Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Group CTMA’s Pilot Project

Winter Ferry Service Between PEI and Islands

The Group CTMA has a pilot project to run the ferry service, Madeleine the entire year in 2009. The service will take place between Souris, Prince Edward Island and Grindstone Islands twice a week during the months of February and March.

Normally the islands are semi-isolated during those months. Yesterday, the federal government confirmed the acceptance of the project by way of communication.

The Magdalen Islands mayor, Joel Arseneau, had declared that he is largely satisfied with the announcement. He indicated that representatives from the Group CTMA have worked a dossier up that the federal government can recognize as a viable economic action for the Archipelago that will put in place two weekly ferry runs for the development of the islands.

The addition of the two weekly voyages will cost one and a half million dollars more for Transport Canada.

The mayor remind all Magdalen Islanders that it is up to the to use the service and prove the to the government the necessity of having the winter ferry service.

I wonder just how many people will use the service! I also wonder what the repercussions of having the ferry service will be for the lower income families, if the governments decide that the Islands are no longer isolated and therefore do not deserve the isolation allowance.

When the Voyager started to make it run once a week the government said that we were only half isolated and therefore cut our isolation in half. Does this new project cut the rest of the isolation credits from islanders? Will our imports cost more to make up the difference of 1.5 million dollars? Will the extra ferry service make the islands more tempting to tourists who would want to travel in February and March? After all, we do have the seal birthing during the early month of March.

There are a lot questions and a lot of responses both on the positive influence and on the negative influence of this project. I suppose only time will tell if islanders will want to get on the ferry, knowing that there is a possibility that the wind will turn and they will be stuck on the ferry for seven, twelve or even twenty-four hours until it is safe enough to dock into one of the harbours.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nav Canada Has Got Woes...

And this holiday season, they are passing those woes on to their clients and more important..., to their employees. After making a couple really bad economical decisions this year, Nav Canada has decided to automate many of their resources, in airports such as the one on the Magdalen Islands. This being done, many of their employees will be transferred out or worse, they will lose their jobs and pay cheques. Some of their employees are already putting in request for transfer off islands.

Magdalen Islands mayor Joel Arseneau deplores that the consultations are coming about this holiday season. It is a strategy that, in his opinion, is aimed to reduce all opposition that is seen as rational. As well, there are the complaints to consider, of the employees to consider of the private enterprise which controls the air traffic circulation, when the flight information service at the House Harbour airport goes automated.

In a consultation document, Nav Canada highlighted that they register less than 5000 movements per year. This counters the objective of having 20000 movements per year which will justify an airport run manually.

The mayor feels justifiably upset with the status quo. He feels just in considering the security of Magdalen Islanders. Mayor Arseneau intends to mobilize the socio-economic representatives of the islands and question the two levels of government to prevent Nav Canada from automating their flight information services on the Islands. The mayor estimates more that 250,000 dollars is placed into the islands economy.

It was in the wind, a couple of weeks back, that there was a representative of Nav Canada going around to all the small airports to talk with the employees of the changes that were coming to private company. It made the employees nervous just expecting the meeting. The representative came and went quietly and now the mess blows up in the faces of the politicians..., Go Figure!

The Magdalen Islands isn't large enough to justify an air traffic controller, instead they use four or five flight service technicians, on rotation at the airport here on the islands.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Election Day Is Past...

Following a hot struggle, the liberal candidate for the islands, Germain Chevarie, stands victorious here in the Archipelago. The election took place on December 9th, 2008 and at the end of the evening, Mr. Chevarie took the election with 316 votes over his adversary, Jeannine Richard. When the totals were tallied up, Mr. Chevarie took 50% of the Magdalen Islands vote and the péquiste (common name for the Parti Quebecois) took 46% of the vote.

Mr. Chevarie's experience does not come from politics nor did he ever have any aspirations to following politics for a career. Three times he has been asked to run for the candidacy for the liberals and other Parties. Germain Chevarie is no stranger to Islanders though. He has 32 year in the field of Health and Social Services, spending many of those years as Chief Administrator of the CHA (Centre Hopital de l'Archipel or The Islands Hospital Center).

Germain Chevarie is said to have the honour of representing Islanders at the National Assembly. Ms Richard, though saddened, accepted her defeat and wished the liberal party under Chevarie be at the height of the dossiers which he must now attend to. She is said to believe the day had been difficult for her party.

The candidate for the Green Party, Nicolas Tremblay took two percent of the vote. Patrick Leblanc, for the Democratic Action Party of Quebec, who had five percent of the islander vote in 2007, lost support for his party by taking only 1.5% of the Islands vote. For his part, Jacques Bourbeau for the Quebec Solitaire Party took three percent.

Numerous electronic breakdowns of the vote were taken throughout the day of the election until the final vote was made. Three quarters of the voting Magdalen Islander population showed up to the polls to cast their vote.

You know, I can't remember the last time the Liberals took this election.... Perhaps it was some time during the 1980's. The Magdalen Islands has a strong Parti Québécois following and they have taken the provincial vote practically ever since the start of the Party, with René Levesque at the Party head. The Magdalen Islands remained faithful to the party when the Liberals or the Conservatives were certain to sit in power.

I think the Magdalen Islands is growing up. They finally realize that if they want action, they need to have a member of the same party in office in Quebec City. For years Maxime Arseneau took the vote and he, last going off quit probably because he was continuously fighting an uphill battle to get anything done by the government here on the islands. I would imagine the péquiste party is shaking their heads now..., licking their wounds and contemplating the next election, but I can't think of a better result fo the Magdalen Islands, then having the Liberals take the vote except having the Conservative Party take it. Too bad, we don't have the Conservative Party on the ballot here on the islands.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

The Islands Richelieu Club To Donate Christmas Food....

The Richelieu Club put the past weekend to good use by collecting the money to buy Christmas baskets of food. The amount of food they will buy surpassed all that was expected. Islanders generously contributed the equivalent of some hundred fish baskets full of food, explained the coordinator of the event, Jocelyn Thériault. This is 20% more that was donated last year.

Note: A fish basket is approximately thirty gallons, I would say..., maybe a little less.

The president of the Richelieu Club, Élie Chevrier, said that his part was the sale of tickets for a drawing, until the start of January, will allow for the addition of around ten baskets of a thousand dollars worth of perishable food baskets for Christmas. The distribution of the Christmas baskets, to the families with children in need, will commence around Saturday the 20th day of December.

I imagine that there are quite a few families that live under the poverty level, here on the Magdalen Islands. But not many, if any, go hungry or don't have at least the basic needs to survive well. Unlike on the mainland, if a recession or heaven forbid, a depression hit, the islands would suffer seriously, but food would still be plentiful because islanders have depended on the sea for their survival for centuries. The soil of the islands is rich and although not much of it is being used for farming, the potential for it's use is there.

Most people have regular jobs on the islands. Some full time, others work seasonally. There are a few who live on social assistance, drawn from the provincial government. Most of the seasonal workers do draw unemployment insurance from the Federal government, but many must repay the money when they start work in the spring. The islands economy has traditionally been based around fishing but for the past twenty years or so, the tourist industry has made leaps into a close second for the top spot for the economy. The salt mine probably runs third for employ ability. Then there are wide ranges of local business owners and their employees.

Magdalen Islands Election Poll Reveals...

An election poll held on the Magdalen Islands by the company Tenor Marketing from Sherbrooke has Magdalen Islanders supporting Liberal candidate, Germain Chevarie, by 48 percent. The survey was taken on December 2nd and 3rd, 2008 and was given to 300 people. A margin of six percent was accepted.

Jeannine Richard, Candidate for the Parti québécois for the county of the Magdalen Islands, had 45% of the people in the survey, who had the intention to vote. Patrick Leblanc, candidate for the L'adéquiste received three percent, Nicolas Trembley from the Green Party had two and a half percent and the candidate for Quebec Solidaire, Jacques Bourbeau had one percent.

Islands Dentist Closes Doors

The Archipelago dental clinic, Clinique Dentaire de l’Archipel, will be closed for an undetermined length of time because the clinic has been unable to recruit a permanent dentist to work on the islands. The Magdalen Islands is an isolated, desolated region of Canada..., there is no doubt of that.

This year will be the first where the ferry between Grindstone and Prince Edward Island, will not be laid up for the two worst months of winter. It will make the twelve hour round trip, twice a week. In keeping the ferry running, the government now will have the right to say the islands are no longer isolated and will probably declare us a class ‘C’ state and remove our isolation pay. Of course in removing that credit, professionals will have even less of a reason to stay on the islands more that six months.

Dental hygienist, Micheline Martel, who is also the administrative management of the clinic which belongs to orthodontist, Sonia Lapointe, explained that the clinic has run it’s course over the past five years with temporary dentists. The last on the long list of dentists to quit was Jessica Kerwin, who left her position in July.

Ms Martel has lodged a request to the Minister of Health and Social Services, for permission to dispense her services as dental hygienist in the absence of a dentist. However, the province is in a state of an electoral campaign and her request has gone unheard. The clinic has approximately 2000 clients on their accounts. Without a dentist, Ms Martel must refer the clinic’s emergency patients to another dental clinic which resides in the area or the regions only hospital.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Interesting Bit of Islands History

The Coming of the Families - Part 1

Captain Philip-Franklin Callbeck (Colbeck) and his wife, Mary Burke and together with their seven children, lived on the Magdalen Islands. The children were Jean-François (John-Francis), Sophie, Eulalie, Eugenie, George, Isaac and Anne.

According to S.R.-D. Gaudet, Callbeck who was a Magistrate or a Justice of the Peace, would put in writing, to Father Plessis, a pressing request to obtain the presence of a resident priest permanently on the Islands and would recommend to the Bishop, the brothers Louis and Firmin Boudreau, would accomplish certain pastoral tasks, in the absence of a missionary.

A company was established on the islands in 1805, with Captain Callbeck, Lieutenant Benoît Boudreau and teacher Édouard Noël. It is interesting on its own that Captain Callbeck was the Magdalen Islands agent and nephew of Sir Admiral Isaac Coffin, and who presumably had a gentle heart for the French speaking population of the islands.

In 1806, Sir Isaac came to the islands, on his first and only visit during his concession of the islands, came to unsuccessfully deport the Acadians from Saint Pierre & Miquelon, who had been on the islands since 1792. According to Chantal Naud’s book, Îles-de-la-Madeleine 1793-1993 Deux siècles d’Histoire, he did this under the pretext that these inhabitants were of the France French culture because they came from the French islands of North America and therefore were enemies of the King. Apparently, he also changed his agents at this same time, because when he left the islands, he left orders and recommendations for his new agent, Louis Boudreau, who became the official agent of the islands at this time.

What is also even more interesting to note, is the genealogy of Callbeck’s wife, Mary Burke. Her father, William the 1st was also the father of William the 2nd, who was the father of William the 3rd, who was the father of Thomas Leboeuf, the Burke who married Emily McLean in Saint Luke’s in Grindstone, in 1854. Thomas’s mother was Margaret Dingwell from Fortune Bay, PEI. Thomas was believed to be the first Burke to live on the Magdalen Islands. Indeed, he is the Burke to bring the name to the islands, but Mary was actually the first Burke of the same family to live here, more the a half a century before.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bringing History Into the Present

La Vielle Ecole - Grosse Ile

I watched this video which is called the Old or Former School - Grosse Ile. The hardwood reminds me of the 'Old English' School in Grande Entree, now belonging to Paul Warren, who uses it as his summer home.

There is the Old School of Old Harry, owned by C.A.M.I. and made into a museum. But Old Harry also had an earlier school, that was the original home of Henry Clark Sr. After he built Aunt Rhoda's house (oldest existing house on Old Harry), he would use the original house as a school for his grandchildren. As Old Harry became more populated, he donated the house and some land at Old Harry turn for a proper school for the day. This happened around 1870 and it stayed as a school until 1922, when the little red school house was built.

Timmy (Ivan) Clarke and Sandra Vigneau's home was the old School of East Cape, but I'm fairly sure that this is not the school, the video is referring to.

The first school in Grosse Isle was a building hauled to Grosse Isle Head. It was a one room school and is thought to date around 1860.

Also, there was a one room school built around the turn of the century, that was bought by Creighton Richards. It was moved to the Richards land and his brother, George turned it into a house. The house burned down while Stuart Richards was the owner, around the early 1980's, I think.

However, there is a house owned by the late John Clarke, on Grosse Isle North, that was part of the old two-room school house of Grosse Isle. The school had been built in 1934 by Arthur J.C. Goodwin and Douglas Clarke. This might possibly have been the old school in the video.

According to the picture in the video, the old school is John's house on Grosse Isle North. I haven't been inside it but it looks similar to Paul Warrens house according to the video.

For more information about the Magdalen Islands schools, including those of Entry Island and school life for the English on the islands, see the C.A.M.I website for a book they have created. They can also be communicated with at (418) 985-2116. Fax: (418) 985-2113 or e-mail:
787ch. Principal
Grosse Ile, Qu.
G4T 6B5

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Islands Telephone and Telegraph Cable

The telephone and telegraph by cable which linked the islands to Cape Breton was installed at a cost of $91,485. This was lot of money for the era, but it was absolutely necessary for the well-being of navigators and an isolated population. The cable was 84 miles long. It had been submerged during the month of October, 1880 for a connection to a station in Grosse Isle. The following year, an other cable , 8 miles in length was laid between the Bird Rocks and Grosse Isle. Also, they added a land line between House Harbour and Etang-du-Nord.

This telephone/telegraph communication system gave excellent service over the next 30 years. But on February 10, 1910, the cable between the mainland and Grosse Isle snapped, possible because of large iceberg that had been reported passing by. This break could not be repaired and so left the Islanders more isolated that ever. There was a state of panic amongst some of the people and so an idea was formed to send a vessel without a pilot. It was too dangerous to send a wooden fishing boat with the ice moving in the Gulf so Alcide J. Gaudet, then employed with the J.R. Leslie Company Limited, exporters of lobster and smoked and salt fish had the idea to launch the ponchon (a wooden barrel with a sail, on which was painted “Winter Magdalen Mail”, and a rudder). The ponchon was launched from the most southern tip of Amherst Island. The whole of Amherst village participated in its launching on the Sandy Hook beach. The idea was to send “Her Majesty’s mail” from the people on the Magdalen Islands to an undetermined destination. There was some one hundred letters in the barrel.

With favourable winds and acceptable currents the small vessel was carried south, traveling toward Cape Breton and landed on the beach near Port Hastings, Cape Breton in very good time.

The Federal government immediately dispatched the stem ship “SS Harlow” to the Magdalen Islands.

Le lose of the telegraph cable resulted in the installation of a Marconi station, in Grindstone on the top of the hill know as Marconi hill, in 1911.

A documentary film was documented by Sister Rose Delima Gaudet and filmed during the school year of 1970-71, by Professor Rosaire Vigneault to recall the memorable event. Professor Vigneault was my professor that year for des Art Plastique, where we learned to film animated still art. It was a fascinating course.

Note: This story has been told by the French speaking people for as long as I can remember but I begin to have doubts to it complete truthfulness. For one, was it that the "Winter Magdalen Mail" went through the Canso Causeway and was that even built in 1910? And why was it called the Winter Magdalen Mail and not the Poste d'Hiver Madeleine? I have heard stories to the contrary about who came up with the idea and where the idea originated. Also the population on the Magdalen Islands was 6,623 people according to the 1911 census. I would think that it would have been hard pressed to find one hundred people who knew people abroad let alone write to them. The English speaking people where well educated for the time but the French education system was in poor shape if what I have read is anything to go by.

In the 1990's, group of islanders took it upon themselves to recreate the launching of the ponchon. It was a school project for the secondary five (grade 11) students at the Polyvalente in Laverniere. While using all of the data that had been saved from the first successful attempt, they waited until the weather, wind, currents, tides were all the same and they failed in that they were never able to track its voyage. It became lost at sea.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An Interesting Bit of Islands Lighthouse History

In 1828, Captain Edward Boxer sent a report to the Grand Admiral of Maritime Britain, in which he mentioned: "I have found a great need for lighthouses in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. On this sea, navigation is so dangerous because of strong and irregular currents, and there is not a single lighthouse in all the Gulf. It is truly lamentable to find so many shipwrecks at different places on the coast... the number of lost lives is very large and certainly incalculable...."

One of the most talked about shipwrecks on the Magdalen Islands is the immigration ship, the "Miracle", which was transporting families from Ireland to Canada, when she went ashore at East Point during a violent storm. The Captain of the "Miracle", Master H.H. Elliot, while expressing his gratitude and admiration for their Magdalen Islands rescuers in his report, highlighted the necessity for having lighthouses in these areas. "This is to certify that the ship "Miracle" under my command wrecked on the Magdalen Islands on the 19th, of May, 1847, with 446 souls on board, and through the exertions of Mr. James Clark and his sons succeeded in saving nearly the whole of them and they deserve great praise for their exertions, both in supplying them with provisions and shelter.
I firmly believe a light on the east end of the island would save many a shipwreck, as Brion and Bird Rocks can be sure."

Note: The ship "Miracle" carried a ship's fever, typhoid, when it went ashore. The victims were cared for at East Cape, shelter in the home, barns and outbuildings of the Clark family. Mary Goodwin, James Clark's wife, contracted the contagious disease and died that same spring.

Also note: In July 1969, Leonard Clark, the great, great grandson of James and Mary, spearheaded a project to place a cross at East Point, where it was believed the victims of the "Miracle" were buried. The cross was very large, maybe 20 feet or more in height. It took many men to lift it into place. The cross blew down the next winter. The brass plaque had been removed and finally found it way to the museum, Muse de la Mer in Amherst.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Road Work

You can sure tell it is an election year!!!

The roads have been resurfaced from Amherst to Laverniere, in House Harbour, Etang-du-Nord and here on the main road to everywhere. Technically this is part of Fatima, but the reality is that they tore the road up, dug about 20 feet down, and stopped traffic both ways for at least four weeks. It is incredible what a party will do to stay in power. The wonder of it all is that, I can't figure out what they did it for. It looked like they were running a sewer system but heaven only knows who they are running it to or from would be better to ask.

On the bright side of road work..., it forced us to slow down and see the islands. Beautiful as they are, even the dust and dirt flying from the truck on the red sand base could not dim the colors of the Magdalen Islands.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Is this not what we stand for?
This is the response of the Organizing Committee against drugs to the Chief of Police.

Stop the epidemic of drugs on the Islands,
Is this not what we stand for?

Then walk to...
- Stop minimizing the problem of drugs.
-Make people aware that their involvement is important.
- Sensitize, educate and make long term prevention.
- Get more help for users, their family and friends.
You are invited, you and yours, to participate in an awareness walk. We rely on your involvement to spread the word around you. Together we can make a difference.

Sunday, October 5th 2008, 14:00p.m.

The walk will start from the Civic Center in Grindstone.
(If it rains the walk will be postponed to the following Sunday)

The drug use on the Islands is the responsibility of each of us. Whether it is to help someone you love go out of it, to protect children and youngsters from the ill effects of drug use, or to report to the authorities activities related to drug trafficking by using the Info-Crime line or direct call to Surete du Quebec (local police force) on the Islands, you can make a difference. Let's pull together.

So, on October 5th for yourself, your loved ones and the whole community of the Islands, take a step in the right direction, Together let's walk to give the growing generation a clean and healthy Islands where it is good to live.

Long live our beautiful Islands!

The organizing committee for a walk.

Sunday October 5th, 2008, is an election day in Quebec.
I find it interesting that the Organizing Committee does not appear to have a name.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Letter To The Community!

Sûreté du Québec
Poste des Îles-de-la-Madeleine

C.P. 8185, Cap-aux-Meules, Québec) G4T 1R3

tel(418)986-5555 fax (418) 986-5704
Courrier électronique : Poste.muncipalite.iles-de-la-madeleine@surete.qc.c

The letter below is recorded as it was sent. The officer is French-speaking and wrote the letter in English, therefore the grammatical choices are understandable .

August 27th,

Drug Summary


I am taking advantage of this occasion to share with you the results concerning the work that was realized in regards to the fight against drugs. In 2007, the message that you sent to us was clear : we had to attack the phenomenon of drug trafficking and drug consumption on the archipelago (islands).

In place for 2 years now, I had myself observed that drug consumption was trivialized and that it was often done at the sight of everyone, we had to act. The plan that we built for ourselves in the Spring of 2007 contained four parts: Equip and educate the police officers of the islands, be more repressif in regards to the fight against drugs, make drug consumption an important matter and work on prevention with the youth.

We followed our plan and that is what has permitted us to attain the excellent results which will follow. Above everything, it is also your precious collaboration that often permitted us to make our investigations progress and to be able to go knocking at the doors of these criminals. In the chart below is the number of interventions that were realized during the past three years.

The work that our police officers have realized during the past two years is huge. I wish to salute their involvement and devotion to this cause. Without a doubt we can say "Mission accomplished". This is the perfect example of the police working with the community, the police is close to the citizens and is preoccupied by the local problems.

In conclusion, be assured that we will continue to work to the fight of drug trafficking with the same determination. Thank you for your collaboration. The denunciation of these crimes and the quality of the information that was given to our officers are essential during the process of investigations.

Lieutenant Jonathon Jauron
Director of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine unit
Sûreté du Québec

Commentary by me:

I hate criticizing the local police force but honestly, I don't think I would bring this up to any of the parents to whom this was addressed - the English-speaking population of the Magdalen Islands, as a conversation starter. I don't think I would hear the end of it.

According to the Drug Prevention organization working with the police, the islands is running rampant with illegal drug abuse. We are a global community (French 11,000+, English 1,000-) of just over 12,000 permanent residents. These numbers, in the table above, seem staggeringly low, to me.... And to say, "Mission accomplished", I thought meant they cleaned all of the illegal drugs off the Archipelago. But that is no where near the case....

I'm sure the police are doing their jobs and that Lieutenant Jauron means well, but I can understand the parents and guardians of past, present and future addicted children, when they protest, with signs and banners, up and down main street in Grindstone.

Well It Is An Election Year....

Posters on the electricity poles..., that is the first sign of election frenzy on the islands. If it can be called frenzy. Islands elections are pretty dead until the day of the election. Then it becomes a pull, drag, push or tow electors to the polls, it seems.

I guess there are only three candidates running for the provincial nomination. Raynald Blais will return, trying for a third term in office for the Parti Quebecois. An independent, Gaston Langlois is running and Darryl Gray is returning to Gaspesie/Islands politics after fifteen years 'politicking' at the Canadian level. Gray is running for the Progressive Conservative Party.

And All Eyes Are On...., the American Election and the Obama/McCain issue.

Ho hummmmmm! Another dull election coming up! I guess that is the reason they tore up the main highways in Fatima, House Harbour and the full length of the Amherst/Grindstone causeway. Oh and lets not forget the umpteen dollars granted to repave the Grand Entry and Etang-du-Nord Harbours....

More to come as the event draws near!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

All Beautiful and Well

Original came from Journaliste: Hélène Fauteux
Translated by Wynn Currie

The program, Belle et biens dans la peau (Beautiful and Well Under the Skin), for women who have cancer, will be open on an autonomous bases on the islands. The islands Center for Health and Social Services has concluded a collaboration agreement in this sense with the Cancer Association for Eastern Quebec. Lise Turbide, psychosocial intervener at the CLSC of Grindstone, explained that a team of fifteen people has bee formed, at the end of June, in order to offer Belle et bien dans la peau workshops to Magdalen Islanders. These workshops aim to aide women who have cancer to surmount the secondary effects of the treatments on their appearance. They will teach specific techniques of makeup and the means to compose with the loss of hair.

Awaiting the next Belle et bien dans sa peau will be offered in October, the program will be dispensed to reason of four times a year, on the Archipelago. Lise Turbide precisely said that some forty odd more Magdalen Islanders have received a cancer diagnosis.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ottawa To Invest In Islands Infrastructures

The federal government of Canada has decided to invest 14 million dollars into the break water for the Grindstone harbour. The project consists mainly of consolidating the existing structure. This work will start tis fall and will be finished for the summer of 2010.

The House Harbour airport will receive the amount of $1.4 million for improvement work. They will install a lights and a system to facilitate manoeuvrings, when the visibility is reduced.

These investments were brought up at a meeting held for Minister Blackburn when he announced the winter link to Prince Edward Island.
(Photo by Danny Poirier, journalist for the Radar)

Father Landry Wins Donald LeBlanc Award

Father Frederic Landry was honored with the Islands 2008, Donald Leblanc award, on Friday, August 22nd, during a ceremony held at the historical site, 'La Grave' in Amherst. He was chosen because he is one of the pioneers to the rebuilding of the site. Achille Hubert, owner/editor of the French weekly newspaper, 'The Radar' presented the award saying, "the historic site of 'La Grave', would certainly not exist without the work of the courageous and clairvoyant man and all those who followed him".

Father Landry founded the Amherst museum at the historical site, 'Muse de la Mer' in 1969 which started the work of rebuilding the site. He is also one of the initiators of the islands aquarium, located at 'La Grave'. Frederic Landry is the author of dozen or so books, written in the French language, many of which are about the maritime history of the islands. At least one of his texts has been translated into English, 'Captains of the Shoal'.

Father Landry declared the he was happy for the honour that is attributed with the Donald LeBlanc award. "I remember my friends and all those who worked with me, who had supported me during those long years, because it will be 40 years, next year that I've been at Amherst.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Isolation Is A Thing Of The Past!

Apparently, the islands won't be as isolated a it has been in the past. The Government of Canada has decided to establish a winter link between the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island, during the months of February and March. These are the two months when the islands are normally left in near complete isolation from the rest of the continent, due to ice conditions in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

In the past few years, ice has not been considered a problem for navigation around the islands and PEI. However, although islanders ave been protesting for a maritime link, the government has been slow to act. Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the Federal Minister for Economic Development made the announcement on Tuesday, in the name of the Minister of Transport, Lawrence Cannon. The Conservative Minister agrees that the economic benefits generated, that will be set in place for the Islands, will justify such a project.

The mayor of one of the Municipalities of the islands, Municipalité des Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Joël Arseneau, was instrumental in getting the decision pushed through. It is expected to cost between one and two million dollars per year, to open this two month winter link. The link i also expected to start early in 2009. Jean-Pierre Blackburn is assured that this project is probably the best route to follow to establish a permanant link with the continent.

"This is an historical cornerstone for the development and the economic diversification of the Magdalen Islands," said Claire Gaudet, director of the Islands Chamber of Commerence. Raymond Blais, Parti Quebecois deputy, indicated that islanders must remain vigilant where this file is concerned to attain its permanence.

Joel Arseneau, rest of the islands mayor.
Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Canadian Economic Development
Christopher Clark, Grosse Isle mayor
The three men are holding one of the many paper boats that had been sent to Ottawa in the form of a petition in April 2007, to have and open link to the mainland all year.
(Photo by Danny Poirier, journalist for the Radar)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drug Bust!

On the last of July, 2008, the islands police force apprehended a youth, 19 years old from House Harbour, while he was in the process of selling marijuana while at the wharf in Grindstone. Around 11:50pm, the police surprised the youth and immediately proceeded with his arrest and the legal search of his vehicle. Inside they found a total of 110 grams of cannabis divided up into three packages as well as the amount of 195 dollars and a weighing scale used in trafficking.

After his interrogation at the police station, the suspect was freed. He must ultimately appear later on, when summoned to face charges for an accusation of the possession of cannabis, with the intent of trafficking.

The individual had been under suspicion, by the police, for delivering the drug for sale, before the arrest.

The local police had been acting in the framework of strategic patrolling.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Corridor Resources Relinquishes Gas Exploration Permits

The Permits have changed hands
Original came from Journaliste: Hélène Fauteux
Translated by Wynn Currie
Updates have been added:

Petrol prospectors from Montreal, Gastem Inc., have taken over the dormant gas exploration license for the territory of the Magdalen Islands. The permit that was held by Corridor Resources Inc. from Halifax, for 10 years, was let go three months ago. The president of Gastem Inc., Marc-André Lavoie, estimated that there were many trillions of square cubic feet in gas reserves ,that were found on the flanks of the salt domes, of the Archipelago.

Gastem Inc., who's value in grants is 150 million dollars, has actually proceeded to update the seismic information that had been accomplished on the islands in the past, in order to determine its gas exploration strategy. Marc-André Lavoie, doesn't anticipate, nevertheless, a drilling forage before 2009 or 2010. According to the president of Gastem, Inc. the drilling of an exploration well on the islands is evaluated between five and seven million dollars, including an extra million dollars for the transport of equipment. Mr. Lavoie, who plans a visit to the Archipelago in September, is said to want to work in partnership with the Magdalen population.

Precisions were made that Corridor Resources Inc. conserve its exploration rights at the marine site of Old Harry, off the islands; and this is because of a moratorium imposed by the government of Quebec in 1998, on all gas and petroleum activities in the Gulf.

Gastem Inc. is an oil and gas exploration and development company with exploration properties covering more than a million acres, located in the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. Gastem Inc is also involved in earn-in projects in Quebec (the Joly Project). In January 2008, the Company signed an earn-in option for Utica shale properties situated in New York State. The company also has a working interest in 24 gas wells currently in production in the Amber Bank project, West Virginia.

The company was incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act in 2002 and listed on the TSX-Venture Exchange in January 2004 (GMR, TSX-Vx).

More on the Old Harry Site:

The Corporation holds Québec exploration licenses covering 123,550 gross acres (123,550 net acres) over most of the Old Harry prospect, lying in 1500 feet of water in the Laurentian Channel in Québec. Corridor acquired 800 kilometres of modern seismic data across and in proximity to this structure in 1998. The prospect has simple 4-way closure covering an area of more than 20,000 hectares, and is one of the largest undrilled prospects in Eastern Canada. Recoverable reserves potential is estimated to be in the order of 1.5 to 2 billion barrels (if oil) or 4 to 5 tscf (if gas). Six natural oil seeps have been detected on the ocean surface by satellite, apparently emanating from the flanks of "Old Harry". The prospect lies mostly in the Québec sector and partly in the Newfoundland sector of the Gulf, and requires agreement between the Québec and Federal governments in order to open up this prospective area of the Gulf to petroleum exploration. Corridor held an exploration license issued by the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board across the northeastern side of the Old Harry prospect (31,068 ha) located in the Newfoundland sector of the Gulf. In December 2002, Corridor completed the acquisition of 500 kilometres of marine 2D seismic across the northeastern end of the Old Harry and adjacent Cape Ray prospect. On January 15, 2005, Corridor's license covering the Cape Ray prospect in Newfoundland and Labrador expired. On January 15, 2006, Corridor's Newfoundland and Labrador license covering the eastern end of the Old Harry prospect expired.

In August 2003, Corridor announced the execution of an option agreement with Hydro-Québec whereby Hydro-Québec paid $500,000 to Corridor for the right to obtain a minimum of 18.75% working interest in the Old Harry farmin opportunity on the same terms as are ultimately negotiated with an operating partner. Hydro-Québec also gained access to the seismic covering the Old Harry and Cape Ray prospects.

Corridor has suspended farmout discussions with a number of major companies that have expressed an interest in participating in drilling the Old Harry structure pending the outcome of discussions between the Federal and Québec governments regarding the management of offshore activities in the Québec sector of the Gulf. Corridor continues to press the Federal and Québec governments for a resolution of the issues preventing exploration drilling in the Québec sector of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These same issues have also negatively impacted Corridor's ability to attract a partner to participate in drilling an exploration well on the Magdalen Islands and Corridor surrendered these licenses in March 2007. No assurance can be given that this issue will be resolved to the satisfaction of Corridor or that such resolution will occur within a reasonable period of time.

In Memory of the four Islanders Who Lost Their Lives Last March

A notice has been circulating around FaceBook about the lost sealers which says:
(English translation below the French)

En mémoire à nos madelinots, disparus dans la nuit du 28 mars 2008. Cette terrible tragédie qui aura malheureusement couté la vie de Marc-André Déraspe , Carl Aucoin , Gilles Leblanc ainsi que Bruno Bourque.

Si ce n'est pas déjà fais, joignez vous au groupe :

Tragédie en Mer: Hommage à l'équipage de L'Acadien II

N'oublier pas de réenvoyer ce video a vos amis . (Forward)


In memory of our Islanders, lost in the night of March 28th, 2008. This terrible tragedy which unhappily cost the lives of Marc-André Déraspe , Carl Aucoin , Gilles Leblanc, as well as Bruno Bourque.

If not already done, join the group:

Tragedy At Sea: Hommage To The Crew Of The Acadian II

Do not forget to forward this video to all your friends.

Thank You

Upper Left : Bruno Bourque

Upper Right : Carl Aucoin

Lower Left : Gilles Leblanc

Lower Right :
Marc-André Déraspe

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Agricultural Commission Shuts Down Plans For ReZoning

The Commission for the Protection of Agricultural Land in Quebec has blocked the Municipality des Iles's plans to rezone and area on Grindstone Islands as Industrial in the area of Laverniere, near the Hydro Plant. The plan caused discontent amongst some Islands residents in the area and they voiced their concerns through public concultations.

Joel Arseneau, Municipality Mayor, doesn't believe that the decision is a good one for the economic development of the islands. In reality, the file for enlarging the industrial zone in Laverniere is now closed. According to the mayor, it is now necessary to look into other possibilities to make room for new and expanding industrial businesses.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In Islands News

Magdalen Islands Mourn As Three Sealers Drown

Fourth person still missing as boat capsizes

HALIFAX, N.S. -- The search continued Saturday afternoon for a sealer missing in the icy waters off Cape Breton, after their boat capsized killing three fellow sealers.

Canadian Coast Guard officials were able to give few details of how the tragedy happened saying that their immediate priority was finding the missing sealer.

"The concern is to finish the search and rescue for the missing person," said Mike Voigt, superintendent, Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue.

The two men who survived the accident were thought to be on the bridge of the boat when it capsized.

Continued at ...

Capsized sealers tell of fight for their lives

Claude Deraspe speaks to the media yesterday.

ILES DE LA MADELEINE, QUE. - Only a few days after surviving a maritime accident that killed four fellow sealers, Bruno-Pierre Bourque and Carl Deraspe spoke yesterday of confusion and terror as they tried to escape from an overturned boat quickly filling with water.

"I was standing in the wheelhouse, except it was upside down because the boat was upside down, and I remember taking a breath, and telling myself [to] wait until the water was up to my ears, because then it would be easier to get out," Mr. Deraspe said. "And I pushed my lips to what was the floor, and took a deep breath and started to swim."

Continued at...

Graphic: Sealing trawler capsizes

Sealer says he radioed icebreaker to stop

Canwest News Service Published: Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wayne Dickson says he no longer has the will to hunt after watching his friend's sealing vessel capsize while being towed by a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the weekend. Mr. Dickson, 53, and his six-member crew managed to rescue two fishermen, but three other sealers drowned and a fourth is still missing after the damaged L'Acadien II fishing vessel overturned while being dragged over a large chunk of ice, about 70 kilometres north of Cape Breton Island. When he is questioned by the RCMP about the incident that claimed the lives of the fishing trawler's captain, Bruno Bourque, and three others asleep below deck, Mr. Dickson says he will tell them that he radioed the icebreaker several times, yelling at the crew to stop after seeing the vessel dragged sideways over the ice.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

Check back

In The News Today

The following is a translated letter wrote to the government of Quebec by the Magdalen Islands ZIP Committee, asking for help to clean up a severe situation in the Grand Entry Lagoon. In previous years the lagoon was used for raising scallop in suspended netted traps. The company, Imaqua Inc., which was owned by Mr. Joncas, ceased working the project and left, leaving the suspended gear, anchors and various other pollutants in place. Despite letters and requests to Mr Joncas, the breeding gear still remains, after many years....

Grindstone, February 14th , 2008

M. Joël Arseneau, Magdalen Islands Municipality
M. Donald Arseneau, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for Quebec
M. Paul Morin, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for Quebec
Mme Diane Chassé, Minister for the Sustainable Development of the Environment and Parks Quebec
M. Roger Simon, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
M. Pierre Lauzier, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
M. René Laperrière, Transport Canada

Object: Request of support in connection with the abandonment of the scallop suspension breeding structures in the Grand Entry lagoon of the Magdalen Islands.

Madame, Monsieur,

The Magdalen Islands territory is made up of five major interior water plans and seven Integrated Management Committees have been created for the lagoons. The Grand Entry lagoon is represented within the committees. These committees accompanied by the ZIP Committee and supported by the people, are given as a main mandate, the sustainable development of their water plans, with respect of all the users and the local environment. Some sixty representatives of the area worked voluntarily to favor attaining the aimed objectives.

Presently we, the members of the Management Committee of the Grand Entry lagoon, would like it noted that we have informed Mr. Joncas written correspondence, our discontentment on the subject of the abandonment of the polluting fixed assets within the framework activities of two companies already mentioned, within this bay.

This situation is, in our opinion inconceivable, and we strongly incite you to take, without waiting any longer, the necessary measures in order to correct the situation. This sad reality engenders unfavorable consequences for the Archipelago, at a time of social, economic and environmental levels, and you know that the situational advantage will worsen, if something isn't done.

We ask of you, Madame, Monsieur, in the name of the groups which we have representatives at the heart of our community, to take all legal means possible, in order to remedy the present situation and to avoid the repetition of such schemes in the future. Understand that you can count on our entirety support.

We wait for your availability, if you wish further information and we hope that you will take action helping us as soon as possible.

We sincerely thank you for your understanding and for your collaboration, we request from you,
approval, Madam, Sir, our best greetings.

The members and the resource people of the Integrated Management Committee of the Grand Entry Lagoon of the Magdalen Islands.

M. Claude Cyr, for the Integrated Manageent Committee of the Grand Entry Lagoon
M. Yves Martinet, director of the ZIP Committee of the Magdalen Islands.
p.j. * Members of the Integrated Management Committee of the Grand Entry Lagoon
* Correspondance written the 8 February 2008 sent to M. Paul-Aimé Joncas.

Integrated Management Committee of the Grand Entry Lagoon
M. Adrien Bénard, Recreational Activities
Mrs Patricia B. Clark, Commercial Fishing
Ms Wynn Currie, Resident
M. Claude Cyr, Commercial Fishing
M. Jérémie Cyr, Commercial Fishing
M. Carlo Éloquin, Mariculturer
M. Mark Joncas, Industrial
M. Jonathan Lapierre, Municipality
M. Égide Leblanc, Resident
M. Yves Martinet, Resource for the ZIP Committee of the Magdalen Islands
M. Maurice Gaudet, Resource for MAPAQ
Mme Selma Pereira, Resource for DFO

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

coming for Feb 16 and 17th

Friday, February 15, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1875, the first Magdalen Islands Municipalities were erected. They were Etang-du-Nord, Amherst (Havre-Aubert) and House Harbour (Havre-aux-Maisons).

- from the official website of the Magdalen Islands
Ephemerides by Lise Bouffard

If anyone has any ideas on the subject, please feel free to make suggestions in the comment section of this posting!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

Valentines Day and I still haven't found the missing pages. The next date will be the 15th.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1889, a notice was sent to the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Mercier, by the population of the islands, concerning the holdings of the land on the islands.

In 1962, Mr. Hector Carbonneau, linguist, author, translator and Chief of personnel at the Parliment's General Translation Service of Quebec, died.

- from the official website of the Magdalen Islands
Ephemerides by Lise Bouffard

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1809, Jacques Bourgeois, son of Jean and Marie Chaisson was baptized. He was born on the April 20, 1808 and baptized at the home of his parents. The baptismal ceremony was supplied by the undersigned missionary, and named Charles Bourgeois as godfather, assisted by Adelaide Chaisson, whom had marked and X.
J.B. Allain.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1970, the special show of the Island Women of today, was shown on the television, and had created the very favorable impression of Magdalen Island women. For one time, we had seen and admired the beautiful side of our region.

In 1985, Father Andre Arseneault was no more. He had sixty years of pastoral service life of the Magdalen Islands. He was the director of the Saint-Pierre Academy and priest in charge of Laverniere for more than thirty years.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1941, the council of Etang-du- Nord proposed that a request be made to whom of the right by the ... will be continued

Pardon this error, the computer has slipped 12 hours in its internal clock. This story, which got missed, happened on February 10, 1941. The story will be corrected as soon as possible.

Friday, February 8, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1836, the undersigned priest, had baptized Emelie, born last fourth of February, of the legitimate marriage of Thomas Lapierre, fisher, and of Marguerite Vigneau, of this parish. Godfather: JosephLapierre. Godmother: Sophie Lapierre, as well it is noted that the father had not signed. Thomas Leandre Brassard, ptre.

Sorry for the error here, this fact actually happened on February 9th, 1836. My computer jumped ahead of me by 24 hours.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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For The Cancer Research Trust Fund

The Nomination of Pierre-Marcel Desjardins Is Welcomed

This comes from the Sounds of the Sea of CFIM

The vice-president of TAMASU (seal processing company), Paul Boudreau is satisfied of the choice of Pierre-Marcel Desjards as the independent expert charged with the revision of the regional areas of the seal hunt in the Gulf. This is no the first time the professor from the University of Moncton has worked with the Fisheries and Oceans Canada, DFO. Mr. Boudreau remembered that he assisted the Minister in the evaluation of the market price for snow crab, where he helped set a parameter for the establishment of fishing quotas.

Paul Boudreau said that he hoped the independent expert will have the courage to hold account that the Magdalen Islands harvests just the second stage of the admissible seal in the Gulf since the era where the industry of the white coats killed. The vice-president of TAMASU deplores that the real parts have been calculated on the base of the years of commercial inactivity which has survived the stop of this white coat hunt. This is not that in 2009, that the Minister Hearn will decide if he’ll modify, or not the actual part of the quota for the hunt in the Gulf, of which now 70% of the profits go to Newfoundland. The company TAMASU awaits this decision before making the decision to reconstruct their factory, which was ravaged by the fire at the Grindstone harbor, in January, 2007.

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1946, Magdalen Islander Sergent Emmanuel Leblanc was give a military honor, by Field Marshal B.L. Montgomery, Commander in Chief of the 21st, Britannic Army.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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For The Cancer Research Trust Fund

Thursday, February 7, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1880, at a special assembly of the municipal council of Alright, the council of Etang-du-Nord had submitted a proposition to build a mill. The council asked for a general assembly of the people in order to know the will on this subject, on the Saturday after at 10:00 am at the school # 7. Adjourned sine die. Francois Terriau, Mayor.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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For The Cancer Research Trust Fund

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In The News Today

House For Battered Women, La Maison à Damas, Closes Its Doors
This comes from the Sounds of the Sea of CFIM

Because of the lack of funds the women’s protection home shall close its doors on February 18th, 2008 for a period of one week. This closure is written up in the pressure movement taken by the groups of community organizations and alternatives in the area of mental health in the Gaspésia and Islands regions, which are working to get the Quebec government to raise its funding for their established members.

This is not the first time that the Maison à Damas had to close it’s doors. Since it opened 20 year ago, the lodging home for battered women or women who were going through difficult periods has periodically closed it doors due to lack of funds. According to the director, Collette Langford, it takes many hundreds of tohousands of dollars more than the Maison à Damas receives in order to offer adequate services and continue working.

The actual finances of the Maison à Damas is $192,000. The missing amount that must be made up is $1.2 million for the regions. Presently, only 68% of the 2.3 million dollars is available to the regional health sector are given to the homes for battered women. Collette Langford explained that a comparable mission, is requesting a financing of $500,000.

Collette Langford precisely said that during the closure week, the clientel already living at the shelter will continue to stay at the Maison à Damas. Depending on need, all the new requests will be directed to the Islands CLSC des Iles.

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On this day in Our Islands History

In 1935, at a special session of the council of municipality of Amherst: Considering that in certain areas, it was difficult to obtain gravel to cover the roads during the summer and the it was more economic to card this gravel during the winter, In consequence that it be ordered to the inspectors to see to the carting of gravel during the months of February and March. That the salary be that of $.20 an hour for each man and $.30 and hour for one man and a horse. It was adopted.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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For The Cancer Research Trust Fund

In The News Today

Independent Examiner Chosen For Seal Hunt Analysis
This comes from the Sounds of the Sea of CFIM

A professor from the University of Moncton, Pierre-Marcel Desjardins, who is also associated with the Canadian Institute of Research in Political and Public Administrations, has been hired by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Quebec, Loyola Hearn to act as an independent examiner in the continuing dossier of the regional seal hunt.

Quebec has 30% of the annual quota of the Gulf whereas Newfoundland has 70% and the Minister wants all aspects of the file looked at and examined to determine an understanding and an agreement in this matter.

