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Music workshops

Canadian composer Christine Donkin This November, the PEI Registered Music Teachers’ Association  [ ... ]

Royal Winnipeg Ballet auditions

Until January 25, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) School Professional Division will hold auditions a [ ... ]

Take the High Road

Nan Ferrier illustrates section of PEI highway, Route 225

by Sue Gallant

Nan Ferrier, works at the West Island Art Gallery in Bideford, on what will eventually be a 150ft long oil pastel frieze, depicting highlights of the North side of Highway 225

A unique piece of artwork has been under construction this summer, at the West Island Art Gallery Co-operative in Bideford.

The piece began life as a roll of drawing paper: a very long, twelve inch wide roll of drawing paper; given to folk-artist, Nan Ferrier. What use to put said roll of paper to? Ferrier found the answer whilst traveling back and forth from her home in West Prince, to art life drawing classes held on a Wednesday evening at the Kier Gallery in Charlottetown. Ferrier hit upon the idea of illustrating highlights of the north side of Route 225. The resultant oil pastel, frieze-in-progress, is now approximately 30 feet in length and depicts the first half-dozen miles of PEI’s Route 225 traveling west from Charlottetown. Ferrier now estimates there are 15 miles of highway, and 120 feet of paper, left to go.

“The idea occurred to me because I had been given the big roll of paper,” says Ferrier. “I decided to do a portrait of highway 225. A lot of the nice scenery we see these days, we see from the car, and its not a nice rectangle, it goes on and on and on.” “I started more or less at the Eastern end of 225 and have worked back six or seven miles so far. I am currently a mile or two past Clow’s Store.”

Ferrier says she decided to work from east to west, because she is mindful that as winter draws in, and driving conditions worsen, there will be days when she would prefer to work on depicting scenery closer to home. Even since June, when she began, the artist notes a change in the seasons emerging in the work. She works using a mixture of on-site sketching and photographs.

“I started out when the lupins were still in bloom,” said Ferrier. Some weeks later, several varieties of Island wildflower are now depicted as each has come into season.

Ferrier would fill her fellow art life drawing friends in on her progress each week. She reports one classmate recently jokingly remarked, “it’s lucky you are not doing the Trans Canada!” “I thought ooooo, yes,” grinned Ferrier, “that’s a dropped glove! But that could take years; I cannot see me crossing Saskatchewan in a blizzard.”

Ferrier would very much eventually like to see the work exhibited in its full-length entirety at a venue on, or close to, Route 225; maybe in an arena or a community hall. If any readers have a suitable location, she would be delighted to receive a call.

From Across the Pond

The Best Thing
by Sue Gallant

The best thing? I can pick only one? That's not going to be easy. I shall choose my younger brother's visit to my home here on PEI, accompanied by his charming wife and two children.

I left England in 1995 and have not been back since. I have wonderful friends here on PEI but it gets lonely sometimes when most everyone you meet comes from the biggest extended family imaginable. I do not have a mum or a dad, a brother or a sister, an aunt or an uncle close by, during the highs and lows of daily existence. I was pretty excited about my brother's visit.

Bro and co were due to land in Poplar Grove, Western PEI, at suppertime one day early in August. I must have mopped the floors and bleached the toilet three times in as many hours. I could not sit still. It was like waiting for Father Christmas to arrive on Christmas Eve, when I was a child.

The Came family duly arrived, and we shared a wonderful ten days together. My two nephews are six and eight years old, so we did the Rainbow Valley and Sandspit thing. I had honestly forgotten how tiring it can be to have two small children in tow. Who am I kidding? They towed us. My own children are teenagers with driving licences now, and after a week with my brother's children, I have to admit with a weary sigh—I am quite glad mine are older.

I guess I am just getting older. That concrete and unavoidable fact was sure confirmed the evening bro, sister-in-law and I, somehow got onto the topic of retirement. Just when did my little brother and I get this close to an age where retirement issues were suddenly of such import? I thought, whilst bro informed me of pending changes to UK Government retirement legislation.

I still feel like a child inside, but Mum and Dad are both gone now and bro and I have children of our own. We seem to have moved to the top of the pile, but I don't remember how or when that happened. It kind of snuck up on me.

The day of my company's departure inevitably arrived. We hugged, we cried, and I certainly questioned the meaning of my life as they drove away down my long lane. It was a very sad day. I vowed then and there to make a superhuman effort to visit them next time. A wise, senior friend of mine says relationships need to be nurtured. She's right of course. Those children of my brother's will be much changed when hopefully I see them next, in four or five years time. I deliberately made myself very busy for the rest of that day.

