All posts by Edward Staskus

Edward Staskus is a free-lance writer from Sudbury, Ontario, and lives in Lakewood, Ohio, on the north side of the Rocky River valley.

Showcasing the Showcase

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The Showcase full store clearance sale begins today! 🛍💫

After many years of wonderful service, The Showcase Gift Shop, located in our theatre lobby, will be closing on September 5.

The entire store will be 50% off, with quality hand-crafted items, jewelry, pottery, women’s fashions, music, and so much more.

Store hours are Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Tales of the Atlantic

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The Guild brings thrills and adventure to the stage this summer! Amazing Tales of the Atlantic is a live radio play anthology series celebrating the unique residents of the Atlantic. It takes the characters in our community we all know and love and puts them in wild scenarios. Each evening of Amazing Tales of the Atlantic will feature three unique stories and every month audiences will be treated to 3 new chapters of the three ever-evolving tales!

Those tales are:

The DDT Detectives – Set in the wrestling heydays of the 1980’s, Crusher Kevin Cormier and Dashing David Doiron are a hard hitting tag team by night and hard drinking super sleuths by slightly later at night. Kevin and David help the helpless and solve mysteries as they travel from town to town thrilling crowds. It’s the Littlest Hobo meets Murder She Wrote meets Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling.

The B’ylight Zone – There’s some friggin’ thing on the hull of the lobster boat! The B’ylight Zone is a show in the style of the Twilight Zone or Black Mirror and puts colorful maritime locations and characters at the centre of all of the freaky deaky scenarios. Each episode is it’s own thrilling self contained story and set of characters.

Anne of the Green Planet – A precocious human orphan named Anne from the planet Nova Nova Scotia is taken in by a brother and sister scientist duo who live on the space station Avonlea, which orbits a mysterious planetoid called P31. Between school and duties in the lab, Anne and her new friend GilBot find themselves in all sorts of scientific adventures.

Entry is $20 at the door, seats can be reserved in advance by contacting The Guild, 111 Queen Street, Charlottetown at (902)620-3333 or by emailing boxoffice@theguildpei.com with details.

All productions are being presented by The Guild with the permission of the Public Health Office of Prince Edward Island, and operates under its rules and guidelines. Within these guidelines, theatre seating has been limited to a maximum of 50 people. Chairs will be grouped with a maximum of 6 chairs per group, and each group is 6ft. from one another. It is possible that depending on the size of your party, you may be seated with other audience members within those 6 chairs.

If you have any questions or concerns about this process, please speak with our box office agents by calling 902-620-3333, or emailing boxoffice@theguildpei.com.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Making a Manuscript

Major Digital Exhibition of Anne Manuscript Announced

Original ‘Anne of Green Gables’ Manuscript to be exhibited virtually; Presented by the CCAG, L.M. Montgomery Institute, and UPEI’s Robertson Library

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For the first time ever, L.M. Montgomery’s famed Anne of Green Gables manuscript will be made widely accessible as the central feature of an upcoming online exhibition. Announced today, the ambitious new exhibition, Exploring a National Treasure: L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables Manuscript, will be developed through a partnership between the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG), and the L.M. Montgomery Institute (LMMI) and the Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI).

Launching in 2022, Exploring a National Treasure is envisioned as a rich digital experience for readers and fans around the world, showcasing the writing of the famous novel in an unprecedented digital manner. The virtual exhibition will be curated by Montgomery scholar, Dr. Emily Woster. Dr. Elizabeth Epperly, founder of the LMMI, will be a consultant on the exhibition. The online project will be developed with an investment by the Virtual Museum of Canada. 

Key themes in the exhibition include Montgomery’s creativity, writing, and editing processes; the story of Anne and her origins in Cavendish, P.E.I. in the early 20th century; the novel’s international success; and creative adaptations of the Anne story.

Viewers will be invited to rediscover this famous literary work and its rich legacy. The exhibition will increase accessibility to the manuscript while the digital version will help preserve the original pen and ink on paper manuscript, acquired for the CCAG’s permanent collection in 1967.

“I have certainly observed Montgomery scholars visiting the Island to conduct research on the manuscripts here at the CCAG,” shares Gallery Director Kevin Rice. “I have also witnessed international visitors being mesmerized at seeing the handwritten Anne manuscript on exhibition. This upcoming new virtual exhibition is an opportunity to make this rare artifact widely accessible to readers and scholars.”

“It is a very exciting opportunity to create this exhibition, and we are extremely appreciative of the investment in this project by the Virtual Museum of Canada,” Rice continues, adding that the CCAG is pleased to be collaborating with the Robertson Library and the LMMI on this initiative, which speaks to the organizations’ shared mandate to preserve works of cultural value and foster educational outreach.

“The LMMI exists to promote research into, and informed celebration of, Montgomery’s life and works, and so we could not be more excited about partnering in this project,” offers Dr. Philip Smith, chair of the LMMI Management Committee. “Making the handwritten manuscript of Montgomery’s most famous novel—complete with editing marks and strike-throughs—available for scholars and fans across the world will generate new understanding and appreciation of the book and author. Added features, such as a 360-degree animation of the Macneill Homestead’s kitchen in Cavendish, where the novel was written, will enrich our connection with Montgomery’s beloved home, her community, and her times.”

