Annual Concert

Every year at the end of the Summer Season, just before University and school start we have the Annual Fundraising event at the Confederation Centre for the arts, this year is the 41th Edition of the Maud Whitmore Scholarship Fund Variety Concert.

Who as Maud Whitmore? she was an actress born in Britain who for many decades was a large presence on the Homburg Theatre stage. She died in July 1978 and has become a legend, entered immortality you could say. She is best remembered for her role as Mrs Rachel Lynde in the play Anne of Green Gables, now running in its 53rd year, the longest running Annual Musical in the world.

Several scholarships are given in various fields of theatre, dance, voice, acting. This year 3 indigenous persons were amongst the many winners from the Dene, BlackFoot and Ojibwe, the presentation of the awards was done in part in each native language. There is a lot of solid talent amongst the winners.

The two hour variety show was very professionally done, with high standards and quality. What never stops to amaze me is at the high caliber of talent we have here on the Island, many singers and actors coming from PEI went on to National and International careers. You see the emerging talent in this annual show. It was a wonderful evening, the highlight of the end of Summer Season. As always it was sold out.




More activity

Two restoration projects in Charlottetown have attracted a lot of attention, both are within 4 blocks of each other. One the Sydney Street Convent is now complete and the other is the Legislature building, Province House just getting under way.

The Convent goes back quite a few years, the land at the corner of Weymouth and Sydney street was given by Mr. Daniel Brennan in 1857 so the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame in Montreal could establish a school and convent. The school existed for 100 years, many girls graduated from it. Until 2014 a diminishing number of nuns continued to live there. The property was sold to investors in 2015 and they renovated and converted the old school and convent into a new boutique hotel. Initially $6 million dollar had been earmarked for the transformation but an additional $10 million was required to finish the job properly.  The old Convent is located across the street from  one of the original City parks, Hillsborough Square, it is a very nice and quiet area, the old Train Station is just a few steps South of the Convent.

People in the area were very concerned when it was revealed that the investors were Chinese immigrants, however after the public and the remaining nuns were invited to visit the new Sydney Boutique hotel, everyone was happy with the turn of events.


The other big project is the restoration of Province House, the Legislature of PEI. Built in  1847 by Isaac Smith who we celebrate this year the 200 anniversary of his arrival on PEI. It was in this building that the delegates of the British colonies of Canada met in 1864 to bring about the Canadian Constitution and the creation of a new country Canada.

This beautiful building in the neo-classical doric style has many architectural problems because the architect Isaac Smith despite his great success at building many famous building which remain with us today, did not always have the expertise to take on those complex  projects. In the matter of Province House, Smith had not included the two porticos on the South and North side of the building. At the last minute politicians demanded he add them in an effort to copy the Legislature building in Halifax. Smith was against the idea, it was not in his plan but the powers that be would not listen.  Isaac Smith left Charlottetown 2 weeks after completing his most famous project never to return a disappointed man. He went to live in a small village in Nova Scotia becoming a Methodist missionary. His house at 100 Prince Street still exist today, dating back to 1820.

I attended an information session by the chief engineer of the restoration project. This project will last about 5 years, what is being restored are the foundation, outside stone walls and the slate roof. The interior made of wood containing all the historical rooms will not be touched but protected during the restoration.

At the moment the work is to prepare the grounds to install the great steel skeleton which will cover and support the wood interior while the stone walls are dismantled one stone at a time, cleaned and repaired. It will also hold up the roof. The two porticos on the South and North facade will be dismantled also and a new foundation created to stabilize them for years to come. Then the stone and columns will be put back into place.

It is almost surgery when you think of it very careful work.



Rubble being extracted from the walls, apparently this type of rubble served as filler between the stone facade and the wood structure of the building. Since the building sits on the bare ground with no protective envelope to prevent water infiltration, over the years much damage has been done. This restoration work was urgently needed.


Province House before the start of the restoration project, hopefully returned to this aspect in a few years time.


A ball at Province House during the Charlottetown Conference in 1864



Busy few days

I was remarking to Will that I have been very busy at the Art Gallery in the last few weeks, we have visitors from all over the world but usually the most common language is English, however we also get quite a few French speaking visitors. I find it increasingly hard to switch from one language to the other, something I did all my life up to now with no difficulty. Often the words fail me, I am looking for expressions or simply trying to answer a question which requires a long introduction into the subject, you cannot do that with the public who expects simple instant answers.

Today per example I was looking for the French word for shadow, now this is silly easy, but I simply could not remember it. I was really struggling to find the word which is ombre. Or at other times it is sentence structure either in English or French in trying to convey an idea on what we are looking at without going into technical jargon.  I do try to keep it simple and easy to understand, people do have pre-conceived notions about paintings and how artists work. Per example we have several large canvases in one room and next to them the artist first sketch often done in charcoal with notes on the subject which will then be transferred later to the large canvas once all the initial ideas have been trashed out. Many visitors are very surprised that the artist did not immediately create directly without hesitation or pause a work of art. Many have been told that a great genius can do a masterpiece in a few hours or one day, watching to many movies about Michelangelo, I suppose.  So if you have to jump from English to French or vice versa it becomes very complicated trying to sort out an explanation and it tires me out.

