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Artisan Market

St. Mary’s Hall in Summerside open on Saturdays and Sundays

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

St. Mary’s Hall in Summerside open on Saturdays and Sundays Summerside has a new venue for the community’s creative sector to showcase its handiwork. Known as the Artisan Market, it takes place every Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1–4 pm at St. Mary’s Hall in Summerside.

The Summer Street hall is known to locals as the setting for children’s dance lessons, an Election Day poling station and a gathering place for church functions. As you enter, you detect a distinct scent not uncommon in these types of older historic buildings…it’s comforting. A whiff of history welcomes you as you walk down the short hallway into the main auditorium.

Constructed in 1927, the white wood framed church hall is located immediately north of the brick St. Mary’s Anglican Church. The gable roof and diminutive round window above the front door are visually pleasing.

Susan Gower is one of the organizers of the new market. She’s also active with St. Mary’s Church, the parish that owns and operates the hall. Gower expresses that having the Artisan Market as a tenant of the hall helps the church to sustain the 85 year old building as an important space for community functions. Along with Gower, local artisans Penny Hebert and Ruth Sudsbury have been key in getting the market off the ground. After successfully hosting a Christmas craft fair at the hall in 2011, the group decided to begin regular operations in June of this year.

Roughly ten vendors offer their goods each week including a children’s writer, jewellery makers and paper craft artists. The community venture also offers baked goods, preserves, children’s clothing and other handiwork. A fundraising table and coffee club are further initiatives.

The group expresses itself as a union of like minded individuals with a passion for creating. “We needed somewhere for our talented people to sell their wares” says Gower. In addition she shares that participating artisans practice their networking skills on market days, sharing ideas and materials. “There’s lots of swapping going on” she smiles.

One of the messages organizers want to communicate is the availability of space for new vendors. Gower describes the atmosphere as “very friendly” and a place where crafters and artisans can feel at home. She welcomes inquiries from individuals interested in showcasing their craft commodities.

Organizers are pleased to see repeat customers entering the doors of the hall each week. The feedback from patrons indicates their appreciation for the cross section and variety of items. In addition to their regular operations, the vendors plan to have extended hours during the holidays on December 8 and 9.

For those interested in participating as a market vendor, contact Susan Gower at (902) 315-2866. The public is invited to join the Facebook page: St. Mary’s Artisan Market.

Woodleigh Rescue

Tim Archer acquires famous PEI tourist attraction

by Peggy Miles

New owner Tim Archer at Woodleigh Replicas in Burlington, PEIMy guess is that most Island photo albums contain a snapshot of smiling family members standing in front of one of the miniature stone buildings at Woodleigh Replicas.

For those unaware, Woodleigh Replicas was a visitor attraction located in Burlington, opened in the 1950’s and featured hand built replicas of famous UK landmarks.

The park closed in 2008 and the orphaned site stood silent for a number of years waiting for an owner to rediscover its hidden potential and nurture the property back to life.

That custodian of care arrived earlier this year in the form of Tim Archer. Originally from small town Ontario, Archer is an accomplished country singer who was looking for a change from his busy music career. He began searching for property on Prince Edward Island and stumbled across the listing for Woodleigh.

The musician purchased a portion of the property including grounds that contain many of the small replicas and gardens. With help from family and friends, he began making gradual enhancements. If all goes well the visionary hopes to acquire the remaining Woodleigh property, including the large Tower of London replica.

Archer is a people person. “You’re only a stranger once!” he quips. He has a vision for Woodleigh and a focus on community is integral in the process.

The new owner hosted a community potluck and musical celebration at the end of July. Archer describes the event as “a big party of people coming together” and included former employees, people from the surrounding community and even a woman who was born in the 1867 homestead located on the property.

What does the future hold? Archer’s plans include working with community groups and individuals to host activities such as theatre events, haunted walks, skating parties and sleigh rides. He calls Woodleigh a spiritual, magical and peaceful place and mentions the possibility of a hospice retreat.

The personable property owner also envisions educational opportunities for the public and hopes he can work with local schools to facilitate visits to the quiet country location.

He expresses his desire to erect a new monument in honour of the Johnstone Family who founded the site and built the replicas so many years ago. His regular communication with the Johnstone’s indicates that they are ecstatic about the recent efforts at the site.

Archer shares that “the Island support has been amazing.” A pleasant surprise was the appearance of individuals to the property asking how they could help. “Here’s a shovel” jokes Tim about his response.

Ultimately Archer wants to “continue what he (Mr. Johnstone) started and for it to be an extension of his dream”.

In addition to developing the site for the community it’s also become a personal haven. Archer says he’s learned to appreciate everything that’s come into his life since his arrival. “I can’t wait to get home (to Woodleigh). Nothing but the birds and the breeze.”