“A leader in digitization and a steward of physical and digital collections by and about Montgomery, the Robertson Library at UPEI welcomes the opportunity to partner with the CCAG and the LMMI on this project,” remarks University Librarian Donald Moses. “By digitizing Montgomery’s original manuscript for Anne of Green Gables, we will be able to display, navigate, and visualize the novel and the writer’s creative process in new ways. Through interactive experiences, Canadians and the international Montgomery community will be reintroduced to this literary treasure.”

Visitors to the bilingual exhibition, Exploring a National Treasure, will have digital access to all 853 pages of the manuscript, including the interesting material—notes and short snippets of work—that exists on the backs of pages. With the manuscript as the exhibition’s central pillar, visitors, whether new to Montgomery’s works or researchers familiar with the author, will be able to engage with new research, watch animations and videos of places and moments vital to the book, and hear expert commentary and dramatic retellings of Anne’s important place in Canadian history.

For information on current exhibitions on display at the CCAG in Charlottetown, please visit Confederation Centre’s website.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Watermark Reschedules Concert

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The Watermark Music Series 2nd concert of the summer will be held on August 4that 7:30PM. Inspired by The Monterey Pop Festival, the concert will feature the music of The Mamas & the Papas, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and many more. The concerts will be live streamed to our audience members while Irish Mythen, Brielle Ansems and Natalie Williams Calhoun perform these classic songs on the Watermark stage in North Rustico.

These free concerts, curated as always by Rob Oakie, can be viewed in the comfort of your homes by going to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Watermark-Theatre-93969977499

The Monterey Pop Festival was an iconic 3 day festival held in June 1967 in California. The lineup was a who’s who of pop, rock, and folk stars including The Mamas & the Papas, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and so many more. Irish Mythen, Brielle Ansems and special guest Natalie Williams Calhoun will present their own interpretations of some of the music that helped shape the generation.

Irish Mythen was born in Ireland and now resides in Charlottetown. “This Island creates music and musicians, art and artists. I found a shift to take things more seriously when I moved here.” And she did just that. Her latest release, Little Bones, gained her recognition around the globe, including a 2020 JUNO nomination for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, seven Music PEI 2020 nominations and two wins — Touring Artist of the Year and Roots Contemporary Recording of the Year, and a Canadian Folk Music Nomination for Solo Artist of the Year. Her previous self-titled album garnered awards and nominations from Music PEI, East Coast Music Association, Folk Alliance International and SOCAN. Write-ups in Australian Guitar Magazine, Rolling Stone and a plethora of other print and online media worldwide, have helped plant Irish firmly on the map of “Must-See Artists”.

Brielle Ansems, born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised in Montague, PEI, has grown up with music on her lips and a creativity fostered by Prince Edward Island’s artistic community. A recent graduate of Holland College School of Performing Arts Theatre Performance program, her lyric-focused music fuses folk sensibilities with pop and R&B influences to create an emotionally charged, poetic experience for her audiences.

Natalie Williams Calhoun is an accomplished concert cellist, an educator and 1/5 of the well know string ensemble Atlantic String Machine. She has toured across Canada and internationally. Since moving to PEI, she has supported countless artists on stage and in the studio both as a solo artist and with ASM. She has recorded on dozens of albums and worked with a wide range of artists including Rachel Beck, Dylan Menzie, KINLEY, Irish Mythen and many more.

For more information, or to set up interviews with Rob Oakie, or any of the artists, please contact Andrea Surich at 902‐963‐3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre is a proud member of the PTN (Professional Theatre Network of PEI).

Watermark Theatre
57 Church Hill Ave
North Rustico, PE
C0A 1X0
(902) 963‐3963
http://www.watermarktheatre.com

PEI Professional Theatre Network

28660348_162333201093170_735205771249634989_n

PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Stay Tuned for Anne & Gilbert

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The Songs of Anne & Gilbert, The Musical at The Guild is selling out every performance.

So…we have a plan…to allow more people to see the show…here in PEI…and around the world.

A live streaming of one the performances with a live audience. Within the next two weeks. Stay tuned.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

28660348_162333201093170_735205771249634989_n

PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

My First Summer Job

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By Ed Staskus

I was surprised and dismayed the day my father told me that, other than Ausra, the two-week sun and sand Lithuanian camp in Wasaga Beach, and our one-week boy scout camp, I would be working at Dirva the rest of the summer. I shouldn’t have been surprised, since my father believed in the work ethic and worked like a dog himself, but I was. He gave me a grave stern annoyed look when I blurted out it would disturb my time off from school.

I kept most of my dismay to myself.

It wouldn’t have helped, anyway. I knew once he told me, I would be working at Dirva from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Thank God it was only part-time. I would be home by three o’clock and didn’t have to work on Fridays. I was going to be getting three-day weekends before I even knew what three-day weekends were.

