Notable Architecture of PEI

Prince Edward Island architecture is something to behold simply because it springs from that perfect zone where utility meets elegance. In modern times we find beauty in things like lighthouses, old cottages, and good, old-fashioned traditional city planning (read: winding roads.) A good rule of thumb is that wherever you find folk tales or ghost stories (link to ghost story blog,) you’ll find interesting architectural design.

Without further ado, here is a selection of some Prince Edward Island architecture:

Province House

Province House is one of the most well-known structures in all of Prince Edward Island, akin to the premiere government building in any other province. It is the birthplace of Confederation and the seat of Prince Edward Island’s Provincial Legislature (Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island) since 1847. Designated a National Historic Site in 1966, it is still in operation to this day and is Canada’s second-oldest seat of government.

Province House (or, the Leg, as it is referred to on the Island) was designed by Isaac Smith, a self-trained architect from Yorkshire, England. It was built by Island craftsmen during a time of prosperity for the then-British colony. Its architectural lines include Greek and Roman influences, common to public buildings in North America built during this era.

West Point Lighthouse

Also home to some Island ghost stories, the Westpoint Lighthouse also happens to be a very interestingly designed structure, and the tallest lighthouse in PEI. If you’re interested in lighthouses and the maritime history of PEI, this is one of the first places you should go.

West Point Lighthouse, a large square tower with horizontal black stripes, was built in 1875 by the federal Department of Marine, and first lit on May 21, 1876. It is currently the tallest lighthouse on PEI.

While the lighthouse is still in operation – controlled by the West Point Development Corporation – the traditional living quarters have been converted to a museum and inn.

Bottle Houses

Now let’s dabble in the strange.

The title says at all: these are houses made of bottles. Created by Édouard T. Arsenault , the “bottle houses” are a series of structures totalling roughly 25,000 recycled and de-labelled glass bottles. They are cemented together in walls, columns, and surfaces within the structures. The bottles were collected personally from people within the community, including restaurants, friends, and bars.

They are located in Cap-Egmont, Prince Edward Island.

Inspired by a letter from his daughter detailing a glass castle while travelling in British Columbia, Édouard began this project in 1979. Since his death, the weather and associated elements have taken their toll on the structures (who would have guess recycled glass couldn’t cut it during Canadian winters?) so they had to be rebuilt over the years. The current incarnations are the revised versions, and they are likely to continue on in this fashion due to their acknowledgement as a tourist attraction.

Confederation Bridge

It would be very easy to pick architecture that is pretty, ornamental, or historical, since these sorts of things inspire peoples’ imaginations, which does a lot of the legwork when it comes to beauty. I believe there is a place for utility in this discussion; structures that are exclusively made to serve a purpose. We touched on this with light houses, but bridges are often overlooked despite the technological marvels that are involved with getting them built.

The Confederation Bridge (Pont de la Confédération) is a two lane, 12.9 KM long toll bridge spanning the Abegweit Passage of Northumberland Strait, linking Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick, Canada. To Prince Edward Islanders, it is known as the “Fixed Link” or just “The Link.” Construction began in 1993 and completed in 1997. The total cost of the structure was over one billion dollars.

It sits 40 meters above water and permits ship traffic beneath it. It is a beam-bridge, suspended by 62 vertical piers. Driving the legal speed limit, it would take you roughly 12 minutes to drive the length of the bridge. It took over 5000 workers to get the whole project done, which can give you a sense of the scope of the thing.

It’s a beautiful structure in the sense that it was designed by many for many. So often a beautiful piece of architecture, like most great art, is designed by and for the individual. You could imagine, however, a distant future where this is treated with the same regard as other ancient architecture. People forget the amount of guts it takes to get something like this made, especially since economic projects are always contested from both sides.

So concludes our brief introduction to the architecture of PEI. We’re just scratching the surface with this topic.  There are a few books available detailing the architecture of the province.

If you have any suggestions for notable Prince Edward Island architecture, leave a comment below.

Prince Edward Island Ghost Stories

Anytime you have a culture invested in history, you’re going to find ghost stories.

Wherever you can look into the past, you will find people who wonder if the past is looking back.

