Memories of Long Ago, by Benjamin Bremner - Page 2
The Southport Ferry
I regret that I cannot impart much information on the above subject.
Of course it was carried on until a comparatively recent period, that
is, up to the time of the completion of the Hillsborough Bridge. I
have a faint recollection of when I was a child of crossing on a side
wheel paddle boat, the motive power of which came from a pair of
horses going round and round on a kind of treadmill. If I remember
rightly, this boat was owned by and operated under the management of
Mr. T.B. Tremaine, who did business on Lower Queen Street somewhere
about the present site of Lyons' coal office. Following this
antiquated Ferry was the steamer "Ino", and later, "Ora" and later
still the "Hillsboro" and "Elfin". These boats left every half hour
from each side and on market days every twenty minutes. Our beautiful
harbor has a rather deserted look these later days. It is a pity it
should be so.
At the approach to the Ferry Wharf, where the railway roundhouse now
stands, was the residence of Major Beete, retired army officer, who
was regarded as quite an eccentric character in the days of " long
ago". From there east to about where the Railway freight Sheds stand,
was a succession of wooden dwelling houses, except that about the
middle of the block, there was an approach to a wharf owned by Mr.
William Heard, who carried on a general business on Queen Street,
about the site of Moore & McLeod's establishment.
On the corner of Water and Queen Streets opposite the Railway
Roundhouse, is the "Lenox Hotel". This was formerly the residence of
the Hon. James Duncan, a prominent Merchant and Ship owner, who was,
in stature, the largest man on Prince Edward Island.
From here we go up Prince Street until we arrive at "Trinty
Church", of the United Church of Canada.
The Old Methodist Meeting House
Or "Wesleyan Chapel" as it was sometimes called, and which stood on the
corner now occupied by the Heartz Memorial Hall. This old building was
erected in 1833-34 and in addition to the main auditorium was a Sunday
school room and vestry. Services were held in the church and classes taught
the school until the completion of the "Brick Church", (1864) standing on
the corner of Prince and Sydney Streets and which is known now as "Trinty
Church" of the United church of Canada. It seems to me quite fit just here
to quote from Judge Warburton's History of P.E. Island (405)
"The great religious movement in Great Britain, associated with the
names of John and Charles Wesley, could not but have its effect also in the
new and outlying parts of the Empire. Men of the loftiest character of high
order of eloquence, and filled with the zeal in the Master's service, they
exerted a marvellous power over the spiritual life of the English speaking
people. Without separating from the church of their fathers, they broke
through the formalism which, in their day, characterized the church, and
brought the teachings of christianity home to the common life of
men" ... "They produced the beautiful hymns that go by Wesley's name and
which reach home to the very hearts of hearers".
Here follow a few verses of some of the outstanding hymns that
attracted the admiration of those who were privileged to listen to the
music and words of these old time gems that were written by Charles Wesley
and Isaac Watts:
"Soldiers of Christ, arise
And put your armour on;
Through his eternal Son:
Strong in the Lord of Hosts,
And in his mighty power,
Who, in the strength of Jesus trusts,
Is more than conqueror". -- Charles Wesley
"The Lord Jehovah reigns,
His throne is built on high;
The garments he assumes
Are light and majesty;
His glories shine with beams so bright,
No mortal eye can bear the sight". -- I. Watts
"When I survey the wonderous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride". -- I. Watts
"Praise ye the Lord ! tis good to raise
Your hearts and voices in his praise;
His nature and his works invite
To make this duty our delight". -- I. Watts
"Come Holy Ghost our hearts inspire,
Let us thine influence prove;
Source of the old prophetic fire
Fountain of Light and Love". -- C. Wesley
(The latter hymn was sung to the tune of "Drink to me only with Thine eyes").
The Minister of my earliest recollection in Charlottetown was the
Rev. John MacMurray (1854-7). In spite of a little crudeness of form there
appeared to be an atmosphere of deep spirituality and reverence manifest in
the services of those days, which is to me somewhat lacking in more modern
The choirs in the fifties and sixties was considered by many
independent critics to have produced the best hymn music in Charlottetown.
Several of the old hymn tunes are still in use, I can remember several of
the prominent members of the choir in the old days. There were James Moore,
Watson Duchemin, Thomas Davy, James Stanley, William Stumbles, John Rendle,
George Moore, Bertram Moore, Albert Duchemin, Edmund Duchemin, W. F. Morris,
John Lea, Artemas Lord, George Bremner, Edward Love, John Dorsey, and later
on; Edward Davy, Richard Passmore, Paul Lea, Jas. R. Davison, F. H. Beer, Wm.
