Uncertain times for those who travel and play music

By Rachel Beck Colwill

Rachel Beck Colwill is a PEI singer-songwriter, now living in Stratford, who was nominated for many music awards. Her single, Reckless Heart, reached No. 1 in the CBC Top 20 Music chart. The video for another chart-topping tune, Hearts on Fire, was filmed in Stanley Bridge.

These are uncertain times to make your living travelling and playing music at public gatherings. These are uncertain times for many. Let’s do our best to stay calm and support each other however we can.
My newsfeed is filled with artist friends around the globe who are having shows and festivals cancel with little warning. Public health is, of course, the number one priority — but these cancelations mean the income my friends were counting on has disappeared. Moreover, many of them have already spent money on travel arrangements, purchasing merch to sell on tour, marketing, publicity, and a host of other things, all with the expectation of income on the road. They can’t get refunds on those investments.
Please, if you can, choose some of your favourite independent artists and go to their websites. Purchase a CD or vinyl or a shirt or whatever sweet original merch they have. Purchase directly from the artists. Let’s make sure our creators can continue creating.
On another note, if you are based in or around Charlottetown and you are self-quarantined for health reasons, I am happy to help you out if you need grocery or pharmacy runs or anything at all. I have a van, I have flexible work hours, and I’m a pro shopper. Please just reach out.

It won't go back to normal after this pandemic fades away

By Jim Brown
On March 14 I drove to Summerside to stock up for the inevitable day when I will have isolate myself from others, and I saw many shoppers flashing bright smiles at the grocery stories I visited. But others couldn’t hide their disappointment and frustration when they couldn’t find toilet paper or hand sanitizer, or other items on their list.
Later I read PEI had recorded its first case.
COVID-19. The coronavirus. The gravest threat we have faced as a country and as a civilization since the great flu pandemic of 1918.

Only in 1918 the world was much bigger. There were no transatlantic flights. No commercial flights at all across vast oceans. Travel between continents took weeks, not hours. Supply chains for everyday products didn’t extend thousands of kilometres.
We have an economy based on our mobility. What if we can’t fly, drive or move around freely? What if we were told we have to isolate ourselves from others so that our elderly and most vulnerable can live?
What happens when our entire world is disrupted, when everything that connects us to each other is suddenly taken away?
Parliament has been shut down for five weeks, schools are closing, professional sports venues have gone dark – and so have universities, colleges, art galleries, libraries, concert halls, churches, public offices – and the list gets longer by the day.
It’s humanity’s vanishing act. We are disappearing from public spaces, leaving a haunting emptiness behind.
Even the poorest Canadians have Internet access and cable television, but there are no sports or live entertainment shows to watch. Only a 24/7 stream of frightening news about a virus that is devouring our way of life.

It looks and feels like the death of hope.
We, humans, are a fiercely optimistic species. We are resilient, we fight back, we expect things will get better, because there have been dark times before, an entire dark age when the black death culled much of humanity.
Yes, humanity has been through worse.
I believe we will come through this, but we won’t go back to the way things were before.
Whether it’s two years or two months, when the virus fades away we will emerge into a transformed landscape.
Many bedrock assumptions will fall away like dry leaves from an autumn tree.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where demand for consumer goods, for services, for other trappings of civilized society in the 21st century will be fully restored. Jobs we took for granted and thought would be around forever will be gone.
Our world will have shrunk dramatically – to the dimensions of a city or a county or even a village. We will have learned to look after our neighbours, families and friends – watch over and care for them without actually being physically close to them.
When the great tribulation eases the world we rejoin will be a poorer one in many ways, and perhaps a better one in a few others.

I can’t imagine living in America and not watching the scaffolding of a universal health care system take shape. So many Americans will have died in a patchwork system that buckled and broke despite the heroic efforts of besieged health care workers, many of them sacrificing their lives so that others may live.
The long con has run its course, bringing civilization to its knees.
Even the most tribal of partisans in America will have been forced to confront an ugly truth – they were lied to and made complicit in one of the largest heists in history – the looting of their country.
They will have seen grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons, struggle to breathe and then die.
I think the world’s industrialized nations will turn their backs on a predatory ideology that hurts and maims so many for the sake of a very few. They will demand a much more compassionate system of government that blends the best of capitalism and socialism – a form of communalism that ensures everyone’s basic needs are met.
Consumerism will become a dirty word since we will know, after the pandemic, there are more important things in life than material goods.
No, we won’t go back.
We won’t let one tenth of one per cent of the population control nearly all of the world’s dwindling resources, and our lives.
Corporations won’t be allowed to continue poisoning the commons we all own – oceans, lakes, rivers, meadows, rainforests, the blue skies above.
Industrial activity will have declined sharply during the coronavirus pandemic. Pollution and greenhouse gases will have been slashed.
I believe corporate culture will have changed forever.
We will no longer live and die by the value of our gross domestic product.
It’s a mug’s game predicting the future, but I feel this in my bones.
Will it happen? I honestly don’t see how it doesn’t.

