Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Charlottetown, PEI

We spent the better part of Tuesday, under lowering skies, walking the historic part of Charlottetown. Both of us agreed that we like it and Sharon proclaimed it more likeable than Martha’s Vineyard. Fortunately I do not feel the need to make that judgement. I like both. But I do get her point, Charlottetown seems to me a bit less hot house than MV.

The town packs in a lot of history, both maritime and political. As the province brags on their license plates, they are the birthplace of the Confederation. And the harbors, fisheries and boatyards tied it more closely, perhaps, to England across the ocean, than to nearby Canada.

So, it’s a rich place. Come walk it with us.

Our hotel, The Charlottetown, began as a Canadian National Railroad Hotel in 1930
The lobby

Next door, a 1929 American LaFrance engine

The Province house is where Canadian Confederation began in 1864

Dating from 1896 and designed by William Critchlow Harris, we found St. Paul's Anglican Church to be a lovely place

Two interior views

Much more traditional, St. Dunstan's Basilica, a neo-Gothic from 1907

If New Englander's painted their homes to blend into the monochrome of the climate, Charottetown residents do the opposite

Canadian architecture seems to have some intersting features, including a symmetricality that most Victorians did not follow

This hopeful young piper was there to greet the  cruise ship

I was going to rant here about the ecological damage done by these huge cruise ships and how they do not, as promised, even do much to help  local economies, but I won't.

Beaconsfield, the most notable Victorian on the island, has an unhappy history. It was built by James and Edith Peake, he the scion of a shipping magnate, she the daughter of a prominent political family. The home designed by Harris, who later did St. Paul's church (see above) spared no expense and was extravagant even for a Victorian. It seems to have contributed materially to the ruin of Peake and his family, who lived there for only five years
The house had two entries, as it were, the above, facing the harbor, and this facing the town.

The records of the house, when it was in the hands of the Peakes, are lost, so the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation had to guess. The Morris wallpaper, if the Peakes had it, would not have been in the parlor. But the moldings and cornices were original and carried to the upstairs.

It might have been here in this sweeping staircase, part of a foyer designed to impress, as all Victorians did.

A notable Verandah with a fine view

Not sure if this image works or not, but it does show the lavish nature of the house, in and out

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