A variation on an old expression goes like this: if you don’t know where you have come from, you don’t know where you’re going.
When it comes to knowing about their past, members of the Canadian Lebanese Association of P.E.I. now have a valuable new tool at their disposal. A documentary of how P.E.I.’s Lebanese community came to the province is now available on DVD.
A New Place Called Home gives a history of Lebanese Canadian families’ journeys to the province over the past 125 years and the reasons they left their country behind in hopes of better and more prosperous lives.
Association president Fadi Rashed explains it is increasingly difficult for today’s generation to understand the true hardships their parents and other first settlers had to deal with in coming to this new country. He said they were starting to lose that generation of Lebanese immigrants, and as they disappeared so did their stories, hence the urgent reason for the documentary. It was written, produced and directed by David Rashed.
The documentary points out the original Lebanese left home for a variety of reasons, many of them similar to the reasons today’s immigrants have. Some wanted to avoid troubles in their homeland, others wanted a new beginning in a new and promising land.
In working on the documentary, the young men reconfirmed something everyone already knew about the early Lebanese immigrants — they weren’t afraid of work. They instintively knew that hard work would lead to success.
Those involved in documenting the early Lebanese history are to be commended, as are those who in the past have helped preserve Lebanese history, such as Island author David Weale and the late Frank Zakem.
In the end, the connection between Lebanon and Prince Edward Island has been beneficial to both sides. P.E.I., and Canada, received some wonderful, hard-working immigrants, and in return the newcomers found a safe and loving new home. Said David Rashed: “...Canada has given these people a lot of opportunity and it’s been a good home. They seem to make roots here … Lebanon will always be where they’re from, but Canada is their home now.”
For a country such as ours, one that has been built on immigration, that is a good thing to keep in mind as our new immigrants arrive.
Snapping away at history
It’s always nice to make your father proud, and Scott MacDonald of Charlottetown is doing just that this week. Although his father, W. Blair MacDonald, is no longer alive, son Scott is about to launch a new book that should be of interest to Charlottetown history buffs.
In the book, called Charlottetown Then And Now, Scott captures a host of changes to the city’s landscape over the past few years. He wanted to preserve and enhance the undertaking of his father, who began taking pictures in 1958 with his camera using slide film of buildings that were to be demolished, renovated or set to change ownership.
In his book project, Scott literally walked in his father’s footsteps and snapped photographs from the same vantage points to illustrate what has changed.
Charlottetown, indeed Prince Edward Island, is blessed with a population that is dedicated to preserving history and culture. Mr. MacDonald’s new book is another nice addition for the history shelves.