New oyster, lobster storage building nearly finished in North Rustico

By Jim Brown
Lobsters and oysters harvested in the New London area will soon have a new home – a storage building capable of holding 150,000 to 200,000 pounds of lobster and more than a million oysters.

Workers were busy in early March working on the roof of the Raspberry Point Oyster Company building.
Manager James Power said the building should be finished no later than May.
It would hold oysters from Dec 1 to May 1 and lobsters from May 1 to Sept. 1.
Mr Power said the building would serve an important purpose in providing convenient storage for oysters during a time of the year, in the depths of winter, when ice conditions are often not suitable for harvesting the highly prized molluscs.
In the past the company relied on oysters harvested under ice and that has proved tricky at times since conditions, including slushy or deep ice, make it hard to reach the oysters.
One of the worst winters on record, in 2015, saw Raspberry Point unable to sell any product for weeks because workers could not easily get through the ice.
That shouldn’t be as much of a problem now, said Mr Power.

Passerby will notice the building isn’t a typical industrial structure. It was constructed to look like it’s part of a fishing village, to blend in with other marine-themed businesses in the area. It’s nestled in the same general location as the Lighthouse Cafe, Blue Mussel Cafe, Outside Expeditions and Seagull’s Nest Gift Shop.
“It’s not just a flat steel building,” said Mr Power.
He went on to say the owner, Scott Linkletter, wanted the image, the “aesthetics”, to be just right – right down to the white cedar shingles with red trim.

Swimming Rock fix could cost hundreds of thousands

By Jim Brown
If the steps leading to the beach at Swimming Rock park aren’t refurbished they could become a significant public liability issue, warned an engineering consultant at the Jan 20 meeting of the Resort Municipality of Cavendish. The stairs aren’t up to code since they have four-inch gaps between the steps, when the gaps should be wider.
“I don’t mean to be negative but these stairs open you up to some (significant) liability situations…we encourage the stairs be done in accordance with the national building code, even if the national building code isn’t fully implemented here…there’s a high risk…There’s a very high bank,” said Tom Harland.

“It would not be an inexpensive proposition,” to do the work, he added.
The steep bank, which is also a concern, needs to be reinforced.
“(If) you go for a permanent long term structure to protect from erosion, $100,000 wouldn’t come close to it. Maybe not even $200,000,” said Mr Harland.
“The protection side really has to be done right, or you come out of a good storm and lose it,” he said.
That happened with the stair’s landing, which was swept away by post tropical storm Dorian.
The possible options for building temporary and permanent structures for the steps, including anchoring them into rock, featured a range of costs from tens of thousands of dollars, to hundreds of thousands.
Council will look at several options investigated by Mr Harland.
The first option involves doing nothing, while the second would involve building a “semi-permanent structure” that could used over a number of seasons and anchored on the land. Made of wood, it would be brought in and out every year with the seasons. And the third would cost as much as $300,000 or more.
Mr Harland will provide a further report at a later date.

Cavendish man has defibrillator in home, wants residents to know they can access it if they have a cardiac emergency

Story and photos by Jim Brown
Ten minutes.
That’s roughly how long a person can live without medical intervention after a sudden cardiac arrest.
In PEI’s largest urban centres, Summerside and Charlottetown, the average response time for ambulances is nine minutes.
The problem for many rural Islanders, including those living in the Resort Municipality of Cavendish where councillor Chris Robinson resides, is that it can take up to half an hour or even longer for an ambulance to arrive.
“We’re a lovely rural area of the province, but we’re almost equidistant between Prince County Hospital and the QEH in Charlottetown. We’re almost as far away from those two facilities as you can be, short of being in Tignish,” he said.
“Defibrillators are key. If you don’t have access to a defibrillator within the first 10 minutes or so after a sudden cardiac arrest, your odds of surviving are only about five per cent,” said Chris, who also chairs the Resort Municipality of Cavendish’s emergency services committee.
Chris has taken the need for defibrillators to heart, and is offering access to the one at his house on 8537 Cavendish Road, across from Captain Kidd’s Dairy Bar and Take-out. His mission to spread awareness and potentially save lives is shared by his wife Stephanie Scharf, who is a registered nurse supervisor and a registered massage therapist, working from her home clinic.

