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We recently visited friends who were vacationing in the French River area of PEI which is near Cavendish. It is also the area where the birth home of author Lucy Maud Montgomery is located, not to be confused with the house used to lure tourist to Green Gables a fictional place created by Lucy Maud for her 8 books on the story of Anne. That house was the home of her uncle and aunt, she visited them and this gave rise to her inspiration to write the series on Anne. The houses look similar both White and Green and made of wood in the cottage architectural style of the island. But I digress what I wanted to talk about was the abandoned cemetery of Yankee Hill.

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photo of the French River area on Lot 21, PEI

At the Art Gallery we have a painting called the Yankee Gale, it shows a terrible storm at sea in 1851 with many ships lost. I knew it referred to a real storm and a naval disaster but did not know anymore about it.

Prior to the Halifax Harbour explosion in 1917, the single greatest Maritime disaster and loss of life occurred in 1851 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence when an American fishing fleet was caught in a tumultuous October storm that lasted for two days. When it finally abated, the coastline of Prince Edward Island was strewn with the wreckage of sailing vessels and the bodies of drowned seamen. In all, 74 vessels were lost and 150 men perished in what became known as The Yankee Gale.

This cemetery is abandoned since 1904 and the forest has grown in and all around it. A group of volunteers have cleaned the under brush and restored the ancient tombstones, also in this cemetery the Cousins Family is remembered, they were French Hugenots from Normandy who had immigrated to New England prior to the revolution of 1776. They were well established and prosperous. As Loyal to the Crown they came to l”Ile Saint-Jean now PEI and settled in the area. The Crown for their loyalty rewarded them with free land, well in fact it was land seized from the Acadians who were either slaughtered or deported in 1755. The name French River comes from the fact that residents of the area were French (Acadians).

The cemetery is lovely and the forest lends an air of mystery to it all, almost no one comes here, it is so well hidden, thus not disrupting the peace of the place.

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This is quite a lovely place and not far from us in Charlottetown, then again nothing is far on this Island. We are thinking of renting a cottage there next Summer for 2 weeks just to get away from the bustle of the Capital.

 

 

 

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