Chappell, Ella Thomson | Bowing Down Home

Ella Thomson Chappelle, 2006


Ella Thomson Chappell contacted me after an article appeared about the project in the Guardian, and told me that she was not a musician, but that she had some memories of the old days to impart. As it turned out, she had a wealth of vivid memories that brought the details of life in the old days into vivid relief – how they watered the cattle and gathered potatoes, how they got to school and went visiting in the winter, what it was like to teach and learn in the old country schools, what community planning meetings were like, and so on. In the end, I felt my time had been well spent, indeed.

Chappell was born on a farm in Tryon; her family moved to Cornwall when she was a teenager; after she married, she became a farmer's wife in York, on a property that would ultimately be appropriated by the province to serve as part of the Charlottetown airport. About 1970, she started writing poems about local people and events; soon it became customary for people in the area with an anniversary, award ceremony or other special occasion to ask her to write a poem to be read at the event. Around 1995, her family published a collection of her verses called Ella's Island Poetry.

Another of Ella's stories: The first automobile comes to York.

Oral Histories

Chappell, Ella Thomson (speech) - Neighbors react to area’s first car First car in the community (riding by in their cage) info and transcript
Chappell, Ella Thomson (speech) - One room schools How the schools operated: starting up the stove, teachers produced quite a number of good scholars; she'd have one grade do a task while she went on to teach the next grade info and transcript
Chappell, Ella Thomson (speech) - Winter travel by horse and sleigh Traveling by horse drawn sleigh in wintertime info and transcript
Farm chores around Tryon & Cornwall Farm chores: pumping the water for cattle; working in the barn; picking potatoes info and transcript
How they planned events How events were planned info and transcript