.

When the Journal Pioneer stopped being an afternoon paper many years ago and moved to morning delivery, and since both papers have been owned by the same companies for many decades, I was always amazed they didn’t amalgamate the two publications years ago. This time of crisis could be the time this decision is finally made. I’m sad that other than the concern I feel for those who will lose their jobs, I just don’t care.