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PEI Sociable Singles

PEI Sociable Singles is a non-profit, non-denominational, social group with members age 40 and over. [ ... ]

Plays wanted for Community Theatre Festi...

The PEI Community Theatre Festival will be held at the Carrefour in Charlottetown on March 30, 2019, [ ... ]

Sound of Silver

Summerside Community Choir celebrates its 25th year

by Sue Gallant

 Members of the Summerside Community Choir

Scientists have recently discovered that when we sing, the saliva in our mouths registers increased levels of proteins and other such healthy stuff. Hence, when we sing, we feel good. So that's why we all like to belt out a tune or two when we're in the bath or shower. Explains a lot doesn't it!

The Director of Summerside Community Choir is in total agreement with those scientific findings. She says she feels good when she sings too, and she says that's one of the reasons she, and members of the forty-strong Summerside Community Choir do it-sing that is. The Choir is currently preparing for its Gala Silver Anniversary Concert, to take place April 27 at the Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre.

"I am so passionate about choral music and they [choir members] are too," Christine Anderson Gallant says. "I think its the energy you get in the whole choral experience; Just from each person, that combined energy as a group. It's so passionate and wonderful and very exciting and very special."

The Western Road and Beyond

Nan Ferrier exhibits new works

by Sue Gallant

Nan Ferrier at the launch of her latest art exhibition The Western Road and Beyond

Anyone travelling Route Two in Western Prince Edward Island, could not help but notice the unusually bright-coloured exterior paint jobs adorning many homes and buildings along the way in that particular, geographical region. Island artist Nan Ferrier of Bideford has been admiring these eye-catching facades for years: so much so, that she has just launched her first 2003 exhibition featuring twenty-two of them. The exhibition is entitled The Western Road and Beyond.

"I have been wanting to do this Western Road show for years," said Ferrier, speaking at the exhibition launch held at The Landing in Tyne Valley. "They [the brightly-coloured houses and barns] are places that show the character of the inhabitants. For instance, The Brit's Barn, with the Union Jack flying and the red white and blue barn. Other buildings are evocative or wistful and you have to wonder what happened in the abandoned ones. Nearby long-time residents tell some fascinating and intriguing stories about these abandoned buildings and homes."

Executed in oil, pastel, pencil and crayon, images in The Western Road and Beyond can be viewed at The Landing until March 16, then at The Tignish Cultural Centre from March 20 to April 20. Because of the local and personal subject matter, they are sure to draw as much attention as Ferrier's highly successfull 2002 exhibition entitled The Barn Show. In it, Ferrier depicted barn buildings from across PEI.

Art from Anything

Kerras Jeffery leads snow sculpture team to Quebec's Winter Carnival

by Sue Gallant

Island folk artist, Kerras Jeffery will captain one of ten Canadian teams at the 2003, International Snow Sculpting Event of the Quebec Winter Carnival. He is seen here wearing the special hat he has fashioned to wear at the eventIsland folk artist, Kerras Jeffery will captain one of ten Canadian teams at the 2003, International Snow Sculpting Event of the Quebec Winter Carnival. He is seen here wearing the special hat he has fashioned to wear at the event

Prince Edward Island folk-artist Kerras Jeffery of Alma has been chosen to head one of ten Canadian teams about to compete in the prestigious International Snow Sculpture Event of the Quebec Winter Carnival. The Canadian category of the International Snow Sculpture Event takes place January 31 to February 2. This year, the 31st edition of the entire event, begins on January 31 and runs until February 9.

Jeffery's humourous folk art is a now familiar sight in Island galleries and at a number of others nationally. Jeffery, who has been working out of the Back Road Folk-art Gallery in Western P.E.I. for the past half dozen years, has recruited two of his brothers and a friend to make up the team he will captain in Quebec. The fact that Jeffery's chosen team mates are not fellow artists but an architect, a contractor and a motel owner respectively, is, he says "not a concern." He is more anxious that he has never carved a block of snow before in his life and confesses to only ever having traveled outside of the Maritimes once previously.

