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Heritage Tea honours cultural contributions to Summerside

Norma Steele pours a hot cup of tea at the Mayor's Heritage Tea on Friday, Feb. 21. Steele has been pouring at the event for about 10 years.
Norma Steele pours a hot cup of tea at the Mayor's Heritage Tea on Friday, Feb. 21. Steele has been pouring at the event for about 10 years. - Alison Jenkins
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

The annual Mayor’s Heritage Tea at Summerside City Hall this past Friday featured a tasty lunch, award-winners and even a surprise visit from the past.

Dozens of tiny sandwiches were laid out, with tea and coffee poured from antique silver services and served in china cups. 

As the close to 100 people gathered to watch the presentation of the City of Summerside’s 2020 Culture and Heritage Awards, winners were announced in various categories.

Isabel MacWilliams pours at the Mayor's Heritage Tea in Summerside city hall Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins
Isabel MacWilliams pours at the Mayor's Heritage Tea in Summerside city hall Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins

However as the master of ceremonies thanked those gathered, the room went suddenly dark.

“It’s very strange to be here in this realm,” said a voice from a darkened corner of the room.

Blue lights faintly illuminated a gray-haired woman, wearing a red skirt suit.

“It cannot be said enough that the past is relevant to the future,” said actress Laura K. Bird, who joined the party to portray the late Wanda Wyatt, a longtime resident of Summerside, who had been well-known for her love of heritage and the Island.

Laura K. Bird, as Wanda Wyatt, made an appearance at the Mayor's Heritage Tea on Friday, Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins
Laura K. Bird, as Wanda Wyatt, made an appearance at the Mayor's Heritage Tea on Friday, Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins

Appreciating the past while looking to the future was a common theme on Friday as George Dalton was given the Award of Honour “in recognition of outstanding contribution, expressed over a considerable period of time, to the culture and heritage in the community.”

Dalton’s involvement in Summerside’s history circles began with a brief conversation at a copy shop.

Recently retired from a career in the military, he had taken in an old photo to be reproduced.

“Oh, you like history? We’re having a meeting next week.”

Award of Honour recipient, George Dalton, sits with fellow Community School instructor, Dorothy Farrish, at the Mayor's Heritage Tea on Friday Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins
Award of Honour recipient, George Dalton, sits with fellow Community School instructor, Dorothy Farrish, at the Mayor's Heritage Tea on Friday Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins

He became fast friends with that copy store worker and many others.

Dalton also acknowledged the support of his wife, Estelle, despite his habit of stashing artifacts all over the house including under the beds. 

"She's put up with a lot," he said.

Over the years, he taught history classes at St. Eleanor’s community school.

His first group had 16 people in it. Twelve were over 80, so he was often the student, he said.

“They gave us a lot. It’s nice to remember the people who gave us a lot and shared their history with us.” 


The City of Summerside’s 2020 Culture/ Heritage Awards were announced at the Mayor’s Heritage Tea Feb. 21 at City Hall.

And the winners are:

Heritage Activity Awards

  • Linda Marchbank – in recognition of ensuring the survival of the art of rug hooking by continuing to teach and practice the skill and encourage others to take it up.
  • Heidi Zinn and Lennie MacPherson – in recognition of their sensitive refurbishing of the historic MacKenzie House at 262 Notre Dame St.

Rug-hooking friends Marlene Cameron, left, Linda Marchbank, Brenda Sinclair and Bette Young discuss Marchbank's Heritage Activity Award at the Mayor's Heritage Tea in Summerside Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins
Rug-hooking friends Marlene Cameron, left, Linda Marchbank, Brenda Sinclair and Bette Young discuss Marchbank's Heritage Activity Award at the Mayor's Heritage Tea in Summerside Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins

Cultural Activity Awards

  • Bruce MacDougall – in recognition of his debut CD of all-original songs titled A Beautiful Island.
  • Darrell DesRoches, students and staff at Summerside Intermediate School – in recognition of the very successful 2019 Diversity festival.

Natural Heritage Activity Award

  • Rosemary Curley, Kimberley Riehl, Pierre-Yves Daoust, Donald McAlpine and Dan McAskill – in recognition of researching, writing and producing the book Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters published by Island Studies Press.

Summerside councillor Carrie Adams and Mayor Basil Stewart present the Natural Heritage Activity Award to Rosemary Curley, who headed up the research and publication of Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters alongside collaborators Kimberley Riehl and Pierre-Yves Daoust at City Hall on Friday, Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins
Summerside councillor Carrie Adams and Mayor Basil Stewart present the Natural Heritage Activity Award to Rosemary Curley, who headed up the research and publication of Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters alongside collaborators Kimberley Riehl and Pierre-Yves Daoust at City Hall on Friday, Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins

Publication of the Year Award

  • Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation – for Yesterday, Today – A Portrait of Summerside, Prince Edward Island. 

Volunteer of the Year Award

  • Gwendolyn “Dolly” Silk - in recognition of ongoing dedication of many productive hours of volunteer work for a variety of cultural interests in the community.

Summerside councillor Carrie Adams and Mayor Basil Stewart present the city's Volunteer of the Year Award to Dolly Silk at city hall on Friday, Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins
Summerside councillor Carrie Adams and Mayor Basil Stewart present the city's Volunteer of the Year Award to Dolly Silk at city hall on Friday, Feb. 21. - Alison Jenkins

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