Moore, and John A. Moore. Among the ladies were: Mrs Watson Duchemin, Mrs
John P. Tanton, Mrs. P. G. Clarke, the Misses Lea, Miss Sophie Duchemin,
Mrs.John Newson, Mrs. William Cook, the Misses Davy, The Misses Love, Mrs.
Mary Fearneux (nee Webster - 88 years old, and still a regular attendant at
Divine Service), Mrs W. F. Morris), and later Misses Annie and Mary Moore,
(the latter now Mrs. Jas. R. Davison). Probably there were others, of whom
I have no recollection.
The choir was led by Mr. James Moore, (grandfather of William and
John A. Moore) without the accompaniment of an organ. Mr. Moore generally
used a tuning fork, sometimes a flute to strike the key. Such a thing as an
organ was "taboo" in those days and was not used in divine worship in the
Methodist Church until after the new "Brick Church" was dedicated. the
corner stone for which had been laid by Mrs. Dundas, wife of the
Lieutenant-Governor, George Dundas, Esq.
The installation of a small cabinet organ in the new church was
looked on with horror and dismay by some who "did not believe in the
worship of God by the turning of a crank". In fact it was said that one old
fellow exclaimed: "If 'ad my way, I'd chop it h'up with a h'axe". People
have gotten finely over that now, as witness the splendid instrument that
now adorns the east end of the interior. A great change has taken place in
the attitude of church members since those days regarding music and vestments.
The superintendents of the Sunday School of my earliest recollection
were, in order named; William Brown, William Stumbles, Bertram Moore, and
W. E. Dawson. Of those who attended church and Sunday school in the old
wooden building there are, I believe, less than ten now living.
In the old days of the fifties and sixties "Beer's Pasture" was
frequently used by the Methodist Sunday School for their annual picnic. I
can well remember what a joyous time we had when we youngsters formed in
procession, with banners and flags flying and marched from the School up
Prince to Fitzroy Street and out to the Kensington grounds, where we had
games and partook of the generous spread of "goodies" laid out on the tables.
A large number of visitors from other denominations also enjoyed the outing
and the viands provided.
Church Notes from the files of old Newpapers:
The first trustees of the old church of 1833 were Isaac Smith,
Robert Longworth, *John Bovyer, Christopher Cross, Henry Smith, John
Trenaman, William Tanton, Thomas Dawson, and Charles Welsh.
"After the Brick church was built, the old one was sold and placed
on the north corner of Prince and Water Streets, and is now a double tenement".
The Wesleyan Bazaar, briefly noticed by us last week was a much more
successful affair than its most sanguine projectors ever anticipated-the sum
realized, after deducting all expenses, amounting to nearly 1,000 pounds,
with a large number of valuable articles still undisposed of". -- (Monitor,
July 21, 1864)
Some proceeds for a two days sale!
*John Bovyer was a descendant of the "U.E.Loyalists" and was a grandfather
of Mr. L.A.Moore of Summerside and Mrs. Charles Black of this City.
The Infant School
Under the auspices of Old St. Paul's Church' was conducted in the wooden
building which stood on the corner where the present Parish Hall stands. My
recollections of that first school I ever attended are slightly vague as I
was only about eight or nine years old when I was sent to another, a little
Such an institution as a "Kindergarten", in the fifties was unknown
in Charlottetown (nor, possibly, anywhere else.) We were instructed in the
"three R's" in their most elementary form yet the schooling was efficient as
far as it went. I can yet see in my mind's eye the "Balls and Frame" [Abacus] which
helped us in our first lessons in "sums".
The teachers engaged for this Infant School were Mr. and Mrs. George
Hubbard, who were brought from England by trustees of St. Paul's Church.
They were accompanied by their son and daughter, the latter a very beautiful
and accomplished lady, who afterwards became Mrs. Wilbur.
The Hubbards were a very kindly old couple and I think all the
children had for them a genuine affection.
