Ellen White Ryan

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Ellen White Ryan of Upper Prospect originally lived on Betty's Island, named for the daughter of Samuel and Joanne White, one of the first families to settle on it. The Whites had come from Newfoundland in the late 1700s and stayed there until about 1840. Ellen speculates that they settled on the island because it was a safe place; more difficult for hostile raids to take place. Ellen has also found research that shows some Irish Catholic Planters were "planted" in Upper Prospect between 1752 and 1754.

At that time, Ellen's family was the only one living on the island; which was estimated to be a mile long & a mile wide. Ellen remembers her family plowing lobster into the ground to make it fertile enough to grow potatoes. They were descendants of Samuel White.

Ellen recalls when there were six stores and five bar rooms and a bowling alley in Upper Prospect. With the Depression, however, came rampant poverty. She says local friends left in droves for the eastern seaboard of the United States. She says, "Every family has all kinds of cousins in the United States because they sailed out of here." She has a great uncle who now lives in Colorado and left Upper Prospect about that time. She also says that in New England, a lot of the women who went to the New England states became nurses.

Ellen's other memories of the community are expressed here: "My father had a grade four education and that wasn't uncommon because sons took their places on their fathers' boats. There was no real childhood in rural Nova Scotia anywhere, not on farms and not in fishing villages." Her father,;though, she reflects, was perfectly content staying home because he was his own boss. He was one of the last self-sufficient men around, cutting his hay, keeping animals, growing vegetables and fishing.

Further, she says, "I remember when the people from White's Lake or Shad Bay used to bring their animals down and let them go wild on Kelly's Point .... to forage in the summer and then they would come back and get them in the fall." This included horses, cattle and oxen.

Ellen, one of the area's many local historians, has heard stories of buried gold or pirate's treasure on Betty's Island but says she is "the only treasure from Betty's Island." It is her opinion that history is a matter of personal perspective. The same story told as oral history by different people will often result in a different meaning. "It's in the eye of the beholder," is the way she puts it.