Before the newspaper Dirva, which means field, was Dirva, it was Santaika, which means peace. Kazys Karpius was the editor, and stayed on the job for thirty years, from the end of World War One through the Great Depression to the end of World War Two, getting the weekly editions out without fail. The paper was anti-communist, pro-democracy, and true-blue the homeland.

Kazys Karpius wrote poems, plays, and histories about Lithuania, especially about beating off the Vikings and Teutonic Knights back in the day. The Teutonic Knights were always tramping into the Baltics for plunder and conversion, not their own conversion, but that of the natives they regarded as pagans. The Lithuanians didn’t see eye to eye with the Germans about it, insisting it was none of their business. They fought with longswords, battles axes, crossbows, maces, picks and war hammers, knives, clubs, slings, and hand-to-hand.

The first day I slouched into work was a brisk early summer morning. I was down on Dirva but resigned. I rode the CTS bus from St. Clair to East 105th Street over Liberty Boulevard down Superior Avenue. It was the same bus and same route I took going to school, to St. George’s, on East 67th and Superior.

Lithuanian immigrants came to Cleveland, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie, in two waves, the first one in the late 19th century. They were cheap labor for emerging industries. They needed their own newspaper and church. At the turn of the century Father Joe Jankus threw up a small wooden church near downtown. The next pastor bought the land St. George’s was going to stand on and after it was built Father Vincent Vilkutaitis ran the parish for forty years. His last year was my first year of five years there.

The church was on the top floor of the 2½ story brick building, the grade school on the middle floor, and the community hall on the ground floor, which was partially below ground.  Since it was the Atomic Age, and the Cold War was in full swing, the hall doubled as a Nuclear Fallout Shelter. Every few months we had a Civil Defense drill and had to file out of our classes and down to the hall, where we shuffled around until the drill was over.

If we had somehow survived the blast, even though we all brought our own sandwiches in Flintstone Dudley-Do-right Jetson lunch boxes, we would have all died trying to live on the crumbs.

Jonas Ciuberkis was our neighbor two houses down from where we lived at the corner of Bartfield and Coronado, in a Polish double my mom and dad had bought with my dad’s sister and her family, all of us getting started in the United States. He was the editor of Dirva, in a small office at the front. A quiet man, balding, careful in manner, he was married to a woman nearly twenty years his junior, a woman who had given him three children, and who was fleshy vivacious gregarious.

Regina Ciuberkiene had an opinion about everything and could talk your ear off. It didn’t matter that we were just kids. We avoided her. My mother never called her Regina. She called her Ciuberkiene, even to her face. Many of his friends called Jonas Janis, which is Latvian for Jonas. He had been a judge in Latvia before the war. Their two daughters were either too old or too young, but their son, Arunas, was just right, and we played together.

Dirva was in a one-story brick building on Superior, next to the haunted house that was next to St. George’s. The Lithuanian Hall Society was next door. It was where all the civic and cultural business was done. It was also where there were dances and heavy drinking. Jonas Ciuberkis wasn’t sure what to do with me, so the first few days I didn’t do anything. After that I started cleaning up the mess, starting with the bathroom. After that I helped with the press and folding and mailing.

My job was to do this do that, whatever I was told to do.

The printing press looked like it belonged in a museum. It worked, sort of, but it was my archenemy, always threatening my mitts. It was a hand-fed flat-bed cylinder press. There was metal type for headings and an intertype machine for news and features. When the paper was ready for print, I got the machine rolling, crossing my fingers, and hoping for the best. As the copies came off the belt, I changed hats, becoming the press-boy who checked for defects. If and when the press got everything done, I became the mail-boy, wrapping the papers in bundles. Then I became the push-boy, carting them to beside the back door for pick-up.

By World War One there were almost ten thousand Lithuanians in Cleveland. St. George’s was their church. Dirva was their newspaper. It was put out by the Ohio Lithuanian Publishing Company, which was run by Apdonas Bartusevicius. In 1925 Kazys Karpius gained a controlling interest.

He was involved in Lithuanian projects all his life, including the Unification of Lithuanians in America and the Lithuanian National League of America. He helped found the American Lithuanian Cultural Center. After World War Two boatloads of displaced Lithuanians made it to Cleveland. Dirva published local, national and international news, as well as keeping everybody informed about what was going on back in the land. We sent the paper to Detroit and Pittsburgh and other places wherever there was a church or a bendruomene.

Our editor went out most days for lunch and sometimes came back smelling like whiskey. One day he was walking out the door, I was sitting on a crate doing nothing, when he waved at me and said, “Ateik.” I must have been daydreaming, because he had to say it again before I realized he wanted me to go with him.

He usually wore a white shirt and brown pleated pants. His thin hair was gray brownish. He drove a brown car. The interior was tan, clean and anonymous. No one would ever have suspected he had a wife and three kids. He turned right on Norwood Road, six blocks later turned right on St. Clair, past the Slovenian National Home, to the Maple Lanes Bowling Alley and Tavern. It took five minutes. He parked on the street and we went in.

