Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
April 24, 2024
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Community Focus
October 3, 2023

Pasternak’s legacy honoured at 100th Mariners’ Service

<p>WE WILL SEE YOU THROUGH- Jenica Hammett performs a Suzanne Pasternak-penned song at the 2023 Mariners&#8217; Service at South Bay United Church. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)</p>
WE WILL SEE YOU THROUGH- Jenica Hammett performs a Suzanne Pasternak-penned song at the 2023 Mariners’ Service at South Bay United Church. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)




The centennial Prince Edward County Mariners’ Service was held on Sunday, September 23 at South Bay United church. Reverend Phil Hobbs presided and about 70 people attended.

Seafaring hymns both sombre and festive were interspersed with the music of the late Suzanne Pasternak. Ms. Pasternak’s contribution to the local commercial fishing and shipping industry through her songwriting and storytelling was scheduled to be honoured in the centennial celebrations announced earlier this summer. The local historian and author fell ill in August and passed away Sept. 3.

Local musicians and singers including Mark Despault, Jenica Hammett, Marion De Vries and Tom Leighton gathered and remembered their friend with renditions of her songs Barely Boat, Midnight Migration and We Will See You Through.

Museums curator Jessica Chase noted Ms. Pasternak left behind a rich legacy as a truly “County” historian, playwright, author, storyteller, composer and musician.

“Suzanne demonstrated an admiration for adventure and courage and appreciated the work being undertaken by her subjects,” Ms. Chase said. “She maintained a constant enthusiasm through some of the hardest times as an artist and within the fishing industry because she felt their stories needed to be told.”

In the early spring of 1923 Captain Nelson Palmatier approached Rev. Walter Smart of Cherry Valley Methodist Church with the suggestion a Mariners’ Service. The event was so meaningful to local mariners and their families that it became annual.

Dating from the times when the Huron/Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe indigenous nations plied these waters, thousands of years before French and English sailors came to the Americas, through the 1800s, when Lake Ontario was the fastest and most direct way to move goods and people to points east, west and south, to the Great War and World War II, when County men and women served on the high seas, there have been local families on the water, and not all survived.

“We all know the stories of the importance of the lighthouses at the various points between Wellington and Pt. Traverse. The bright beams of those lights allowed crews to navigate safely and find their harbours. But they were also guided by the lights of homes along the way,” said Rev. Hobbs.

“Though not many of us could claim to be the bright light on a lighthouse, we all can keep our light bright along the shore. We are called to pass along to the young folk of the generations the values bequeathed to us – that they may be guided through the treacherous waters, guided away from the dangerous shoals, so they can find their way safely home.”

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