Submit Event

The Natural

Ian Stretch releases a book for children

by Heather Denning

Marty the Mailbox - Ian Stretch

In the pool and snooker playing community there is a type of player known as a “natural.” This is someone who has the ability to play without the aid of all the tricks and techniques that other players use to learn how to succeed. If there was such a thing as a “natural” writer, Ian Stretch would be it, with a style and turn of phrase is so completely unspoilt by education and literature. When asked, he happily confesses that he has only read the newspaper and the Holstein Journal. His writing is simplistic and narrative, the words never get in the way of the story. And that is by far the hardest technique to achieve if you just don’t have it.

In every culture of the world there is the oral historian, the “storyteller.” While television and the internet keep us all separated while keeping us all in immediate contact, the storyteller can delight children and adults alike. Ian’s new book, Marty the Mailbox is such a tale. The story of an anthropomorphic, friendly little mailbox is guaranteed to bring a smile to every child (or adult), but it also teaches a valuable lesson so often forgot in out instant gratification culture—that new is not always improved, and that some things should be kept the way they once were, simply because it is part of our history.

Ian Stretch is a historian in the truest sense of the word—he tells the grass-roots history that the history books forget to care about. He wrote his first story in 2002 after being forced to take 3 months off work for hurting his back, at the urging of his wife. His stories, not always for children, contain a moral, whether it be the past separation between Catholic and Protestant on PEI in Grace’s Gift or the environmental Mother Earth, the story of a trial to determine who is to blame for the destruction threatening our planet.

Children need to develop a social conscience—something that is sadly overlooked in many children’s books. Marty the Mailbox teaches us about love, loyalty and respect. About family togetherness and how simple loyalty can be rewarded, yes, even in a letterbox.

Born and raised in PEI, Ian grew up in the original family farm settled by his great grandfather in Long Creek. His stories have earned him two awards from the PEI Council of the Arts—Marty the Mailbox was one of the winners in 2004 of the Lucy Maud Montgomery Literature for Children Award. The following year, the PEI Council of the Arts awarded him lst prize for his story “The Boy Upstairs”. Marty the Mailbox is Ian’s first published book. The book is illustrated by Island artist Dale McNevin.

Join Ian and Dale on April 4 to celebrate the launch of Marty the Mailbox at the bestofpei store, on University Avenue, in Charlottetown from 12 to 2 pm. Ian will read and sign books. Book are available at bestofpei, Bookmark, Booktales, from Ian Stretch at 675-2985 and from Trafford Publishing at

Local artisan Jan Meulencamp will build two mailbox replicas of “Marty”—one will be used as a display case to hold the books being sold at the bestofpei store and the other will be used by Ian.

Doors in the Air

A new children's book by David Weale and Chloë Cork

by Heather Denning

Doors in the Air - David Weale/Chloë CorkWhen I opened the new children's book Doors in the Air by well known author David Weale I was overwhelmed by the world it presented to me. From the first illustrated title, featuring a grey cat with butterfly wings tethered to the word "air," Chloë Cork's illustrations display the theme of passageways again and again. The magic in this book is not in an fantastical world that is presented, but in the fantisization of the world in which we live. This world is peopled with familiar things—attics and porches, cats and crows. There is even a dragon (though not in the house, hidden tactfully behind a door). We are not separated from the beauty of the universe inside the pages, we are included. David's childhood love of stories such as Tarzan and Western adventures is reflected in the "faraway lands" that the main character can access without ever leaving his house.

I spoke to David about the phrase "doors in the air," and its significance to him personally. We talked of the Celtic tradition of doorways to a "mystery world, the world of the not yet born." This book celebrates these passages, "portals," if you will, in which other dimensions and other realities hover, nearly real, nearly able to be touched by the hand. Opening a door in the air allows the other realty, and its occupants, to be touched by the mind.

The beautiful collaboration that resulted in this book came about naturally. David wanted the control of choosing an illustrator afforded by self-publication, and Chloë Clark had provided small illustrations to him before. The fragile whimsey of her images was exactly what he wanted to show his nameless character's journey into his own mind. These images show the infinite space within the character's house, that he can access through the "doors in the air."

The collaboration will hopefully be the beginning of a fruitful team. With the demand for the book soaring, David is looking at becoming involved with a larger publishing house, to be able to increase distribution and circulation of the book, which presently is almost unknown off the Island.

