Hoopla

The Cove Journal by JoDee Samuelson

There will be a certain amount of hoopla going on this summer. 2023 is Prince Edward Island’s sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of marriage to the Dominion of Canada, and since 150 is a nice round number why not have a party? 

Here in the Cove we’ll celebrate Canada Day with hot dogs and cake, music and laughter, and speeches that the wind will carry out to sea. Everything will take place at a park that was once the site of a busy and odoriferous lobster factory, where in July the cauldrons would be boiling and fishermen would be rowing their dories back and forth to schooners anchored out past the sand bars. 

Meacham’s 1880 Atlas shows this property being owned by W. C. Harris, the father of famous sons, Robert the artist and William the architect. The boys bought the lobster factory for their dad to give him something to do, but W.C. (William Critchlow) did not like the Cove, or lobsters. Subsequent owners like Donald Farquharson and “Big Donald” MacKinnon of the Portland Packing Company (why “Portland”?) were more successful.

It’s hard to say how many lobsters went crawling along our reefs, dining on shrimp, algae, almost anything. They were so common that any self-respecting schoolchild despaired of finding a lobster sandwich in his or her lunch box. In 1882 our small island exported almost five million pounds of canned lobster meat! The Cove alone had four canning factories on a stretch of coastline eight kilometres long. 

Lobsters are still plentiful but I’ve never found a live one along the shore. However, as the buried remnants of the Portland Packing Company continue to crumble into the Strait, I pick up an occasional brick to bring home and add to our garden path.

On the subject of gardens, let me put in a plug for the weather which has been getting such bad press lately. The cool dampness of mid-June has been perfect for germination and transplanting, and it has kept the mosquitoes at bay. Look out though! One day of heat and “Off!” will be flying off the store shelves.

For those of you who asked: Yes, our perennial sale down at the park/lobster factory site went off without a hitch – if you ignore the fact that it was pouring rain and the wind was gusting out of the north at 60 km/hr. We are an intrepid lot here in the Cove and so are our customers. It’s amazing what you can do when you have no choice.

Does anyone notice that there are more bunnies around this year? (They are properly called hares, but nobody says, “Oh, there’s a hare!”) We’re not thrilled to see bunnies touring through the neighbourhood because most of us have gardens and we’re selective about who eats our lettuce. 

Mosquitoes, gardens, bunnies: it’s summer and we’re pulling out all the stops. Company’s coming! Shall we have lobster for supper? Yes please, with potato salad and biscuits, and a green salad too, why not. Then we’ll walk to the Cove and watch the sunset, or play croquet, or go to the theatre. I want to stay up late and do it all.

Let the hoopla begin!