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Success on the edge: Portrait of a small town

Cran, Emily Elizabeth

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ISBN 10: 1895814111 / ISBN 13: 9781895814118
Published by New World Pub, 2000
Used Condition: Fair
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Success on the edge: Portrait of a small ...

Publisher: New World Pub

Publication Date: 2000

Book Condition:Fair

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


"Success on the Edge: a portrait of a small town" is a thoghtfiul book that serves two purposes: one, it is a history of north-western PEI and its peoples: the Irish and the Acadiens; and 2) it is a nhistorical and sociological perspective on the survival of small, independent communities, particularly more isolated villages and towns.

What can small communities and all those interested in them learn from the Tignish experience? The characteristics that have made for survival as a viable community seem to be few and simple, though not necessarily easy to attain or recover.

First comes remoteness. A smaller community needs to be at least eighty kilometres (50 miles) from any larger centre, perhaps more, in order to survive and flourish. Or it needs to be in an area where, for one reason or another, big business and bureaucracy do not want to go. Many once remote towns and villages have been eventually absorbed into a city. Just as, in a family, possessing some desirable physical attributes can be a question of inheriting the right genes, so the future of a settlement depends to some extent on where it is. However any town or village far enough away from a major centre to need - if not already to have - its own institutions, businesses, and industry is probably remote enough.

The question of how much of its own identity a community can retain once it has been absorbed is a serious and topical one, but somewhat beyond the subject of this book. There is also the question of whether a community which has lost its independence can ever regain it. The Tignish experience demonstrates that a small community may fall into the clutches of a large business such as the Myrick Company, but it can escape too, if a number of people develop more independence and thence co-operation. Could such a takeover happen today? And could Tignish escape again? It would take some time, but it has been done, and could certainly be done elsewhere, depending on the size and nature of the enterprise in question, and how badly residents wanted their freedom again. This too is beyond the scope of this book, but would certainly be worthy of further study.

A community usually needs to be a certain size in order to survive and keep its individuality. A very small remote community is often too small to develop or retain its own institutions and businesses; this has been proved over and over again in Newfoundland, although there are some very small communities on Prince Edward Island that have survived because of some unique businesses or historic features. At present, Tignish’s population is around 900, while its hinterland is home to about five thousand more. The demographics of a community matters too. What, for instance, is the proportion of school-aged children? - or of persons between the ages of 25 and 55? However it is not only a question of how many live in an area, but of how unified their community may be.

The inhabitants do not have to be homogenous; those of the Tignish area are far from being so. What they need is to be able to work together and to be held together by some deep bond. In the case of Tignish, the deep bonds are the Catholic Church and nearly two hundred years of shared experience and achievement. The very fact that co-operative institutions of one kind or another have always flourished in the area shows both that there was sufficient unity beforehand to allow this to take place, and that the institutions themselves have encouraged further unity. Yet Alberton, the next community southeast from Tignish, appears to be doing well, even though it is very diverse religiously and includes inhabitants who represent a wide range of ethnic origins. So the question of how important unity is to the survival and development of a small community is more complex than it seems at first. Let us say, pending further research, that it is advantageous for a community to be a c! ertain size and to have some form of underl

About the Author:

Emily Elizabeth Cran was born in Chipman, New Brunswick. She studied at McGill University and Radcliffe College, and formerly taught at Loyola College, Montreal, and Mount Allison University. She has also taught at the Thomas More Institute for Adult Education in Montreal, and has been a member of its affiliated Research Institute for over thirty-five years.

Elizabeth Cran first visited Tignish in 1964. Over the next seven years, with the collaboration of a former student from the area, Reginald Porter, she ran a group of projects there. She also became interested in Tignish history. With the help of a Canada Council grant, she engaged in extensive research between 1971 and 1973.

In 1981, Mrs. Cran moved to Tignish, where she still lives. She has taught French, taken part in community projects, worked frequently with PEI’s Acadian population, and written for a number of local and regional newspapers. In addition, she has renovated a historic house, learned how to raise sheep, and had a book of poems published. She is now working on a collection of essays.

Mrs. Cran has one daughter and one grandson.

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