Truly the birthplace of a nation.
I know the title of this tip may seem a touch overblown and also that I am prone to writing passionately about places that I have visited but, in this case, it really is no exaggeration as this magnificent building genuinely is where the nation we now know as Canada started.
I have mentioned in other tips on my Canada pages, specifically Charlottetown which I had the privelege of visiting on the 150th anniversary of Confederation, that the country has a relatively short history (apart from the native peoples obviously) and to think that my late maternal Grandmother was born less than 30 years after the events that happened in this place really set it all in place for me. I do love medieaval history, ancient history and so on but this somehow felt a little more real. So what do I refer to?
In 1864 the portion of North America that was not the United States was still a series of territories and so on and all independent of each other. It was decided that it might be an idea to join up or "confederate" and, in my humble opinion, that was a very good move as it led to the quite wonderful country of Canada that I had the absolute pleasure of visiting in the summer of 2014. Although it eventually led to the formation of a nation, it was not an immediate process and did not really take effect until 1867 at which point nowhere like all the Canadian territories were "signed up". I was quite amazed to find on my travels that Newfoundland was still independent until after the Second World War where they had lost so many sons and the most recent administrative entity in Canada, namely Nunavut, did not come into existence until 1999. All well and good but I digress as always so back to the beginning.
Province House itself almost defines for me the "pioneer spirit". It was designed by one Issac Smith who had actually no formal architectural training. I hope my pretty poor image reflects (on a pretty awful July day) that he did a rather good job. The very reason it was built was that the "parliament" of the Province used to meet in local taverns (a principle I have no problem with but probably not the best for good governance) and a grant of £5000 was approved with a further £5000 granted a few years later.
The first legislative assembly was held here in 1874 and it continues here until this day. As I suspect most visitors will do, we visited in summer when the legislature was in recess and so had access to the building. Obviously, when it is in session, and in view of the appalling terrorist murders in Canada since I was there, things may have changed. Once through security (which may have been understandably upgraded now) you are effectively free to wander round at will, even into the room that serves as the Legislative Assembly for the Province and the hugely historic room that was where the original Conference was held. There is also an interesting video presentation about the Conference of 1864.
For the traveller on a budget, it is free to enter although donations are obviously most weelcome.
The staff were friendly in that particular Maritime Provinces way and the whole experience was wonderful. I thouroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. Should the reader wish to visit, and I recommend they do, here are the logistics.
Well, isn't that a shock? I was going to put up the various details of this magnificent building, having spent well over an hour writing this tip, to find out that it is closed as of January 2015 for three to five years for urgent renovation works. I shall post some images here and hope to give the reader an idea of what it was like and what it hopefully will be again very soon. Full details are on the website attached below.
That has taken the wind out of my sails a little and I do hope it does not take them the whole five years to repair as it really is worth seeing. I should mention that at time of writing they are discussing having some sort of audio visual exhibition elsewhere to give people an idea of what it is like.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
A military museum in it's proper place.
Whilst exploring the delightful city of Charlottetown one day with my travelling companion RavensWing we more or less happened upon the military museum which is located in the HQ of the Price Edward Island Regiment. I have mentioned many times on my other pages on Virtual Tourist that I have a great interest in military history and also that I was in the Forces as was my companion Lynne, albeit I was in the British Forces and she in the Canadian.
Wandering unchallenged into the compound (I wonder if that has changed in light of the subsequent atrocities that have happened in Canada) we saw several old pieces of military hardware including a Ferret armoured car and a World War 2 vintage Sherman tank which had been unveiled by her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1967 and dedicated to the war dead of the Province of that war.
We walked into what appeared to be the main entrance of the building and exchanged a brief glance as it was just like walking into a military drill hall and that is exactly what it was as this is a working Army base with the side issue of running the Museum. I was sure we had accidentally gone in the wrong entrance and approached the two soldiers dressed in combat gear who were obviously going over some paperwork at a table on the far side of the room. I enquired if this was the Museum and was assured that we were in the right place and a room to the back of the drill hall was indicated along with a very civil invitation to explore at will and take as long as we liked. I must say, I don't ever recall senior NCO's in the British Army being that generous to random "civvies" wandering into their domain!