You can join the Facebook group: Save the Woodleigh Replicas!

Driven to Succeed

Olivia McLeod and Grace Rowan-Quansah dream big

by Peggy Miles

Olivia and GraceThese girls have “it.” You know what I mean…they’re über- talented with glowing personalities and a drive to succeed. Sitting down with Grace Rowan-Quansah, age 10, Olivia McLeod, age 11, causes you to reassess your own dreams and accomplishments in life.

Grace and Olivia both study at Dance Virtuosa in Charlottetown, belong to the Summerside Storm Basketball dance team, and are on their way to a prestigious performing arts camp in New York City this summer.

During the school year their days are filled with studying, extra-curricular school activities, voice and dance lessons as well as performing at Storm games an hour away from home.

The girls say their busy lives can indeed be exhausting, but the payoff is rewarding. They reference their determination as a key factor in their success: “We got into [performing for the] Storm because of that,” says Olivia.

After auditioning earlier this year, the girls were invited to attend Peter Sklar’s Broadway workshop this summer in New York City. Sklar is a well known talent scout and producer and has worked behind the scenes with many young performers including Sarah Jessica Parker and Reese Witherspoon.

The seven-day youth workshop includes intensive sessions related to acting, singing and dancing. What are their feelings about the upcoming event? “Nervous, excited with mixed emotions.” They know components of the workshop will be strictly managed, but that the experience will take them to the next level of achieving their goals. At the conclusion of the workshop the two will perform at the Orpheum Theater, the same location where Off Broadway show ‘Stomp’ is staged.

Grace and Olivia are excited to be sharing this opportunity together. “We’re like sisters,” they communicate. Olivia describes her younger counterpart as smart, pretty, unique, talented and social. Grace shares that Olivia may first come off as shy, but isn’t. She also indicates that Olivia has a huge amount of determination. Olivia is inspired by singer Carrie Underwood, while Grace cites Etta James. Both indicate they are motivated by former contestants from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, as well as their fellow ‘senior’ Storm dancers.

What does the future hold? Grace wants to be accepted to the Juilliard School of Performing Arts and have a career as a performer (the back up plan is Harvard). Olivia wants to first earn a science degree before applying to Juilliard and pursuing her dreams on Broadway. The duo has a pact to take a year off from the rigors of adulthood to travel the world.

The girls are currently raffling a dance themed-painting to raise funds for their trip to New York. Info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lost in Space at Eptek

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

Space at Eptek (photo: Peggy Miles)When I was in elementary school, I was part of a club that conducted science experiments, looked at bugs under microscopes and got to sample little silver packets of astronaut food. I didn’t consider myself to a very science-oriented child, but I do remember thinking that eating the same provisions that space explorers were consuming was pretty darned cool. I had visions of astronauts eating freeze-dried roast beef dinner as they floated around in the cosmos. Being exposed to space food was an intriguing experience and caused me to think about science in a fun, new way.

These memories flooded back after visiting the space exhibit at Eptek Art & Culture Centre in Summerside recently. On loan from the Canadian Space Agency, the exhibit is described as “A combined exhibition of ‘Conquest of Space’ along with ‘Canada’s Stellar Space Achievements’ depicting the history of space exploration with a special emphasis on Canada’s contribution.”

Included in the exhibit are a number of photo boards cleverly attached to metal structures resembling satellites. Homage is paid to the launch of the space age in the 1950s and 60s through images of Sputnik (Earth’s first artificial satellite in case you didn’t know) and other leading space projects initiated by both the United States and Russia. Space exploration from the 70s and 80s is also highlighted, notably the Canada Arm which was deployed in 1981. There are numerous panels featuring Canadian astronauts such as Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space, and Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman astronaut in space. Further photo boards explore what’s happened in space since the turn of the century, for example noting the first space tourist (for you trivia buffs his name is Dennis Tito, an American multimillionaire).

Located on the other side of Eptek’s main gallery is an interactive multi-screen module that shares footage of Canada’s greatest space successes. The films will keep the attention of a young audience and the emotive music that accompanies each vignette will incite a sense of awe. Nice, short little snippets of video, the vignettes provide answers to such questions as, “Which Canadian astronaut spent the most time walking in space?” The answer? Dave Williams with three spacewalks accumulating almost 18 hours defying gravity.

Eptek Director Paula Kenny explains that the exhibit is a great way to highlight Canada’s contributions to the space age while providing access and insights into the history and global vision of space travel and technology.

Kenny indicates that families are encouraged to visit the exhibit, but adults will find it interesting as well. Eptek is welcoming school classes and youth groups to tour the exhibit and partake in space-themed activities. The exhibit runs until May 2. Stay tuned for details from Eptek on museum programming where members of the public can make an alien.

Heritage Homes

Wyatt Heritage Properties offers resources to home owners

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

Fred Horne points out an architectural feature to a group attending a Wyatt Heritage Properties presentationHeritage…history…the past…some people find it hard to connect to these terms. But imagine if you live in one of PEI’s grand historic homes—all of a sudden history comes alive under your own nose. Oh the stories those walls could tell.

History buffs and heritage preservationists know that the past contains answers to our community makeup, just waiting to be unlocked. One of the major key holders on Prince Edward Island is the City of Summerside’s Wyatt Heritage Properties. Enter any of the properties and you’ll come face to face with vibrant architecture, fascinating artifacts and animated staff who are bursting to share.

I recently stopped into WHP to chat with Fred Horne, Archivist and Collections Coordinator, about the resources available to heritage homeowners. The community has one of the highest per capita ratios of heritage homes in Canada. This is related to its successful shipbuilding and fox breeding industries, both of which produced grand houses in Summerside’s core.

Wyatt Heritage Properties is keen to work with individual home owners to provide options and alternatives to help them manage their properties. Why is maintaining the integrity of a heritage home important? “Because that way you keep the story, the time it was built, the uniqueness,” emphasizes Horne.

The Archivist walked me through an abundance of resources available to the public related to Summerside’s built heritage. At the MacNaught History Centre & Archives property, Horne showed me an amazing collection chronicling Summerside’s historic houses. With summaries featuring 120 dwellings thus far, the profiles share fascinating details—for example, distinct architectural features that may have been hidden after renovations long, long ago.

The collection (which is also available online) serves as a way to maintain a record of Summerside’s structural history. In addition, it provides a fantastic resource to heritage homeowners. So if you’re the owner of a heritage home on Spring Street and are curious to know who owned your house a hundred years ago, Wyatt Heritage Properties may be able to help you unlock that answer.

Wyatt Heritage Properties has been proactive in sharing information with the public. Last fall the entity hosted an afternoon lecture related to heritage retrofit carpentry and methods that can be used to protect architectural integrity. A future presentation is planned on the topic of how preserving older buildings saves the environment.

And during Heritage Week on Saturday, February 18 at 1 pm, Faye Pound (the first Wyatt Heritage Properties Archivist and Historian) will give a lecture described as: “Summer Street, Summerside: A Streetscape of the Emerging Town.” The presentation will include a photographic tour of Summer Street with stories describing how its heritage buildings contribute to the development of the community. The discussion takes place at the Lefurgey Cultural Centre and will be followed by a walk along Summer Street, weather permitting.

“We’re encouraging people to become stewards of their homes. We can adopt an educational approach…that’s knowledge instead of fear,” says Horne.

Artist Rachel Carter

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

Rachel CarterRachel Carter possesses a sophistication that extends beyond her years. It sounds so cliché, but she’s a young person with an old soul. Not to mention a gentle way of articulating her views on art and a quiet confidence lying beneath.

Carter is a talented and highly trained fine artist in painting who moved to Summerside with her husband a year and a half ago. She describes her style as classically inspired realism. Geometric shapes and hazy blobs are reserved for contemporary artists—Carter prefers to focus on portraits and still life.

As a youth she was more focused on drama than art. She explains that her mother “forced her to take art classes” in high school in an attempt to add diversity to Carter’s interests. Initially she was resistant, but art quickly became a passion where Carter “lived, breathed and ate painting.” Pocket money was spent on art supplies, and in her last years in high school she could often be found in the school’s art studio until 9 o’clock at night.

An influential art teacher encouraged Carter to attend the well respected fine arts program at Mount Allison University. Growing up in Ajax, Ontario, Carter had never heard of the Sackville NB university, but once there, thrived on the support system initiated by her and the other students. In 2010 Carter earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a minor in history and a specialization in painting and sculpture.

“I’m always trying to challenge myself,” the young artist indicates. She shares that as a motivational tool, she tries to impress people that inspire her, even if they died decades or centuries ago. Carter is very inspired by art history and the way it shines the spotlight on patterns in human thought and culture.

She considers it an accomplishment to have her art hanging on someone’s wall and is touched when she receives letters of thanks from art purchasers who have commissioned her work.

Carter has exhibited in a number of galleries across the Maritimes. Counted in her future goals is to show artwork in New York. Considered the art gallery capital of the world, Carter expresses that, “If you can make it in New York, you’re considered to have made it.”

Carter is offering 6–8 week beginner and intermediate classes starting in January. Students can choose to focus on drawing, or working in oil or acrylic. Students will also learn various techniques, such as the effect of using different brushes, as well as how to layer paints. The classes will take place at husband Joshua’s store, Game On, located in the downtown McNeil Mall on Water Street.

Carter is quick to express her newfound love for Summerside. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything less than an absolutely beautiful sunset.” Spoken like a true artist.