Nothing was going on in the bowling alley, but he wasn’t going to the bowling alley, anyway. He walked into the bar, checking to see that I was trailing him, and took a stool at the bar.

“Atsisesk,” he said, adding, “Don’t tell your mother.”

I sat down next to him. The bartender stepped up. He was wearing a bow tie and looked like a new mattress wearing a bow tie. I couldn’t see around him.

Jonas Ciuberkis ordered a shot and a water back and asked me what I wanted. I wanted an ice-cold Coca-Cola. It was in the 90s and humid. There was a big glass jar of pickled eggs at his elbow. He took one out for himself and nodded at the jar, looking at me. I said aciu, but no thanks.

Pickled eggs are eggs hard boiled, the shell removed, and submerged in a solution of vinegar, salt, spices, and seasonings. The eggs are left in the brine anywhere from one day to several months. They get rubbery the longer they are in the pickling solution.

“They’re Pennsylvania Dutch,” my boss said. “Try a bite.”

Pennsylvania Dutch style means whole beets, onions, vinegar, sugar, salt, cloves and a cinnamon stick are used as the brine. The eggs look either pink purple from the beets and have a sweet and sour taste.

I took a bite, gingerly. It wasn’t bad, it was actually good, far better than the koseliena, chopped meat in cold aspic, like headcheese, my mother was always trying to get us to eat. Some food from the old country should have been left in the old country, dead and buried.

When the bartender moved to the side, I saw the painting. It was on the wall above the paneling and top shelf of liquor bottles. It was of a half-naked woman reclining on her side on a chaise, her head up, looking down on the drinkers, her long golden hair hanging loose. Her eyes were wide set and her lips pouty luscious red.

It was Lili St. Cyr, a burlesque dancer forty-some years ago. She was a pioneer in the striptease trade, known for her cutting-edge performances. One of her most famous tricks was ‘the Flying G.’ While she was doing her burlesque striptease, the lights slowly going down, just at the instant when everything went completely dark, a man in the wings with a fishing pole would snag her g-string and pull it off. Even if you didn’t blink it looked like it had disappeared just like that.

A man who had seen her perform many times painted the mural in 1954. Maple Lanes paid him off in beer. Above the burlesque queen’s legs in the painting was an English proverb, “A woman is an angel at ten, a saint at fifteen, a devil at forty, and a witch at fourscore.”

Jonas Ciuberkis flicked his eyes at the painting ten twenty times, while I kept my eyes away from it. I was an altar boy at St. George’s on the side. He had another shot, this time with a beer chaser. My mother always told us an apple a day, not a bottle of pop, kept the doctor away, so, I turned down more Coca-Cola.

My boss talked about the “Great Books,” one of his favorite subjects, so I didn’t tell him about my reading habits, and about Lithuania, his other favorite subject, its history, the commies, and how to restore its freedom. I didn’t tell him it was going in one ear and out the other. He talked in a gloomy milk and water way. It was hard to pay attention, so I gave up, and set my sights back on Lili St. Cyr.

She started looking familiar. I finally realized, if she were wearing clothes, she looked just like Regina Ciuberkiene, wide set eyes and full mouth, buxom, calves of salami.  She wasn’t a spitting image but as close as spit got.

My boss never invited me to Maple Lanes again, and Mondays through Thursdays the summer crawled by, while Fridays through Sundays flew by. I messed around with my friends, rode my bike, and played a boatload of pick-up sandlot baseball.

By the time my employment was coming to an end, Labor Day fast approaching, I had come to an accommodation with my job. The printing press and I were on speaking terms. I was no longer down on Dirva. I almost enjoyed it. I asked about my paychecks. I hadn’t seen a single one.

“I gave them to your father every two weeks,” Jonas Ciuberkis said.

“Oh,” I said.

I didn’t ask my father about the paychecks. My mother and he were fanatical savers, putting every spare penny in the bank. I knew what he was going to be doing with the money, clothes and tuition for school.

By the next year we had moved past Five Points to the Lithuanian neighborhood on the farther east side. Everybody was moving there because, with urban renewal in full swing, black people were slowly steadily shifting east, moving into our neighborhood. “We like them less than the Americans,” my mother told me. “They’re lazy.” If you weren’t a workaholic my parents thought you were lazy.

The first Lithuanians in Cleveland lived near downtown, but fifty years later were relocating to the Superior-St. Clair area around St. George’s. The new community emerged in the Collinwood-Nottingham neighborhood, near the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Neff Road off East 185th Street. Most Lithuanians are Roman Catholic, although some are Jews, and a few are Lutherans. A small group of Cleveland’s Lithuanians broke off to live among working-class Poles on the south side, even though there is no love lost between Poles and Lithuanians.

I enrolled in St. Joseph’s High School where the main road, a couple of miles of every kind of shop and store, intersected Lakeshore Boulevard. It was an all-boy’s school. It was still summer, the next summer, but fall was coming up. I looked at Dirva now and then, but when classes started all I read were my schoolbooks and Doc Savage adventure books from the library. I read them on weekends. There were twenty-four of them in all. I read them all. My favorite was “The Secret of Satan’s Spine.”

Jonas Ciuberkis was fired from his job and Vytautas Gedgaudas took over. I didn’t know him and nobody I knew ever told me anything about him. He expanded the publication schedule to three times a week, but it went back to its original weekly frequency soon enough. Working that much must have driven the printing press crazy, and driven whoever was operating it crazy, too.

Maple Lanes Bowling Alley and Tavern was sold that same summer of 1964. Ann Abranovich and Josephine Reeves, sisters and working mothers, bought it so they could make more money and spend more time with their sprouting growing families. Josephine lived a few blocks from the bowling alley and walked to work. Ann moved her family into the apartment upstairs. The noise downstairs was money in the bank.

When I heard the St. Joseph’s bowling team was going there for a tournament, I told them I knew all about the bowling alley and they let me tag along. Everybody asked me about the painting, which the new owners hadn’t messed with. I told them I knew everything about it.  I didn’t know bowling from polo, although I knew you rolled the ball trying to knock all the pins down, so I sat in the back and watched. The St. Joe’s and Padua and Ignatius teams rolled the worst scores of their lives.

The kingpin kids from upstairs were the pinsetters. You had to be careful not to roll while they were still setting up. They screamed and sent pins flying at you if you did. The alleys weren’t even and smooth. They were wood, not laminate, old wood, and there were warps bumps gouges divots waves from one end to the other. It was hard if not impossible to tell what your ball was going to do. The talk was that no one had ever rolled a three hundred score perfect game at Maple Lanes, and that no ever would, unless they made a deal with the devil.

That was unlikely to happen, because everybody in that old neighborhood neck of the woods went to church on Sundays. There weren’t as many churches as bars, but it was close enough. There would have been talk, the news would have spread like wildfire, and there would have been hell to pay if you did roll a perfect game.

Ed Staskus posts feature stories monthly on Red Island http://www.redislandpei.com, Paperback Yoga http://www.paperbackyoga.com, Lithuanian Journal http://www.lithuanianjournal.com, and State Route Two http://www.stateroutetwo.com.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

28660348_162333201093170_735205771249634989_n

PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

All Hands on Deck

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By Ed Staskus

“What were we thinking?” Kate Doucette asked her mother, who was peeling potatoes in the kitchen of their eatery as they geared up for the second week of their new restaurant’s first season the summer before last.

“I know, we need fish-n-chips on the menu,” said Joanne Doucette.

On the Dock is at the far end of Harbourview Drive in North Rustico, around the bend of the harbor up from the lighthouse, catty-corner to Bob’s Deep Sea Fishing, on the north central coast of Prince Edward Island. The dining room is literally on the dock. More than two-thirds of the tables and chairs are outside, spread out over a big deck, on the edge of a square wharf on the ocean.

“I’ll go over to Doiron’s and get some,” said Kate.

She walked down the street and got five pounds of fish.

Doiron Fisheries, a fish market on the Inner Harbour, chock full of shellfish, lobsters, and fresh Atlantic seafood, is about a half-mile away, by way of a boardwalk, at the other end of the street.

“It wasn’t that much,” said Kate. “But mom wondered, what are we going to do with all this fish? Maybe we should freeze some of it, she thought, just to be safe. By the time she put it in the freezer, though, she had to take it out, since we were selling so much of it.”

When they sold out the fish-n-chips, Kate Doucette took another walk back down the street to Doiron’s, this time for more than just five pounds.

“It’s a simple menu, chowder, fish cakes, but it works,” she said. “We had lobster rolls from the beginning, because dad catches all of our lobster. After working here, me and mom go home and shell lobsters a couple of hours every night.”

The fish cakes are chips off the old block from her father’s handcrafted cakes. “On Boxer Day, Christmastime, parties, the whole family would come over for dad’s fish cakes. He served them with homemade mustard pickles.”

Joanne Doucette has made mustard pickles for a long time. “It’s a recipe that’s known around here,” said Kate. Every week is National Pickle Month when it has to be. “We make batches of them for the restaurant.”

“It’s hearty home-style cooking with the freshest seafood,” said Megan Miller, sitting outside in the sun on the seaside, pushing back from her table and empty plate of fish and pickles.

Kate’s father, Robert Doucette, is Bob’s Deep Sea Fishing. He ties his 45-foot fiberglas boat up at the end of the dock outside the restaurant. He harvests lobster in season and takes tourists out to catch cod and mackerel in July and August. His brother Barry and he bait hooks for tuna in September.

“His boat used to be called the ‘Jillian Marie’, who is my older sister,” said Kate. “But, when I got old enough to realize my name wasn’t on the boat, I got a little ticked off. When he got his next boat he called it ‘My Two Girls’.”

