Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Group CTMA’s Pilot Project

Winter Ferry Service Between PEI and Islands

The Group CTMA has a pilot project to run the ferry service, Madeleine the entire year in 2009. The service will take place between Souris, Prince Edward Island and Grindstone Islands twice a week during the months of February and March.

Normally the islands are semi-isolated during those months. Yesterday, the federal government confirmed the acceptance of the project by way of communication.

The Magdalen Islands mayor, Joel Arseneau, had declared that he is largely satisfied with the announcement. He indicated that representatives from the Group CTMA have worked a dossier up that the federal government can recognize as a viable economic action for the Archipelago that will put in place two weekly ferry runs for the development of the islands.

The addition of the two weekly voyages will cost one and a half million dollars more for Transport Canada.

The mayor remind all Magdalen Islanders that it is up to the to use the service and prove the to the government the necessity of having the winter ferry service.

I wonder just how many people will use the service! I also wonder what the repercussions of having the ferry service will be for the lower income families, if the governments decide that the Islands are no longer isolated and therefore do not deserve the isolation allowance.

When the Voyager started to make it run once a week the government said that we were only half isolated and therefore cut our isolation in half. Does this new project cut the rest of the isolation credits from islanders? Will our imports cost more to make up the difference of 1.5 million dollars? Will the extra ferry service make the islands more tempting to tourists who would want to travel in February and March? After all, we do have the seal birthing during the early month of March.

There are a lot questions and a lot of responses both on the positive influence and on the negative influence of this project. I suppose only time will tell if islanders will want to get on the ferry, knowing that there is a possibility that the wind will turn and they will be stuck on the ferry for seven, twelve or even twenty-four hours until it is safe enough to dock into one of the harbours.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nav Canada Has Got Woes...

And this holiday season, they are passing those woes on to their clients and more important..., to their employees. After making a couple really bad economical decisions this year, Nav Canada has decided to automate many of their resources, in airports such as the one on the Magdalen Islands. This being done, many of their employees will be transferred out or worse, they will lose their jobs and pay cheques. Some of their employees are already putting in request for transfer off islands.

Magdalen Islands mayor Joel Arseneau deplores that the consultations are coming about this holiday season. It is a strategy that, in his opinion, is aimed to reduce all opposition that is seen as rational. As well, there are the complaints to consider, of the employees to consider of the private enterprise which controls the air traffic circulation, when the flight information service at the House Harbour airport goes automated.

In a consultation document, Nav Canada highlighted that they register less than 5000 movements per year. This counters the objective of having 20000 movements per year which will justify an airport run manually.

The mayor feels justifiably upset with the status quo. He feels just in considering the security of Magdalen Islanders. Mayor Arseneau intends to mobilize the socio-economic representatives of the islands and question the two levels of government to prevent Nav Canada from automating their flight information services on the Islands. The mayor estimates more that 250,000 dollars is placed into the islands economy.

It was in the wind, a couple of weeks back, that there was a representative of Nav Canada going around to all the small airports to talk with the employees of the changes that were coming to private company. It made the employees nervous just expecting the meeting. The representative came and went quietly and now the mess blows up in the faces of the politicians..., Go Figure!

The Magdalen Islands isn't large enough to justify an air traffic controller, instead they use four or five flight service technicians, on rotation at the airport here on the islands.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Election Day Is Past...

Following a hot struggle, the liberal candidate for the islands, Germain Chevarie, stands victorious here in the Archipelago. The election took place on December 9th, 2008 and at the end of the evening, Mr. Chevarie took the election with 316 votes over his adversary, Jeannine Richard. When the totals were tallied up, Mr. Chevarie took 50% of the Magdalen Islands vote and the péquiste (common name for the Parti Quebecois) took 46% of the vote.

Mr. Chevarie's experience does not come from politics nor did he ever have any aspirations to following politics for a career. Three times he has been asked to run for the candidacy for the liberals and other Parties. Germain Chevarie is no stranger to Islanders though. He has 32 year in the field of Health and Social Services, spending many of those years as Chief Administrator of the CHA (Centre Hopital de l'Archipel or The Islands Hospital Center).

Germain Chevarie is said to have the honour of representing Islanders at the National Assembly. Ms Richard, though saddened, accepted her defeat and wished the liberal party under Chevarie be at the height of the dossiers which he must now attend to. She is said to believe the day had been difficult for her party.

