scMary KaysWEB

Mary Kays

 

It was bad when we were just a minority, we used to be called “blackjew”. There was a few there at school that would taunt us. It was terrible, I used to go home crying. When you’re a child, you didn’t know why they called you “blackjew”. Nowadays, we have more multiculture. You’ve got to respect all, really.

My dad came here from Syria, to make a better life for his family. He then had to earn enough to repay his cousin for his fare, and to bring Mum, his brother, his daughter, and son out. So he was here ten years before Mum. In those days you had to peddle. Dad carried suitcases in each hand, and one on his back. He sold clothing; like boots, shoes, and everything. He was jack-of-all-trades.

In that ten years, Mum and her two children lived with her mum and her brother. It was hard when she left home. Imagine leaving your family behind to come to a new country. It wasn’t a first-class voyage either; with the children, it was hard. She was on that boat for twenty-seven days, didn’t speak a word of English. She’d only be twenty-eight; she was married when she was about fourteen. Then after she arrived, she and my father had to reconnect. It was difficult; after ten years you’d be strangers.

It wasn’t too nice when she came, cold, February, but she adjusted. She had no choice, I guess. They stopped peddling, bought a place, and opened a variety store, work clothes, everything in it. They had a good, successful business and got into real estate. She ended up having five more children. Mum and Dad were quite strict. We worked hard, studied, and went to church. I worked in the store, did yards for neighbours, that’s about it.

My father did his own slaughtering. One morning he said, come on Mary; let’s go do a chicken. I said, “Oh my God,” to myself.  He had this big block of wood, put the chicken’s head on, and chopped. He let it go, and the thing chased me out in the garden with its head off. I was screaming bloody murder. About ten at the time.

Dad got me to do everything with him. We had this lovely lamb, poor little thing. You had to hang them upside down, bang them over the head, then, he slit their throat. I had to watch Dad do it. Then we had to cut him up, and put him down for the winter. Those days we didn’t have deep freezes, so, we did our own thing for the winter, like jams and pickles, and we preserved all our vegetables. I had to help my mother do all that. 

That was the way of life. That’s why I’m not a meat eater too much. I would say 80% not a meat eater. It’s the smell. So, we do up a cinnamon, sort of kills the taste and smell of it.

Mary Kays

Prince Edward Island, 2010


csKekee SaulnierWEB

Kekee Saulnier

 

It was the next day, all the doctors come and congratulating me; I got embarrassed. I said, “Anybody can do that.” They said, “There’s not everybody can do that.”

I had kinda brought a kid back to life, she took a cardiac arrest. The technician was holding her head up, and the kid turned blue. I said, “Gimme a hold of the kid, she’s not breathing!” So, I put her on the x-ray table, and started to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. By that time, the emergency team and radiologist come in. One of the technicians said, “I’ll take over.” Radiologist said, “Leave him alone, he’s doing great.” By then, the kid had survived. When I looked at those big blue eyes come to…

I liked working at the Children’s Hospital in Montreal. We were classified as orderlies, but we were really assistant technicians. I used to go up, get the kids from the wards, and hold them on the x-ray table.

I grew up in Rustico. There was nothing around here in the 1930s, hardly any houses, no cars. We were all delivered by midwife, pretty much. The wharf was shanties on sticks, with poles running out like a stage. They used to haul the boats up with horses, take the engines out, and turn them upside down. We’d be playing hide and seek, trying to get a girl in there.

In those days, we never seen anything all winter long. To see a plow, or something like that, was big time. The only thing we used to see was a man coming with the horse delivering milk, if he could get through. He’d drop your two quarts of milk or whatever at the door. I used to go outside and grab the milk. You got all that cream on the top; it was frozen but it tasted some good, I tell you.

When I was sixteen, I went away up to Goose Bay, Labrador. They were building a big airbase. I was the youngest, and was working in the post office, and the Hudson Bay Company, as a clerk. There was nothing up there, just tents. Would see the Eskimos coming in there, they couldn’t speak the English at all. They’d come, point their finger at what they wanted in the showcase, and start laughing. Chewing twists, and spitting on the floor, and the old women with pipes. They had their own village; near the campsite that I stayed at. It was in 1952, I think.

After that I was in Montreal for twenty-five years, then my dad wasn’t feeling well, an Mom wasn’t feeling all that good; couldn’t take care of the place. I figured maybe I’d go home, and started fishing. Oh it was fun, I like fishing.

