MISCOUCHE – The Acadian Museum of P.E.I. in this village displayed a bit of more recent history, on Sunday afternoon, as part of the celebrations of the150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.
2014 just happens to be the museum’s own 50th anniversary, as well.
The small theatre, which usually shows a 17-minute orientation film about Island Acadians, was nearly full for the first of two showings of “The Hundredth Summer”, a National Film Board documentary chronicling the celebrations surrounding the centennial of the Charlottetown Conference.
The film profiled Miscouche, home of the museum, North Rustico and Victoria by the Sea during its approximately 50-minute length, though the reasons for those choices are not specifically known to current museum director Cécile Gallant.
“When we opened the 50th anniversary exhibition, we showed a 10-minute excerpt of the film,” dealing specifically with the Miscouche activities, she explained, and decided to screen the full version for the whole Island to enjoy.
The goal was achieved, as Gallant noted visitors from North Rustico who attended, along with many from the Miscouche and Évangéline areas. Acadian historian George Arsenault, who introduced the film, asked if any in the audience had been at the celebrations, and Gallant noted several hands raised in acknowledgement.
Recognition was an important attraction for many in the audience.
Seven DesRoches sisters, most still in living in the area, were at the original celebrations and enjoyed being transported back in time. They even brought along some of their descendants.
“It brought back great memories. I was there and my twin brothers, who were 9, were carrying the sign that said 1964 in the parade. My father was in the band,” described Julia (DesRoches) Albert, admitting the family was providing lots of commentary during the Miscouche scenes.
Jacob thought there were lots of funny parts to the film, and was intrigued that there seemed to b a lot of little kids throughout… acting in very familiar fashion.
For some, the film was poignant. Ella Caissie saw her husband in the band. That image was very touching as he passed away five years ago.
“It is worthwhile seeing it; a lot of good memories,” she admitted.
It was even more difficult for Marjorie MacNeill, whose 12-year-old son was in the film but died of brain disease a year later.
“It was one of the reasons why I came today,” she acknowledged.
She saw the notice of the screening in a bulletin, and remembered living across the road from the Miscouche celebrations at he time, but the thought her son might have been filmed as a Boy Scout in the parade decided it.
“It was good to be a part of it,” she concluded.
Georges Arsenault hadn’t seen the documentary in years, but enjoyed the reminder of all the efforts Islanders gave to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.
“Things have changed over the years - mentalities, way of dressing, way of organizing things – but it’s a nice remembrance for us, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Acadian museum,” he gauged.
The exhibit, “Acadian Museum of Prince Edward Island 1964-2014 : Guardian of Acadian Heritage for 50 Years”, continues until the end of May at the museum on Main Drive East in Miscouche, beside the fire station. Hours of operation are weekdays 9-5, and Gallant said she will make the documentary available for visitors whenever possible, upon request.