Prince Edward Island is full of tragic tales, ghost stories, and modern-day mythology. Like most of the rest of human history, something not happening if someone’s not dying, so as a brief introduction to Prince Edward Island’s rich past, let’s starts where the dead meet the living.

Here are some of the most well-known Prince Edward Island ghost stories:

The Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait

The Northumberland Strait: 130 miles of turbulent waters separating Prince Edward Island from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait is a spectre that can be seen sailing within the Northumberland Strait while engulfed in flames. It’s been reported for over 220 years, with numerous eyewitness accounts.  The earliest known reporting of an incident is 1786.

The ship itself is described as a beautiful schooner that has three masts (sometimes four) with pure white sails, all of which are lit ablaze as onlookers watch. Since this occurs at a distance, the cause of the fire is never known, and there are no reports of seeing people aboard the vessel.

The last reported sighting was in 2008 by 17-year-old Mathieu Giguere, who cited a “bright white and gold ship.” No mention as to whether or not it was on fire.

Sightings have occurred throughout the seasons, but the most seem to occur between September and November. Local legend states that the sight of a ship foretells a storm, but ghosts can be a sign of anything, really.

Holland Cove

Holland Cove (formerly known as Observation Cove) is the site is a grisly tragedy.

The story goes that the first group of white settlers came to what would later be known as Holland Cove back in 1764. The surveyor, a Dutch man named Captain Holland, was responsible for the division of the island into 67 lots.  He brought his wife, Racine, with him.

One night, one of Captain Holland’s expeditions went on longer than expected and she ventured out onto the ice in search of him, likely fearing the worst. The ice, however, was thinner than usual and it broke beneath her feet. Before long, she had drowned.

The captain himself is said to have experienced the apparition of his late wife, and it followed him until his death. They say to this day on July 14th every year at the time of high tide, Racine makes her appearance. The legend continues to say that if you are present near the spot, you will see her drown.

People also claim that late in the evening her voice may still be heard along the stretch of the shoreline near Holland Cove calling out to her husband in the same manner she called out to him after her death. The spirit is described as having long black hair and dressed in a white robe (typical ghost fashion.)

West Point Lighthouse Inn, O’Leary

It’s hard to believe that all houses don’t come preloaded with ghosts.

The West Point Lighthouse was first lit on May 21, 1876 and is said to be haunted by the first keeper, William MacDonald (or Willie, as he is more commonly known as since passing to the other side). Oddly enough, Willie is said to haunt the Inn located beside it rather than the lighthouse itself. The Inn was established in 1984 as Canada’s first lighthouse Inn.

On top of that, for the past 200 years people have been reporting the sight of burning ships off the coast at the lighthouse. Not unlike the ghost ship of the Northumberland Straight, these ships are seen at a distance and have never been approached.

At least one of these ghost ships is thought to be a pirate; in 1786, the story goes that the crew of a burning ship made a deal with the devil and were doomed to sail the seas.

Effie’s Ghost, St Peters Bay

Trains have not run on Prince Edward Island since 1989, but for over a century they were the lifeblood of the communities they served.  The Island was criss-crossed by rail tracks, bringing supplies and people to the multitude of small communities long before the convenience of the automobile and paved roads.

In St Peters Bay, the trains passed along a scenic stretch in front of the water, and right in front of Effie’s house.  She never missed a train.  She would come out in front of her house and wave at the conductor and engineer.  They all knew her friendly face, and looked forward to her greeting.

So, I would image they were all disappointed to hear when Effie had passed.  But, I imagine they were even more surprised when they continued to see her out in front of her house, waving at their trains, long after her death.  Train engineers continued to report the figure of Effie waving at them as they passed through St Peters Bay, right up until her beloved trains themselves became a thing of the past.

 

Prince Edward Island is full of other supernatural or mysterious folk tales. But of course, the best way to explore the Ghost Stories of Prince Edward Island is to visit the many haunted houses scattered around the Island.

Starters Guide to PEI Authors

Who are some of Prince Edward Island’s most popular authors? If you’re new to the region or if you’re an avid reader who wants to get a feel for what Prince Edward Island literature has to say, this is the post for you.