To prepare, Jeffery consorted with experienced Island snow sculptor and visual artist, Gerald Beaulieu of Montague. Beaulieu gave Jeffery valuable instruction on technique and how to hand build snow carving tools.

Jeffery says no power tools are permitted in the competition; the work has to be done using axes, wedges and ice slices. Each team is given a block of snow 3.6 metres wide, by 2.4 metres high, by 2.4 metres in depth, from which they must use the maximum of space. The location of each team's block is determined by random draw. When registering, each team must present their project by sending either a clay model or photograph of it, in perspective, at different angles. It is forbidden to make major modifications to the project after it has been selected by the jury. Forty percent of awarded points are given for respecting the original project. Jeffery is making a chicken sitting on a nest containing fresh snowballs. Why a chicken?

"Just because it's the kind of art I do," said Jeffery.

The International Snow Sculpture Event jury criteria states that the sculpture must be designed by the team and only for the Quebec Carnival Event. The sculpture must never have been realized in snow before. Teams are awarded forty percent of points for creativity: originality in the development of the concept; for balance-distribution and movement of shapes; for challenge-risks and difficulties; and for play of shadow and light. An additional forty percent of marks is awarded for technique: treatment of the various surfaces; maximum use of the block of snow; cutting technique and quality of assembly; and adherence to project (model versus actual sculpture). The final twenty percent of marks is awarded for coherence of the project: development of the theme (intention versus perception); and clarity of the project (expression, meaning and communication).

Four honours are awarded following judging of completed snow sculptures. The first is the Canada Award of Excellence to determine who will represent Canada in the International category, 2004 Edition.

For Jeffery and his team, participation is all about having fun, and having the opportunity to promote his artwork and his beloved Western PEI to the many who will attend the event. Jeffery has secured two sponsors to assist with transportation, insurance and personal expenses involved in attending the Snow Sculpting Event. They are the Tignish Credit Union and the Western P.E.I. Tourism Association.

"The biggest compliment anybody could give to my work is to laugh at it," says Jeffery. "If I do something, the funnier I can make it, the better." As a publicity stunt, Jeffery has made a special folk-art hat to wear at the event, to help him stand out from the crowd. Jeffery's skunk hat has an aerosol can spray nozzle protruding from its rear end, and folk-art emblazoned across the ear flaps. "What other dink would have a skunk on top of their head!" asks Jeffery?


Meet Highland bagpiper Timothy Cummings from Tennessee

By Sue Gallant

Timothy Cummings is Artist-in-Residence at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts

The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, in Summerside, has a new staff position. Timothy Cummings, who hails originally from Tennessee in the States, arrived on Prince Edward Island in September last year to take up a one-year term as the College's new Artist-in-Residence.

College of Piping Director, Scott MacAulay, explains-"The idea of the Artist-in-Residence concept is to offer an opportunity to expose our students to someone whose specific skills can be shared with our students; and at the same time, it offers up the opportunity to do high-end teaching. Artists-in-Residence are typically more for professional development and sharing, where you bring someone in with specific expertise." Cummings' impressive credentials include an MA in Musicology and a BA Honors in Ethnomusicology. His specialist instrument is, of course, the Great Highland Bagpipes. Cummings' and MacAulay's paths crossed as the result of their having shared the same piping instructor at different periods in their musical education. Sandy Keith, who now resides in Florida, knew former pupil MacAulay was looking to fill the Artist-in-Residence position. Keith suggested Cummings apply for the job.

In addition to teaching students and extending his own study of the Great Highland Bagpipes during his stay on the Island, Cummings will also edit a new College of Piping Learner's Guide. MacAulay says the new guide will fill a void with respect to current teaching aids available to College students: "We feel that we can come up with an easy learner's guide to the bagpipes," says MacAulay. "We don't feel that any of the current publications do it in the manner that we would like to see it, so we have dedicated ourselves to publishing our own learner's guide."

Cummings, whose Masters thesis was entitled "The Great Highland Bagpipe: extended techniques and their musical possibilities," is looking forward to the task in hand: "It's very challenging, but something that I really enjoy."

PEI Books

West Prince writers publish poetry

by Sue Gallant

If you enjoy poetry and like to while away the winter months with a good book, then look no further than Western PEI this January. Interpretations, by Todd Wood of O,Leary; and Life According to Evelyn Bernard, by Evelyn Bernard of Tignish, are both poetry collections with a fascinating background.

Interpretations is Wood's second book of poetry. His first, Carousel, went into two printings. In Carousel, Wood dealt almost exclusively with his on-going experiences battling severe mental illness. The honesty and candour with which he tackled such socially taboo subject matter, was simultaneously startling and immensely refreshing. "He seemed to need to get that written first, before he could go on to see other things around him," Wood's mentor, Allan Graham, told The Buzz. Graham is the author of many publications himself, including the acclaimed A Photo History of the Prince Edward Island Railway.

Wood's recently launched Interpretations, explains what the author sees around him, and what he thinks other people see, in the world around them. The poetry in the collection reflects Wood's positive personal progress since publication of Carousel, as Wood, his friends and family, and medical support team, have dealt with Wood's illness. There are still poems about the illness, but there are now others dealing with the real world as Wood is now able to see it. Interpretations is a beacon of inspiration to others struggling to deal with, or supporting another, coping with mental illness.

Life According to Evelyn Bernard is a first collection for the author. Graham, a pillar of support for West Prince writers, was also the mentor for this book. Bernard is a single, down-to-earth type mom, with an enviable joie de vivre. "Life to me is like a spinning top, around and around. But this one never stops," says Bernard. "There are smooth days, and as many rocky ones. Happy and sad, exciting and dull. Many lonely and as many filled with....Life according to myself should have challenge, a bit of uniqueness, love of many friends and family, and very important to me, peace. Life is a special gift we should appreciate and enjoy, no matter how little or how great. At the end, we are all equal."

Interpretations by Todd Wood, is published in paperback priced $8.00, and is available from the author at 859-3200. Life According to Evelyn Bernard by Evelyn Bernard, is published in paperback priced $7.00, and is available from the author at 882-2830.

Honour Pole

Levi Cannon creates sculpture for Lennox Island community

by Sue Gallant

Lennox Island residents, Kevin Thomas (left), and Jason Sark, admire the new Lennox Island honour pole created by Levi Cannon of Charlottetown. The pole was recently delivered to the old fire hall, then erected outside the Lennox Island Health Centre.

"It's a beautiful piece of art." That was the verdict delivered by the Chief of the Lennox Island Mi'kmaq Band, in response to her community's newest cultural acquisition. Darlene Bernard was speaking to The Buzz about a new honour pole, commissioned from and created by, Levi Cannon of Charlottetown, specifically for the Lennox Island Band.

Approximately 15 feet long, the pole depicts various symbols of Mi'kmaq culture including an eagle, beaver, walrus, lobster, and hand-prints of former Lennox Island chiefs. The honour pole was recently erected outside the Lennox Island Health Centre, right in the heart of the community.

The idea of the pole was first hatched at Lennox Island's 2002 summer pow-wow. The Band Council subsequently met, discussed and agreed, that they should like to have such a piece for their community. Cannon spoke with various Lennox Island community members in order to ascertain what they felt should appear on their pole.

He set swiftly to work and the finished piece was delivered to the old Lennox Island fire hall, last month. Concrete was then set about the pole's base, and a hole prepared outside the Lennox Island Health Centre.

"It's very unique and different," said Bernard. "It's an honour pole so its a great thing. The community has taken ownership of it, and is proud of it. Its very depictive of our culture."


Eileen Gallant publishes a biography of her father

by Sue Gallant

If ever a book were a labour of love-then this is it. And if ever a first-time author and biographer set out to record the very essence of their subject-then Eileen Gallant of West Prince has achieved her goal. The book Alphy, by Eileen Gallant, published by Hear to Serve (Tyne Valley), is as special as the author herself. Alphy Doucette (1907-1993) was Eileen's Dad and very much a family man. Alphy is about life's joys and pains and the lessons learned along the way. The book reflects a legacy passed on to Gallant by her parents; a legacy that Gallant wishes to pass on to her children and grandchildren. As anyone who has had the privilege of meeting Eileen Gallant will know, Alphy's author exudes gentleness, caring and kindness. It's not a trait that can be learned, you have to be born with it. For those of us who did not know Gallant's father-Alphy Doucette-it doesn't take a great leap of the imagination to guess that she has inherited those traits from him.