The candidate for the Green Party, Nicolas Tremblay took two percent of the vote. Patrick Leblanc, for the Democratic Action Party of Quebec, who had five percent of the islander vote in 2007, lost support for his party by taking only 1.5% of the Islands vote. For his part, Jacques Bourbeau for the Quebec Solitaire Party took three percent.

Numerous electronic breakdowns of the vote were taken throughout the day of the election until the final vote was made. Three quarters of the voting Magdalen Islander population showed up to the polls to cast their vote.

You know, I can't remember the last time the Liberals took this election.... Perhaps it was some time during the 1980's. The Magdalen Islands has a strong Parti Québécois following and they have taken the provincial vote practically ever since the start of the Party, with René Levesque at the Party head. The Magdalen Islands remained faithful to the party when the Liberals or the Conservatives were certain to sit in power.

I think the Magdalen Islands is growing up. They finally realize that if they want action, they need to have a member of the same party in office in Quebec City. For years Maxime Arseneau took the vote and he, last going off quit probably because he was continuously fighting an uphill battle to get anything done by the government here on the islands. I would imagine the péquiste party is shaking their heads now..., licking their wounds and contemplating the next election, but I can't think of a better result fo the Magdalen Islands, then having the Liberals take the vote except having the Conservative Party take it. Too bad, we don't have the Conservative Party on the ballot here on the islands.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

The Islands Richelieu Club To Donate Christmas Food....

The Richelieu Club put the past weekend to good use by collecting the money to buy Christmas baskets of food. The amount of food they will buy surpassed all that was expected. Islanders generously contributed the equivalent of some hundred fish baskets full of food, explained the coordinator of the event, Jocelyn Thériault. This is 20% more that was donated last year.

Note: A fish basket is approximately thirty gallons, I would say..., maybe a little less.

The president of the Richelieu Club, Élie Chevrier, said that his part was the sale of tickets for a drawing, until the start of January, will allow for the addition of around ten baskets of a thousand dollars worth of perishable food baskets for Christmas. The distribution of the Christmas baskets, to the families with children in need, will commence around Saturday the 20th day of December.

I imagine that there are quite a few families that live under the poverty level, here on the Magdalen Islands. But not many, if any, go hungry or don't have at least the basic needs to survive well. Unlike on the mainland, if a recession or heaven forbid, a depression hit, the islands would suffer seriously, but food would still be plentiful because islanders have depended on the sea for their survival for centuries. The soil of the islands is rich and although not much of it is being used for farming, the potential for it's use is there.

Most people have regular jobs on the islands. Some full time, others work seasonally. There are a few who live on social assistance, drawn from the provincial government. Most of the seasonal workers do draw unemployment insurance from the Federal government, but many must repay the money when they start work in the spring. The islands economy has traditionally been based around fishing but for the past twenty years or so, the tourist industry has made leaps into a close second for the top spot for the economy. The salt mine probably runs third for employ ability. Then there are wide ranges of local business owners and their employees.

Magdalen Islands Election Poll Reveals...

An election poll held on the Magdalen Islands by the company Tenor Marketing from Sherbrooke has Magdalen Islanders supporting Liberal candidate, Germain Chevarie, by 48 percent. The survey was taken on December 2nd and 3rd, 2008 and was given to 300 people. A margin of six percent was accepted.

Jeannine Richard, Candidate for the Parti québécois for the county of the Magdalen Islands, had 45% of the people in the survey, who had the intention to vote. Patrick Leblanc, candidate for the L'adéquiste received three percent, Nicolas Trembley from the Green Party had two and a half percent and the candidate for Quebec Solidaire, Jacques Bourbeau had one percent.

Islands Dentist Closes Doors

The Archipelago dental clinic, Clinique Dentaire de l’Archipel, will be closed for an undetermined length of time because the clinic has been unable to recruit a permanent dentist to work on the islands. The Magdalen Islands is an isolated, desolated region of Canada..., there is no doubt of that.

This year will be the first where the ferry between Grindstone and Prince Edward Island, will not be laid up for the two worst months of winter. It will make the twelve hour round trip, twice a week. In keeping the ferry running, the government now will have the right to say the islands are no longer isolated and will probably declare us a class ‘C’ state and remove our isolation pay. Of course in removing that credit, professionals will have even less of a reason to stay on the islands more that six months.

Dental hygienist, Micheline Martel, who is also the administrative management of the clinic which belongs to orthodontist, Sonia Lapointe, explained that the clinic has run it’s course over the past five years with temporary dentists. The last on the long list of dentists to quit was Jessica Kerwin, who left her position in July.