I don’t fish any more, but I spend a lot of time at the wharf. We all get along good together, all the fishermen. We have a great time down here in the wintertime, chatting, telling stories and telling lies. 

Kekee Saulnier

Prince Edward Island, 2010

 

 


scRichard MacKinnonWEB

Richard Mackinnon

 

I’ve had everything from autopsy tables to stainless steel correctional toilets. I do business with people in Toronto who do movie shoots. I had a coffee table in one of Vin Diesel’s movies, a stainless steel toilet in Jodie Foster’s “Panic Room”, and today I have a painting that was in Gene Hackman’s movie “The Fifth President”.

It started when I was a kid. I always collected pop bottles growing up here on the Island, going around in old abandoned barns, crawling under old houses, looking for bottles and tin cans and things like that. I had an uncle who had an antique shop, and you know, all my family had antiques. I guess I sort of just fell I love with it that way. About eighteen years ago when I moved to Toronto, I saw a market for it, and just picked up from where I left off as a young fella.

At first when I got in the business, I fell in love with everything. After three or four years of doing that, my money dwindled down and I had a lot of stuff. Now I’m more careful. The things that I buy, I try to have customers for already so the inventory doesn’t just sit around collecting dust. I never ever dreamed of owning a shop before. I just stumbled across the location, thought about jumping into a shop, and that was it.

My pieces come from all over. I was in the Rocky Mountains two years ago building some chalets. In my time off, I was able to travel around and do some picking. We had a couple guys on site that were First Nations, and I was able to get back to their reserve and purchase some stuff. Some of the other stuff, like the soapstone carvings and seal skin jackets were bought in antique shops along the way. The old shaving utensils, and stuff like that on top of the display case there, were just picked locally here in Prince Edward Island.

Once I waited six hours for two chairs to come up on the auction block, and purchased them for five dollars each. I sold them the next day for a thousand dollars each. Early nineteenth century, there was no maker’s name on them; they were way ahead of their time. Another time I paid something like five hundred dollars for an antique Persian carpet, a big carpet, with a large hole in it, and sold it for ten thousand dollars. With a hole in it, a huge massive hole. Probably would have cost six thousand dollars or more to repair the carpet, but the carpet’s a fifty thousand dollar carpet when it’s all said and done.

Getting back to finding it hard to get rid of things, I don’t fall in love with any of this stuff any more, it’s all material things. None of this stuff really means anything to me anymore.

Except my dog, that’s it. And love, well that’s not for sale.

 


cAnna MacKayWEB

Anna Mackay

 

I was settin’ at the table with my daughter and her friends. This guy come in dressed like a butler, and I thought oh my soul… He had a vest on and a jacket, and oh, he was… hair just so, and I thought, oh God, I don’t know.

My daughter and her friends had been going to the dances in North Rustico. She had come home one Saturday night and said, “Oh, you should see what’s down there, he’s gorgeous. Come down next Saturday night and we’ll arrange for yous to meet.” So, I went down.

Anyhow, after I went home that first night, he phoned me and said, “Can I meet you down there next Saturday night?” And I said, “Yeah, you can meet me.” I had me own car, so he didn’t get the chance to bring me home until we met two or three times. He even phoned and invited me back for a lobster meal. I said, “No, I don’t like lobsters.” I weren’t gonna get too much involved because I had been married before that, so I knew what I might get into. We went together for about three years before we decided to get married. Wanted to make sure. That was thirty-five years ago.

I like a horse, but I’m scared of em because my father always said, “Look out now, don’t go behind them, they kick! Don’t get in front, they might bite!” And so I was never around horses, even though my father always had a farm horse or two. I’ll go out and feed them if Fenton ain’t here, but I keep back a distance.

I don’t go to the races often, I’m really not interested in racing. I think it’s cruelty to animals, beating them around the track. And when they go out on the track you don’t know if they’re coming back. I’ve seen accidents where the horses was all cut to pieces, some was killed. There’s more worry watching a race than it is to stay home.

As a child I walked two miles each way to school alone. That was weird for a little one; at that time my brothers and sisters were all out on their own. I never went in the wintertime. There was no plows or anything in them days. After every storm, the horsemen had to hitch up the team of horses, or a single horse and a bunch would go with shovels. They would break the roads wherever there was the smallest amount of snow. Sometimes the horses would get down and cut themselves and everything. Oh, some horses nearly bled to death. In winter people got around with a horse and sleigh, that’s the only way, or by train. Although the train come right through our farm, I was over twenty before I was ever on a train.

I’m over eighty now, so I survived. I am the luckiest person. I got to admit, I am lucky.