Bob Doucette has been working out of the North Rustico harbor for more than 40 years. “He grew up in a little white house right here,” said Kate. “He hasn’t gone far. Their house used to be up Lantern Hill, but it was moved down here, on the back of a big truck.”

Joanne and Bob Doucette met when they were 14-years-old. “They’re both from here, North Rustico, born and raised.”

Kate and her sister grew up in a house in a thicket of trees a mile-or-so up the road, behind her Uncle Ronnie’s Route 6 Fish-n-Chips “We were so lucky to grow up where we were in the woods all the time,” she said.

There’s something about woods that you can’t find in books, at school, or on the infobahn. Moss grass shrubs insects birds trees will teach you what you can never learn from flatscreens. Trees wise you up to being grounded from the trunk down and limber on top from the branches out.

North Rustico is a community of about 600 residents. The bay is sheltered by Robinsons Island and houses a fleet of forty-some lobster boats. Fishing is the town’s main focus, although, since it has direct access to Prince Edward Island National Park, it has long been popular with vacationers.

All summer long kayakers launch their boats from Outside Expeditions at the mouth of the harbor, paddling up and down the north coast. It’s a way to get focused on the wide-open water. When you’re tucked into a kayak and paddling, there’s literally nothing else you can do.

“Dad used to bring me down here when I was a kid,” said Kate. “I was a huge little tomboy. He bought me a kit with a saw and hammer for my seventh birthday. He made me a miniature lobster trap to work on while he was repairing his traps.”

By the late 1990s the wharf was rotting. “Dad still had a slip for his boat, but you could hardly walk anywhere, it was just run down.” The wharf was rebuilt and a new red-roofed building, the front half housing the Fisheries Museum and the back half housing the Skipper’s Café, was built with provincial and town funding, built on the spot where Bob’s Deep Sea Fishing shanty had stood.

“They moved all the shanties to the side when they built this,” said Kate.

“We grew up down on the harbor. My sister Jill and I worked in the canteen from the time I was 12-years-old, in the shanty, where reservations were made. We sold chips and chocolate bars and soda, except Jill and I ate all the chips and chocolate until dad finally ended up only selling ice cream.”

Kate Doucette’s grandmother opened the first restaurant in North Rustico in the 1940s. It was the Cozy Corner, at the convergence of Route 6, Church Hill Road, the gas station, the post office, and the road down the harbor. Her grandparents later opened the Isles, a sizable seafood restaurant, up the road.

“My Uncle Ronnie was a big part of it and mom served there for years. The whole family worked there. They had a bakery in the basement and I’d run over every afternoon and get fresh rolls.”

One day the restaurant burned to the ground.

“It was a pretty big upset,” said Kate. “We were lucky there wasn’t any wind and none of it got into our woods.”

Towards the snowy front end of 2016 Kate Doucette was living in Charlottetown, the capital and largest city on Prince Edward Island, taking business classes part-time at UPEI and working full-time, while her boyfriend Sam roughnecked oil rigs more than three thousand miles away in Grande Prairie, Alberta. One evening her mother paid her a visit. Joanne Doucette had a proposal for her daughter.

Kate was surprised by what her mother stumped for that night.

“I wasn’t thinking of doing a restaurant, for sure,” she said. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that was going to be our conversation.”

The Skipper’s Café on the ocean side of the Fisheries Museum in North Rustico was closing. The Port Authority was leasing out the space. She was being offered first crack at it.

Kate Doucette called her boyfriend in Alberta.

“Go for it,” said Sam MacLeod. “You’ve got to take a risk sometime.” Even though it was going out on a limb, it wasn’t necessarily risky, since most risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.

“It’s in our blood,” said Kate. “I’ve been serving since I was 16-years-old. I’ve had a hell of a lot of other jobs, but I’ve always had a serving position on the side.”

Her family and she began making plans.

“The guy who owned Skipper’s Café, he was closing since he wasn’t feeling wellish,” said Kate. “Then he told us, ‘Oh, I might run it for another year,’ but by the first of May he closed and took absolutely everything out of the place.”

Many of the restaurants on the north shore of Prince Edward Island are seasonal, opening roughly at the first sign of summer and closing more or less at the start of fall. From a business point-of-view, there are two seasons, June July August and winter.

“We started from fresh, but it was a crazy month. We had to get all our licensing, buy all our equipment, and design our menu. Our tables were made by a local carpenter. We rebuilt the kitchen, which is very small, and the first summer we worked with table fryers. It was insane. I don’t know how we did it.“

The difference in fryers is that the oil capacity of tabletop models might be seven or eight pounds. The capacity of commercial deep fryers, which can have two tanks, is often 50 to 85 pounds.

“The first thing we did when we closed in October was get a commercial fryer, a grill, and a seven-foot range hood,” said Kate. “We still peel all of our potatoes with a little hand cutter. There’s a machine that can do it, if we could find the space to put it. Right now, Sam does it. He calls it his corner office.”