Ms Martel has lodged a request to the Minister of Health and Social Services, for permission to dispense her services as dental hygienist in the absence of a dentist. However, the province is in a state of an electoral campaign and her request has gone unheard. The clinic has approximately 2000 clients on their accounts. Without a dentist, Ms Martel must refer the clinic’s emergency patients to another dental clinic which resides in the area or the regions only hospital.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Interesting Bit of Islands History

The Coming of the Families - Part 1

Captain Philip-Franklin Callbeck (Colbeck) and his wife, Mary Burke and together with their seven children, lived on the Magdalen Islands. The children were Jean-François (John-Francis), Sophie, Eulalie, Eugenie, George, Isaac and Anne.

According to S.R.-D. Gaudet, Callbeck who was a Magistrate or a Justice of the Peace, would put in writing, to Father Plessis, a pressing request to obtain the presence of a resident priest permanently on the Islands and would recommend to the Bishop, the brothers Louis and Firmin Boudreau, would accomplish certain pastoral tasks, in the absence of a missionary.

A company was established on the islands in 1805, with Captain Callbeck, Lieutenant Benoît Boudreau and teacher Édouard Noël. It is interesting on its own that Captain Callbeck was the Magdalen Islands agent and nephew of Sir Admiral Isaac Coffin, and who presumably had a gentle heart for the French speaking population of the islands.

In 1806, Sir Isaac came to the islands, on his first and only visit during his concession of the islands, came to unsuccessfully deport the Acadians from Saint Pierre & Miquelon, who had been on the islands since 1792. According to Chantal Naud’s book, Îles-de-la-Madeleine 1793-1993 Deux siècles d’Histoire, he did this under the pretext that these inhabitants were of the France French culture because they came from the French islands of North America and therefore were enemies of the King. Apparently, he also changed his agents at this same time, because when he left the islands, he left orders and recommendations for his new agent, Louis Boudreau, who became the official agent of the islands at this time.

What is also even more interesting to note, is the genealogy of Callbeck’s wife, Mary Burke. Her father, William the 1st was also the father of William the 2nd, who was the father of William the 3rd, who was the father of Thomas Leboeuf, the Burke who married Emily McLean in Saint Luke’s in Grindstone, in 1854. Thomas’s mother was Margaret Dingwell from Fortune Bay, PEI. Thomas was believed to be the first Burke to live on the Magdalen Islands. Indeed, he is the Burke to bring the name to the islands, but Mary was actually the first Burke of the same family to live here, more the a half a century before.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bringing History Into the Present

La Vielle Ecole - Grosse Ile

I watched this video which is called the Old or Former School - Grosse Ile. The hardwood reminds me of the 'Old English' School in Grande Entree, now belonging to Paul Warren, who uses it as his summer home.

There is the Old School of Old Harry, owned by C.A.M.I. and made into a museum. But Old Harry also had an earlier school, that was the original home of Henry Clark Sr. After he built Aunt Rhoda's house (oldest existing house on Old Harry), he would use the original house as a school for his grandchildren. As Old Harry became more populated, he donated the house and some land at Old Harry turn for a proper school for the day. This happened around 1870 and it stayed as a school until 1922, when the little red school house was built.

Timmy (Ivan) Clarke and Sandra Vigneau's home was the old School of East Cape, but I'm fairly sure that this is not the school, the video is referring to.

The first school in Grosse Isle was a building hauled to Grosse Isle Head. It was a one room school and is thought to date around 1860.

Also, there was a one room school built around the turn of the century, that was bought by Creighton Richards. It was moved to the Richards land and his brother, George turned it into a house. The house burned down while Stuart Richards was the owner, around the early 1980's, I think.

However, there is a house owned by the late John Clarke, on Grosse Isle North, that was part of the old two-room school house of Grosse Isle. The school had been built in 1934 by Arthur J.C. Goodwin and Douglas Clarke. This might possibly have been the old school in the video.

According to the picture in the video, the old school is John's house on Grosse Isle North. I haven't been inside it but it looks similar to Paul Warrens house according to the video.

For more information about the Magdalen Islands schools, including those of Entry Island and school life for the English on the islands, see the C.A.M.I website for a book they have created. They can also be communicated with at (418) 985-2116. Fax: (418) 985-2113 or e-mail:
787ch. Principal
Grosse Ile, Qu.
G4T 6B5