PEI

Stanley Bridge history sought from residents

Have a story about life in Stanley Bridge, P.E.I.? The local historical society is holding a 'history circle' next Monday and will record stories about the area, preserving them for future generations.

'We are losing our older generation, so we need to get this down'

Stanley Bridge is ready to record your stories of life in the once-bustling little P.E.I. community. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Have a story about life in Stanley Bridge, P.E.I.? The local historical society is holding a history circle Monday, Feb. 15, and will record stories about the area, preserving them for future generations.

People with stories about what life was like 50, or even 100 years ago, are being encouraged to attend. 

"We want to ensure that that's not lost in the future, because it's not taught anymore in the histories," said Joyce Phillips, who is helping to organize the history circle. 

It was a booming community. We had three general stores at one time!— Joyce Phillips

"We are losing our older generation, so we need to get this down," she said.

Stories can be first-hand accounts or recollections that have been passed on through families, said Phillips. They can be about where residents came from, where they moved to, about politics or religion. They could also address the community's shift from a major ship building area to a home for many aquaculture operations.

Get ready for your close-up

The session will be recorded on audio and video and become part of the archives of the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society. It will build on the 500-page tome History of Stanley Bridge: Hub of the Universe, printed in 1997. 

That subtitle is taken from Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery who, according to Sandra Devlin at globalgenealogy.com, once wrote that the bustling Stanley Bridge at the turn of the century "used to seem quite a town to my childhood eyes. It was the hub of the universe — or of our solar system at the very least."  

"You can write all the books you want about the history of certain communities," said Phillips. "Unless you can sit down and talk to residents — old residents, young residents — and get the character stories: what they did, where they came from, why the road is named as such ... then you kind of get the feel for the dynamics of the community." 

Living history

The history circle's special guest will be 92-year-old Buddy McEwen, and the historical society is hoping his stories will spark memories for others. 

They'd like residents to bring along any photos or artifacts to be copied.

"Whenever I work in the summertime at Carr's Oyster Bar as a hostess a lot of people ask when they come in, 'what can you tell me about Stanley Bridge?'" recalls Phillips. "It was a booming community. We had three general stores at one time!" 

Other communities have held history circles with great success, said Phillips.

The Stanley Bridge History circle will be held Mon. Feb. 15, Islander Day, at the New London Community complex starting at 1:30 p.m. If this one is a success the community may hold more. 

Stanley Bridge celebrated 150 years in 2015. 

With files from Angela Walker

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