365 Things to Look Forward to — Number 41: Orwell Corner


(Orwell Corner Historic Village, PE. 17 September 2011). It was with great excitement that approximately 100 newcomers to PEI, along with about 4 or 5 staff members from the PEI Newcomers’ Association and a few EAL tutors gathered at the Kent St. entrance to the Confederation Court Mall on a sunny but very chilly windy Saturday. The group was unfazed by the cold, although several, who had expected a warm day, were starting to shiver as they waited for the buses that would ferry them to Orwell Corner Historic Village. Finally, the buses arrived–huge red and white behemoths that swallowed the people one by one. Sadly, a few newcomers have not yet learned common courtesy and etiquette. They have yet to learn that here, in Canada, we LINE UP and not rush for the door and cut into the line out of turn. Unfortunately, as well, they could barely understand English, so it was not something that could be easily explained. There was some head-shaking there, but that didn’t ruin the mood of the day.

The trip was a short one…not more than 40 minutes out of town taking the route through Stratford and somehow arriving at Orwell Corner after a series of pretty farmland scenes with corn fields and other fields, cows taking a noon nap, bales of hay rolled in white plastic wraps like gigantic white worms stretched across the fields, and gently rolling hills.

Once into the Orwell Corner turnoff, the road was slightly bumpy, as it was unpaved, unlike the highway. A bit of dust rose from the rear end of the red bus ahead of ours, but the buses were air conditioned, so that didn’t bother us at all. We pulled into a sharp turn that led into a parking lot, where our only view of the village was a dirt path bordered with log fences. Upon disembarking, we proceeded to follow the red dirt road to the museum and, of course, gift shop.

A view of the distant hills from the parking lot


Welcome to Orwell Corner!


following the red dirt road to the museum

Inside the museum, we were greeted by shelves of souvenirs, curios and other PEI products (like lobster chips, which I have yet to try), hand-made soap and goat milk soap. Unfortunately, this was a cash-less field trip, so I could only appreciate what I saw. Besides, everything was priced for tourists! Well, pretty much.

Once past the gift shop counters, we encountered huge and varied farm equipment, transportation modes, mostly for winter, and all sorts of alien machines. There was also a miniature log cabin and a miniature setting of a house–pretty much like a playhouse, with child-sized furniture.

Log cabin

There was even a little potty chair!

a little potty chair!

Outside the museum, we strolled down the road to the village proper, where the first thing you see is the cemetery in front of the Presbyterian church.

Orwell Corner cemetery

It was a nice peaceful quiet spot, God’s little acre where the old denizens of Orwell sleep for eternity. If I’d had more time, I’d have looked at the gravestones to see what years they were put up. Not that I’d find any relatives there! The sleepers would be from England and Ireland and Scotland.

The church was a simple building, a bright shiny white in the September sun. It looked pretty much like most of the rural churches around PEI. Simple, unassuming. I wonder if that is a characteristic of non-Catholic churches, or of churches built by the English, Irish, and Scots. Back in the Philippines, hardly any two Catholic churches look alike!

Orwell Corner Presbyterian Church

As soon as you stepped into the door, you could smell the old pine and cedar and the very strong smell of must in the air. The archway in the foyer above the door to the interior of the church bears the year the church was built: 1861.

built in 1861

The pews were sitting there, facing the pulpit. Old, solid, shiny from wear and some polish, I suppose.

The pulpit stood dead center of the altar area, dark and imposing, as it probably meant to be.


To be continued.


365 Things to Look Forward to – Number 12: Reception!


12. Reception for the artists featured in The Honourable Barbara A. Hagerman’s Summer Visual Arts Exhibit at Fanningbank

Wasn’t I excited when I received an invitation in the mail from the Government House? When I saw the way the envelope was addressed to me and “guest”, and when I turned it over and saw the PEI coat of arms on the flap and the PEI Government House address stamped in gold, I knew right away that my painting had been selected for the Summer Visual Arts Exhibit for Newcomers at Fanningbank, the Government House of PEI.

I right away called up my dear friend Nettie and told her the exciting news. If someone had taken a video of me that time, they would have laughed at how excited I was, hopping up and down and skipping and pacing back and forth.

Funny how, all my life, I’d always been so restrained and never showed excitement. I always just took everything in stride, shrugged my shoulders a bit, and moved on. Even when I received word that I’d won 3rd place in the 2007 Palanca Award for Literature, my excitement was totally contained and never really became the bubbly, happy excitement you see on videos and television, and other games. I suppose the most I ever ventured was a big smile, no matter that it was a gold medal and a 3-foot tall trophy I was receiving for a national competition.

Since late 2010, however, when I first received word that I had been picked to mount an exhibit of my works at The Gallery @ The Guild, I’ve been expressing my excitement in ways I never had before. It’s hard to explain that feeling of being so overwhelmingly happy that you actually, literally, jump for joy. Since I had never done that in my life before, it was a totally new and totally awesome, exhilarating experience. I suppose it comes with experiencing little successes in something that is totally of your own choosing.

So, back to the reception. When I received the invitation on the 3rd of June, I was literally jumping out of my skin for joy. I suppose that’s what it’s like when you say you’re beside yourself with joy. I must say that, apart from a couple of incidents in between, I was in a constant state of HIGH. I was so intoxicated with happiness that certainly kept me going for a long time, all the way to the day of the reception on the 17th June 2011.

The Honourable Barbara A. Hagerman, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, and Me at Fanningbank

My insipid introverted self kicked in, of course, once I was there, although I did smile a lot, greeted people who greeted me, and said thank you when my work was praised or admired. I felt dwarfed by the attention the other artists were getting, even if there were only 17 of us. They had brought more guests, whereas I had only one.

Nettie and Me at Fanningbank

Nonetheless, I was in an altered reality. A dream state that I knew would end, and end it did, as soon as the reception wound down and people started drifting away and Nettie and I drove away from Fanningbank’s grounds. Nettie so wisely and nicely suggested we eat supper out…it extended the intoxication a bit so the hangover wouldn’t be so bad. And what a hangover. It took two days to get me back writing, when I know I promised myself I’d write every single day.

The reception is over. The exhibit will run from the 6th of July to the 30th of August, which is the summer tour season for Fanningbank. That in itself is exciting, as all sorts of tourists will see my painting. The exposure is fantastic, and my art career is moving forward slowly but surely. I’m back in my cozy apartment and trying to decide what my next painting subject will be for my next assignment. Waiting until I’m so inspired I just have to sit in front of my little easel and begin the preliminary work. Waiting until the next reception.