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Cornwall Family Trail-Walk Series

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A Course in Miracles

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Drum Roll, Please

Island drummers head to festival in Cape Breton

by Peggy Miles

Student Bray Schurman and teacher Moe Hashie are attending the Cape Breton International Drum Festival

Two Summerside drummers will be on their way to Cape Breton at the end of May to participate in the acclaimed Cape Breton International Drum Festival. This marks the first time the festival will have performances from PEI participants.

The event is in its ninth year and takes place at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay on May 23 and 24. It features a plethora of well known drummers, as well as clinics and sessions for drum educators. A tradeshow featuring percussion and drum equipment is also part of the festival.

The event has become known as “one of the world’s premier drumming and percussion events” and founders Bruce and Gloria Jean Aitkin have declared the event’s mission to be ”Education Through Performance.” The Festival is well known by musicians worldwide, and has a reputation for showcasing performers of all ages and genders.

Moe Hashie teaches at the Music Rocks Academy in Summerside and was approached earlier this year by festival organizers asking for his participation. He’s been playing the drums since the age of five, first whetting his musical appetite on his Ringo Starr drum kit. Hashie has played with numerous bands over the years and is well known as part of the popular local band Edge. He also plays guitar, bass and harmonica.

Attending the event through the perspective of an educator, Hashie has an appreciation for the valuable knowledge he’ll gain and take back to his students. As a drummer, he is looking forward to sharing in the camaraderie that drummers feel as a group. He indicates they are a supportive group of people who are passionate about their craft.

Hashie will be bringing one of his students, Bray Schurman, to participate. Schurman has been playing the drums for four years with Hashie as his instructor. The fifteen-year-old says his friends think the experience he’s about to embark upon is pretty cool. He’s looking forward to taking it all in, and using the occasion as a great opportunity to watch and learn from the best.

Both drummers will be participating in the showcase portion of the event (Schurman in the junior program). The showcase gives local drummers a chance to share their talents on the main stage and serves as a reward for their dedication to the craft of drumming.

Hashie and Schurman will be exposed to drummers like Horacio Hernandez—who’s performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Carlos Santana—and Virgil Donati—who’s recorded and toured with the likes of Tina Arena and Steve Vai. Also, Mike Clark, who’s been called “the most sampled drummer in hip hop,” appearing on tracks by Prince.

Hashie and Schurman are busy rehearsing for their showcases and looking forward to the experience.

Island drummer Nathaniel Lamoureux has been selected to play the convened show stage during the Cape Breton International Drum Festival May 23 and 24. Lamoureux, in his mid-twenties, can be seen and heard playing with a who’s who of the Island music scene. He regularly plays with dance favourites Joey Kitson and Big City, Vintage 4.0, up and coming Meaghan Blanchard, John Connolly and Tim Chaisson. Nat’s skill gets noticed and gets him substitute shows with the Charlottetown Festival.

Musical colleague Tim Chaisson classifies Nat as a pocket drummer with a playing style that consists of a simple, solid beat that lacks the flair of flamboyant fills. “I like to set a groove so deep that the tempo never wavers,” says Nat. This creates a comfortable “pocket” for the rest of the band to play in.

Years of piano lessons gave Nathaniel an ear for music. As a child he taught himself guitar and was able to teach himself drums at the age of twelve.

“This is an excellent opportunity to showcase and be educated in the presence of world class drummers,” says Lamoureux, who said he would like to thank Island drum maker Amiel LeBlanc for his endorsement to play the festival.

Art at Westisle High

Programs provide a creative environment for students

by Peggy Miles

Melanie Gallant (left) and Sydney Ellis show off their artwork at Westisle High School

I recently visited Westisle High School to learn more about their art programs. As I watched students hang gallery-style artwork on the brick walls and ride unicycles in the lobby, I couldn’t help but hear the theme song to the old TV show Fame running faintly through my head. Westisle is located in Rosebank, near Elmsdale, and serves students residing between Richmond and North Cape. And there’s definitely a creative vitality in the air.