Only on PEI

An Old Maid to Marry

Review by Sue Gallant

The cast of La Cuisine à Mémé live on stage at Le Village de L'Acadie, Mont Carmel.

On the evening I visited Le Village de l'Acadie to review the Acadian dinner-theatre presentation, La Cuisine à Mémé, the cast seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience, and the standing ovation eventually awarded the beaming actors up on stage taking their final bow, was justly deserved. They worked hard for a solid three hours or more.

The cast of La Cuisine à Mémé not only perform on stage, they also meet and greet dinner-theatre goers at the beginning of the evening and wait on table. Their final visible task, is to collect the money for drink tabs after the performance has ended. And on that last point—only on PEI. Yes! Diners were asked to please not leave the building before the cast could get down off the stage to come around and collect bar monies due. There is trust for you. Ahhhhhh, the Island way!

This year's production, An Old Maid to Marry/La Vieille Fille a Marier, is a light comedy which tells the story of a 20 year-old maid, Marie-Me (played by Julie Arsenault), who lives with her grandmother, Meme (Diane Racette). Marie-Me eventually finds a suitor in undertaker Henry MacNeil (Louis-Philippe Roussel). However, MacNeil is English, and as such, decidedly not the suitor Acadian Meme had envisioned for Marie-Me. MacNeil is put through various worthiness tests which he passes. The happy couple are, or course, eventually united.

La Cuisine à Mémé is written by Emma Hache and directed by Sylvie Toupin. The cast of six not only act, they also perform several musical numbers. There is singing and step-dancing and of course fiddle and guitar playing. The evening evolves into something of a kitchen party-like atmosphere, sometime after the play itself has ended, which is bonus material indeed.

The food is good, hot and served in adequate proportions. There is fresh tossed salad and bread rolls to start; then a choice of seafood casserole, salmon fillet with Hollandaise sauce, or chicken breast with mushroom sauce for the main course. Dessert follows. The meal is delivered swiftly to table. Coffee, tea and juice are in seemingly limitless supply.

La Cuisine à Mémé was performed throughout the 2003 summer season, alternately in French and then English, from Tuesday through Saturday. Those who caught it, enjoyed an evening to remember.

First Adieus

Barachois

Review by Sue GallantLouise Arsenault of Barachois, live on stage with guest artist, son Jonathan, at the Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre, Summerside

If you don't know anything about the tradition of Acadian music; if you've been living on another planet and have never heard of Barachois; you would still live to regret not booking tickets to see this awesome foursome perform for the last time this summer on PEI.

Barachois are taking their final bow this year after nine years together. Their high energy performances are full of musical talent, warmth and wit. They will be sadly missed.

The Summerside Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre was full of die-hard fans on opening night there recently. Many had seen the group perform many times before. For some, their annual PEI vacation would not be complete, without an evening spent in the company of Barachois.

The members of Barachois are, Albert Arsenault (vocals, dance, fiddle, bass, percussion); Helene Arsenault-Bergeron (piano, vocals, dance, reed pump organ, guitar, foot percussion); Louise Arsenault (fiddle, vocals, dance, harmonica, guitar, foot percussion); and Chuck Arsenault (vocals, guitar, harmonica, dance, sousaphone, trumpet). Each group member hails from PEI. Albert, Helene, and Louise, play music by ear. Chuck is the only classically trained musician, a fact Albert seizes to rib Chuck mercilessly with throughout the show. Chuck, of course, gives back as good as he gets, with equally good humour and merriment.

Barachois' combined performance is polished and a whole whack of fun. The entire time the group is on stage, they do not stop smiling and enjoying themselves. It is a sentiment entirely reciprocated by their audience. And yet, if a fan is seated in the front three throws, or sneaks down front to grab a quick snap of the group on stage (you're not supposed to!), he or she suddenly becomes aware that these people are working very, very hard up there to deliver the goods. The resulting performance is seamless and professional, enormously entertaining and most enjoyable. Merci Barachois!

True Life Stories

Fiddlin' with the Truth

Review by Sue Gallant

Nils Ling performs on stage at the Carmody Comedy Barn

In last month's issue of The Buzz, humourist Nils Ling was quoted as saying, "I wanted it to be fun." He was talking about his up-coming, Tuesday night shows, at the Carmody Comedy Barn for the 2003 summer season. Judging by the gales of completely, and apparently uncontrollable mirth emanating from at least one female audience member witnessed there recently, Ling is achieving his goal. In fact, on the night The Buzz was there to review the show, more than one person was mopping tears of laughter in response to the spoken word from up on stage. However this particular female was laughing so loud and hard, that she was in danger of stealing the spotlight. Every tale Ling told seemed to hold personal meaning, and she would nod or shake her head vigorously in response to things he said. Try as one might, it was impossible to ignore her.

For Ling fans weaned on his superbly entertaining radio monologues, we are used to having no distractions: it's just us and him. Any deviation from this selfish and perfect arrangement can, at least initially, be somewhat irritating. But it is, of course, great to see someone having a good time, and as the saying goes-laughter is always the best medicine. It's also astonishingly infectious.

Allison Ling, shares the spotlight with Dad at the Carmody Comedy Barn

IAlison performs on stage at the Carmody Comedy Barnn his opening introduction, Ling explained that the evening's entertainment would draw material from his internationally acclaimed show The Truth About Daughters and his new stage play The Truth About Love and/or Marriage. Ling also announced he would be sharing the stage with his beautiful and talented 18 year-old daughter Allison on fiddle, and on keyboard-a young Cape Breton pianist Mike Ross.

For the most part, Ling's work onstage has been focused on one-man shows. This 2003 threesome works well. A perfect balance of monologue and music, with even a spot of step-dancing from the man himself.

Ling covers a fair bit of ground throughout the evening. Grandparents, snoring, marital cuddling, exactly what Mrs Ling really means when she says "fine!," death, his high school dance, his daughter's school nativity play; her wedding. There was something everyone could relate to at sometime in their lives, and that is the Ling magic. Ling knows how to tell a personal story: and apparently his long-suffering wife and children don't mind him doing it.

Making The Green

New Interpretive Centre opens at heritage site in Anglo-Tignish

by Sue Gallant

Kildare artist Therese d'Amour has painted a mural depicting the landing at The Green of the founding Acadian families of the region of Tignish in 1799.The Green is a 12.4 acre plot of land near the end of Foundersí Lane in Anglo-Tignish. In 1799 it was the landing site of the Acadian founders of present-day Tignish. It is also the site of the first Roman Catholic church in Western Prince Edward Island and incorporates the burial grounds of the region's early settlers.

An outdoor interpretive Centre, celebrating the historical significance of The Green, has just been officially launched. The West Prince Acadian Historical Committee has been responsible for the development of the site, which features a gazebo with interpretive panels, including two colour reproductions of murals by Kildare visual artist Therese d'Amour. The murals depict the landing and settlement of the founding families at The Green in 1799. The original d'Amour murals can be viewed on permanent display with other works by local artists at the Tignish Co-operative Store.

As well as the interpretive gazebo, The Green Heritage Site also boasts an outdoor amphitheatre and staging for historical re-enactments and concerts; and visitor trails. Interpretive signage provides information about additional, historically significant sites in the area.

"The Green now offers visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in a historical interpretive setting," said WPAHC President, Austin Bernard speaking at the official opening ceremony. "We are so pleased to celebrate today's grand opening, and invite Islanders and visitors alike to explore the site, which we feel is one of the most significant, multi-cultural sites on Prince Edward Island."

Project Coordinator, Almeda Thibodeau, explained to invited dignitaries and visitors, the 19-year, five-phase development of The Green Heritage Site, beginning in 1984 with the establishment of the West Prince Acadian Historical Committee. The Government of Canada invested a total of $91,000 in the project: the Provincial Government provided $10,000 through its Community Development Program and provided workers through the Employment Development Agency.

The Green Historical Site is located off Route 12, about four kilometres east of Tignish, and is open through to October.

Miss Lauretta Cheese

Folk artist Kerras Jeffery unveils a new creation on wheels

by Sue Gallant

Island folk artist Kerras Jeffery of Alma, with wife Shirley, aboard Jeffery's latest creation

Miss Lauretta Cheese. Yes, that is her name, and Miss Lauretta is, without doubt going to be turning heads this summer when she makes her West Prince public debut in this year's street parades.

Miss Lauretta (her name is inscribed in black on her frame), shares striking similarities with a Holstein dairy cow. (See photograph). Like all the fairer sex, she is absolutely unique. Miss Lauretta Cheese is a …? Hmm…That's a difficult one…. Let me see now … Miss Lauretta Cheese is a folk-art bicycle with five wheels, two passenger seats, and one set of pedals. She comes complete with two matching black and white bike helmets sporting cow horns. The helmets may be stored in Miss Lauretta's two matching carry baskets when not in use.

Miss Lauretta Cheese's creator, Island folk artist Kerras Jeffery, gazes lovingly in her direction. "I used all recycled bikes," Jeffery says, "there are about ten different bikes into her. The horns on the cow are actually a set of handlebars."

At the front end, Jeffery's creation has a cow head, with authentic cowbell hanging around the neck. Like all Holsteins, Miss Lauretta has appealing, big, liquid brown eyes and long eyelashes. Her rear end has an old fashioned waterpump handle for a tail. Miss Lauretta's front and back legs are hinged at the thighs and knees and hang from the bicycle framework without actually touching the ground. They move amusingly when the bike is in operation. In order to set Miss Lauretta in motion, the passenger in the left seat pedals with the right leg, while the passenger seated in the right seat pedals with the left leg. There is a foot rest for each of the two feet not doing any work.

Such a set up could quite conceivably develop some severely uneven muscle tone in the physic of who ever drives the bike, but in his ever-effervescent style, Jeffery is not concerned. "I built Miss Lauretta Cheese to promote my gallery at the parades," said Jeffery. "There is still a lot of people on the Island who don't know about me. I figured it would be good publicity and a good laugh."

A look-see around Jeffery's studio in Alma, reveals a multitude of good laughs. Jeffery's work is skilled, imaginative, and always amusing. The Back Road Folk Art Gallery is open year-round.

Now Expanding

Organizers expect more bands, more people and more RVs for the third year

by Sue Gallant

 Ontario-based band The Backstabbers will be appearing on stage at this year's Evangeline Bluegrass Festival, July 11-13Ontario-based band The Backstabbers will be appearing on stage at this year's Evangeline Bluegrass Festival, July 11-13

It's set to be the biggest yet! The organizers of this year's Evangeline Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival are confident that this, the third such event, will be bigger and better than before.

At a recent press conference, Artistic Director Albert Arsenault, announced that the festival is set to open at noon on Friday, July 11, and will run through to 8:30 pm, on Sunday, July 13. Nineteen bands have been booked to play, including two featured Canadian groups: The Backstabbers from Toronto and Hard Ryde from Ontario. Island bands include Jericho Road; Out of the Blue; Janet McGarry and Wind River; S K bluegrass; Bluegrass Ramblers; Just for Fun; Bluegrass Revival; The Corrigans; Bluegrass Bound; The Wagners; Norm Boswer; and Wayne Brown and Friends. The Maritime group line-up includes Bluegrass Diamonds; Canadian Grass Unit; New Blade of Grass; Cabin Fever and Silver Fox.

The president of the Evangeline Bluegrass Association is Yvonne Pitre: "2002 was double the attendance of 2001," Pitre says "The first year we had a thousand people and 150 RVs; in 2002 we had two thousand people and 212 RVs." Pitre says that in years one and two they welcomed festival-goers come from as far away as New Zealand and Texas.

This year, the festival has expanded its exhibition grounds to make 114 service sites available. At the time of the press conference, almost half had already been booked. There are also 400 rough camping units available.

Earlybird rough camping and serviced sites are available July 7-10. A weekend's rough camping is included with a festival pass. An advance weekend pass is available until June 15. Saturday (all day), Saturday (after 4pm) and Sunday passes are also available. Lobster suppers are served Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There will be a Farmer's market on-site Saturday. Canteen facilities, first aid and security will be on site. For information call 902-854-2375/854-3300, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Evangeline Bluegrass Festival 2003 is sponsored by Festivals and Events P.E.I., P.E.I. Tourism, and Canadian Heritage.

Events Calendar

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pei symphony

Some Upcoming Events

Yr. Obedient Servant

An evening with Samuel Johnson  November 22 | November 24
Watermark Theatre | Haviland Club Th [ ... ]

One-act comedies

Rob MacDonald presents four of his plays in November The Guild Island audiences are familiar with  [ ... ]

Moving East tour

Jimmy Rankin at Harbourfront Theatre and Trailside Café November 22 & 23  Jimmy Rankin [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

A gift of Island poetry: Chris Bailey

Curated by Deirdre Kessler Things My Buddy Said Oh, brother, growing up I’d get into trouble
like [ ... ]

A passion for cinema

Laurent Gariépy is screening the classics at City Cinema by Dave Stewart Anyone checking out City [ ... ]

Acadian showman

Profile: Christian Gallant by Jane Ledwell Forty-six musicians and step dancers took the stage at  [ ... ]