It is easy to see, when reading the free-verse text within the book, that it is written for the child in David. Indeed, it is almost written by the child within, for there is little self-awareness and no contrived images or visible "adult" voice. The enchanting chatter of the text rolls off the tongue in the tradition of such lyrical writers as Lewis Carroll, who also accessed other worlds through portals, such as rabbit holes and looking-glasses. Unlike Carroll's at times sinister works though, there is nothing here to frighten or disturb even the youngest children. Worlds are not to be fallen into or trapped in, the door opens and closes at the wish of the main character and the reader, who opens and closes a "door in the air" with the opening and closing of the pages of the book.

Au Natural

Doctors Kali Simmonds and Lana McMurrer on Eastlink TV

by Heather Denning

Dr. Kali Simmonds, ND and Dr. Lana McMurrer, NDWhile I waited for Dr. Lana McMurrer, ND, and Dr. Kali Simmonds, ND, I was not sure what to expect. The new hosts of the EastLink Television show “Au Natural” have between them an impressive portfolio of post graduate study and experience. I was about to meet with two of only five licensed naturopathic doctors practicing in PEI. I was prepared to be intimidated.

Instead I was charmed. Talking to these delightfully warm best friends I felt more like I was having a social coffee than interviewing the Trinny and Suzannah of naturopathic medicine.

Lana and Kali came up with the idea for the show themselves, and put it to EastLink. They seem to be surprised at the eagerness with which it was snapped up, but after the hour I spent with them it came as no surprise to me. The format for the show is simple, two segments with a guest (for example, a Pilates instructor), and then a segment with Lana and Kali discussing issues emailed into the show by viewers. The doctors themselves provide the energy, and charisma, which they certainly have in spades.

But they are not showboating. They are both passionate believers in their profession, and they want to spread the word around the Island.

Naturopathic medicine is a vastly untapped resource. While medical doctors are straining under the weight of patients in an aging population, Lana and Kali want prevention of illness and diseases to be addressed more fully, with increased collaboration between medical and naturopathic doctors. They want to educate. “We have women coming to see us with menopausal symptoms who don’t even know how the menstrual cycle works,” said Dr Kali. “We want people to understand the body’s messages.”

Naturopathic medicine is not about throwing drugs at symptoms, but rather understanding the cause, often as simple as an allergy or a vitamin deficiency. It can be used in treatment of illness or in maintenance of wellness concurrent with clinical medical treatments—from pain relief to acupuncture, to diagnoses requiring lab and blood work, to such reproductive issues as gender determination in pregnancy. Naturopathic medicine is a valid branch of modern science.

A visit to a naturopathic doctor is covered under most extended health plans, although not by Provincial Health Care. A patient does not need to be referred, and if the other doctors listed on (Prince Edward Island Association of Naturopathic Doctors) are anywhere near as approachable as these two starlets, the hour spent with them would be a pleasant and informative experience.

Lana and Kali themselves have seen patients ranging from 6 week old babies to 92 year old women, and have used their extensive knowledge and training to treat a vast number of different ailments.

"Au Natural" will be featured on EastLink Television on Wednesdays at 8.30 pm starting October 22. If you have a question, or would like to seek advice from them on the show, emails should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Information about Doctors Lana and Kali can be found on their website,

And if you ever get the chance, have a coffee with them, they are lovely.


Alanis Morrisette at the Summerset Music Festival

by Heather Denning

I have wanted to see Alanis perform live since my first devastating break-up was soothed by Jagged Little Pill’s “You Oughta Know.” The soaring vocals, the angst. Oh, that angst. I craved it like a drug.

My visit to the Summerset Festival was an interesting one. On one hand this was the venue of my dreams—a natural amphitheatre, copious and adequate toilet facilities, only mildly over-priced beer and fantastic fries (shout out to the ladies who gave me a new serve after I threw mine all over the grass accidentally—you guys ARE rock and roll!). On the other hand…where was everybody? Yes I’m going to admit that I wouldn’t have paid five dollars to see the half of Good Charlotte that did show up endlessly slur into the microphone how happy he was to be drinking “Anne of Green Gables with vodka,” in between belting out mediocre hit after mediocre hit while about six teens bopped, but seriously, was it free beer day at the Confederation Centre or something? It wasn’t even raining!

Pre-Alanis highlights also included a seemingly illogical walk around a woodpile on the way in, allegedly to avoid trucks that were not there, a free drink from the adorable K-Rock boys, easy service at the bar and the hilarious ‘theft’ of a golf buggy, allegedly by one of the support acts. This involved a Keystone Cops-esque chase through the crowd to the clown music provided by Good Charlotte. Who, I might add, ignored the most obvious pun of the night and left unsaid the fact they were playing in CHARLOTTEtown. Too much cordial.

