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P.E.I. author to release book about Alberton’s Evelyn Christopher

Evelyn Christopher loved working in her garden.
Evelyn Christopher loved working in her garden.

ELMSDALE, P.E.I. - Island historian and storyteller David Weale recalls a remark he made to a friend after his first visit with Evelyn Christopher close to 10 years ago.

“I’ve never met anyone like this before and I will never meet anyone like this again,” he said.

Weale returned again and again, two or three times a year, for the rest of her life.

“Evelyn was one of the most opinionated people I’ve ever met. She had opinions on everything – politics, religion, the neighbours – but mostly her opinions were about change,” said Weale, who estimates he recorded about 15 hours of conversations with the woman he also described as gregarious.

Weale, who featured Christopher on the cover of the fall/winter edition of RED, the Island Story Book magazine in 2011, will launch a book about the independent woman from Alberton, “Evelyn: The Last of Her Kind,” on Oct. 27. The launch, coinciding with the 2017 fall launch of RED, will be held at the Elmsdale Community Centre at 7 p.m.

Mille Clarke’s video documentary on Christopher will also be shown.

“There’s a message she had and I tried to convey that. The message really was herself,” said Weale. “She was a vestige. You’d be interested in Evelyn the way you would be interested in an antique – a living antique.”

He’s glad he listened to RED contributor Jenny MacDougall when she said Christopher was someone he had to meet.

David Weale

“She was a curious, curious mix, because, on the one hand, she was abrasive and opinionated and, oh, what she wasn’t going to do to people, but on the other hand, she was soft and tender. She loved to be hugged,” Weale described Christopher, who, though nearing her 90th birthday the first time he met her, was still very much caught up in the things of her youth.

“Evelyn had changed so little. You could’ve plopped her right back in the 1920s or ’30s and she’d be totally right at home,” he said. “Her wisdom, her folklore, her recipes, her wisdom about gardening, it all came from the ’20s and ’30s.”

Even her cuisine was from that era, he noted.

“There was very little what you’d call modern in her diet at all.”

The one room she occupied in her Main Street, Alberton, home was always warm but lacking of modern appliances other than a deep freezer.

She was off the Island only once, taking a trip with her son when he was delivering fish. That she got seasick on the car ferry was surprising to Weale, as she used to fish with her father. She never had any interest in leaving P.E.I. again.

She was only to Charlottetown once and that was to attend a funeral. She told Weale there’d be no point in her going back.

Weale also described her as very practical. She took very little with her when she moved to the nursing home and didn’t want it any more.

“That was then; this is now,” he described her resolve.

After she moved out, her home was condemned and bulldozed, most of her possessions going with it.

“What was so remarkable about her was her age,” said Weale.

She had perfect hearing and vision.

“She was just so fit and she was working like a man until she was 95. Until she was 95, she had a garden that would put most people to shame. I’m sure it was at least half an acre.

“There was nothing she liked better than being in that garden.”

She spent the last two years of her life in a senior’s home in Tignish. She died June 5, 2016. She was 98.

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