Mrs Hubbard conducted almost all of the instruction - only
occasionally did her husband assist, being engaged for many years as
Registrar of probate in P.E. Island. On the closing of the Infant School a
few years later, Mr. Hubbard became the depository of the British and
Foreign Bible Society and kept a store somewhere about where the Bank of
Montreal now stands. Mrs. Hubbard was also a very accomplished needlewoman
and many of the girl pupils received their first lessons in the art at the
Infant school. I can recollect that there were a few kids in the school who
although so young, could put over some stunts that were not in the course of
studies and get away with them, when the teacher wasn't looking. Some were
caught and punished and among the latter, I once had the misfortune to be
one of the bad boys. I remember the occasion distinctly, when I stood up
and declaimed part of the first verse of the old rhyme;
"Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone".
I got no further, but was promptly disciplined by being made to stand
up on a bench for exhibition until I said I was sorry.
There was one very pleasant part of the "curriculum" that we always
enjoyed. It was when we received our singing lesson.
I can yet see dear old Mrs. Hubbard leading with:
"When at first you don't succeed,
try, try, try again".
while she would face us all and clap her hands in time with the words. "try,
try". Sometimes we marched around the schoolroom while we sang at other
times we sang from the gallery.
At one end of the school room was a gallery, slanting downwards - the
front row of seats near the floor, in which were seated the smallest
children. At stated times we took our places in the gallery for
"examinations". We were frequently questioned and addressed by vistors,
among whom I can recall the faces of Commander Orlebar and Lieutenants
Hancock and Carey, officers of the Hydrographic Survey Ship H.M. Gulnare.
With them was the late H. J. Cundall, then quite a young man. The Naval
Officers above mentioned resided in Charlottetown for a number of years, and
were prominently identified with the religious and social affairs of the City.
The only pupils I can remember as having attended the Infant School
still living were Florrie Stumbles, (Mrs. S. W. Crabbe), Bessie Foster (Mrs.
John White), Mary Moore (Mrs. J. R. Davison), Henry Lowe and William Moore.
Those who have passed away were - Adeline Worth (Mrs Burbridge), Annie Moore,
married in California, Annie Alley, and Jas. R. Davison. The Misses Moore
and William were children of the late Bertram Moore.
Just previous to the completion of this little sketch Mill Mary
White of this City kindly handed me the following poem written by the late
Mr. Hubbard at the age of seventy nine. The original is one of the most
exquisite specimens of penmanship I have ever seen - resembling copperplate
engraving. I think all who read it will agree that it breathes a spirit of
peace and contentment as well as triumph.
My last piece of poetry
"O God! my hoary hairs declare
Thy Sovereign Love - thy gracious care,
E'en from the soft parental breast
Down to life to life's decline,
on sick'ning couch no hours have run
Through one diurnal circling sun.
I thank Thee Lord 'twas Thine to give
The Mate in lot with whom I live.
Dear, she has made my earthly home,
While fifty of my years have flown.
The fear of man's untoward brow
No more besets my Spirit now,
Through God, though four scoreyears are near,
There's not a Man whose face I fear.
My god how good! no pen'ry's mine
No want of bread in life's decline,
Though verging to time's shortest span
I'm pleased to be the Aged Man.
Now looking Lord that Heaven to see,
Which Christ my God prepared for me,
I herein wait life's parting breath
To slumber through the Sleep of Death". -- G. Hubbard
Mr. Hubbard died in England 21st July 1882 aged 80 years
Old St. Paul's
I can call to mind a few recollections of the old wooden building,
and the services held in St. Paul's Church of the sixties and the
early seventies. From Warburton's History of P.E.I. we learn that it
was first occupied in 1836 that the last service held there was on the
3rd of May 1896 and on the Sunday following the services were held in
the present stone edifice on Queen Square east.
In the later sixties I was somewhat of a free lance in my choice of
church attendance. With a few companions, I was in the habit of going
about to different places of worship, but St. Paul's seemed to be the
place of our choice on Sunday evenings. We generally took our places
in the gallery in a pew near the Organ Loft where we could enjoy the
musical part of the service. The members of the choir as far as I can
remember, were: Miss Elizabeth Preedy (now our highly esteemed Mrs.
Roome), who after her marriage was succeeded by Mr. S.N. Earle, Misses
Helen BayBlois (later Mrs. A. Hensle). The male members of my
recollection; William Cundall, leader, Joseph Ball, William Bevan,
Thos. DesBrisay and Edward Love.
I can well remember the old high box pews, with doors, both in the
gallery and on the ground floor so high that one could lie back and
sleep without being observed. I can distinctly remember on individual
having done so.
