Margaret Caroline Beaumont Maddison (née Saint) taken in Vancouver 1928.

Margaret Caroline Beaumont Maddison (née Saint), Vancouver, 1928.

I’m working on a series of poems and stories about my days growing up in West Vancouver back in the ’60s and ’70s. As I write them, I’m sending them out for consideration by possible publishers.

Happily, a poem, “Those Even Older Were Witches,” found a home this summer in the Newfoundland Quarterly. It’s about my great grandmother Margaret Caroline Beaumont Maddison (née Saint) who migrated from Bonavista, Newfoundland to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1888 when she was eighteen years old. She died in 1963 when I was six.

Other poems already published from this planned series are “Beautiful Golden-Brown Women of a Gauguin Painting” that appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Still Point Arts Quarterly, and “Going Up the Country” that appeared in the 2013 anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s & ’70s published by She Writes Press.

“Beautiful Golden-Brown Women,”  is currently posted on The Prince Edward Island Poet Laureate (PEIPL) website. To read it, click here. While you’re at the site, check out the work of other PEI poets. We’re a plentiful bunch, and the poems you’ll find there are wonderful.

For a treat, click here to visit my friend E. E. Nobbs’s poem “Childless in the City,” which is posted on the PEIPL site. Even better, click here to visit elly from earth, her website.

My 100 square foot allotment at the PEI 2014 Legacy Garden

My 100 square foot allotment at the PEI 2014 Legacy Garden. 

Tropical Storm Arthur ripped the leaves off my okra and bell peppers, leaving them green swizzle sticks. They started to rally, but then a nasty nocturnal bug feasted on the okras’ new leaves. Currently, they are sketchy, at best. What my grandmother would have called “so-so,” which means there’s hope, but the long-term prognosis isn’t good.

Sweet Red Bull peppers.

Sweet Red Bull peppers. These were planted after Arthur stormed through.

But the rest of my 100 square foot allotment at the PEI 2014 Legacy Garden thrives. I’ve been eating lettuce, radish, and green onion grown in it for weeks. And the Legacy Garden itself? The whole, big, visionary thing? It’s one of the best things going in Charlottetown. Cross my heart. I’m not fibbing.

Variety of tomatoes: beefsteak, patio, and a low-acid yellow.

Variety of tomatoes: beefsteak, patio, and a low-acid yellow.

We’ve started trading veg. Jean gave me a banana pepper in exchange for future handfuls of cilantro. She’s into salsa and has planted everything she needs for it, except cilantro, which I am going to have in abundance. It’s a win-win deal. The both of us, plus Gail, munched on fresh peas as we examined plants and discussed successful, and not so successful, experiments in growing them.

Flowering watermelon vine.

Flowering watermelon vine.

Mini-greenhouses made from clear plastic juice containers worked for me. I cut out the bottoms, removed the caps, and placed them over basil and watermelon plants. The plants that were sheltered by these small innovative hot houses survived, when bugs ate others that did not have their benefit.

My allotment with "Three Sisters" in background. Elly's allotment is next to mine on the right.

My allotment with “Three Sisters” community plot in background. Elly’s allotment is next to mine on the right.

That structure at the back end of my allotment is a cucumber frame made by Gary out of peeled poplar. Behind it is a section of the community garden devoted to the “Three Sisters,” which are the three main agricultural crops of many North American indigenous peoples. Beans, corn, and pumpkins are planted together in a mound. The beans run up the corn stalks, and the pumpkins spread beneath them, shading the soil and helping to retain its moisture. Imagine the hundreds of pumpkins, thousands of corn ears, and bizillions of beans come harvest time.

 

 

 

 

Rock wall at Cavendish, Devonshire, Bermuda © Valerie Richmond

Rock wall at Cavendish, Devonshire, Bermuda
© Valerie Richmond, 2014

Prince’s History is the result of the work of an abolitionist storytelling, compiling, and editing team with Prince as storyteller, Susanna Strickland (later Moodie) as compiler, and Thomas Pringle as editor and the financial backer of the project. The original pamphlet, published in 1831, was forty-four numbered pages, plus two unnumbered pages in length. Twenty-three of these pages were devoted to Prince’s History. The remaining twenty-three pages were comprised of the unnumbered preface and the supplement, both written by Pringle, and an appendix. The appendix was a relatively short slave narrative titled “Narrative of Louis Asa-Asa, a Captured African.”

There are many gaps in Prince’s History. One type of gap was due to the constraint of space. What would be included in those twenty-three pages devoted to the History? And what would be left out? Researchers, including myself, are working to fill them.

My February 6, 2014 blog post outlines how the maintenance building at the Ocean Club Golf Club, Devonshire, Bermuda fills one of these gaps. It was once the home where Prince’s mother was living when Prince and her two younger sisters, Hannah and Dinah, were readied for the slave auction.

In the narrative, there is only one sentence that refers to this and gives the clue of where to look. Prince indicates that at the time her mother was at the home of the child slave-owner Betsey Williams’s father’s sister’s house. Who was this aunt? and Where was her home? If you are interested to find out more, please refer to the already mentioned blog post.

A similar type of gap exists in the text when Prince ran away from the Ingham farm. Again, only one sentence refers to where she went. She reports that she “went to her mother, who was living with Mr. Richard Darrel” (70). Who was Richard Darrel (now spelled Darrell)? Where was his home? and how did Prince’s mother happen to be living there? Read the rest of this entry »

Adam MacLean, coordinator, PEI Legacy Garden.

Adam MacLean, coordinator, PEI Legacy Garden.

I eased my okra and watermelon plants into the soil of my allotment at the 2014 PEI Legacy Garden on June 21st, the first day of summer. Started from seed ten weeks earlier, and transplanted once to larger pots, I decided it was time. I watered them in, gave them a serious mulching with straw, added windbreaks made of recycled bottles and old tomato cages wrapped in plastic, and crossed my fingers that the Prince Edward Island summer we know and love would arrive.

Watermelon protected from the weather with recycled juice containers.

Watermelon protected from the weather with recycled juice containers.

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Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London.

Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London. The History Department of the University College London (UCL) is situated at Number 23 on the street in the distance.

Legacies of British Slave-ownership (LBS) is a project developed under the auspices of the History Department at London College University (UCL), which is situated at Gordon Square in London’s Bloomsbury District. At the moment of British Abolition in 1833, not only were 800,000 souls to be emancipated, but also £20 million of taxpayers’ money was to be paid in compensation to slave-owners in the West Indies, Bermuda, Mauritius, and the Cape. LBS researchers have created an Encyclopaedia of these slave-owners and the claims they made in the form of a searchable database, which is based on documents held at the British National Archives at Kew.

Several of the slave-owners of Mary Prince are instantly findable. Her last slave-owner John Adams Wood, for example, shows thirty claims for Antigua and two for Bermuda. A large-scale absentee rentier, he claimed for over 1,000 slaves. Although only successful in twenty-five of the claims he made for Antigua, he, nonetheless, received £10,584 13s 0d in compensation for 737 enslaved in that territory. He received £180 7s 7d for fifteen slaves in Bermuda. The LBS web page also shows where his London residence in Fitzrovia was located at the time of the payouts. (For the link to the LBS web page, click here.)

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The Maltings building at MUN's Harlow Campus.

Cabot House at the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s (MUN) Harlow Campus, Old Harlow, Essex. United Kingdom.

The recipient of the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s (MUN) 2013 Bowring/Harlow Scholarship, I’m using my time in the United Kingdom to continue researching the story of Mary Prince, but also to work on my dissertation, which is slowly taking shape.

Here at MUN’s Harlow Campus, which is in Old Harlow, Essex, things couldn’t be sweeter. People are friendly, there’s birdsong every morning, squirrels kibitz in trees, and cats, whether ambling the many pathways or revelling in the sun, are always looking for a rub behind the ears. Compared to Prince Edward Island, where nature is heavily clipped and mowed, everything here is a little wilder, a little looser–grass grows long, luxurious, and soft under trees.

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Charlottetown lilacs, on the verge of showing their first blush, need just another day of sun before bursting forth in spring glory, so I expect Charlottetown oak leaves to be the size of squirrel ears—squirrel-ear-size oak leaves being another sign that all is well with the world and the soil ready for planting. Seeds for northern gardens are in the ground, but my okra, a plant originating in West Africa, now transplanted into bigger, individual pots, continue to grow handsomely on a south-facing windowsill. They’ll have to wait a few more weeks before getting cozy with other plants at the 2014 Prince Edward Island Legacy Garden.

Gary MacFadyen creating pathway for mulch.

Gary MacFadyen creating a pathway for mulch.

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