Off we duly went and into the Museum which, it must be said, is not huge although it does have an awful lot of history and many artefacts in there ranging from the raising of the Regiment (or it's predecessor outfits) right up to modern day peace-keeping operations in places like Afghanistan. I had noticed as I was to many more times how involved the Canadians seem to be in peace-keeping missions worldwide and, regrettably, the appalling price they have paid for that duty. We probably spent a lot longer in there than we would have expected to on first entering it as there are some simply fascinating things to see.
I was particularly interested in one aspect of the Museum as I shall explain. As previously stated I have an interest in military history and specifically that of the Special Forces but I had never heard of the Devil's Brigade. A fearsome name certainly but apparently with a fighting reputation to match, they were a joint US / Canadian unit raised in 1942 at roughly the same time the British Commandos (now effectively the Royal Marine Commando) and the SAS were being formed in Britain and North Africa respectively. They fought in the Aleutian Islands as well as Southern Europe before being disbanded in late 1944. Many modern day Special Forces in North America owe their origins to these guys, albeit that they existed for such a short period. I am now fascinated by them and have determined to learn more about them.
As always and I do aoplogise to readers of my other pages for the repetition of this mantra but you can learn something just about anywhere. What appeared on first sight to be a fairly small and regular regimental Museum turned out to be anything but and taught me an awful lot which I believe should be the primary function of any such place.
Should the reader wish to visit, and I strongly recommend they do then here are the logistics which are taken from the attached website.
Year round: Mon- Fri 9:00am- 4:00pm, Thurs 7:00-9:00pm, or call for appointment.
Admission is free; donations are appreciated.
Highly recommended.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
Great beer, great place.
It is no secret here that I like a drink and, whilst I am not normally a beer drinker (I am normally a cider man), I had sampled some excellent bres whils in the Maritime Provinces. Not least of the many smallish breweries providing this was the PEI Brewing Co. and so when I had the chance to visit I obviously jumped at it. There were guided tours of the brewery offered but unfortunately that particular day they were waiting for a coach party and so could not fit us in which was a shame and so I suggest booking ahead if you wish to do this.
All was not lost however as there is a very comfortable bar available and so I decided to settle myself in there for a while. Of course I immediately ran into a problem. With every single beer the brewery produces on offer which one to choose? Fortunately one of the delightfully friendly young ladies behind the bar came up with the ideal solution, why not try eight of them? Well, I am a bit of a drinker all right but I was thinking that even for me eight pints in the late afternoon might be a stretch especially as we had to get back on the road reasonably soon. Fortunately the sampling tray (as pictured) is pretty small glasses so I ordered that, found a delightfully comfy sofa to sit on and started about the serious business of beer sampling. I decided that some form of order was called for and so I decided to work from light to dark which is what I did. The drip mat on the tray was very helpfully printed with tasting notes which was useful.
The bar is quite modern as it is really an industrial unit but it is spotless and pleasant. There are not too many seats and I was sitting alone at quite a large table so various people came and went and I got chatting to some intersting folk, it certainly was friendly enough. I decided to have a bit of a look round and was amazed to see that Billy Bragg was playing there a couple of months hence. I had the privelege of sharing a stage with Billy some years ago, full details of which are on my Profile Page, and I certainly did not expect to see the "Bard of Barking" playing in Charlottetown. I also found a selection of old wooden barrels containing T-shirts including many with very minor printing imperfections that they sell off for a fraction of the normal price. There were posters advertising various events and I got the impression this is quite a social centre in the city. It certainly would be a decent place for a function.
I eventually finished my drinks and was tempted to have another sampler tray but time was against me and so I picked my favourite and had a quick pint of that before rejoining my companion to get travelling again. Although I regret I didn't get to do the tour it was certainly a most pleasant place for sampling some absolutely excellent beers.
Hightly recommended, and if you want to visit then here are the logistics taken from the attached website.
Winter Hours (September 8th – May 17th):
Monday – Wednesday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm with tours running every hour on the hour from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Thursday – Saturday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm with tours running every hour on the hour from 11:00 am – 8:00 pm.
Sunday – Closed.
Summer Hours (May 18th – September 8th):
Monday – Saturday from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, with tours running every hour on the hour from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm.
Sunday from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, with tours running every hour on the hour from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
If you are requesting a tour outside of normal operating hours, there is a minimum requirement of 15 persons in your group to make this possible.
Cost $ 10 per person + HST. Includes a complete tour of our entire facility and 2 x 5 oz.
tastings of our handcrafted beer. Tour lasts about 45 minutes.
6 Pack Tour:
Cost $ 20 per person + HST. Includes a complete tour of our facility, 2 x 5 oz. tastings and a take-home pack of either 6 x 355 ml Beach Chair Lager cans or a 4 x 500 ml bottle pack of your favourite Gahan Ales.
Groups of 15 or more will be given their own tour guide and tour. Groups are encouraged to contact us in advance to set up a time that is convenient for the group.
As far as I could see the entire bar was on one level (I am not sure about the brewery tour) and so would appear to be wheelchair accessible.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
Yet another sad remembrance.
To readers of many of my other pages I apologise yet again as this introductory paragraph is going to be sounding pretty repetitious by now but it is aimed at those who may have come upon this page without having seen my othe Virtual Tourist contributions. It concerns one of several war memorials in the city of Charlottetown although I believe this one would be said to be the "main" one. Whilst I apologise for this preamble I make no apology for including it as a "thing to do" in the city as I believe we should remember the many sacrifices made in war over the centuries.
The memorial stands just to the rear of Province House (see separate tip on this page) on Grafton Street and is a depiction in bronze set on a granite plinth of three First World War Canadian soldiers trotting forward with rifles at the ready to who knows what horror. It was designed by George W. Hill and unveiled in 1925 with the cost being borne by the city and public subscription. Notwithstanding the obviously emotional subject matter I think Mr. Hill managed to create a very fine sculpture and the detail of it is stunning from the facial expressions right down to the small detail of the military equipment.
Tragically, the "War to end all wars" was nothing of the sort and so subsequent inscriptions had to be added for the Second World War and the Korean War of 1950 - 1953 where the Canadians lost a large number of service personnel. I can find no information if there are plans to add further inscriptions for more recent conflicts although I think it would be appropriate.
As always with these memorials I do not suggest that the traveller will spend a lot of time there except perhaps to take an image or two but I do think it is worth taking a moment to pause and remember the sacrifice of so many young men who gave everythingRelated to:
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Reminder of an older war.
To readers of many of my other pages I apologise yet again as this introductory paragraph is going to be sounding pretty repetitious by now but it is aimed at those who may have come upon this page without having seen my other Virtual Tourist contributions. It concerns one of several war memorials in the city of Charlottetown, this one of an older conflict than the two World Wars and the Korean War generally remembered on such memorials in Canada. Whilst I apologise for this preamble (indeed it is a cut and paste from another tip on this page but why make work for yourself?), I make no apology for including it as a "thing to do" in the city as I believe we should remember the many sacrifices made in war over the centuries.
This tip refers to a smaller memorial at the front of Province House than the main one to the rear (see separate tip) and commemorates those killed in the Boer War at the latter end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. To be perfectly honest, until I visited Canada, I had no idea they had been involved in that war and had thought it to be a purely British affair. Whilst in Canada I saw quite a number of memorials to the dead there specifically the Battle of Paaderburg where the Canadians took heavy casualties.
Despite my best efforts I can find very little historical data about this memorial save that it is obviously a bronze set on a granite plinth and depicts a lone infantryman of the period standing astride a broken / spiked artillery piece. The dedication on the rear reads, "To the men of the Royal Canadian Regiment who by their valour and efficiency have made manifest to the world Canada's ability and willingness to share with the motherland the duties and responsibilities of Empire. This monument is dedicated by their grateful fellowcountrymen."
I have mentioned elsewhere that Canadians seem very particular about honouring their war dead and this is yet another small example. Again, I do not suggest the visitor spends much time here but maybe just pause to take an image or two and remember the men who died in a place so different in every way from their homes.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
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