We arrived in Charlottetown on the 20th, a direct flight from Ottawa, about 80 minutes considering the distance 1000 Km. We could have driven it over 2.5 days but frankly I found that just a bit too long for me, since I am the single driver.
Arriving at Charlottetown airport, we went to the car rental agency and they gave us a Jeep Patriot, I had never driven one of those but I liked it right away. The drive from the airport to the centre of town is about 12 minutes, not exactly far and the speed limit is 40Km per hour not fast either. This is the first thing you notice, life is much slower here and people have time, there is no stress and no rushing about or multi-tasking. Charlottetown has a population of 34,000 people, the city celebrates its 250th Birthday this year. For such a small town, it is full of important historical significance in the history of Canada under the French and then after 1763 the English Regime.
Entrance to the Port of Charlottetown seen from Fanningbank (Government House). On the right in the distance is Port La Joy, later Fort Amherst, today a National Historic Site and the Haché-Gallant Farm. Beyond is the Northumberland Straight and the Coast of New Brunswick.
Known as Port La Joy by the French and then by the English as Fort Amherst until 1768 went it became Charlottetown. The story of PEI is that of European Imperialism and the various wars between France, England, Austria and Spain between Sovereigns who were all trying to assert world domination.
The original map of PEI made some 250 years ago by a British Officer Samuel Holland. This photo was taken from the balcony of the Art Centre in Charlottetown. It is very detailed and very large, on loan from the British Archives for the first time ever.
In making this accurate map and surveying the land for the first time, Holland divided the Island in 62 concessions and named over 100 places on the island. In 1768 the British government decided to sell the concessions to wealthy members of the British Aristocracy who were absentee landlords, none ever visited the island and in turn installed a system of tenured Farmers (feudalism). This turn of events would drive the Islanders to form a Union in 1864 with the other Provinces of Canada to escape from this servitude. To this day Laws in PEI strictly controls the amount of land a Foreigner or Non-Resident can buy on the Island. Non-Residents also pay two times more taxes than residents.
Province House Legislative Building of PEI, Georgian architecture. This is where the Conference on the Maritime Union and Confederation took place in 1864 before moving to Quebec City for final ratification. The building is closed and currently under renovation for the next 5 years.
What is beautiful about Charlottetown is the urban design of the city. The British planners wanted a city like London full of parks and Squares with broad streets on a grid pattern. This is what you see today, magnificent Red Sandstone architecture, elaborate Victorian wood mansions, and many imposing stone Churches. Two famous names associated with the development of the City are the Harris brothers who worked in Charlottetown. The architect William Critchlow Harris (1854-1913) built many imposing buildings and houses which survive to this day. His brother the celebrated Canadian Painter Robert Harris (1849-1919) decorated with frescoes many buildings and churches, he was also a great portrait artist and he painted the 33 Fathers of the Canadian Confederation. Many of his paintings are in the National Gallery in Ottawa.
The Steeples of St-Dunstan dominate the Capital.Built in the French Gothic style by architect Francois-Xavier Berlinguet.
R.C. Bishops Palace and seat of the Administration of the University of PEI.
The oldest brick house in Charlottetown c.1831 on Water Street on the corner with Great George Street.
The type of dormers on the roof line was the fashion between 1862-68. So you know more or less when these buildings once private homes were built.
Another brick building once used for the Government of PEI built c.1840
St-Paul Anglican Church, in Red PEI Sandstone, the building is far larger than it appears here and not in this photo is the Bishops Palace at the back and Parish hall. All of it built at the same time. Many Fathers of Confederation attended this church during their lifetime.
City Hall of Charlottetown, one has to remember that all this was built at a time when the city had a few thousand souls. Today the Capital has 34,000 inhabitants. Very impressive architecture for such a small town and it speaks of its importance in Canadian History.
The home of a prominent family now a private residence for Elderly Ladies.
One of several paintings in the side Chapel of All Souls painted by Robert Harris.
Here Harris takes from the Divine Comedy of Dante in the Circle of Hell. The Chapel has these beautiful murals all around.
One of the many City Parks in Charlottetown.
Water Street with the brick Customs House and its steel shutters. During the Prohibition the Government confiscated all alcool and stored more alcool into this building. Since drinking alcool was prohibited the Government got involved in the sale and export of liquor. Yes people were paid to make the stuff and it would then be sold on the mainland. This way respectability and temperance or the facade of it could be maintained.
Another private home with a large lot all around
The homes are beautifully maintained, despite their size and being sea front properties most are valued under $240,000. Strangely most people in Charlottetown believe those prices to be astronomical.
Beaconsfield, a museum today built c. 1860
One of the marinas, Charlottetown welcomes also large cruise ships like Holland American.
the view of the Harbor ”La Joy” of Charlottetown
Fanningbank the Residence of the Lieutenant Governor of PEI, C.1830, Georgian Style. The Fathers of Confederation met here many times and dinners and balls during the conference of 1864 took place here. It is set in a giant park facing the Harbor.
A very elegant town full of very nice people who live almost in an era long gone at a more civilized pace. Charlottetown made a big impression on me, we are going back to experience it again in the near future.