On Friday I had my third Opinion piece published in The Guardian (PEI) today. I was quite pleased that it got published. I write about social and urban issues in Charlottetown.


Well we are coming to the end of the Tourist Season, this weekend the Gold Cup Week is ending, we had the parade on Friday morning, my third in Charlottetown. It’s a lot of fun, meeting the neighbours and drinking Bloody Caesar’s at 10am (Canada’s Official Cocktail). Some people had their chairs out at 6am for a good spot. The parade passes in front of our house, so no need to do that.  In the coming week we will see the number of tourist drop sharply, we still have the cruise ships but the clientele is senior in the +70 age group.  The families will be gone and the car traffic much reduce, a blessing.






Today on Saturday Afternoon at the Opera they are playing a live recording of Pelléas and Mélisande by Claude Debussy. It is my favourite opera first premiere in 1902 at the Opera-Comique in Paris.

The only opera Debussy ever completed, it is considered a landmark in 20th-century music.


The plot concerns a love triangle. Prince Golaud finds Princess Mélisande, a mysterious young woman, lost in a forest. He marries her and brings her back to the castle of his grandfather, King Arkel of Allemonde. Here Mélisande becomes increasingly attached to Golaud’s younger half-brother Pelléas, arousing Golaud’s jealousy. Golaud goes to excessive lengths to find out the truth about Pelléas and Mélisande’s relationship, even forcing his own child from a previous marriage, Yniold, to snoop on the couple. Pelléas decides to leave the castle but arranges to meet Mélisande one last time and the two finally confess their love for one another. Golaud, who has been eavesdropping, rushes out and kills Pelléas. Mélisande dies shortly after, having given birth to a daughter, with Golaud still begging her to tell him “the truth”.

Because it is raining today, we are making peach ice-cream and Peach Pie. The peaches are from Southern Ontario 1500 Km away, on PEI we do not grow peaches, the climate does not allow it.


My very own, a pinch of Cayenne is the secret. I had some help from the dough maker Will.








The BUZZ is Charlottetown’s monthly art, culture and events newspaper, everyone reads it and it is full of things to do in the Capital, all 67 pages of it, monthly.

I found this little gem on page 36 in the top corner of the July edition.


It got quite a bit of attention and no one seems to know who put it in the BUZZ. Too funny really, but that is Island stuff for you.



In the news.

Reading yesterday a story about Americans over 60 yrs of age smuggling guns into Canada. The Border Service Agency (CBSA) reports a high number of weapons seized at the border upon inspection from American tourists over the age of 60. Many will foolishly deny having a gun or guns in the car or RV, when it is discovered it is confiscated and the fine is $2000. Not a good way to start a vacation in the peaceful kingdom to the North.  CBSA agents will look into your glove compartment and under the car seat obviously or in a locked cabinet or safe in your RV. If you are over 60 you fit the profile of a possible holder of a weapon. What is worse most weapons seized are in the prohibited category. In Canada guns are not allowed and if you want to have one, it is complicated and the process is long, with permits and fees etc. Many weapons outside of the hunting rifle are just not allowed. So why would golden agers from the USA bring prohibited weapons with them? That is a mystery.

So this is Old Home Week in Charlottetown. Meaning harness racing at the Hippodrome and lots of festivities including the famous parade, which I love, it is better than Macy’s. Last night we participated in an event which comes under the Art in the Open Festival, we went to Victoria Park to learn to sing in a choir. It’s a lot more work than I imagined in the first place. With the help of Jill from Playing with Choir and Chad from Holland College, our little group practice an old favourite preparing and performing a rendition of Gene MacLellan’s Put Your Hand in the Hand.


Yes we are in the front line of this little video by the CBC Kevin Yarr. Will is wearing a famous creation shirt by Michael Rockwell of Arizona.  all his creations are commissions only for friends or celebrities.

On another topic at the moment I am reading a book on Kindle, most of the books I read now are on Kindle about this all around fun guy Martin Luther, well not really. The year 2017 marks the 500 anniversary of the Reformation. Luther was not the first Reformer there were lots of others but he is probably the best remembered and he did not end up being burned alive by the Roman Catholic Church. I think ISIS learned a few things from the RC Church on how to deal with opposition.

The book is by Lyndal Roper writing about his life and origin and the Lutheran Reformation in Germany. Roper gives a very good picture of who Martin Luther was and where he came from, his family, his parents, his upbringing, his education. The name Luther was not is actual original family name, he changed it from Luder.

