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   SCENES FROM CHARLOTTETOWN DURING 
FOUNDERS' WEEK,  150th ANNIVERSARY OF THE
CONCEPTION OF CANADIAN CONFEDERATION

THURSDAY, AUGUST 28

 
"In 1764 [Charlottetown] became the capital of the province . . . In 1864 the Fathers of   
Confederation convened in the town to consider a political-economic union that resulted
in the formation of Canada three years later . . . Despite its 21st-century character,
the city still evokes the feeling of a colonial seaport."
 
~ AAA Tour Book/Atlantic Provinces & Quebec, 2013 edition, p. 215
 
 
The charming city of Charlottetown, population ~ 35,000 people, is about as centrally located as you can get on Prince Edward Island. It's by far the largest urban area on the island -- but small enough for visitors to find their way around quite easily with a good map.

We chose our campground because of its proximity to both Charlottetown and the North Shore, about a 10-minute drive from each. That way we could easily enjoy not only the coastal scenery, small fishing villages, and nearby cycling-hiking trails, but also all the history, culture, architecture, harbor, attractions, restaurants, and other amenities of the city.


Side view of Province House, where the Charlottetown Conference was held in 1864

The photos and information in this entry are from three visits we made to Charlottetown.

As noted above, we inadvertently arrived during an important time in the city's history. That's great,  because we had even more of an opportunity to learn about the Charlottetown Conference and participate in some of the 150 special activities, festivals, and other events commemorating the anniversary.

Here are some of the things we observed and enjoyed:

CHARLOTTETOWN HARBOR & CONFEDERATION LANDING

Like Halifax, Nova Scotia, old town Charlottetown, PEI lies on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water. Here it's the Hillsborough River and Bay, part of Northumberland Strait. The city faces mainland Nova Scotia on the south side of PEI. The Atlantic coast (more specifically, the Gulf of St. Lawrence) is a short drive north of the city.

Here's a map showing the relationship of PEI to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick:


PEI is white and Charlottetown is marked with a red star.

Charlottetown has less than one-tenth the population as Halifax. Its harbor isn't as grand but it is still scenic and has lots of water views from the older parts of town that were settled first.

On Thursday we went down to the harbor area and enjoyed walking around.

Our first stop was the large visitor center in Founders' Hall, which was built to commemorate Canada's birthplace. There are multimedia displays and exhibits in the "Time Travel Tunnel" that depicts Canada's evolution as a country:

Above and below:  The large "2014" in front of Founders' Hall is just one example
of the emphasis this year on the Confederacy's 150th anniversary. Note the kids below.

 


You can tour the harbor on land and sea in an amphibious "Harbor Hippo" (above)
 or just ride the "HippopotaBus" on land if you prefer.

Part of the large "Celebration Zone" is shown in the background of the photo above. Daily concerts, cultural exhibits, local foods, kids' activities, and other events are scheduled there all summer long as part of the 150th anniversary celebration. 

STATELY TALL SHIPS

We like tall ships like the one we admired in Halifax Harbor a couple weeks ago. We totally lucked out here because seven smaller tall ships are in port to celebrate the 150th anniversary. Visitors could board some of them:


View of all seven tall ships from another pier


Front of the "Fair Jeanne" tall ship from Ottawa, and some of the small boats in the harbor;
note the three tall spires of St. Dunstan's Basilica in the background (more about it later).

Above and below:  Look closely -- that's two tall ships, not one. The smaller
one is the "St. Lawrence II" and the larger one is the "Fair Jeanne."

 


Some of the other tall ships we admired

After looking at the tall ships we ate lunch on a nearby pier at Steamers, a little floating restaurant with outdoor seating:

 


Advertising for Steamers

It was fun but we had better seafood at other restaurants and seafood shops in the Maritimes.

MORE WATERFRONT VIEWS:  VICTORIA PARK

Also on Thursday we drove to nearby Victoria Park, which lies along the tip of the harbor.