Several old families, well known in Charlottetown, whose descendants
now are few, owned pews in St. Paul's and their proprietary rights
were jealously guarded. Such names as Bayfield, Palmer, Longworth,
Haviland, Brecken, Lowe, Batt, Davies, Hensley, Peake, DuBlois, Pope,
Peters, Warburton, Hodgson, ect., ect. There were also pews reserved
for the Lieutenant Governor, the Council, the House of Assembly, the
officers of the garrison and two for strangers.
The ministers of my recollection were the Rev. Louis C. Jenkins,
L.L.D. (retired Rector, and great grandfather of Dr. J.S. Jenkins, of
this city) Rev. Dr. Jenkins was succeeded, as appears from the
records,by Rev. David Fitzgerald, who had as an associate Rev. D.B.
Parnther, and following him was (I think) Rev. Alfred Osborne.
On the wall of St. Paul's Church may be seen a tablet to the memory
of one of our early governors, viz: Sir Donald Campbell Bart, who died
October 10th 1850, aged 50 years and whose remains are interred in the
vault of St. Paul's.
In those days the choir was not gowned nor surpliced. Like the old
Methodist Church, strong objections were held against all manner of
ritualistic practices in both music and vestments as well as the
Bishop's Crozier being carried in processional. The Psalms were read
responsively and neither intoned nor chanted. Several stirring scenes
were enacted in the old days between "Low and High Church members",
which are now happily forgotten.
Mention has been here made of Dr. the Rev. L.C. Jenkins who was
rector of the Parish from June 1828 until 1854. This brings to my
mind some of Mr. John Lepage's verses anent the old cemetery, a
subject dealt with by me in another sketch. The following is from Mr.
Lepage’s first volume of "The Island Minstrel".
"Lines inscribed to Rev. L.C. Jenkins, Rector, suggested by a walk
in the Churchyard near Charlottetown".
"As pensively I wander here
And cast a glance around,
How many names, to mem'ry dear,
Familiar onceare found:
How many epitaphs I see
Where dreamless sleepers lie,
Which preach this truth impressively,
That man was born to die.
Tread softly over those that sleep
Beneath the funeral yew!
Ye mourning friends, for friends who weep,
this is the place for you;
But thoughtless ones, with footsteps rude,
This scene so sacred, fly!
Or learn, when hither ye intrude,
That you were born to die.
Here poverty with grandeur must
Repose when life is done,
lie earth to earth and dust to dust,
As spoils which death has won:
Ah! why should Pride, with foolish scorn,
Roll round its haughty eye?
The proudest man! and beggar born!
Are born alike, to die!
Howe'er distince in life they were
They've no distinction here !
save polish'd stones which here and there
More beautiful appear;
but monuments, or rude or grand!
As Time goes wasting by,
Moulder beneath his crumblinghand,
And, falling, prostrate lie!"
St. Dunstan's Cathedral of Old
My memory sometimes lingers over a scene of my early youth, and I
can yet see in my mind's eye the old "Catholic Chapel", as St.
Dunstan's Cathedral was often called in the fifties, and the houses
adjacent thereto, on that part of Sydney Street between Great George
and Queen, for it was in that locality I was born. I regret that I
cannot give much information on this subject, as our family removed
from there to Prince Street when I was but seven years of age. But
looking back over the years I can yet see Rev. Thomas Phelan, P.P.,
who was affectionately called "Father Tom" with his goodnatured
smiling face, as he leaned over the fence surrounding the parochial
house, and was so friendly to all about him, especially the children.
I think he was succeeded by the very Rev. Daniel McDonald, or as he
was known "Father Dan". The latter, after being some years in
Charlottetown, took charge of the parish of Georgetown where he died.
The front doors of the Cathedral were at the South end in the tower,
and above in the spire was the clock, which served as the official
"Town Clock" for many years, or until the present one was installed in
the front tower of the Law Courts Building.
I can remember that a few years after we had removed from Sydney
Street, St. Dunstan's Choir had a great attraction for me. Before my
time and later, this choir was a celebrated one, both for solo and
concerted work, and I believe it was in my younger days that their
first pipe organ was installed, and the first to play it was a
Mrs. Stephenson, who was quite a celebrity in her day, having conducted
several concerts in the city when I was in my teens. She was
succeeded as organist by Miss Mary McEwen, later by Professor
Trudelle, and still later by Miss Faustina Newbery (sister of the late
Arthur Newbery of this city) and later still by the late Stanislaus
(Judge) Blanchard. After some years as Choir Master, Mr. Trudelle
entered the priesthood.