The reason Sam MacLeod gives a leg up at the potato peeler back in the corner is that Kate Doucette called him one day in the middle of their second summer, when he was working in Alberta. He is on rigs twenty days in the oil fields northwest of Calgary, and then off ten days, which he often spends having flown back to PEI.

“I was crying,” said Kate. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, either I’m going to kill my mother with all the work she’s doing or I’m going to have to close down.” After working all day, and after closing everything down at night, her mother was spending two more hours peeling potatoes for the next day, every day.

“It was just too much,” said Kate.

“I’m going to take August off and come back and help you guys,” said Sam.

Sam MacLeod and Kate Doucette met in a Subway on the eastern end of the island at the moment Kate knocked over her young niece. She and her sister, Jill, were distributing Bob’s Deep Sea Fishing fliers at tourist cottages. They stopped for lunch. She and Mila, Jill’s daughter, were walking across the dining room to the soda fountain.

“I had my hand on top of her head and I accidentally pushed her over,” explained Kate. “She fell down.”

Sam MacLeod, who had just pulled into the parking lot and walked in the door, stopped where Mila was lying on the floor in front of him.

“Is she all right?” he asked.

“I hadn’t even noticed it happened.” Kate looked down at her niece. “Oh, she’s fine, she just kind of fell over.” Sam gave Mila a helping hand up.

“He’s nice, he’s cute,” said Jill as they watched Sam drive away in his white knight white pick-up truck.

Six months later, on a Friday night, while in a bar and grill in Charlottetown with friends, she recognized a young man wearing a red hat at the bar. She walked up to him

“Do you remember me?” she asked.

“You’re the girl who pushed that kid down on the floor,” he said.

“She survived,” said Kate, grasping at straws.

They exchanged phone numbers. Twenty days later, a few days after Christmas, Kate and Jill were loafing in their apartment in Charlottetown. “Jill and I were going to hang out, have a chill night.” But then, out of the blue, she got a text from Sam.

“Do you want to go out to dinner?”

“I told him to give me a second. He took me to Cuba the next month. We’ve never spent a night apart since then, except when he’s out west.”

The couple built a house in Stratford, outside Charlottetown, but then rented it out on Airbnb. They planned on building something in North Rustico, but in the meantime realized they needed somewhere to live. They considered buying a camper and parking it in her mom and dad’s backyard.

“We found a reasonably-priced one on-line. It wasn’t the nicest, though, kind of shitty, and I was thinking, at the same time, do I want to shower in a camper all summer?”

She showed a picture of the camper to her parents. They took a close look at it, retreating to the other end of the room to compare notes. “I could see them kind of talking. They knew we were trying to save money.”

“Just stay with us,” said her mom. “We’ll fix you up a room. We’ll make it work.”

What she meant was, since they were already all working together, if they were all living together, it would make seeing one another all the time sticky. It might be too close for comfort. That’s why, since God has given us our relatives, many thank God they can pick their friends.

It would take some sufferance, fifty-fifty payoffs. They made it work.

“We’re only there to sleep, anyways,” said Kate. “We don’t cook there, we don’t hang out there, we don’t do anything, really. We’re always working. You give up your whole life half the year when you work at the restaurant.“

On the other hand, if you’re doing what you want need and enjoy doing, you’re never actually  clocking in to the daily grind rat race any day of your life.

“The one place I’d rather be in the world is down at the harbor,” said Kate. “It’s hard, you see everyone working so hard, but to be with the people you love the most, my mom and my dad, my sister, my boyfriend, I can’t think of anywhere’s else I’d want to be.”

Joanne Doucette runs the show in the kitchen. “You’re not going to have anyone in the kitchen who cares more about you than your mom.” Kate is the hostess server business manager, Jill busses serves odd jobs, while Sam and Bob run errands deliver seafood peel potatoes and take out the trash.

Kate’s niece Mila is in training.

One evening at closing time, looking for something to do, her Crocs at the ready, Mila asked if she could clear the outside tables.

“You can take the salt and pepper shakers and candles in, but leave the flowers,” Kate instructed her.

When Mila was done, two men were still at the last occupied table on the far side of the deck, their plates pushed to the side, kicking back at the edge of the ocean. “She went right up and took their empty plates off the table. They ended up giving her five dollars.”

“Kiki, Kiki!” Mila whooped, running up to the front counter, waving her five-dollar bill.

“She calls me Kiki. It just happened. She just one day decided,” said Kate. Since no one is allowed to give themselves a nickname, it might as well be your six-year-old niece. Catching a break, Kiki is better than, say, having to answer to Pickles.

“I don’t work here, but I help out all the time,” said Mila on a warm breezy sparkly afternoon, a broom a head taller than her in her hands, sweeping up around the chairs and under the tables on the deck, in the interval between lunch and dinner.

When you’re helping out it’s all hands on deck.

There’s no keeping Mila down.

Photograph by Vanessa Staskus

Ed Staskus posts a feature story monthly on Red Island http://www.redislandpei.com, Paperback Yoga http://www.paperbackyoga.com, Lithuanian Journal http://www.lithuanianjournal.com, and State Route Two http://www.stateroutetwo.com.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Creative Obsessions on Tap

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Fine craft is equal parts tradition and innovation, passion and obsession, filtered through the skills and the sensibilities of artisans. Making craft is a form of thinking, a communication across generations.