By the time the Tom Petty and the Heatbreakers CD rolled around again for the sixth time in between sets, I had become tired of cracking jokes about the Perspex cage around Lani’s paranoid drummer, and I just wanted to go home and sleep. But then the lights went down, kinda turned a meaningful shade of purple and that voice that is at once so angelic and so earthy echoed through the amphitheatre. We craned our necks, stood on tiptoe to see her, and when she finally arrived on stage, all smiles, no angst, I was so glad I had stayed.

I am warning you now, I am a fan.

The last time I saw Alanis up close and personal was when she came into my living room as the voice of God via the movie Dogma. She is older now, and prettier in real life. Her hair is a seething mass that she flicks and flirts with, I haven’t seen hair that independent in its life force since Princess Jasmine in Aladdin.

She is a thoroughly enigmatic performer. She owns the stage—she paces constantly, almost annoyingly, and when she does stand to sing she holds her hands like a child straining for control. She is child-like—she and her hair spun like whirling dervishes until it seemed she must fall down, but she didn’t even stagger. She plays the guitar and her voice with aggression, but the tone is content. Ironic, that collection of annoying co-incidences related with fury actually seemed almost tongue-in-cheek. She even cracked a joke. Could the angst be gone? I understand that she has sung her songs a thousand times but she seemed mellow, almost matter-of-fact. And that crazy banshee voice that took my anger and set it free seemed to be caressing, gentle, almost spiritual. Two encores, blown kisses—I felt like I was getting milk and cookies when I expected ashtrays and rum.

Thank you Alanis—I like you even more now we are friends.

Career in the Making

Jeremy Gallant goes to the National Music Festival

by Heather Denning

Jeremy GallantWhen most children have a musical ability proud parents usher them to music lessons, which may last a few years until the complications of teenage call too loudly to be ignored, and the guitar strings go slack, the reeds unwet, the bow is unwaxed and suddenly music is something “I used to do as a kid.” Not so Jeremy Gallant.

Growing up in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Jeremy first played the classical piano at the age of 7, moving to Charlottetown at the age of 11. Encouraged by the musical influences already within his family, Jeremy soon branched out into different styles of piano and added drums to his repertoire, no doubt inspired by the versatility of his father, whose guitar and vocals feature in the band Big Tilda.

Jeremy moved to Moncton to study classical piano at the University of Moncton. Tutored by Roger Lord, he was recommended for the National Music Festival in competitions in both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, leaving him with a difficult choice, to represent his home or his alma mater. Jeremy chose New Brunswick—like most young artists he needed as much financial help as he could get to support him in his journey to Edmonton to the nationals. With three other musicians representing as well as Jeremy, New Brunswick has a larger budget. Another of PEI’s talented young pianists, Kathryn Ledwell, will represent Prince Edward Island at the Festival.

But Jeremy Gallant is no one trick pony; he is featured on the Rock The Row CD on drums with his band Sensitive Eyes, and enjoys rocking the ivories as well. With influences such as Dreamstheatre, Jeremy is too talented for any one genre to hold him, collaborating with his cousin from Kentucky in boyhood summers on the Island. Each writing their own songs, and then helping the other finish them in a manner reminiscent of The Postal Service, the twosome formed a group called Manifoles.

I asked Jeremy five quick questions:

1. So what’s your favourite song at the moment? “ The Punch Brothers: Hearts in a Cage.”

2. Whats the song that makes you the most annoyed, you know, the one that makes you angry? “I don't know, if I hear a song that I hate I turn off the radio!”

3. Who is the artist you would most like to meet? “Can they be dead? OK then, well John Bonham from Led Zepplin.”

4. Whats the best concert you have ever been to, one that made your heart race? “A mixed gig with Julien LeBlanc and Dion Mazerolle.”

5. Whats your favourite driving CD? “My stuff!”

And it looks like there will be much more Jeremy Gallant ‘stuff.’ Jeremy plans to release a CD of his solo music and then go where the wind takes him—next year however, it will be taking him to do his Masters of Music at Ottawa. Another province to conquer? I certainly hope so.

Events Calendar

February 2019
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28

Recent News & Articles

New location for PEI MFRC

After being closed for most of 2018, the PEI Military Family Resource Centre (PEI MFRC) has re-opene [ ... ]

Music PEI SOCAN Songwriter of the Year A...

Music PEI kicked off the first of the ticketed shows for 2019 Credit Union Music PEI Week on Thursda [ ... ]

PEI director

Charlotte Gowdy to direct Crimes of the Heart at Watermark Watermark Theatre has announced that Cha [ ... ]