Many today will no doubt remember a few of the prominent members of
the choir: there were two Misses Conway, two Misses Higgins, Mrs.
(Dr.) Conroy, Miss Gene Newbery, Mrs. Gaffney, Mrs. F. Kelly, Mrs.
Maurice Blake, Mrs. James Byrne, Mrs. J. C. Doyle (Halifax) and Mrs.
John Haley (San Francisco). Among the male members were: J. G.
Eckstadt, Augustus Hermans and his son Charles, Professor Caven, L.J.
Williams, J. Griffith, Aeneas Macdonald and Charles Bell. Four of the
ladies above mentioned are still living, all the others have passed
away. The efficent conductor and leader of the choir today is the
justly popular Mr. W. J. Brown.
A most impressive funeral procession was the cortege accompanying
the remains of Bishop Bernard D. McDonald (second Bishop of
Charlottetown,) to St. Dunstan's Cathedral from St. Dunstan's College
in 1859. I was greatly impressed as the procession moved along Great
George Street to where the last solemn rites were performed. There
was an immense throng of people forming the procession of clergy, St.
Ann's convent pupils with white veil, acolytes and citizens. Among
the convent pupils was Mis Mary Giffin of this city, who still has a
clear recollection of the notable event. I was told at the time, that
as the head of the procession arrived near the doors of the cathedral,
the end of it was just leaving the college gates. Bishop McDonald's
remains lie beneath the crypt of the Cathedral. The late Bishop
McIntyre was his successor.
Another incident in connection with the church in Charlottetown, was
the removal, sometime in the sixties, of the old Church of St. Andrews
to Charlottetownthe church in which the first Bishop of
Charlottetown laboured as Parish Priest for many years, Right Rev.
Angus Bernard MacEachern.
The Church was hauled over the Hillsborough ice, landed at
Charlottetown, and finally placed in Pownal Street, where it became
the central building of St. Joseph's Convent School, now known as
Rochford Square School. I can quite remember the immense number of
horses harnessed to the structure as it was moved through the streets
to its present position.
The building next to the Cathedral premises (west) was the Parish
Day School, and the head master was the celebrated pedagogue Edward
Roche, noted as being one of the greatest mathematical scholars of his
day in Charlottetown. He later taught in the Model School which was
afterwards connected with the Prince of Wales college. One of his
associates was the late Miss Elizabeth McKinnon, who for a great
number of years was connected with the teaching profession. Mr.
Roche's son, James Jeffrey Roche, was quite a celebrity in Boston,
Mass., being editor of the Boston Pilot and a learned scholar and
Following west from this school was the home of the Weeks family,
the head of which was Mr. Joseph Weeks, father of the late W. A. Weeks
and his brother and sisters. A little west of the Weeks home was the
house in which the writer of these sketches was born and where my
father conducted a book and stationery, as well as a printing and
bookbinding business. To digress for a moment, I was told by my
parents that when I was only three weeks old, our house caught fire,
and that when one man asked the question of another: "do you think we
can save it"? The other was heard to answer "The devil a bit "! The
house was saved, however, and so was I, for as soon as the matter
looked serious I was wrapped up in a blanket and hurried off to a
friend's house, at a safe distance from our home. (Pardon this
personal allusion). This house was on the site where the present
brick building, (erected by the late John Gahan) now stands. From
there to the corner were two huckster shops.
On the opposite side of the street still stands the same brick
building which was owned and occupied as a store and dwelling by the
Hon. Daniel Brenan, who carried on one of the largest businesses in
the City in the fifties and early sixties. From there west to Great
George Street was a succession of wooden buildings, only one of which
remains today and was then occupied by the McFadyen family, who kept
a farmers boarding house.
Quite a celebrated hostelry stood opposite the Cathedral on Great
George Street, near the present site of Gaudet's Book Store, called
the "Wellington Hotel". This was where the principal public banquets
were held in the days of "Auld Lang Syne".