In a new exhibition opening August 8 at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG), Island artisans respond to the theme of ‘creative obsessions’ with innovative works drawing on craft traditions to mark Craft Year 2020. Creative Obsessions is organized by the CCAG in collaboration with the PEI Crafts Council, and is guest curated by Ray Cronin and Sarah Maloney. 

Fine craft has always demanded an element of obsession: the artist has to master varied techniques, often difficult materials, and do so in a manner that keeps them engaged in the long hours from conception to production, all the while striving to make something that viewers will find equally compelling. Success is never a given—failure is an all too familiar studio companion for every artist and craftsperson. Of course, it is often through failure that artists learn the most.

Participating craftspeople in this new exhibition include: Jim Aquilani, Nancy Cole, Jamie Germaine, Arlene MacAusland, Rilla Marshall, Melissa Peter Paul, Jody Racicot, Ayelet Stewart, Isako Suzuki, Jane Whitten, and Bette Young.

The 11 artists in Creative Obsessions have also been challenged by our times, with the increased isolation brought on by COVID-19, interruptions in their supply chains for materials, and the disruption of their normal routines. Some artists have chosen to respond directly to the issues of our day, while others have redoubled their focus on their materials and the specific technical and historical processes in which they practice.

“Every artist, like every person, has been affected by COVID,” states Sarah Maloney, co-curator. “It has been remarkable to hear from the artists how they have risen to the challenges set for them in these difficult times. You can really see how their passion drives them.”

There is no one right answer of course, acknowledges Co-curator Ray Cronin: “art is more about questions, anyway.” Creative Obsessions highlights the probing questioning— of techniques and materials, of local and global issues, of historical and cultural contexts— that define the work of 10 of the Island’s most accomplished fine craftspeople.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Calling All Superstars

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The Confederation Centre is calling all superstars aged 7-11! ⭐️

Sign up now for next month’s Performing Arts Camps and make unforgettable summer memories.

Learn more: https://confederationcentre.com/arts-education/exploring-performing-arts/

PEI Professional Theatre Network

28660348_162333201093170_735205771249634989_n

PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Watermark Announces 2nd Music Series Concert

The Watermark Music Series 2nd concert of the summer will be held on August 4th at 7:30PM. Inspired by The Monterey Pop Festival, the concert will feature the music of The Mamas & the Papas, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and many more. The concerts will be live streamed to our audience members while Irish Mythen, Brielle Ansems and Natalie Williams Calhoun perform these classic songs on the Watermark stage in North Rustico.

These free concerts, curated as always by Rob Oakie, can be viewed in the comfort of your homes by going to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Watermark-Theatre-93969977499

The Monterey Pop Festival was an iconic 3 day festival held in June 1967 in California. The lineup was a who’s who of pop, rock, and folk stars including The Mamas & the Papas, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and so many more. Irish Mythen, Brielle Ansems and special guest Natalie Williams Calhoun will present their own interpretations of some of the music that helped shape the generation.

Irish Mythen was born in Ireland and now resides in Charlottetown. “This Island creates music and musicians, art and artists. I found a shift to take things more seriously when I moved here.” And she did just that. Her latest release, Little Bones, gained her recognition around the globe, including a 2020 JUNO nomination for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, seven Music PEI 2020 nominations and two wins — Touring Artist of the Year and Roots Contemporary Recording of the Year, and a Canadian Folk Music Nomination for Solo Artist of the Year. Her previous self-titled album garnered awards and nominations from Music PEI, East Coast Music Association, Folk Alliance International and SOCAN. Write-ups in Australian Guitar Magazine, Rolling Stone and a plethora of other print and online media worldwide, have helped plant Irish firmly on the map of “Must-See Artists”.

Brielle Ansems, born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised in Montague, PEI, has grown up with music on her lips and a creativity fostered by Prince Edward Island’s artistic community. A recent graduate of Holland College School of Performing Arts Theatre Performance program, her lyric-focused music fuses folk sensibilities with pop and R&B influences to create an emotionally charged, poetic experience for her audiences.

Natalie Williams Calhoun is an accomplished concert cellist, an educator and 1/5 of the well know string ensemble Atlantic String Machine. She has toured across Canada and internationally. Since moving to PEI, she has supported countless artists on stage and in the studio both as a solo artist and with ASM. She has recorded on dozens of albums and worked with a wide range of artists including Rachel Beck, Dylan Menzie, KINLEY, Irish Mythen and many more.

For more information, or to set up interviews with Rob Oakie, or any of the artists, please contact Andrea Surich at 902‐963‐3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre is a proud member of the PTN (Professional Theatre Network of PEI).

Watermark Theatre
57 Church Hill Ave
North Rustico, PE
C0A 1X0
(902) 963‐3963
http://www.watermarktheatre.com