The school has a visual arts program, as well as a crafts course where students can experiment with paper making, jewellery and more. The school has concert, jazz and vocal bands, and there’s a busking club that meets once a week to juggle, ride unicycles and have a few laughs. It’s also the only school on PEI that offers an art history course.

I interviewed a couple of students who had taken the art history course, and they began describing the timelines of art from prehistory to present day. I was impressed. Their art teacher indicated that when course students go on field trips to art galleries, they don’t feel intimidated and are armed with the knowledge to critique the art on the gallery walls.

Almost every kid that passes through grade 10 takes the graphics program. Some of their work was being hung in a corridor when I arrived. One image was an example of photo manipulation, where the photographer has placed several images of herself in the same photo, all of them (her?) watching TV.

When the school was built in 1979, the administration made a conscious effort for students to have an outlet for their creativity. Today’s teaching staff agrees that the art programs foster confidence and artistry within the students, and a broader perspective on the world around them. The students tell me participating in the art curriculum is a nice break away from a traditional classroom.

These students may not be seeking the limelight like in Fame, but they are succeeding in the arts. Former Westisle students are involved in the animation and film industries, the fashion world, and as artisans. Some have gone on to study at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and one Westisle alum runs her own textile art business in the art mecca of Lunenburg.

Comparing Westisle students to the kids in Fame might be a bit extreme. After all, those television kids knew without a doubt that they were bound for greatness. But so are the Westisle kids…they just might not know it yet.

Easy Speaking

Summerside Toastmasters foster confident communicating

by Peggy Miles

Rena Gaudet, Sergeant at Arms of the Summerside Speak-Easy Toastmasters, calls a meeting to order

Susan Frellick of the Summerside Speak-Easy Toastmasters tells me she has “yet to read an obituary where someone died of fright” due to public speaking. When you put it that way, it does seem silly to be intimidated by a few nerve racking moments in the spotlight. Frellick is the president of the group, part of Toastmasters International, whose purpose is to provide members with an opportunity to practice their speaking skills in a supportive atmosphere.

Speak-Easy members come from a variety of backgrounds such as nursing, teaching, accountanting and farming; and range in age from mid-20s to retirement age and beyond. Many come from a professional field where strong communication skills are an asset and being involved in the club provides them with an opportunity to improve their leadership skills. The group has also welcomed politicians, who use the group as a test audience for nomination speeches and to hone their political savvy.

Frellick first became involved with Toastmasters through the club at the Summerside Tax Centre. She admits that during her first speech she was “hanging on to the lectern for dear life.” But over the years as her experience and confidence grew, she says she is now comfortable speaking without notes.

“Everyone has something to contribute” Frellick shares. Whether it’s interesting information about the topic they’re speaking on, or a unique delivery style, individuals are able to learn from each other. Frellick stresses that the club offers a friendly and supportive atmosphere and fosters confidence in its members. Members are evaluated on their speeches and receive feedback from other members, which helps to improve their communication skills.

From basic participation as a “competent communicator,” to becoming a certified ATM (Advanced Toastmaster), the organization offers a variety of participation levels. Members also have the opportunity to attend inter club visits and regional conferences, where they can share presentations with other Toastmaster folks.

So what topics have been covered at the Speak-Easy group in Summerside? Everything from the environment to dog psychology to tie tying for dummies.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Speak-Easy Toastmasters group and special activities are planned for May. Organizers plan to have functions highlighting special guest speakers and the recognition of individuals who have been ambassadors of public speaking.

The group meets every first and third Wednesday of the month from 6–8 pm at Anson’s Restaurant at Slemon Park and new members are welcome. For information contact Susan Frellick at 902-436-4013 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For information on other Island Toastmaster Clubs on PEI (including Charlottetown, Summerside Tax Centre and a French Club) visit

Audio Visual Expertise

A/V pro Jay Perry offers training to the community
by Peggy Miles

Jay Perry

As someone who’s been involved in the events sector both as an employee and a volunteer, I’ve had to deal with various high-tech audio visual issues beyond my comprehension.

