Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
April 24, 2024
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An Easter Editorial

Springtime is always and everywhere a time for new beginnings. It is not an accident that Easter, with its story of death and, more importantly, resurrection, coincides with the rebirth of nature after the dark and cold of winter. Many of the most important rituals of the Christian calendar coincide with popular folk celebrations of what is important — and always tied to the turn of the seasons.  

The miracle of the season is the theme of Easter as of springtime.

This week, I turned back through old Gazettes to find how Easter is marked in their pages.

As with Christmas, the nineteenth-century versions of the paper are not overly concerned with the holiday. Maybe because everybody was already going to church to mark the occasion, it was just taken for granted. Maybe it was much more a religious than secular celebration.

With the turn of the century, though, there is a developing interest in Easter outside of the church walls. There is the occasional poem. And at least once, a romance story — there are lots of these published in the early 20th-century issues of the paper — takes on the theme of the season. In “Her Lenten Sacrifice,” published in 1901, a passionate young woman relinquishes Desire for Duty. She tragically releases her lover so he can join the church. (Read this story on our website in “From the Archives.”)

The churches advertise special Sunday services, and stores their Easter and spring sales. Thawing is a popular theme. In April 1939, the newspaper notes, “Over the Easter week-end, the first real flow of maple sap of this season was gathered, as the belated spring sunshine warmed the earth.”

The news concerns the reopening of navigation, and the Glenora Ferry. Sometimes shipping is still delayed; in April, 1911, Picton Bay was still ice-locked.

That same cold year carried a report entitled, “EGGS! EGGS! EGGS!” The story: “Eighty-eight dozen eggs were gathered together by the children of the public and ward schools, as the annual Easter contribution to the Loyal True Blue Orphanage. Each of the teachers contributed a cake.” 

In later years an “Egg Shower” would benefit the hospital.

In 1934, this paper diplomatically dedicated a column to the Easter services of the United Church and another to St. Andrew’s. In between, regular columns celebrated ordinary life, “Newsy Happenings Gleaned from Town and District,” as one was called. This column caught the spirit, if not the letter, of the religious holiday: “a flock of wild ducks comprising many hundreds of birds was seen by a Picton resident on West Lake Sunday afternoon. The open water in the lake was black with the migrating ducks.”

Later in the same column, Captain Palmatier was reported “to be out again, after being confined to the house for a couple of weeks through illness.”

Again, in April 1934, the bay was still firm enough with ice that horses could travel across.

Merchants along Main Street reported “exceptionally good” business over the weekend — and every one of them credited their advertisements in the Gazette for their success.

From the late 1930s through the 1950s, under the watch of L. B. Calnan and Phil Dodds, the editorial begins to address the holiday directly. In 1939, they encourage community members to attend an Easter service, “for the good and benefit of all….This function the churches have in common with our schools, civic bodies and welfare organizations.”

In 1954, the Gazette was published on Good Friday. The editorial waxed philosophically about “an upsurging of hope” in the spring: “All the trivial bits of ceremony which we have come to associate with Easter have, in their way, a significance. The baby animals, the first spring flowers, the candy Easter eggs, even the Easter finery, are marks of a new and happier season. The winter snow and ice is going; new life is breaking through the cold earth on every side; the lambs are out on all the hills and gardens, and buds are straining to burst their bonds.”

The wartime editorials are the most moving. “It is a far cry from the battlefields of Europe, Africa, and Asia to Canada, where the miracle of rebirth coats our wide, rolling lands with a mantle of green and the birds return to their summer rendezvous.…More than ever this year [1943], the coming of Easter and springtime reminds Canadians of the freedom born of the democratic way of life. In spite of the marching of heroic sons girding for battle and the impedimenta of war, there is peace in the land.” (See the full statement from 1944 across the page in “Living History.”) My instinct tells me that these are by Phil Dodds, but I can’t confirm that.

Finally, to mark the near congruence of Easter and April Fool’s Day this year, I will just note that the editorial of 1945 laid out all the coincidences of Easter Sunday with April Fools’ Day. It concluded by noting that 1956 would “be the last time until the turn of the century that the family wit will have a chance to slip a porcelain egg onto the breakfast table.”

Carrying on this rich tradition, my favourite columnist, Harry Evans, exclaimed in 1983: “And wot do you know Good Friday falls on April 1 this year.”

April Fool’s is on Easter Monday this year. I like the idea. Have some fun. This is a season to celebrate.

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 13 edition of The Picton Gazette
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