The writing scene in PEI is relatively small, but this isn’t necessarily a drawback. What we lack in size we make up for in flavour; as limited as the scene might be, there’s a strong independent voice to it; this is what you get when you establish a scene away from the constraints of the larger publishing houses.

The first thing you need to know that the literary scene is dominated heavily by historical and cultural books (non-fiction) and has a limited, but rich, fiction resource. It should be said that due to this strong focus on cultural history in non-fiction, it bleeds into fiction as well.

If you’re new to the world of Prince Edward Island writing, here are some popular authors to check out with some links to get you reading.

David Weale

With David Weale, the popular and the eccentric meet like the ocean meeting the land.

Dr. David Weale – author of both fiction and non-fiction – is a retired professor of Canadian and Prince Edward Island history at the University of Prince Edward Island. His work focuses primarily on the history and folk tales of Prince Edward Island.

Taking the craft of storytelling to the air, he operated an award-winning CBC Radio show titled “Them Times” in the 1980’s, and has made additional appearances on the CBC shows “Tapestry” and The Gabereau Show,” both as a storyteller and a guest.

He is a member of the Shorewalkers, which can be investigated more here (shorewalkers.ca.) The group – a collective of likeminded creative – summarizes its namesake as: “The shore is a ‘thin place’ where the thick veil of ordinary consciousness, that limits our vision, becomes less opaque; a place of liberation from the constraints of ego consciousness, and of deep and joyous connectedness with others, and with all that is, or ever has been. It is, in a word, an awakening to our own depth.”

Selection of Writing:

Julie V. Watson

For a taste of the mainly non-fiction, let’s talk Julie Watson. You’ve gotta have respect for the writer who takes the business side of their craft into their own hands.

A resident of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, she is the author of more than 30 books and hundreds of articles covering a wide range of topics, most notably in the world of business and PEI history. Aside from her books on shipwrecks and ghost stories, the majority of her work can be described as positive and inspirational.

She currently owns and operates Seacroft (http://www.seacroftpei.com/), a small, independently-owned publishing house where she creates, markets, and distributes her own books. On top of that, she has hosted a number of writing workshops across Canada

“I have a strong belief in people taking control of their lives, being loyal and caring to family and friends, and finding  way to blend those things.  Part of the nurturing process for ourselves and those we love, comes down to savouring small pleasures such as food, travel, nature, exploring history.”

Selection of Writing:

Patti Larsen

Not all PEI authors need to focus their writing around a strong Prince Edward Island cultural examination or historical context. Sometimes you just want a good novel that dabbles in genre themes. Patti Larsen, like many successful writers in this day and age, is someone who grew up loving stories and got into it later in life with a lot of time to make up.

This Charlottetown, PEI author has racked up an impressive amount of work in a relatively short amount of time, so if you’re looking for a real mythology to sink your teeth into – clones, magic, and paranormal intrigue – this is where you need to go.

Also, if you’re interested in video workshops related to the craft, Patti hosts a series of Vlogs on her G+ account (https://plus.google.com/114562063418546732391/posts)

“When I turned twelve, I got my hands on my very first young adult novel, a Nancy Drew adventure. I read it rapidly, devoured it in a few short hours, my mind used to material far older and probably inappropriate for someone of my age and overactive imagination.”

Selection of Writing:

Deirdre Kessler

Based out of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Deirdre is an English teacher at University of Prince Edward Island and writer of children’s books that carry a strong maritime theme. She currently has roughly a dozen books published for children and youth which have been translated into multiple languages.

In this same vein, and following a theme in this post, she has hosted a show on CBC Radio titled “The Story Show,” directed mainly at children.

CBC and PEI writers go together pretty well, don’t they?

“Poetry is the first language. It’s closest to what is at the heart of language. To write poetry is to strip away all but what’s essential. It’s close to the bone, close to the heart, close to the core of what’s being human and what’s using language.”

Selection of Writing:

  • Afternoon Horses
  • Dreamtime
  • Exploring the Island

 

There are names that didn’t make it on this list, but rest assured we will be getting to them eventually.

Follow some of the links posted in this article and look into some of the writing selections and you’ll be well on your way to fully explore what the writing scene in Prince Edward Island has to offer.