Sugar Plums Dance

Spotlight Theatre company stages The Nutcracker at Harbourfront

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

Krysten Cameron, Allison Grimes, Jason Nicholson, Nadine Pineau (photo: Peggy Miles)You’re familiar with the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” right? Even if you don’t know the song title, I can guarantee you’ve heard the Tchykovsky tune. YouTube it for a reminder…it’s one of those songs that instantly puts you in the holiday spirit and well, invokes visions of sugar plums dancing in your head.

If you’re craving the full Tchaikovsky experience, Summerside’s Spotlight Theatre Company is staging The Nutcracker at the Harbourfront Theatre on Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10. The story is based in the late 1800s and follows young Marie and her journey though Toy Land after receiving the gift of a nutcracker. Through the magic that the nutcracker possesses he attempts to break the curse of the evil mouse queen and win back his love. The story will unfold as a musical theatre adaptation of the famous ballet.

I recently got a sneak peak at the costumes and they are amazing! Designed and created by the mother of Spotlight Theatre owner Reasha Walsh, the costumes include a regal soldier, a clown whose drum is permanently attached to its midsection and a gingerbread man whose head looks so delicious you could take a bite right out of it.

Staging a Christmas show has been on Walsh’s mind since last February when she began reading scripts and exploring options for a holiday production. Auditions began in August and rehearsals have been taking place since September.

A true community theatre production, the show involves a local cast of various ages, as well as a volunteer team assisting with logistics. “Every time I begin a new project I get to see the progression of the actors. Especially the new ones coming to the first rehearsal with terror in their eyes and then building up their confidence and performing onstage in front of 500 people. It is absolutely amazing,” indicates Walsh. She also shares that for actors who have participated in previous performances, it’s an opportunity for them to learn new skills and adapt to new conditions since each show is unique.

“I believe in teaching and nurturing skills. I always take directing from the standing point that everyone is there to learn, including myself.”

Walsh’s objectives in staging the show are dual purpose: “The objectives are simple but I believe really important. One is to provide local entertainment that the whole family can enjoy and hopefully to inspire budding actors. Two, is to offer local actors and artists an opportunity to stage a show. Our productions are open to anyone who would like to audition.”

She is excited about the experience her audience will have. “Nutcracker is a wonderful family story that brings magic to life and captures the Christmas spirit. It has wonderful characters and beautiful music.”

Holiday Goodness

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

Mugs by Kathy EthridgeA stroll around Summerside Farmers’ Market

I’ve been telling myself that this is the year I’m going to make handmade holiday gifts for my family and friends. Who am I kidding? That’s not going to happen. As I ponder this thought, I realize that the next best thing is to take a trip to the farmers’ market to find items from local artisans that can be wrapped up and delivered to loved ones.

Every Saturday community members clamber to the Summerside Farmers’ Market which is located in the historic Holman Building in downtown Summerside. As you walk through the building’s lower level you find stalls affixed along the grey stone walls and enveloped by a low ceiling. Contrasting the neutral setting are colourful goods in the form of veggie stands, artisanal wares and oh so many tasty treats.

As we grow closer to the season of giving, the Market artists are available to make gift suggestions. They offer products such as custom woodworking, glassworks, hand made soaps, jewellery, fabric crafts and garden décor.

Kathy Ethridge of Ethridge Pottery stresses the opportunity for the public to support local artisans while retaining revenue in the local economy. “Everybody could use a mug for Christmas…or maybe even four mugs,” smiles Ethridge.

The Market offers “one stop shopping for all your holiday needs” indicates Market Manager Jim Kimmet. Crafters and artisans can certainly help consumers to make checkmarks on their gift list, while food vendors have all of the supplies needed for a celebratory feast.

Market merchants boast high quality seasonal veggies and berries, eggs, meats, and home baking (including gluten free products). Manager Kimmet shares that poultry vendors are now taking holiday orders.

If you’re on the guest list for a slew of festive gatherings this year, the Market has lots of suitable hostess gifts such as jams, jellies, preserves, and spreads (including a very tasty red pepper relish).

In an era where it’s easy to get caught up in the consumption of the holidays, the Market offers a spot to relax and reflect. It’s a great place to take visiting friends and family or students home from university. A diverse group of sellers offers ready-to-eat foods such as coffee, baked items and international fare. Musical buskers are ever present to enhance the experience.

How do vendors want the public to feel at the Market? “We want them to be comfortable and feel like it’s what’s ‘right’. It’s right to teach your kids how to support local farmers and artisans. It’s right to keep your money in your community. It’s right to eat healthy.” Market organizers are encouraged by the recent increase in local traffic.

The Summerside Farmers’ Market will operate on its regular schedule during the holiday season, and is open every Saturday year round from 9 am–1 pm. For more information, check out their Facebook page.

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