There is a pedestrian boardwalk about a mile along the waterfront with benches and nice landscaping. It's a great place to relax and enjoy the views across Hillsborough Bay and toward the city:

 

 

That day the tide was high. We went back on Sunday morning when the tall ships were scheduled to leave for Summerside, another town on the island a little west of Charlottetown. We wanted to see them sail out of the harbor and into the larger part of Hillsborough Bay.

We arrived early enough to walk the dogs along the boardwalk again, at a lower tide this time:

 


Cairns along the boardwalk

That day could best be described as overcast and blustery along the waterfront, too uncomfortable for us to sit on one of the benches to watch the tall ships go out of the harbor.

We parked with some other vehicles at an overlook in the park and waited inside the truck for the ships. And waited. And waited. We finally heard on the radio that because of the wind, the ships weren't going to leave until about 6 PM. We considered going back to see them but didn't.

In addition to the nice boardwalk along the waterfront in Victoria Park, the remains of Prince Edward Battery are in this strategic location at the end of the peninsula. Interpretive panels describe the various French and British fortifications that were here between 1720 and 1866:

An interesting historical side note:

On Thursday as we left Victoria Park we passed the nearby Government House, where the Lt. Governor lives, and noted a group of 25-30 well-dressed people standing outside in a group.

Turns out, it was a meeting of the provincial and territorial premiers -- like our governors in the States. We saw reports about it on TV that night. It was another ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Confederation.

PROVINCE HOUSE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

With all this talk about the 150th anniversary of the Confederation we figured we better see where the Charlottetown Conference was actually held, Province House.

Today Province House is both a national historic site and the current seat of PEI's provincial legislature:

 

The stately Greek Revival building was completed in 1847.

The building and anniversary are also commemorated on this year's vehicle tags:

Province House is flanked by two other impressive buildings from different eras. I think this handsome structure is a government building of some sort, too:

On the other side of Province House is the much newer, modernistic Confederation Center of the Arts.

This cultural hub houses art galleries, exhibits, several theaters for plays and musical productions, a public library, an outdoor amphitheater, and other features: 


Jim and Casey walk through a terraced plaza around the museum.

ANOTHER CHARLOTTETOWN LANDMARK

The views from the harbor back to the city were as interesting as the ones across the water. Note the three tall copper spires of St. Dunstan's Basilica in the next photo::

I didn't get a very good photo of the church up close. Here are two more that show a bit more detail. The triple spires are a Charlottetown landmark:


Some old houses between the harbor and the church
on Great George St. in the historic district

You can tour the church, which is built in the form of a Gothic cross.

VICTORIA ROW

A popular spot for visitors and residents in the historic district is the collection of handsome old red brick buildings called Victoria Row. They house an eclectic variety of quaint shops and restaurants along a narrow pedestrian-only street located across from Province House and the museum:

On those brightly-colored picnic tables shown above are painted board games like checkers and chess, designed to encourage folks to stop and relax. The playing pieces are in little plastic bags.

I think what surprised me the most was that the playing pieces were still there. Where would that happen in the United States??

Here are a couple more scenes of a restaurant with patio seating:

 

This cafe might have been a better choice for lunch than Steamers.

CHARLOTTETOWN FARMERS' MARKET

Speaking of food . . .

Every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer farmers and artists bring their goods to this popular farmers' market on the east side of town.

Some of the booths were inside, some outside on the sunny Saturday we stopped by:

 

Although this market isn't nearly as large as the one in Halifax we still enjoyed the wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, seafood, meat and poultry, baked goods, wines, and ethnic cuisine. I regretted not getting some locally-produced wine on our first trip to the market so we returned in the afternoon after a day trip and I got a bottle. It was good!

The market also offers a variety of artwork and skilled crafts for sale, such as pottery, woodwork, and woven and knitted creations made of wool from the artist's own sheep or alpaca:

Most of the residents of PEI are descendents of the original settlers from Scotland, Ireland, England, and France, regions in Europe known for their farmers and skilled craftsmen and women.

You can find all sorts of beautiful artwork and crafts everywhere around Prince Edward Island.

Next entryday-tripping around the north central part of the island (Rustico Harbor, French River, Malpeque, Cavendish, etc.)

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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