Hon­our­ing Eptek and Bedeque

Sea­cow Head Light­house is hav­ing a spe­cial Canada’s birth­day week­end, July 28-31

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND -

For ev­ery­thing there is a sea­son, like the old pocket watch frozen in time.

“That’s my grand­fa­ther’s,” said George Read, point­ing to a faded gold watch rest­ing on a log­book dat­ing back to the early 19 cen­tury. “He was a cap­tain on the S.S. Prince Ed­ward Is­land.”

His grand­fa­ther, John Le­furgey Read, be­came the first cap­tain of the ves­sel in 1917. It was the Is­land’s first rail car ferry, with space on board for 12 rail cars, mea­sur­ing 285 feet long.

“They were al­ways on the look­out for Ger­man sub­marines on the (Northum­ber­land) Strait. Con­voys would pro­tect the (Ger­man) sub­marines, and Cap­tain Read once broke out full speed (on the ferry) to get away,” rec­ol­lected Read.

“There was not a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion back then, so the peo­ple in Port Bor­den (to­day Bor­den-Car­leton) had no idea what was go­ing on, whether she sank, and then all of a sud­den the ferry ap­peared.”

Kin Mer­riam was the last cap­tain on the “Prince,” as it was af­fec­tion­ately known. Its fi­nal cross­ing was in 1968.

“I was a cap­tain there for two or three years,” he noted. “The ferry was full all the time and I can tell you about one bad ex­pe­ri­ence that hap­pened on a Sun­day night in win­ter…”

Stars were pep­pered across the sky as the ferry ap­proached Port Bor­den around 1 a.m.

“It was a nice and clear night and I was back­ing the S.S. Prince Ed­ward Is­land into Bor­den, and you had to go in and touch the pier and then turn the corner and work your way back. Next thing a car shoots out the stern. I couldn’t be­lieve it.

“I hollered at the guy to get out of the car be­fore it sank, so he got out and stood on top of the roof. There’s a lad­der down on the deck and one of the sea­men went quickly over to the stern and helped the man climb up the lad­der, and he didn’t even get his feet wet.

“I was scared that he had a wife and kids in the car, but he was alone.”

The fa­tigued pas­sen­ger had seen the flick­er­ing lights of Port Bor­den and, think­ing the ferry had docked, hur­riedly re­versed his ve­hi­cle into the wa­ter.

“He took us to court be­cause he smashed his car up,” rem­i­nisced Mer­riam.

An ex­hi­bi­tion to mark the cen­te­nary of the first ferry cross­ing be­tween Port Bor­den and Cape Tor­men­tine, N.B., kicked off last week­end in con­junc­tion with the open­ing day of Bedeque His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum.

More than 80 peo­ple came to see The Bor­den Ferry – 100 ex­hi­bi­tion.

Spe­cial guests in­cluded Lorne Cousins, aged 101, who cap­tained one of the fer­ries, and his wife, Is­abel, aged 94.

Tom Sherry, a board mem­ber of the Bedeque Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, says it’s just amaz­ing to sit down and lis­ten to this man talk and the wis­dom that he has.

“It gives you a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on life.”

Sherry re­counted a story that Cousins told him dur­ing a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view.

“When he was a young fel­low he went into the Sec­ond World War and was a cap­tain of a ves­sel. He was pa­trolling the Gulf of St. Lawrence when a Ger­man U-boat in the Gulf sunk a ship.

“Some of the peo­ple had sur­vived and were in res­cue boats, so he came on his ves­sel and was able to res­cue the peo­ple. On one boat there were about a dozen women and he res­cued all of them. And on one of those boats was his wife-to-be. It’s just amaz­ing how that turned out,” grinned Sherry.

For 80 years the ferry was the prin­ci­ple means of trans­port to and from the main­land for Is­landers.

The Bedeque ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures 10 poster boards telling the sto­ries of the var­i­ous ves­sels used in the cross­ing, as well as some of the work­ers.

It also dis­plays col­lec­tions and mem­o­ra­bilia from past ferry work­ers and ma­jor items from the P.E.I. Mu­seum and Her­itage Foun­da­tion.

The mu­seum is open Tues­days to Satur­days, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun­days from 1 to 5 p.m.

More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at www.be­d­e­que­mu­seum.ca, on the Face­book page: Bedeque Area His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum or by phone at 902-887-3009.

The Sea­cow Head Light­house is throw­ing its own Canada 150 party, July 28-31.

The Bedeque Are His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum, in con­junc­tion with the Friends of Sea­cow Head Light­house and the L.M. Mont­gomery School­house Mu­seum at Lower Bedeque, is host­ing a spe­cial week­end of ac­tiv­i­ties.

A the cen­tre of it all will be a large tent near the light­house with other events and dis­plays tak­ing place at the Bedeque Mu­seum in Cen­tral Bedeque and the Lower Bedeque School­house.

The ac­tiv­i­ties and dis­plays will em­pha­size the tra­di­tional as­so­ci­a­tion with the Mi’kmaq peo­ple with the Bedeque Bay area. The name Bedeque comes from the Mi’kmaq name for the bay, Eptek, mean­ing the hot place.

Be­fore and after the ar­rival of Euro­peans, the Mi’kmaq, in their move­ments back and forth from the main­land to P.E.I., used Bedeque Bay as a stop­ping-off point for their sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the har­vest­ing of shell­fish and other ma­rine re­sources.

To mark this Mi’kmaq con­nec­tion, the week­end will fea­ture a demon­stra­tion of a va­ri­ety of Mi’kmaq crafts and cul­tural cer­e­monies, in­clud­ing bas­ket weav­ing, quill work­ing and bread work­ing. There will be an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to have a first-hand and hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence of these crafts.

Mi’kmaq dancers and mu­si­cians will also pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment. There will be spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren on Satur­day, July 29, 9:30-11:30 a.m., in­clud­ing games, both abo­rig­i­nal and Euro­pean, an an­i­mal pet­ting zoo and a fal­conry demon­stra­tion.

Fri­day af­ter­noon will see the recog­ni­tion of the Bedeque area’s two re­cent ap­pointees to the Or­der of Canada, Cather­ine Call­beck, the re­tired Cana­dian se­na­tor and former P.E.I. pre­mier, and Ge­orges Arse­nault, the Aca­dian his­to­rian and folk­lorist, who re­sides in the area in the sum­mer.

Mon­day night will fea­ture a tra­di­tional lob­ster sup­per, serv­ing dishes au­then­tic to 1867, with guest speaker Gard­ner MacDougall.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to be­d­e­que­mu­seum.ca or the Face­book page of the mu­seum or call 902-887-3009.

DESIREE ANSTEY/JOUR­NAL PIONEER

A replica of the Abeg­weit ferry was po­si­tioned across the road from the Bedeque His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum on open­ing day. For 80 years, the ferry was the prin­ci­ple means of trans­port to and from the main­land for Is­landers.

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