AED sign in front of Chris Robinson’s home in Cavendish


A sign on the lamppost in front of their house, installed by the municipality, shows local residents that an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available for public use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Chris wants people to know one is there if they need it. If they can get there he will help them hook up to it.
“If people wish I would be prepared to go out as a first responder in an emergency if people had chest pains and were waiting for an ambulance. They can call my cell phone, which is 628-9831.”
Chris went on to say “we want to make sure local residents are aware that waiting for an ambulance for half an hour, particularly in stormy weather with icy roads, is not a feasible proposition. You only have eight to 10 minutes in the case of a full sudden, cardiac arrest when the heart is stopped. You only have that 10 minute window, so being prepared and knowing where to find the nearest AED is an important precaution to take, just as people should be checking their smoke detectors this time of year and having a fire escape plan in case their house catches fire.”
The Cavendish Resort Municipality has several publicly accessible AEDs. There is one at the municipal office, but the office is only open during regular business hours. There are also several other AEDs available at local businesses, which are only available during certain hours and certain times of the year.

Chris Robinson wants to improve the odds for local residents who suffer sudden cardiac arrest


Chris says it’s a also good idea for anyone who might be at risk of a heart attack to carry orange flavoured 80 milligram aspirin, which can be very effective.
“You don’t swallow them, but hold them in your mouth under your tongue and the large blood vessels under your tongue will allow the aspirin to dissolve quickly in your blood…and may make the difference while the ambulance is in route or until you can get to a defibrillator.”
Chris’s defibrillator was bought for personal use for about $1,000, but he decided “why just keep it for my own selfish use when others in an emergency may need it.”
In one of her AED community presentations Stephanie stated “I am speaking to you today as a member of the community who owns an AED for personal use…This topic is especially concerning for me since I have a family history of heart disease and I live in a rural setting, which means slower emergency response times.”
Every year more than 45,000 Canadians suffer from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
“Of those SCA that happen outside a hospital, less than five per cent survive due to delays in recognizing the cardiac emergency and access to appropriate care such as CPR and an AED…The survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest without CPR and AED is zero,” she states in her presentation.
Stephanie says using an AED with CPR within the first three minutes of a cardiac arrest can boost the chance of survival by up to 75 per cent.
Chris says anyone in the Cavendish area experiencing a heart attack after calling 911 to get the ambulance on its way, can give him a call and hopefully find someone to drive them to his house within 10 minutes.
Canada has a very poor survival rate for cardiac arrest, only about five per cent.
“It’s largely because of very poor awareness and access to defibrillators on a timely basis,” said Chris.
One other thing he thinks would make a big difference to improve emergency response times in PEI would be for Health PEI to implement a PulsePoint Network of volunteer first responders, who would receive early notification of a nearby emergency on their Smartphone.
“This PulsePoint app has been shown to have a significant impact in improving survival odds for cardiac arrest. Volunteer first responders such as off duty nurses, firefighters, police (and others) can respond to the scene of a cardiac arrest by phone notification and they can stabilize the patient before the ambulance arrives.” he said.
“Saving minutes can save a life.”

Getting into the festive spirit at the Stanley Bridge Hall

Photos by Jim Brown
It was bitterly cold outside the doors of the Stanley Bridge WI on Dec 7 for the WI’s annual Christmas craft fair but it was warm indoors with several vendors attending to hundreds of visitors over the four hours the craft fair ran. There were lots of wonderful gifts to purchase and the building was filled with the sights and scents of Christmas, including plenty of evergreen boughs, apple cider, wooden ornaments, candies and baked delicacies, landscape photos and paintings and woolen goods of all kinds. Some vendors also set up displays outdoors. Click on an image to view images in a lightbox

Launching a new strategy, logo to draw tourists

By Jim Brown
A new brand and a new strategy for drawing more tourists to the central part of the Island were unveiled on Nov 25 at a public workshop in Kensington.

Presenter Brianna Flood.


The collaborative ‘Heart of the Island Initiative’ drew dozens of tourism operators to Kensington’s Murray Christian Centre.
Partners for the event were the Town of Kensington, the Kensington and Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central Coastal Tourism Partnership. One of the speakers was Kensington Mayor Rowan Casely.
Organizers want tourist operators to use the hashtag “Heart of PEI” to showcase the area’s many beautiful, striking attractions and the operators’ businesses. Tourist operators were encouraged to work together and pool their resources to draw more visitors – including working with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. They were asked to apply the hashtags to scenic photos posted on websites and across social media platforms.

Click a thumbnail to view full images in a lightbox.

Participants described a wide variety of opportunities ready for seizing, including capturing more of the booming cycling market by making businesses ‘cycling friendly’ and even offering stations where cyclists can fix deflated tires and complete minor repairs. Others talked about the great opportunities offered by the legalization of cannabis and by drawing more tourists from the LGBTQ community.
Still others talked about the need to promote the area’s many culinary destinations, as well as local artists, farming, beaches and outdoor adventures.

Dorian strains resources of Maritime Electric, Resort Municipality

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Angus Orford, Maritime Electric’s CEO, on left and Enrique Riveroll, the utility’s VP of customer service.


