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Local Historian Visits Bristol Area Lions Club 05/20/2011

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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At the most recent meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club, local historian Peter Hope presented research on some of the early communities of the Bristol Peninsula. A native not only of Maine but specifically of Pemaquid, Hope is keenly interested in capturing the collective memory of the area by gathering oral histories from longtime residents. Combining that information with facts gleaned from primary source material, he published a history of New Harbor in 2009 entitled, Two Harbors and a Hill, and he has now begun work on preserving the memory and history of Round Pond Village.

Hope was a local history buff from an early age, having written an honors thesis on Colonial Pemaquid even before interest grew in the site and before systematic excavations began in the mid-1960s. For 33 years he taught history at Camden-Rockport High School. There he incorporated the concept of interviewing into his lesson plans, starting an oral history magazine with his students and promoting oral history as a valuable primary source for research. Since retirement, Hope has been instrumental in starting up the Old Bristol Historical Society and building interest in both oral history and genealogy. Likening himself to a detective, wherein each little scrap of information helps to build a picture of a time and place, Hope is on a mission to preserve memories before they vanish.

For his current project on Round Pond, Hope shared some interesting statistics. Starting in the 1700s with only 23 families, Round Pond by the 1880s was a bustling village with a hotel, boarding house, quarry, general stores, lobster canneries, several boatyards and such supporting businesses as a sail loft, rigging loft, and blacksmith. More than 60 vessels were built in Round Pond between 1800 and 1880. During that time the output of a pogy factory on Back Shore Road, combined with other pogy businesses on the peninsula, made Maine the lead producer of pogy oil (used in paint and for lighting fuel) in the United States. And by 1906, Round Pond boasted nearly as many sea captains as well-known Searsport.

In the business meeting that followed Hope’s presentation, members discussed several upcoming fundraising events, including the Bristol Lions Club’s third annual golf tournament and silent auction on August 13, the annual summer-long raffle in New Harbor, a Treasures and Treats sale on July 28, and Saturday Flea Markets throughout the summer. All funds raised from these efforts will go to support the Club’s several college scholarships as well as a number of local charities.

The next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club takes place on Monday, June 6, when Jim Connell will give a presentation on the decommissioned Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in light of Japan’s recent nuclear disaster. To make dinner reservations for that meeting, or to learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, please call 677-2095.

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