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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My grandfather Benjamin Gallant died of Bright's Disease on October 26, 1921. I never knew him. He was born in Bloomfield on the 11th of June 1873 to Ebenezer Gallant and Martha Arsenault. He attended for a questionable length of time The Charlottetown Business College [a place we should research because a lot of great people came out of there]. He went on to operate a store in Bloomfield and a lobster factory in Miminegash. He had a cottage there, too, and thats where my mother learned to swim, eat clams and drive a horse. He also farmed and manufactured bricks?!
He entered politics at the age of 27 and as they say died in harness. He was handsome and I wish I had known him. He married Annie Gallant. She was the first generation of my family to go to Notre Dame Academy. She took painting and music - and I knew her. Unfortunately arthistis hit her when she was very young and when she lived with us of and on she was bed ridden. But did she love politics. She was the daughter of Dr. Isadore Gallant and Margaret Campbell. Dr Isadore went to school under Belcourt in South Rustico and went on to become the first Acadian to become a doctor. He graduated in the 1870's from U. of Penn. He was accomplished musician. He practiced first in Oyster Bay Bridge [later in Boston and Bloomfield] and he sang in St. Augustine Choir. The big news was that he married a singing teacher that came from Arglye Shore by the name of Margaret Campbell. She was a Scotch Presbyterian and the daughter of Sea Captain Hector Cambbell and Ann Darrach. What a union.
She became a Catholic, but her diffident statement everafter was that she read The Casket, the Scots' oracle from Antigonish faithfully. I grew up loving the fact that I had Campbell and Darrach blood in my veins. It has connected me to Shirley Beck, Ivan Darrach and Kitty Orford and heavens knows who else.
Now back to Hon. Benjamin Gallant and what brought me to elaborate on this subject. As I said Benjamin Gallant died on the 26th of October I would suspect his last speech in the Provincial Legestature was what I found the other day. What a speech. There is nothing new under the sun. Just read these words and be amused.
Since we have come into power to try, if posssible, to put again our Province on a reasonable and decent financial basis. It is true we had to resort to taxes, the only possible way to do so. This of course as we all know is very unpopular. Could it have been done any other way, I am sure no member here would have followed another course instead of increasing taxes, and risk his political life. But unfortunately for the present at least there was no other way except to increase taxation. We found when we took charge that the conditions were 75 per cent worse than we really expected... they were collecting every cent from the farmers, but they were allowing the capitalists and the business men to go scot free and in the meantime allowing our bridges, culverts, roads and institutions to go into decay ... one great satisfaction is that the people have at their head a man who will hold a tight rein on the Treasury of the province. ... What should be the attitude to bring about better conditions? First, in my opinion to create better feelings between all creeds and nationalities, to broaden our views, let the narrow, bigoted man be told that the world today does not want him. Let us have more faith in one another.So were parts of the speech given my my Grandfather in April 1921 in the Provincial Legislature. [Funny in my short term in Municipal politics, I argued for a small increase in taxes for the good of the whole, but it didn't work.]
Written Tuesday, October 10, 2000 at 10:22 AM