Well the past few days where the typical spring is sprung tease that happens every year followed by today’s major dump of snow. And despite it being an annual event it still catches us dumb Canucks by surprise. As often happens when there is weather like this the Confederation Bridge was closed for a period of time and the Mainland was cut off from the Island. This was followed by the usual bemoaning about deliveries, appointments etc etc. You have to wonder how we would have managed in the old days.
By old days I mean prior to the beginning of the first reliable winter ferry service in 1917 when the HMS Prince Edward Island ran between Port Borden and Cape Tormentine. Before then there were only the famous, or perhaps infamous, ice boats. Over at Sailstrait archivist and Island historian Harry Holman features an account of what sounds like a harrowing journey as recorded by an Anglican clergyman on March 8, 1883.
Almost all visitor accounts of travel to Prince Edward Island in the 19th century included mention of the winter isolation and the iceboat service which was a unique experience. However most travellers came or went in the summer so their accounts were second- hand. What is rarer are those who actually experienced the icy passage. While there were a number of dangerous and prolonged crossings in the more than 80 years that the system operated most were routine although still cold and exciting. On a good day some crossings were made in under four hours from shore to shore.
Iceboat Service from P.E.I. to Mainland. Haszard & Moore postcard. Author’s collection
One of the most interesting and detailed is that of Father Edward Osborne, an Anglican brother of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist which had a monastery in Boston. Osborne came to the Island in a mission in…
While I have been waxing prosetic* on outings to the beaches of PEI over at SailStrait Harry Holman has been looking back on outings in the days when beaches were not as accessible as today.
So pack up your picnic basket, bring out your sunshade, dust off the straw boater and make sure Aunt Maev has her shawl for later in the day. We’re heading down to harbour for an afternoon’s outing one sunny August day in 1877.
*Yes I’m aware that it isn’t a word but it should be! If I can wax in verse I should be able to wax in prose.
On hot summer days it is refreshing to think that for many of us getting to the beach is only a matter of jumping into a car and heading out. This ease of access to the sea shore is a relatively recent phenomena for Charlottetown. In spite of being a port the shoreline is remarkably inaccessible as there is not a really good beach within the city limits. There was bathing at Victoria Park and Kensington Beach and for the uninhibited there was always the attraction of swimming off the wharves. But this was hardly a family or social activity. Accessing a real beach meant a train ride to Hunter River or Bedford and then by wagon to Rustico or Tracadie where there were summer hotels, a round trip that could easily take all day. Or one could take the Southport ferry and then go by carriage to Keppoch or…
As many of you already know we live in one of the older buildings along what was the waterfront of early Charlottetown. We knew that it had originally been the home of a Mr Duncan and then went through many changes of hands and purpose until today. In his most recent posting on his blog Sailstrait Harry Holman, Island archivist, historian, and sailor extraordinaire filled us in on the early history of the property, the people and our neighbourhood.
As always it is great reading and leads us to a better appreciation of our good fortune in living here. A left click below will reveal the story of what is now the Lennox Building at the corner of Water and Prince, and our home.
Another word for April 6th: Archivist /ˈärkəvəst,ˈärˌkīvəst/: [noun] An information professional who assesses, collects, organizes, preserves, maintains control over, and provides access to records and archives determined to have long-term value. Archive c.1600 from French archif, from Late Latin archivum “written records,” also the place where they are kept, from Greek ta arkheia “public records,” plural of arkheion “town hall, public building”. The sense of “place where public records and historical documents are kept” in English is from 1640s + ist “one who does”. That would certainly be Mr Holman.
The Duncan shipyard property in 1878 at the time of Duncan’s bankruptcy. Duncan’s house was on the corner of Prince Street with its conservatory. The property also included a residence to the west which dated to the 1820s. Image from the Panoramic View of Charlottetown 1878.
Between the Steam Navigation Wharf (which had carried the names of Reddin’s Wharf and Pope’s Wharf) and the Ferry Wharf at the end of Prince Street lies a property of some significance to the history of Prince Edward Island. Here the foreshore stood at the foot of a high embankment and the waters were relatively shallow so that any wharf would have to be quite long to reach the channel. Instead of a wharf the property became the site of one of the few shipyards on the waterfront.