He was an opinionated prig, he thought very highly of himself and he was a highly educated man, studied in the best school of his time and became a Augustinian Monk working in many monasteries and having a talent for administration before breaking with Rome over the whole indulgence buying and selling scandal. He translated the Bible into German which made him famous and at one point was the most published author in all German speaking lands. His appeal with the German Princes who protected him had to do with the political option he presented of breaking with Rome. The Princes were more than a little fed up with the Pope and wanted to rule without interference. Luther was a good excuse, the whole thing about his reforming thesis was an argument that could be used to clobber the Pope and avoid Church taxes which were not light. With the masses who did not speak Latin nor Greek, the languages of the very highly educated elite, Luther gave them the opportunity to pray and speak to God in their own German tongue. Quite the revelation for the uneducated masses who had nothing but a life of hardship and misery.

Lucas Cranach the Elder - Martin Luther (1483-1546) - Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (1533).jpg

Luther also reveals himself in his writing to be anti-Semitic accusing any detractor and former friends and mentors to be like the Jews, a terrible slur at the time which haunts the Lutheran Church to this day because of the close association with Nazi ideology which exploited this aspect of Luther’s writings in their own persecution of the German Catholic Church. Luther was a political animal and understood how to exploit a situation to his advantage, he became the champion of all things German denigrating all things Foreign. He was careful to not upset the powerful banking elite and who could protect him. He also introduced the idea that common people could communicate during mass with bread and wine, a privilege reserve for the Catholic Clergy only. He claimed that since Christ had introduced the concept as one of Salvation addressing himself to all, then Christ must have meant all the believers. The Pope did not see it that way, this was an attack on privilege an authority. Only with Vatican II in 1963 did the Catholic Church adopt the practice. Luther also attacked the whole concept of a Priestly cast which is an invention of the Catholic Church after the 6th century.

Luther was a complicated man for sure and one that has to be seen in the context of the time he lived in 1483 – 1546, the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque era, the age of Princes.

As a next book on my list I am now thinking of re-reading the book on Berlin which is a history of the city from its founding in 1237 to 1989. Giles Macdonough wrote it in 1997, a great book about a great city. There should be a sequel now to the history of Berlin, the city has changed so much for the better, returning to its Enlightenment Roots of the 18th century at least in its image of itself.


The wonderful park of Tiergarten in the centre of the city which leads to the formal entrance to the City the Brandenburg Gate. This great park was once the hunting domain of the Princes of Brandenburg. This is what I love about Berlin, its magnificent parks, numerous lakes, not to mention its many concert and opera venues, art galleries, truly Berlin is a city of Culture. Elegant shopping and great restaurants. This view is from the top of the Seigessäule (Victory) Column, c.1864.



And the Summer rolls on

It has been a warm and sunny Summer here on the Island, weeks and weeks of sunshine, to the despair of farmers, the grass has turned yellow. On the Pacific Coast in British Columbia enormous wild forest fires have devastated an area larger than PEI, that is impressive. We did get some rain, two weeks ago a huge downpour which lasted about 30 minutes and then nothing, on Tuesday this week it rained which helped green things up.

I also wonder if we are having as many tourists as last year, some days are awful with wall to wall tourists and other days are quiet, no rhyme or reason. There is a lot more motorcycle gangs roaming around the streets, Biker clubs from Quebec in convoy of 20 or more ridding Harley Davidson’s, the noise is terrible. I do not remember them from last year.


We had a visitor and took her to Victoria by the Sea which is 20 minutes South West of Charlottetown on the way to Borden. A beautiful little village of 3 streets and a sea port with a theatre and wonderful restaurant and chocolate place. Lots of old giant trees and beautiful houses.

Very quiet and pleasant, though they too can be overrun by day trippers.



This tree is said to be the oldest on the Island, it is certainly large enough.



The Landmark Café in Victoria by the Sea, the food is excellent, they have a great chef, his creations are perfect for Summer weather, the decor are paintings by local artists like Wendel Dennis. Yes Victoria by the Sea has lots of Pride Flags everywhere, this little village wants to be inclusive like lots of places on PEI.


Low tide on the Strait. You can walk and look for clams. It is all very quiet.


Orient House, opened in 1900, yes 117 years ago, a local B&B, they have a good reputation and lovely rooms. Views of the Westmoreland river and the Strait.


A small pavilion standing in the garden with the main house behind, it is used either to paint or write or simply relax quietly.



A few days ago, we decided we would take a tour with Sarah who has an old fashion omnibus drawn by a team of Belgian horses, she has 8 horses in total and she rotates them during the week. They have great personality and character, impressive as they are quite big.



Last week as she tried to make a turn West unto Water Street, her horses stopped dead in their tracks, no they wanted to go straight ahead, she could not make them take the turn. So straight up they went on Prince street, it was quite funny to see this battle of the wills.