 


cMyron TurnerWEB

Myron Turner

 

My favourite part about the Meat Market is the excitement. I thrive on excitement; like fifteen people talking at once, and action, just the action.

My family wasn’t in the wholesale or retail side of the business, they all had slaughterhouses. I grew up around the slaughterhouse, in the yard you may as well say. I just kind of grew into it, I guess, I don’t know much else.

I peddled meat out of the trunk of a car when I was twelve. On Saturdays, my father’d be butchering and I’d buy a quarter from him. One thing led to another, I worked around, in the slaughterhouses around Toronto, then part time jobs around Ontario and Calgary, meat counters for the chains and all that. When I met my wife she was in Toronto; she’s from here though.

We’ve lived in the same house since we got married, about thirty-five years or so. I was raised on a century farm; at least five generations of Turners have lived there. They worked for a landlord and paid rent, year after year. Then there was a rebellion and everybody quit paying. It was the same across Canada; they forced the landlords in England to sell them the land. Those five generations are buried in the local cemetery, that’s where I’m going.

In 1973, we bought the business. It used to be on Queen St. It started out, back years ago, a fella I think he was Hungarian or something, on North River Rd.; then somebody else took it over. They were down even on Grafton St. at one time, then Henry Peters moved it over to Queen St. I bought it from Henry, the city bought the building, and I had to move.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, that was the toughest time we went through. I remember paying 22% interest when interest rates went high. We were raising a family then. Our children have no interest in the business. I worked the devil out of them when they were home, now they they all got good jobs, making good money. They work five days, and they go home. There’s no plans to retire, I would sell the business but I’m not advertising it. My wife’s got a year or two to go before she can get Canada pension. It wouldn’t be a big check, but it would help out.

We work hard at it, we make mistakes too. It’s whatever the consumer wants. There’s different strokes for different folks, that’s what makes the world go ‘round. Perhaps I am a step back in time. With sawdust on the floor you don’t have to scrub. If you get nice fresh sawdust it’ll soak up the odours and is great for slopping up messes to boot. If we didn’t have sawdust there, it’d be greasy from the fat coming off, and you’d be slipping.

If there’s anything else I can tell ya, I’ll be darned to tell ya, if not I guess I’m done.

Myron Turner

Prince Edward Island, 2010

 


cKaren CheverieWEB

Karen Cheverie

 

He asked how big the leaves were, how tall they grew, whether they bloomed or not, so I just explained to him that white potatoes bloom white blooms, and blue potatoes bloom blue blooms.

This fella from Ontario had come in yesterday, and he had asked myself and my son if we could describe for him what a potato plant actually looked like.  It caught me by surprise because he didn’t know, when I thought they grew potatoes in Ontario.

My oldest son, he’s almost nineteen, and he is really, really into farming. I had him when I was sixteen, and was fortunate enough that my family accepted it. So we grew up together, and we’re still growing together. Being on the stall is kind of an experience for my sons; I think that they really enjoy it. They get to meet the different people and they’re getting a feel for what we’re appreciated for.

People come in from North Carolina, down in Florida and California, and they’ll come in, and they’ll say that our produce here is even nicer than some of their own in some of those places. And we get people who come in with their pets, and their dogs eat peas and carrots. It’s funny isn’t it. It’s amazing where people come from, and how nice they are. And they come in here, and they want to tell you stories, like one person, they sold their home, and they bought an RV, they’ve been travelling for years, and that’s what they do. It’s amazing, they’re on a constant journey.

Some of my memories of the farm, from when we were quite small, are feeding the cows and pigs, riding a couple of ponies that we loved, picking turnips and cabbage, being out on the potato digger; and you know, just trying to scatter the potatoes from the rocks as fast as you could so they didn’t get into the big truck, being out so late at night, and always being so dirty and full of the red mud.

We’ve had this stand here for well over ten years now, from June the twenty-fifth every year until Labour Day in September. My father sells to stores, we also work at the Farmer’s Market in Charlottetown which has been an ongoing process in his life since I was thirteen, so that’s twenty years now.

It’s nice being in the garden. I put on an old pair of jeans and just a t-shirt, spray down with bug spray, go bare feet, and stand in the garden for two or three hours just weeding or picking the peas, picking beans, weeding the potatoes. I love vegetables and fruits. I have to say there’s not too many that I would ever turn away.

I’ve been doing this my whole life. My father’s always been a farmer, so now I’ve brought that onto my children. I never thought I would, but I’ve now passed this onto them.