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Today on Radio Noon I listened to a Barbara Chisholm speaking on a book that she recently produced with others called "Castles of the North" a book that covers those wonderful CN and CP Hotels across our country. There is going to be a TV program on the History Channel tomorrow night on the subject. It sounds as if it will be a very fine survey of those great buildings. It is even going to include out own Charlottetown Hotel. HOWEVER, the lady in her interview had some of her facts wrong. She claimed these hotels were the beginning of the tourist industry in our country and that I do not accept.
I'm not prepared to respond in detail tonight, but this is a subject that I have been thinking about as it relates to our Island. We were in the tourism business early. Lets talk about Mrs. Isabella Bird who came to visit us in the 1850's and treated us as a curiosity. In her book The English Women in America she gives a charming account of what it was like to be a tourist in North America in those days.
Our hotel history of Charlottetown is a story in itself. Like The Wellington Hotel that opened in the 1820's and operated on Great George Street for years and years. And the pride Charlottetonians had in the Davies Hotel, later called the Victoria Hotel, at the corner of Great George and Water Street that opened in in 1909. They all predated the Grand Hotels of the CN and CP. And the great history of the Seaside Hotel in Rustico. "This magnficent Watering Place . . . of first class style" that was operating in the 1870's and burnt to the ground in 1906. I know they weren't so grand, but it was her point about tourism starting with "The Castle Hotels" that I disagreed with. I want to write about our early tourism sometime soon. Keep in touch.
Written Tuesday, February 19, 2002 at 10:40 PM