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Storytellers recount fierce courage of two women – Sunday at Macaulay


Jeanette Arsenault


Suzanne Pasternak

Part two of the County Storytelling Festival Series opened Saturday at Macaulay Museum in Picton. The show will repeat Sunday, at 2 p.m.

Jeanette Arsenault’s “Out of Acadia, Stories from My Grandmother Josephine” unfolded with music director Tom Leighton who also performed in the revival of Minerva and the Old Grey Shawl celebrating its 25 anniversary.

Minerva starred its creator, Suzanne Pasternak, who is also the creative behind the Storytelling Festival Series. It highlights the talents of Emily Fennell as Minerva, Alec Lunn, Leighton and Arsenault.

Leighton and Alec Lunn

Tom Leighton and Alec Lunn

Arsenault transported the audience to her Acadian grandmother’s kitchen party and Pasternak and Lunn brought the onlookers out onto the stormy lake. The two inspirational stories highlighted fierce courage of two women and brought some audience members to both tears and laughter.

Arsenault drew on similarities between Prince Edward County and Prince Edward Island as well as the respective 18th century plight of the oppressed French Acadian people and Ontario Loyalists.

Pasternak shone a light on Minerva McCrimmon’s story 25 years ago. The folk opera has been performed in Toronto for 12 years.

Emily Fennell as Minerva McCrimmon

Emily Fennell as Minerva McCrimmon

McCrimmon was aboard the David Andrews when the ship, in a snowstorm, drove into a reef at Four Mile Point, near Oswego, New York. The rescue involved riding across a line in a small, narrow chair. Minerva McCrimmon escorted all 21 members of the crew, including her dad, to shore. They were all County residents.

Her bravery is honoured in the poem “Neva of the Delaware” which ends with:
“I rushed aft with the Old Man
To lift Nerva from the wheel.
Her frozen hands was bleeding.
Her feet she could not feel.
Her hair was iced to her back boys,
And it seemed to me a sin,
For her mother’s old grey cradle shawl
Was froze beneath her chin.”

She died not long after, at age 21. She is buried in the South Bay Cemetery.

The shows  repeat Sunday, Aug 2 at 2 p.m. at the Macaulay Museum, 35 Church Street (at Union Street), Picton.

Standing ovation for the performers.

Standing ovation for the performers.

Photographs courtesy County Photograher Phil Norton. Click here to learn more about his regular photography outings and workshops for photographers of all levels and nature lovers. The format is informal and interactive. Retreats and trips are also offered.

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