The Duncan shipyard saw the building of a number of ships but most of the vessels…
It’s been a while since I shared a few of the posts or pictures that have delighted me over the past month. So here are a few things for your consideration.
Shod for Shrove
It seems that Epiphany was only yesterday and already we’re coming up to Shrove Tuesday. The events and parades have been going on apace in New Orleans leading up to Mardi Gras and Friday past the Krewe of the Muses celebrated their 20th year with Jennifer Coolidge as Honorary Muse riding in the big Shoe float. And once again my beloved Cecilia – Nicky and Nora’s godmother by-the-way – was the recipient of one of their treasured throws.
Over at SailStrait local historian Harry Holman traces an 1908 journey from New York City to Charlottetown by Elizabeth Ogden and her husband Henry Wise Wood. And yes as the sub-title suggested they did it by canoe!
A click on the photo below will take you to their story.
My blog buddy Mitchell lives where I wish I could live about now – away from the cold. Along the beach front in his neighbourhood – yes the lucky %^#$@¥ has a beach front – he often comes across the work of a gentleman named Paul Blane who creates some wonderful sand sculptures. A left click on the photo Mitchell took of the sunrise on the (spurt… grumble… wail) beach will take you to his photo essay on Mr Blane’s latest work.
Obviously the good clergy are preparing for Lent. And Mitchel you know I didn’t mean that name I called you – I plan to give up being envious for Lent! A vow that will probably only last until you next photo essay!
A bit closer to home in an attempt to ward off the deep freeze chill of the Canadian West my blog buddy Debra went in search of a quilt. She finally commissioned one and I’m afraid that sin of envy was rearing its ugly head again. It’s a real beauty.
The word for February 23 is: Canoe /kəˈno͞o/ /kəˈnu/: [noun or verb] Noun: A narrow, keelless boat with pointed ends, propelled by a paddle or paddles. Verb: Travel in or paddle a canoe. Mid 16th century from Spanish canoa which Columbus took from the Arawak canaoua.
Looking back I realized it has been a long, long while since I’ve shared anything other than my thoughts with both my faithful readers. Back in the day I’d link up to posts on other blogs and scatter random pictures around. Well Christmastide is a time of sharing and there has been much in Blog Land that’s caught my often unfocused interest.
As to the random photos they are of a visit we made to the Rembrandt House Museum during our stay in Amsterdam in September.
My blog buddy Mitchell’s spouse was complaining about the cold in Málaga when they did a tour of the Christmas lights this past week. Apparently it was a frigid 15c (59f) and poor San Geraldo was freezing. As the temperature here was -15c I had little sympathy for them and even less when I saw Mitchell’s photos of the magnificent light displays.
This brought back memories of our New Year’s in Madrid back in 2010. They certainly know spectacular illumination in Spain.
A few times in the past month or so the Mainland has been cut off from the Island when the winds have been high and the Confederation Bridge has been closed. It can cause problems but nothing like what early Islanders encountered back in the days before the “fixed link” when winters pretty much froze the Northumberland Straits. Over at SailStait historian Harry Holman posted a report from 1876 when a crossing of the nine mile gap took from Sunday to Wednesday with the odd dunking in the process.
This happens to coincide with the announcement of an increase on the toll to cross to the Mainland. It’s going up by .75¢ for a two-axled vehicle, .25¢ for motorcycles and bicycles, and should you wish to walk across the 12.9 km (8 mile) span there is no increase. It remains a mere $4.50.
In a break with a forty-year tradition I did not polish my balls this year. I let Laurent do it! (Oh grow up! Honestly are you still in grade school?) Laurent wrote all about the preparations for Christmastide at the Beaulieu-Hobbs manse.
December 13th is Christmas Jumper Day – for those not familiar with the word “jumper” means “sweater” in the United Kingdom. It actually derives from the French jupe – which the French may want back come the new year.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown