Sign missing 40 years makes its way home to P.E.I. farm

A farm operating on P.E.I. for more than a century recently reclaimed a piece of its history.

'Our farm is the original MacNevin homestead, so to get it back was huge to us'

Hector is a common middle name in the family, says Judy MacNevin. (Read's Corner Antiques/Facebook)

A farm operating on P.E.I. for more than a century recently reclaimed a piece of its history.

Judy MacNevin lives on the original homestead of the family farm in DeSable. She said she and her husband have been looking for the sign celebrating the farm's centennial for about 40 years.

"We have been looking for it ever since. We have been cleaning out barns, cleaning out garages, cleaning out houses and every time we did all that work, we were always sort of in the back of our mind looking for the 'Century Farm' sign," MacNevin said.

"Our farm is the original MacNevin homestead so to get it back was huge to us."

MacNevin said the farm has been in the family for seven generations, and her son now farming at the homestead often brings his daughter along — the eighth generation, she hopes.

Seventh-generation farmer Colin MacNevin, left, with his daughter Minnie MacNevin and father Donnie MacNevin hold up the sign brought back to the farm last week. (Judy MacNevin)

The sign has the name Hector MacNevin on it.

"There's been a Hector MacNevin every generation since they came from Scotland, but this Hector MacNevin, that this sign belonged to, was my husband's grandfather," Judy MacNevin said.

'Incredibly gracious'

MacNevin isn't sure how the sign was lost — but she said she doesn't believe it was stolen.

She said the signs were given to P.E.I. farms in 1964 to celebrate 100 years since the Charlottetown Conference and commemorate their status as century farms.

MacNevin said her husband assumed at one point that he'd never see the sign again — but she always kept an eye out. Last week, a friend stumbled upon a Facebook post featuring the sign and tagged her. 

"When I looked at that Facebook post, I realized that is the sign," she said.

It has got to go back to its rightful owner.— Janice Holz, Read's Corner Antique Shop

The sign was at Read's Corner Antique shop — so MacNevin messaged the owner.

"She was so incredibly gracious."

Janice Holz opened the shop about three months ago after moving from Quebec in December. She said she usually sources antiques at estate sales, other antique stores and garage sales, and puts ads online offering to help sort through items when a home is being sold.

Holz said she remembers where she found the century farm sign.

"A homeowner in Bedeque, they are selling their house," she said. "That was one of the things I had purchased from them in a bulk deal."

Holz then posted what she had picked up and said it started to get shared pretty quickly.

Janice Holz runs Read's Corner Antiques. She says she hopes to find more Island stories through her business. (Janice Holz)

Then she heard from MacNevin, who told her the family had been looking for the sign for four decades.

"I said, 'Well if it was yours, come take it. It has got to go back to its rightful owner.'"

Holz said it was nice to meet the family and hopes she stirs up more Island stories while antiquing.

"I feel like every day I become more and more immersed in P.E.I.'s culture," she said.

Home sweet home

Now that the sign is back at the original homestead, the family is looking for a place to display it.

"After a lot of discussion, we are going to put some plywood up in the garage and put it up on the plywood," she said.

Our family feels better than anybody about it.— Judy MacNevin

MacNevin said when she was showing her husband the Facebook post before she went and got the sign, he still didn't believe it was the right one — but one thing tipped off its authenticity.

"In the very corner of the sign in my mother-in-law's handwriting is our address in pencil — which is just spooky," she said.

MacNevin said the sign means a lot to the family in a year when things have been tough on everyone due to the global pandemic. She said finding the sign was a lot of fun and all the comments on her Facebook post about finding it have been positive.

"Our family feels better than anybody about it. Everybody was thrilled about it," she said.

More from CBC P.E.I.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.