Franklin Pigot’s book, “A History of Mount Stewart”, is a family heirloom for some Mount Stewart residents.
It was first published in 1975, but it has become a priceless read because it has been out of print for more than 30 years.
“They are treasured copies, nobody wants to give them up,” said Dan McAskill, president of The Hillsborough River Association.
“It’s their history.”
It was the first book of its kind to give a comprehensive look at the history of this small community located in Lot 37. The book encompasses the arrival of the Mi’kmaq thousands of years ago to modern times as recent as 1975.
Pigot, who was a librarian at the University of Prince Edward Island for many years, conducted countless hours of historical research and interviews for his book. He wrote about topics such as industry changes and historical characters like Captain John Stewart (a.k.a. “Hellfire Jack”) as well as information on sports teams, churches, agriculture practices and shipbuilding initiatives within the community.
A book launch will be held Nov. 19, 2-4 p.m., at the Mount Stewart Community Centre.
McAskill said it was a joint endeavour between the Hillsborough River Association and the Hillsborough River and Area Development Corporation to republish Pigot’s prized book.
“We wanted to make it more generally available,” said McAskill.
“A History of Mount Stewart: Illustrated & Extended Edition” includes Pigot’s original book, as well as photographs, maps and illustrations. It also contains some community updates and new initiatives since 1975.
After receiving Pigot’s blessing and funding through Canada 150 funds, they got the project off the ground last May.
McAskill said 149 people contributed invaluable information from their personal collections and scrapbooks, which appear throughout the pages of the book.
The Hillsborough River Association Publishing Committee, consisting of McAskill (chairman), Aggi-Rose Reddin and Jim Hornby, are the co-authors to the book. They researched, edited and indexed the event highlights section from 1975-2017. They also digitized the images throughout the book.
McAskill said one thing in the event highlights section he thinks Islanders would be interested in knowing is that despite a large reduction in population (413 people in 1971 to 209 in 2016), it is still a vibrant and generous community.
One community organization in particular, the Mount Stewart Muscular Dystrophy Association, ran for 23 years and raised a total of $350,000.
Mount Stewart also has a rich history in railways and shipbuilding.
At one time, Mount Stewart was a hub for rails on P.E.I. since it was the junction point for the main line going to Souris and Georgetown.
Shipbuilding was also a popular endeavour in the area and continued until the early 1900’s.
“Between ship building and the trains, this was a large centre for shipping agriculture and other products,” said McAskill.
McAskill said it was not uncommon to see 13 sailing ships loading in Mount Stewart during the late 1800’s.
The book launch on Nov. 19 will consist of a welcome with a representative of the Pigot family, an audiovisual presentation showing some of the highlights and historical pictures as well as a Q and A.
There will also be live fiddle music with Hornby.
All profits from the book will go toward working on the history and the biological conservation of the Hillsborough River.
A second book launch will be held on Dec. 4 at the Beaconsfield Carriage House in Charlottetown from 7-9 p.m.
For more information, visit HRA Watershed Management’s Facebook page.