PEI

Cooking with fire: Why this P.E.I. woman will never give up her wood stove

A P.E.I. woman has been cooking on her old wood stove for 65 years, and won't give it up — despite her family buying her a new electric stove.

Marie Morrissey said 'No, thanks' when her family bought her a new electric stove

84-year-old Marie Morrissey has been cooking on her wood stove since she was in her early 20s. 'If they took it away from me, I'd move out of here!' (Pat Martel/CBC)

Marie Morrissey from Sea Cow Pond, P.E.I. lovingly stirs the huge pot of homemade barley soup sitting on top of the old Enterprise wood stove. 

"Well, I been using it all my life, pretty near."  

The 84-year-old speaks fondly of the kitchen stove, as if it's an old friend. "It is, yeah. I'm just used to my wood stove. I do all my cooking on it," Morrissey said.

Morrissey's late husband bought the stove in 1952 at the former Holman's department store in Summerside for about $150. It was shipped by train to nearby Tignish. (islandnewspapers.ca)

The steaming barley soup will go well with fresh hot rolls and the muffins that just came out of her wood-fired oven. 

After using the stove for more than 65 years, Morrissey knows exactly where to put pots to boil and where to place them to simmer.

Morrissey doesn't recall how much her wood stove cost back in the early 50s, but newspaper ads from the day have a similar Enterprise stove on sale for about $150. 

'I'd move out of here!'

Morrissey still considers that money well spent. "Oh, yes. God, yes," she said.

"If they took it away from me, I'd move out of here!"

In fact, her well-intentioned family actually did try to replace the stove on her birthday with a modern, shiny new electric stove. Morrissey would have none of it.

Morrissey's family tried to replace the wood stove with a new electric stove, but she would have none of it. 'They thought I'd use it, I never even tried it.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

"They thought I'd use it, I never even tried it — never once." The modern appliance sits in a room off the kitchen and is used once in awhile by other family members. 

Meanwhile, the old wood stove heats the entire house all day and when Morrissey lets the fire go out at night, the furnace takes over.

Marie Morrissey feeds the fire with a chunk of wood every half-hour. It uses about three armfuls a day. (Pat Martel/CBC)

She's up early the next morning to light the stove and feeds the fire with a chunk of wood every half-hour. It uses about three armfuls a day.

But the stove provides more than just heat. It also stirs up a lot of memories.

"With families all here, it's nice to see the kids running around and the grandkids," Morrissey said.

After using the stove for more than 65 years, Morrissey knows exactly where to put pots to boil and where to place them to simmer. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"Some of them like to stand by it and warm." On special occasions, when all the families gather, Morrissey prepares the big meal on her stove for more than 40 people.

'So delicious'

"I'd have a turkey in the oven and my potatoes and turnips and carrots would be on it." 

Her son, Donnie Morrissey joins her for a bowl of the barley soup. "Just the flavour. And her muffins, her pies, her breads are so delicious," Donnie said.

Marie Morrissey says kids, like her great granddaughter Peyten Hackett, like to gather around the stove. (Darlene Morrissey)

Donnie said the stove has a lot of sentimental value, not just for his mother, but the family as a whole.

"It's significant in the sense of our father being the one that always ran the stove and with that stove still sitting there, it's a symbol of our dad.

"As our mom says, 'As long as she's in this house, the stove will never leave,''' Donnie said.

"It's the heart of this home."

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About the Author

Pat Martel

Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning — from a writer-broadcaster to a producer. This year, Pat joined the web team with an eye to create great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He always welcomes great story ideas that are visually appealing. pat.martel@cbc.ca