A   V I E W   F R O M   C H A R L O T T E T O W N ,   P R I N C E   E D W A R D   I S L A N D


For Peter Mitchell

The City Beautiful Charlottetown , located on a site chosen and laid out in the 1760's , has long been concerned about beautification. The plan of the town with a Common and a Royalty surrounding the seaside town offers an exceptional opportunity to study the impact of geography on community. When the history of buildings, industry, business and beautification are layered on top of that plan, we have almost the complete picture of the city's 240 years history. It is apparent that the concern during the first half century was one of clearing land rather than planting. advertisements for trees and flowers can however be found in local newspapers as early as the 1840's. We have the first report of planting trees on the principle streets in 1860. For the next fifty years there were consistent efforts made although it often proved to be two steps forward and one back. The Annual celebration of Arbor Day from 1884 onward did instill in the minds of Charlottetownians a real value for trees and their care. The first Arbor Day must have been a sight with many of the leading citizens with "spade and shovel marching beside horse and carts loaded with three hundred hardwood trees of 12 different species..." . Our City squares to this day reflect that effort. In the Commons and the Royalty where treed lanes and some exceptionally fine examples of some hardwood species are almost all that is left of the early country estates. These estates and the settlement pattern in those parts of the town emulate the British tradition that the early settlers brought with them. There is one estate that remains and it has been the focus of a community effort over the past year. In 1906 The Federal Government began to acquire property for an Experimental Farm in Charlottetown Royalty. The centrepiece was a house and farm called Ravenwood. The house built about 1824 for William Johnston an Attorney General for this Island, it is to this day a visual reminder of those earlier times. With changes in the Experimental Farms needs this property has been declared surplus and will be passed over to Canada Lands. The Community wants it to become a Public Garden and Arboretum. The debate continues. With such a glorious geographic and tree planting history the onus is on us to document the history and to enter the information on whatever geographic information system that might be in use in the City and Province. That way the landscape can dictate its richness on the future development of this Birthplace of Confederation in the Garden of the Gulf. Catherine G. Hennessey The Painting is in the Confederation Centre Art Gallery Collection and was painted by Robert Harris. The property on the right is Ravenwood and the property on the left across the Mount Edward Road, is Ardgowan. The date is 1871.

Written Thursday, August 29, 2002 at 01:23 PM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

Website design and construction by Reinvented Inc.

ISSN 1496-3108