They only work about 3 hours a day or less depending on the heat. Sarah gives a good tour of old Charlottetown on quiet streets, so her tour preserves a lot of the charm of the old city.

We also took our guest to Point Prim to see the light house and on the way back stopped in Orwell at the homestead of Sir Andrew MacPhail.  I blogged about it a few days ago.

We wanted to try their lunch menu, what is on offer changes with the days as it is all made the same day and all the ingredients come from the big garden of the house. It is the sort of luncheon you would have had on the farm some 90 years ago. It was very good and so pleasant to have a quiet lunch on the veranda. There are only 5 tables and you never know if they will be busy or not, best to call ahead to enquire.

I also wanted to see the two stone columns on the Estate that came from the former Engineering Faculty building of McGill University in Montreal. The Faculty building burned down in 1905 and these two columns ended up on Sir Andrew’s Estate in PEI some 900 Km away.


They stand at the former entrance to the Estate. They are quite tall I would guess about 5 meters. Originally when in Montreal, they were flanked by corinthian columns at the portico of the Faculty.


They are sculpted in the grotesque style found in Rome.


Sir Andrew MacPhail’s Home near Orwell, PEI





Sustainable Seafood From Canada

From the blog

Buying Seafood

Here are some short, but information-packed promotional videos by FisheriesCanada promoting the vast array of sustainable Canadian seafood products. It’s not enough to just to say something is sustainable, as a consumer it’s in your best interest to learn more about how your dinner was caught or raised.

This next video focuses on sustainable aquaculture efforts in British Columbia. Although my personal opinion is Atlantic salmon should not be farmed in Pacific waters. In some areas escaped Atlantic salmon are now becoming an invasive species, which threatens the wild Pacific salmon populations.

Here is an older, but still relevant video about Canada’s well-managed bluefin tuna fishery.

Of course, promotional videos are just that, promotions. But it is a step in the right direction when it comes to learning more about where your seafood comes from. The best way to fight seafood fraud and questionable aquaculture practices is to educate…

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Here are some photos of PEI



The famous railway system which was built as a condition for the colony of PEI to join Canada in 1873. This required a Constitutional amendment. In 1989 the entire system was dismantled as not being practical and too expensive to operate. What use to be the railway track was converted into a trail and now you can literally walk or bicycle the long lenght of the Island. At Borden in 1997 the new Sea Bridge was built joining the Island to the mainland at Cap Tormentine.


An old map of Charlottetown showing the docks area. You can see a ferry coming towards the Y shaped wharf at the foot of what is today Prince Street. There are no more ferries docking in that area and the building has been converted into a popular restaurant with great views of the Harbour.


Rock formations found by the beach in PEI in the famous red sandstone with starry night sky.


My favourite lighthouse at Point Prim, signalling the entrance into the harbour, built in 1845 by Isaac Smith. The lights on the far shore is Nova Scotia. In the comments below, who has a wonderful blog on PEI brought some very useful information about this lighthouse. Have a read it is worth it.


Speaking of the Confederation bridge celebrating its 20 Anniversary this year. This photo show a Holland America Cruise ship passing under the central arch of the bridge on its way to the Gulf and the Saint-Lawrence River.



The Nora Saga

Our little Nora di Capena has been sick, what she suffers from is not clear at all, it baffles the Veterinarians at the AVC of UPEI. So far we have seen 8 vets, each a specialist, she has spent a total of 5 days at the AVC going through tests of all sorts. We do know that she is in good health generally speaking and for an 8 yr old Wire hair dachshund she is doing very well.

All this started one month ago on a Sunday around 3:30 in the afternoon, she had symptoms that led us to believe she had had a stroke, she certainly behaved strangely and appeared dazed. On a weekend like this your only option is the emergency service of the Veterinary College at University of PEI. There is a $130 dollar surcharge for the service but it is excellent service. She stayed over night and went through a lot of tests.

All was clear and in fact the next day was her old self, we and the Vets looking at her believed she had been poisoned, some kind of toxin. A few weeks went by and nothing, then this weekend on Saturday at 3pm she had another episode, but not as severe this time nonetheless we returned to the AVC at UPEI. Again they kept her over night on observation and she did have one other small episode, Today, Monday she went through more tests for various disease, we are trying to understand what it could be. All tests come back negative, nothing abnormal.

We had 2 long debriefings with the vets about 5 of them looked and prodded Nora. They really do not know what is wrong with her. She is 8 and a half yrs old, she is considered an older dog but not old for a Dachshund. Our previous two lived to be 18 yrs old.

So she is back at home, we are to watch her and if there is an episode document it and if it persists to call the AVC where they have her complete file. This is not a cheap process and it is all in all worrisome. As for Mr Nicky well he was lost today because he did not understand where was Nora, he really does not like is routine upset by anything.

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