I wish I had known someone like Jay Perry during moments of head scratching over terms like “lumens” and “gain.” Perry’s company, Atlantic Integrated Systems, specializes in providing audio visual services to a variety of community facilities including churches, recreation complexes and community theatres. His company performs everything from equipment sales, installation, service, maintenance, design and consultation.

Perry believes in a “one stop shopping” philosophy, where he can be the go-to guy for a client’s need for everything related to video, sound and lighting. He is able to “take all of those components and put them into a working system where they’re compatible with each other, that they’re integrated and that they’re easy for the client to use and understand.“

Perry’s been kept particularly busy helping church organizations go high-tech, upgrading outdated systems, and providing places of worship with the capacity to serve their changing congregations. As Perry points out, church has changed. Congregations have gotten bigger as churches have been forced to amalgamate, and thus require systems that are going to suit the needs of a larger audience. Things like wireless microphones and power point presentations are also being incorporated into sermons – an example of new technology that helps to communicate the message to parishioners.

Perry has a vast knowledge of audio visual systems, something he gained through time spent in other areas of the country. Originally from Summerside, Perry attended the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technologies in the late 80’s, and headed to BC shortly after, using his knowledge to assist with sound and lighting installations in hotels, resorts, and churches. He’s done installation work at GM Place in Vancouver, and was responsible for the audio requirements of the 1994 Commonwealth Games. Perry even spent some time as a touring engineer with the likes of Matthew Good, Sarah McLachlin and Bare Naked Ladies.

To make a long story short, Perry’s path has led home to Summerside, doing work that he finds deeply gratifying. Although he frequently deals with knowledgeable clients who sometimes just need a bit of help, he also works with people who prefer to have their hand held, something he prides himself on having the ability and desire to do.

As a testament to this, in the near future Perry plans on offering training and workshops for audio visual operators (for example church volunteers who also serve as sound operators) so that they will gain the required knowledge to comfortably operate equipment.

In addition to Perry’s work with AIS, he also wears the hat of Technical Director at the Harbourfront Theatre.

For information about Atlantic Integrated Systems, contact Jay Perry at 902-940-0640 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cultural Cadeaux

Holiday gift ideas from Summerside

by Peggy Miles

I have a file on my computer called Christmas card labels—family & friends. Yes, I am one of those people.

In honour of my superior Christmas coordination skills, I thought I'd take the opportunity to bestow my gift-giving suggestions. In particular, gifts with an arts or culture theme that can be found here in my community of Summerside. Options are available at every price point, and you'll be supporting local arts and culture entities.

When you think of culture in Summerside, you might think of the College of Piping. I discovered they have some great items in their gift shop, especially for music lovers. Besides lots of clan paraphernalia for the MacDonald, MacPherson or MacGillivray in your life, they have great stocking stuffers including the super cute 'wee Scottish harmonica.'

I also stopped into Eptek Art and Cultural Centre, where if you're looking for something a little eclectic, this is the spot. My favourite item was a pair of earrings handmade from little round felt balls. And for something a bit more upscale, Eptek also had a variety of paintings and folk art that any art lover would appreciate.

And now a bit of a revelation: culture can indeed be found at the mall. I recently ventured into the County Fair Mall to check out Coles. They had a great selection of books by local and regional authors, including one that caught my eye called A Good Summer by local photographer Anna Karpinski. It consisted of a collection of photos reminiscent of summer days (think ferris wheels, parades and the beach) with accompanying text from local creative types like Catherine MacLellan and Georges Arsenault. I also stopped into CD Plus where they had a section dedicated to local music. I was pleased to see CD's from Nikkie, one of my favourite local artists.

Another great gift idea (particularly for service and care providers) is Market Money from the Spring Street Farmer's Market. The market is open year round, making it a great place for gift recipients to redeem their market money on produce, meat, crafts, or food fare.

And if you're looking for something the whole family can enjoy, treat them to a pre-Christmas outing of A Dickens' Christmas Carol at the Harbourfront Theatre playing December 5–7. Or a family membership (including program and event passes) from Wyatt Heritage Properties might be just the thing.

And don't forget: check out La Centre Belle Alliance as well as the Acadian Museum for gifts celebrating the Acadian culture.

This is by no means a complete list. There are a multitude of options available to support arts and culture organizations in your community this holiday season. So whether you're a Christmas planner like me, or one of those last minute shoppers, you'll be able to claim the title of Most Unique Gift Giver of 2008. For contact information on the organizations and venues mentioned, find links on

Pondering the Park

Finding inspiration in Rotary Friendship Park in Summerside

by Peggy Miles

I usually go to the park to lose weight—the Rotary Friendship Park at the north end of Summerside specifically. I like to go power walking along the Fox Run Trail in an attempt at improving my state of physical fitness.

But today I walk into the park via the Walker Avenue entrance with a coffee in one hand and a chocolate glazed donut and my notebook in the other. Today’s visit is about indulgence—of both the creative and calorie kind.

I find myself a bench and take a sip of my coffee as I open my notebook. I’ve come to the park to find my creative centre, and perhaps jot down some literary gems in the process.

I take a moment to admire the surrounding coloured leaves. The wooded park and its pathways have always felt like a grandmother’s welcome hug. And the stillness of this place amazes me. I can leave my windy downtown surroundings and come to this place where the branches are still, and the only thing you’ll hear are fellow park users, who smile and sometimes give a greeting as they pass by before they disappear into the trail’s embrace.

I’ve been coming to the park for a long time, probably over ten years, just a few years shy of when the park was first developed as a public space. Maintained by the Summerside municipality, the park contains various trails suitable for walking, jogging or biking. There’s also an unofficial sledding hill, which I haven’t ventured down myself, but is enjoyed by the kids in the neighbourhood.

As more and more people enjoy the new waterfront boardwalk in Summerside, it’s left the park a little quieter and less celebrated. I believe its value as a place of creative inspiration and contemplation is untapped. What sounds more romantic than sitting amongst the trees, writing poems or song lyrics, or perhaps just reading a book? Of course, as we venture into November, a two-hour dawdle on a park bench might not be realistic (although picture yourself—alone or with a loved one—with a blanket tucked around your legs and a hot chocolate in your mittened hands, simply enjoying the crispness of the day).

Do yourself a favour—don’t bring your iPod; just bring a paintbrush, camera, notepad, or whatever creative tools you’ll need, and spend an hour or two. As for my day in the park, I end up just doing some doodling before the wind gently blows through the branches of the trees, causing me to look up from my thoughtful daze. Perhaps a gentle reminder that its time to head back to reality, but knowing the park will welcome me with open arms the next time I’m in need of cardio or creativity.

PEI Studio Tour ‘08

Island artisans open studios to visitors

by Peggy Miles

Erma Smith of Paragon Craft Studio in SummersideIf you appreciate all things crafty like I do, the annual PEI Studio Tour is something you should check out.

The Studio Tour allows art and craft studios from across Prince Edward Island to roll out the red carpet, welcoming the public with demonstrations, workshops and the opportunity to interact with craftspeople and artisans about their work.

In fact there are 65 studios from across the Island opening their doors for the event—with everything from folk art to basket weaving, as well as pottery, jewellery, wood items and of course paintings and art prints.

One artisan you might meet is Erma Smith at the Paragon Craft Studio in Summerside. The studio is located across the street from the College of Piping and when I visited recently, I couldn’t help but be awestruck by the dozens of gorgeous stained glass pieces hanging from the ceiling of her shop. Many of the pieces contained inspirations from nature including various kinds of birds, nautical themes and other colourful scenes. Looking up at the works on the ceiling brought about an appreciation for the artistry that had obviously gone into each piece. I immediately started to consider which ones would appeal the most to the people on my Christmas list.