Post Tropical Storm Dorian slashed through PEI in early September, devastating much of the Island and leaving many questions in its wake.
Maritime Electric CEO Angus Orford was joined by Enrique Riveroll, the utility’s VP of customer service, for a two hour presentation at the Resort Municipality’s regular monthly meeting in early November.
A big part of their presentation dealt with criticism levelled at the Province for not declaring a state of emergency and accessing additional federal resources.
Sometimes you can just have too many people in one place, causing complications, said Orford, especially if they aren’t specially trained to deal with massive electrical disruptions, such power line technicians and utility arborists.
Mayor Matthew Jelley observed Parks Canada brought in trained personnel from places like Jasper, Alberta, Quebec and Newfoundland to cut trees, since they had the level of chainsaw use training required by Parks Canada.
Being out of power for a prolonged period of time doesn’t exactly create warm and fuzzy feelings for utility companies trying to restore everything to normal.
“Customers out for a week are probably not going to fire any accolades at Maritime Electric. But from our perspective it was an extraordinary response,” said Orford.

Workers were busy across the Island, including Kensington, for weeks after Dorian.


Re-energizing lines safely takes time, he said.
Trees fall across lines forcing workers to “isolate, clear the tree, re-energize that section and go on to the next section,” said Orford
He added there could be “beautiful weather” to work on power restoration, “but 1,500 fuses go.”
The Island’s Emergency Measures Organization believes people should be able to take care of themselves for three days, said Orford.
Of course that calculus could change in really cold weather that includes ice-storms and heavy snow.
Fortunately, Dorian struck PEI in early September and in the immediate aftermath the weather was sunny and warm.
“The reality of this type of storm is that it creates a lot of labour intensive damage” and people would run up to a lineman and ask to have power restored to their homes when that isn’t possible, said Orford.

A tree on top of a power line in New London, shortly after Dorian.


It’s a lot different than a car striking and knocking over a pole and a reasonable time frame for repairs can be given, such as four hours.
In the case of Dorian, “Some roads you couldn’t even get down till the trees were out of the way for assessment,” he explained.
Mayor Jelley said hotels booked during Dorian saw significant losses, with guests leaving after just a couple of days – believing the power would be out for much longer. In fact, the power was often restored a short time later, though many were without power for six days.
Maritime Electric has 120,000 poles in the power system, with 100,000 replaced since the 1980s. A total of 80 crews were available to handle the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The Resort Municipality, despite its status as a small community, swells to a population of 20,000 or so in the summer due to a heavy influx of visitors and seasonal residents and as many as 25,000 when the Cavendish Beach Music Festival (CBMF) is on, in early July.
Discussions eventually moved to the problems faced in Cavendish peak periods of the spring and summer.
Deputy Mayor and local businessperson Linda Lowther said her frozen yogurt took a hit last summer.
“We have a frozen yogurt business and we have five ice cream machines and every time Maritime Electric has done any kind of a switch or played with the wires our machines would go down and we’d lose product.”
Lines of communication should be improved, she and other councillors said.
Mayor Jelley said brownouts also happened on the Cavendish Beach Music Festival Weekend.
And he went on to explain that when maintenance to the Rattenbury substation was done earlier this summer in mid-June: “We had fuses blowing, capacitors blowing on motors (and) refrigeration equipment in restaurants failing.”
Maritime Electric is hoping to get a St Mary’s Road project launched before the summer to bring a new transmission line to Cavendish. Mayor Jelley said he hoped it wouldn’t cause too much disruption during the CBMF and other busy times in the high season.
That project is part of a budget application in front of the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.
Mayor Jelley want to to say: “If you need room for a substation in Cavendish I’ll probably donate the land…Certainly if there’s a transmission line up Route 6 I would do what I could to advocate…and if you need land slightly off Rte 6 and it means more reliable power then I’d be happy to donate the half an acre to make it happen.”
Cavendish is growing and so is the demand for electricity.
“Every cottage operator is putting in those heat pumps on all of their units,” said Linda Lowther.
Mayor Jelley, who is the president of Maritime Fun Group which operates Shining Waters Family Fun Park, said his business is “looking at four new waterslides…120 horsepower total, run 10 to 12 hours a day.”
When the St Mary’s Road project is finished Cavendish will have three feeds running into it.
The Resort Municipality has 14 lift stations, five telephone exchanges and three electrical substations.

North Rustico remembers its fallen soldiers

Photos by Jim Brown
Hundreds of people attended Remembrance Day ceremonies at the North Rustico cenotaph on Monday, Nov 11, joining thousands of others in services across the Island marking the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers in wars and peacekeeping operations. Attendees were greeted with snow, rain and fierce gusts of wind that forced many to seek shelter under umbrellas. The bleak weather matched the solemn, somber mood during the ceremonies. Click on a thumbnail to view full image in lightbox.