April 27, 1949

“This afternoon brought our farmers the end of their wood-splitting. From a window, where we sat comfortably at our mending, we saw last sticks being thrown to the heap, and the base of it made neat and compact, and then much as we would stop to regard and admire a fresh-gathered bouquet, the men paused to view their handiwork before leaving the scene of it, the lengthy and toilsome task over at last. ‘It’s remarkable,’ James commented of it when he came in to supper, ‘how much of a chore a fellow can get done, if he only is content to keep at it. A few minutes each day, Ellen, given over to some work or another, will one day give one ‘something done’ to be proud of. You know that was quite a heap of blocks to start at and we with only small time to give to it – some days not as much as a dozen sticks made, but,’ and he drew a happy sigh, ‘just by sticking at it- there it’s done!’”

Source

October 18, 1956

“‘You’d think some Superman had been here’ one of the children chuckled this evening reporting on today’s first endeavour of the farm. ‘Big trees uprooted, great stones moved, stumps and bushes taken out… What a mess. They’re powerful machines, those bulldozers.’

“This was today’s great interest of these farms. A great machine moved in to clear away certain hedgerows and woodsy knolls for the sake of neatness and to make more open and arable the area about. 

“All day the work continued in this and that location until in the upheaval left in its wake one might well suppose that some Superman had passed by. 

“‘When we stop to consider how laborious it was to clear land back in the years- with axe and a hoe and a pry, or later, with the help of a stumper, hand- or horse-powered, it’s amazing to watch a bulldozer at work,’ James said this afternoon.

“‘It’s incredible what one can do- and so quickly. For example today, well years ago, it couldn’t have been attempted at all. No, couldn’t even have been considered.’

“It is likely some gallant old trees perished in the endeavour, wide-spreading maples, and birches, ringed with time, sturdy spruces, gay little firs.

“‘Remember that clump of birches, Ellen, out in the open field?” James queried, ‘That’s cleared away now, and the great stone too about which they grew.”

Source

Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island

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The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island, colloquially known as Meacham’s Atlas of 1880, was one of the first attempts to map PEI in its entirety. A whole host of information can be found within the atlas; from detailed maps of each of the lots on the island – down to the individual houses, to realistic drawings of prominent citizens and their properties. It is a dream resource for any Island historian!

The Meacham’s Atlas maps before mosaicing.

For us at the GeoREACH lab, the atlas represents yet another opportunity to compile data on energy usage on the island during this period. We can see in the atlas the individual lots that compose our island even to today, each with personalized property information. The cartographers went so far as to outline the individual houses, barns, other infrastructure and property owners for each lot.

The Meacham’s Atlas maps after being mosaiced.

An important step in gathering the data from Meacham’s Atlas was to centralize all the available rasters (individual images) to a single resource. As all the lots were created independently, they would have to be stitched together into a single, geographically accurate map in a process formally known as mosaicing. This is why we have made, using GIS, a comprehensive mosaic of all the lots to easier represent this information.

The building points displayed over the entirety of Prince Edward Island.

Beyond that, we also entered data points for the over 16,000 buildings indicated on the map. Though it is still a work in progress, it is now available to be explored. You can adjust the different layers through the content window to look at churches, houses, mills, or schools, or can zoom in to a region you know well to see what it looked like in 1880!

Click here to explore the map.

The Kestrel

“The Kestrel or Sparrow Hawk is about the size of a Robin, and is the only small hawk which has a shade of chestnut-red in its tail feathers. Reed truly says that it has ‘bright colors and odd markings.’ It is so handsome and at the same time so evidently harmless, that it has escaped much of the destruction aimed at its larger companions. Another point in its favor is its ability to adapt itself to its environment: it is equally at home in the pasture lands of the east and the forests of other regions.

“The Kestrel feeds principally on mice, large insects, frogs, and snakes. At times it attacks birds and may kill jays, quail, and other birds as large as itself. It may visit towns where sparrows abound, whence the name ‘Sparrow-hawk.’ Dr. Taverner, however, thinks that a more appropriate name would be “Grasshopper Hawk.” (And he notes that when taken from the nest young, this little falcon is easily tamed.) Scientists have examined 291 stomachs and found that birds were killed and eaten only in the winter when insects are not available. “It is obvious that the Sparrow Hawk is beneficial and should be protected.” 

“Kestrel or Sparrow Hawk. AOU 360. Summer Resident- List, 1916. One observed at Alberton, 1937.

“Adult Male: Head slaty blue, crown rufous; face pattern black and white. Black rufous with or without black spots or bars. Wings blue gray; tail rufous-red with a wide sub-terminal black band and a narrow white tip. Underparts creamy white to buff, a few black spots or none. 

“Female: Head and face like male; black wings and tail rufous, barred black; underparts more or less dark brown and streakedImmature birds resemble adults. Length of adult 10.5 inches.”

Source

August 8, 1956

#OnThisDay in 1956, the author of Ellen’s Diary talked about Prince Edward Island’s summer coming to a close, mechanization in farming, and how some Island farmers were still holding on to traditional methods.

PEI potato field

“Now the clouds we send our dreams sailing upon are August’s. They moved quietly today on a sunny sea of blue above the gleen-clad hilltops, great liners of smokey down, with a bit of austerity in their rigging an ominent edge of Autumn, it seemed. But not yet are we content to let Summer go. ‘Once the haying’s over’ one of the family said today noting the blackbirds in a flock gleaning tidbits of insects in a shorn hay hayland, ‘well, they days are noticeably shorter by then’ and her smile was wistful, ‘whether or not we like to acknowledge it, the heart of the summer is spent.’

‘Folks can commence then to store their fuel-wood’ another offered, thoughts evidently going on to envision the deserted lawns and verandahs, the closed doors, and hearthfires once more kept bright.

Today was still summer. We kept jealously every hour sunny and warm and breeze-fanned. It was pleasantly warm for the workers, for Rob in the field building the great loads of hay, for the younger farmer in the closeness of a mow at the storing. 

‘There’s no exceptional call for cooling drinks this haying.’ Jeanie said. Not a hot day- just warm, this one. And in the fields the hay making to a nicety for the farmers. And away in far places of the countryside, a dreamy haze of season veiling the hills.

…‘With machinery now to help, the haying is certainly much easier done than once,’ we commented remembering more toilsome days at it though nonetheless sweet. ‘The changes there have been!’

‘We still have an old mare in the lift- no change there.’ another chuckled. No, no change there. The hose still beats out a regular path along field or yard, retarding so far the march of progress at Alderlea it is true but keeping for our sake this nice item of old at the haying.”