Even to the inexperienced eye, it’s apparent that the quality of Smith’s work is high, and you wouldn’t know that Smith has only been involved with stained glass for about five years. Her work has found homes across North America, as well as places as far away as Australia. She loves being asked to do custom work, and especially enjoys producing pieces that will be added to cabinet doors and other furniture pieces. Smith recently completed a piece for a customer from Montreal which featured a majestic blue heron. She was thrilled to hear him refer to her work as “a masterpiece.” The talented artisan states that every time she does a custom piece it takes her studio “to another level” and allows her to cultivate her craft. Smith also tells me about another source of encouragement—a mentor and fellow stained glass artist in Whitby, Ontario, who introduces her to new techniques and methods.

Smith herself acts as a support for local stained glass artists. She is excited when someone is first introduced to stained glass at one of her workshops, and ends up making it a full time hobby.

During the Studio Tour, Paragon will be offering demonstrations and showing people the various steps required to make a stained glass piece from beginning to end. The studio will also have a wide variety of jewellery and stained glass pieces available for purchase. Smith hopes the Studio Tour will expose her shop to an even broader audience, allowing her to share the art medium that she loves so much.

The public will be able to save the provincial tax on all purchases of Island-made handcrafts and giftware at participating retail outlets during this six-day event.

Experiencing PEI

Bill and Mary Kendrick organize experiences for tourists

by Peggy Miles

Ron Perry shows the Bittle family his clamming technique.Kind of strange, but even though I’ve lived on Prince Edward Island my whole life, I’ve never gone digging for clams. So the day I tagged along with Island visitor Trilby Bittle and her two teenage sons for a clamming expedition was an experience for me too.

We met in Summerside and followed our guide, Summerside resident Ron Perry, out to Abram’s Village. When we arrived, Ron produced a couple of shovels from his trunk and we scuttled down to a sandbar just off shore. He told us to look closely at the sand for air holes (a telltale sign of clams below), and showed us how to use the shovels to expose the little suckers. As Ron handed the digging devices over to Trilby’s sons Cole and Griffin, he exclaimed, “You’re digging for dinner guys!” With some awkwardness the boys began, and laughed every time a clam squirted a stream of water into the air. After finishing at the shore, we backtracked to a scenic park in Wellington for a cook-out. Ron unpacked his supplies, including fresh carrots and onion picked from his garden that morning, which he added to the steaming pot of clams.

Mary and Bill Kendrick of Experience PEIBittle and her family were taking advantage of one of twenty two ‘experiences’ offered by Experience PEI, the brainchild of Bill and Mary Kendrick of Fernwood. In fact, the ‘Digging for Dinner’ clamming adventure is the third experience the family had participated in since arriving in PEI from Ontario a few days earlier.

The Kendrick’s told me that many of their clients partake in multiple adventures, and that their seafood related experiences are among the most popular (people can also tong and shuck for oysters, as well as go lobster fishing with a fourth generation lobster fisherman).

The Kendrick’s say that the key to each experience is providing participants with elements that exercise their senses. Taste is particularly important and the entrepreneurial couple always aim to include it (the Totally Chocolate Experience is next on my list). And the answer to the question, ‘how are participants going to learn?’ is always central when developing experiences.

The Kendrick’s have a whole host of what they call, ‘experience providers’. From Summerside artist Maurice Bernard showing participants how to sculpt elaborate sandcastles, to Linda McCausland, who teaches the step by step process of paper making.

Bill points out that they’d like to see more Islanders participate in their services. He expresses that Experience PEI offers the opportunity for Island residents to look at their own community differently. As with my clamming experience, many Islanders are aware of Island happenings and activities, but they may have never had the opportunity to be intimately involved.

Experience PEI continues to offer experiences through the fall. Winter experiences are also available and include smelt fishing, dog sledding and curling.

Events Calendar

November 2018
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