"He was called the window-sash maker," says Gallant, "but I knew him as my Dad. Alphy was a man without pretense; he never put on airs, nor would he try to impress; yet there was a certainty and authenticity about him that left an impression. When he told you stories about his boyhood, you always wanted to hear more."

The stories Alphy told his children-Eileen is the eighth in a family of nine siblings-reflect Acadian culture in West Prince in the early twentieth century; and the emotional, physical and spiritual lessons life offered this man, in this place at that time. Alphy is a heartwarming read that will bring comfort and pleasure to readers on cold winter nights.

Priced $25, the book contains 100 black and white family photos and is approximately 200 pages long. Publication has been supported by the West Prince Arts Council. Copies of Alphy are available from the author; The Guardian Drugstore in O'Leary; and The Landing Oyster House and Pub in Tyne Valley. Alphy is being launched October 24, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Palmer Road, West Prince, at 7 pm. Entertainment by The Lazy Jacks. All are welcome.

Soggy Basement Boys

Ex-premier Keith Milligan says it's all about having fun

by Sue Gallant

Four (of seven) Soggy Basement Boys playing at the Poplar Grove Lioness Club for Canada Day. From left: Keith Milligan; Kent Rafferty ; Alan Francis; and Elmer HutchinsonFar from the pressures of provincial politics, former Island Premier Keith Milligan is enjoying life in the not-so-fast lane, having swopped political office for semi-retirement in his home region of rural, Western PEI. Though, lately, Milligan is once again being seen more and more frequently in the public eye. He has been spotted on stage at various venues such as the Ellerslie Legion, Lennox Island Band Office, Poplar Grove Lioness Club, The Landing Oyster House and Pub and the Tyne Valley Britannia Hall, to name just a few.

Is the former Liberal politician trying for a come-back? No. Keith Milligan's newly rising star is as a country/folk singing, acoustic guitar playing, Soggy Basement Boy. The Soggy Basement Boys are a group of seven guys who also happen to be good friends and neighbours; and the public just loves them. For the past year and a half the Soggy Basement Boys have been jamming together, enjoying each other's company, and generally having a good time."I don't view myself as a great musician," says Milligan, "it's all about having fun."

Milligan has been playing guitar and singing privately, since he was eight or nine. "I just kind of picked it up when I was a kid, from a neighbour," he said. The founder of the Soggy Basement Boys is the group's bass guitar player, Paul Williams of Poplar Grove. Says Williams, "It all started with me, and Kent (Rafferty), and Lyndon Hardy. We were going to teach Kent how to play guitar." Apparently Rafferty never did learn the guitar, but went on to become the group's lead singer. And with good reason, in this reporter's humble opinion-Rafferty has an amazing singing voice.

Gradually, the group meeting in Williams' basement (which the owner is quick to point out is not soggy) every Tuesday night, grew both in number and popularity. "We never really thought we'd get as many bookings as we do," said Williams smiling. "We've gone a long way further than we ever thought. People seem to like us. Every time we play the (Ellerslie) Legion, we fill 'er!"

The Soggy Basement Boys are: Paul Williams (bass guitar); Lyndon Hardy (keyboard); Kelsey MacKinnon (guitar); Keith Milligan (guitar); Kent Rafferty (vocals); Allan Francis (12-string guitar); and Elmer Hutchinson (guitar). Be sure to check them out-you're sure to have fun.

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Fräulein Klarinette

Piano and clarinet recital at UPEI’s Dr. Steel Recital Hall January 26
UPEI UPEI Clarinet Profess [ ... ]

Confederation Centre: Art Gallery exhibi...

Open daily Mitchell Wiebe: VampSites Until March 3 The Gallery opened a new solo exhibition by Mi [ ... ]


Harbourfront Players March 1–2 & 8–10 
Harbourfront Theatre The Harbourfront Players p [ ... ]

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A gift of Island poetry: John MacKenzie

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