A V I E W F R O M C H A R L O T T E T O W N , P R I N C E E D W A R D I S L A N D
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Having lived in Charlottetown all my life [well almost] and,then add to that, my parent's life in the city before I was born and we, my family, cover almost all of the 20th century.
My father came to town to go to Prince of Wales and then Saint Dunstan's. He peppered those years with an irregular career in teaching at Stanchel and in North Wiltshire before establishing himself at Queen Square School where he seriously committed himself to saving money to go on to finish at SDU and then on to McGill to study medicine. Things must have been tough when you review the salaries of those days. I'm sure he had help from his uncles Dr. John B. Trainor in Fall River, Mass. and Fr. Tom Trainor in New Bedford , Mass and Fr. Mat Smith in Kinkora. Peter Trainor, too, helped his sister, my grandmother, by giving her work in his store on Pownal Street [where he was murdered in 1941 fortunately after she was gone!!] .
That little Irish grandmother became a widow in 1899 when she was 36 years old and was left with 5 boys and two girls. Before the first quarter of the twentieth century had passed, and two generations away from Ireland, she had two priests, two doctors, a dentist and two nuns to love her. She certainly must have had help from extended family and I know the brothers and sisters helped one another.
UPEI President Wade MacLauchlan last week talked about entrepreneurial spirit in the educational system and I think Maplewood - a suburb of Kelly's Cross, had to have very special teachers. I remember my father and uncles getting together and talking about the teachers at SDU, too.
This wasn't exactly what I had intended to write about. I wanted to point out how all this background and roots effect my walk down a Charlottetown street today and how it drives my friends who have recently moved here crazy. It is a small community, you know.
But before I go there, it would be unfair to continue my story without pulling my mother into it. She, as a 3/4 Acadian and the other quarter Scotch Presbyterian, came to Charlottetown from Bloomfield and Summerside. She came to train in 1922 at the Charlottetown Hospital. [Well she had gone earlier to Notre Dame Academy like her mother and us]. After she graduated she went to work for Dr. S. R. Jenkins in his lovely little office at 55 Grafton Street. You probably have gathered that my mother and father met at the City Hospital. They were married in 1929. So you can see that over the years they shaped the community for me that I move in every time I leave my house.
Like the last few days, I met David McInnis. His grandfather and my father were such good friends. My father almost married Art McInnis Sr.'s sister until my mother intervened. My father was a pall bearer for Dr. Collins in Vernon River - David's great-grand-father and best man for his grand father.
The other day I had Jack Campbell here. We are on the Mayor's Arbor Society together. My dear little grandmother and my father had rented one of Tom Campbell's houses in the early 1920's - the one on the corner of Grafton and Pownal. Jack and his siblings were in and out to visit my grandmother all the time.
On Saturday, Bennett Carr came to my door. He is presently chair of CADC. I met Bennett first fifty years ago on March 26th. We double dated to the Garrison Ball at the Charlottetown Hotel in 1951. It was my first formal dance and I went with Sydney Campbell and Bennett went with one of his cousins. We have come a long way. At that dance, we spent most of the time in a suite upstairs where the men could have their drinks. There would be no bar down stairs! I was really appalled because I wanted to go to a dance and dance! Anyway it has been interesting to know Bennett for that long and I somehow or other I don't think our time is over yet.
Well I think I mentioned to you that I am overwhelmed with the responsive I've had from my O of C. I imagine I am the only recipient to be warmly congratulated by a murderer, a paedophile, the bottle man and a cat lady all in one week. It is a small town.
Written Monday, April 02, 2001 at 09:04 PM