The evaluation is to come to an end in the fall of 2008. It must present various options to the Minister Hearn, so he may make various decisions easier for the 2009 hunt season. Therefore there will be maintenance this year, in the regional division, established on a temporary basis for the next two years.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1794, at a general assembly of parishioners, after the Sunday sermon in Amherst, the elderly inhabitants and the new inhabitants came together on this fifth day of February, after several publications, have convened to name three churchwardens to take care of matters concerning the Community, which they did right away, of which the persons of Louis Boudrot, for syndic, Nicolas Cormier and Bourgeois Joseph for churchwardens.

In 1970, moon rock were placed on exposition at the Musee des Iles. This exposition was at the museum until February 26. A number of visitors had admired the exploits of the astronauts of the crew of Apollo 11 in July, 1969.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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Monday, February 4, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1974, the Central Cooperative factory in Grindstone, was completely destroyed by fire. The fire ravaged one fish factory, two herring smokers and five other buildings. The loss was evaluated at $200,000 and put 175 workers out of work.

In 1987, Azade and Louise Bougeois celebrated their 75 wedding anniversary. Mr Bourgeois was age 95 years and his wife was aged 94 years.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1916, at a special session of the Amherst council, it was ordered and ruled as follows: The superintendent was authorized to put gravel in the burned woods and at the Bassin. He was to choose to cart it from the closest place and to see to the placement and the final report. The council put $120 aside for the burned woods and $30 aside for the Bassin.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septemb
re 1993 à Septembre 1994)

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

On this day in Our Islands History

In 1910, by special courier, Her Majesty's Mail, left the islands by an unusual method of transportation, by the "Winter Magdalen Mail", to arrive at Nova Scotia.

- From the chronicle's of historian Father Frédéric Landry
Événements Historiques Agenda (Septembre 1993 à Septembre 1994)

A few citizens of Amherst wanted to alert the federal authorities of the subject of the completely isolated situation on the Magdalen Islands since the underwater telegraphic cable broke on January 6, 1910. Alcide Gaudet, Octave Briand, Edouard Dupreuil, William Reid, Stanislas (Tanis) Cormier and others prepared a barrel, put the mail in it and set it afloat to sail to Port Hastings, Nove Scotia. In the mail, one letter was addressed to the Federal Deputy Rodolphe Lemieux, giving the isolated situation that was on the Magdalen Islands.

- From Deux siecles d'Histoire, Iles de la Madeleine 1793-1992, by Chantal Naud

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Friday, February 1, 2008


My mum, Marion Clark Currie used to write her sister-in-law, my Aunt Blossom, when they were both mothers of young children. Every few weeks a letter would come through the mail and mum would be engrossed for long minutes, then peels of laughter and tears would come to her eyes. We would gather around to find out what was so funny.

Aunt Blossom lived on the Magdalen Islands, in mum’s home town, village really, of Old Harry. All her family, which was extensive with her being the youngest of thirteen children, lived in the area or passed through the area, while on vacation.

We, on the other hand, lived in Oromocto, New Brunswick or Geary which is 5 miles outside Oromocto. My dad was in the Canadian Armed Forces and stationed at Camp Gagetown. Yes, I know, and I’m proud to have grown up an army brat. But that is another story.

Getting back to the letter writing. This was something that became a ritual between the two good friends. Every two or three weeks this letter would arrive and laughter would sound out. It must have gone on a few years or more. Then the letters stopped arriving. After a few more weeks, Mum must have got frustrated by not having news of home, because she went to the shopping mall, if you could call it that - the Steinburg’s shopping center and bought a card. I remember the card well, for good reason even though I was but a child at the time. It fit in a number 10-sized business envelopment and was made from white card stock. The front had a black silhouette of a fashionable lady with a knee length dress on and high heels and her hair piled up on her head. Nothing else was on the outside of the card. On the inside, only the bold, black, printed words stood out on the right-hand page, “IF YOU CAN’T WRITE ME - DRAW ME!!!!”

She neatly put the card in its envelope, licked it and stamped and sent it to my aunt Blossom, without a word from her except the address on the envelope. A couple of weeks later the letters resumed and there was no longer any difficulties with communication.

Years went by. We had moved several times and each time the letters from home would catch up. Then Dad was stationed in Germany and we all went to spend four of the best teen years, a kid could ever have. Mum became very busy with all the moving, packing, unpacking (we lived in several different houses during those first few months), traveling and visiting all the surrounding countries - twice each. I guess she was too busy to think about family back home.

We were getting ready to take a trip to Holland, when through the mail came a letter clearly addressed to Mum with a return address Old Harry, Magdalen Islands. Mum was busy and put the letter in her purse, planning on reading all the news from home while dad drove the car. She opened up the letter while we were driving along the autobaum and stared at it for the longest while, with the rest of us wanting to know the news. Then she laughed and laughed and laughed. She couldn’t tell us what she was laughing at. My sister grabbed the letter/card and looked at it - a black silhouette fashionable lady on the outside cover. She opened the card and the only words on the inside were, “IF YOU CAN’T WRITE ME - DRAW ME!!!!” The card was in immaculate condition.

Mum had dad stop at the first Post Office in Holland and she sent the card back with only a postal stamp on the inside of the card from Holland and a short letter on a separate piece of paper from the hotel stationary where we stayed. From then on, this card traveled back and forth across the Atlantic ocean, every couple of weeks, for the next four years. Every time it was returned to Canada, it had a different stamp in it. It didn’t stop there though. When we finally moved back to Canada in ‘69, to Calgary, the card continued to arrive on schedule like clockwork and each time it was returned, it had a different stamp from the provinces or states that mum traveled to.

I don’t know when then the card stopped its voyage. Perhaps it was the day mum flew it back home herself and hand delivered it to Aunt Blossom, sometime in the seventies. I saw the card only once since then and I know it was at my aunt’s house long after cancer had taken both her and mum. My cousin took it out of a trunk. It was still in an ancient yellowed no. 10 sized business envelope, with faded addresses on the outside and no stamp. The card was worn and torn and had many finger print smudges, probably from my Aunt or Mum cooking up storms in the kitchen or digging up gardens.

Perhaps the card is still in that trunk. I don’t know. But I couldn’t get it out of my mind this evening and I had to write about it. I know that my son knows nothing of the card and I’m pretty certain my nieces don’t know about it either. This is a story that will let them know just a little more about their grandmother and grandaunt, because they will never know otherwise, any more than I know about my grandparents or great-grandparents.


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