Old Folk Concert
A rather quaint entertainment took place in Charlottetown in April,
1888. It was promoted and the programme devised by Mrs. Shenton, the
accomplished wife of the Rev. Job Shenton, pastor at that time of the First
Methodist Church. It would take too much space to quote the items of the
progamme. Suffice it to say that it contained "old tyme songes" and music
of the Colonial Period such as "Revolutionary Tea", "Davis's Lament", "When
George ye Third was King", etc., etc. The announcement on the front of the
progamme as well as the names of the performers were printed in old time
lettering and spelling (prominent was the long "s" look like "f" and the
"ye" for "the") and to the names of the performers were added Puritan given
names, as will be seen from the following account:
"Ye goode People of Charlottetown and Vicinitie! Take Notice!"
"A Great Concyrte of Sacred and Likewise Worldie Songs, to be sung
and play'd bya Company of Menne and Womenne", (on opposite page is a old
photograph of Old St. Dunstan's church)
Singers and Players, will be holden in ye W.M.C.A. halle, on Tuesdaye
Nyghte, wh'is ye 24th Daye of Aprile, in ye year 1888.
"Ye latche string of ye Halle shall be hunge oute at earlie candl
lyghtynge and ye Grande Concerte shall beginne at eight of ye town clocke.
Ye entrance fee shall be 1 shilling 6 pence (35 centes) and ye
gentlefolke who wish goode seats kept for themme will paye two shillings (50
"Prynted cardes may be hadde of some of ye pille people, and also at
neighbour Hazard's bookstore".
"A Lyste of ye Players and Singers":
"Samuel Waterhouse Ebenezer Snearle will beate ye tyme".
"Frances Experience Hope Weekes will playe a new fangled Instrument
called a Pianowe".
"Ye Bass and Treeble Fyddlers and Players on ye Winde Instruments".
"Womenne Singers Leah Sophronia Maclean, Emma Priscilla Jane
BBarr, Agnes Deliverance Longworth, Katie Benevolence Hyndman, Molly Sweet
Briar Kezia Shenton, Florence Tabitha Sophia Earle, Dorothy Ida Fowle,
Mehitable Rose Wilson, Jessie Content Peebles, Margaret Prudence Weekes,
Wealthy Ann Findley, Nancy Margaret Crabbe, Caroline Charity Wade, Minnie
Abigail Johnson, Annie Penelope Weekes".
"Meene Singers Deacon Faithful James Davison, Squire Frederick Ezekiel
Beer, Japhet Obadiah Stewart, Christopher Nehemiah Heartz, Intrepid Dobbins
Wilson, Benjamin Armitage Bremner, Edward Jonathan Belle, Wilhelm Jacob
Maynard, and Wilhelm Uriah Makepeace Beer".
To these names were subsequently added Joseph Unsworth, Major John
Rogers of Montreal, and Charlie Earle, who at that time was a soprano.
Quite a change for Charlie, who is now one of the best baritones in Canada.
Here follow the musical numbers and names of performers who were
dressed in eighteenth century costumes. At the intermission and following
the programme were the following notes:
"A short space of tyme will nowe be allowed for the singers to
obtayne theyre breath also ye audience".
"Theyre will now be sunge God Save Ye Queene, in which all ye people
shall joine with vigour".
"Note Bene. Ye profits wh' shall result from ye greate concyrte
shall be for ye Yung Menne's Xian Association of ye toune, a most
praiseworthy objecte, wh' alle ye good peopel should strive to assist".
"For as much as manae of ye yonge womenne who singe have never sung
before so manie peopel, and are therefore shamefaced, ye younge menne
present are requested to looke away from themme when they singe".
"Ye goode people neede not fetch candels, as ye halle will be
lyghted with ye wonderful pattent gasse".
"Ye menne and ye womenne will be allowed to sit together".
"Imprinted by Master George Herbert Hazarde, who doesth alle kindes of job
pryntinge at his place of business in ye Browne's Blocke".
It may be noticed that the old time spelling in the programme is not
always uniform, but that was nothing unusual in the days "when George III
The programme used at the "Concyrte" was printed on old fashioned
unbleached paper with deckled or ragged edges, made to imitate handmade
paper, a copy of which I have in my possession.
The Great Fire of 1866
Newspaper Account of the Fire
I shall not attempt a description of the great holocaust that befell
Charlottetown on the fifteenth July, 1866. I was absent from town for a few
days and on our way home on Monday the sixteenth, we were told of the
disaster, our informant saying there were fifty houses gone. On arriving
home we found that it was much worse in fact that two hundred buildings had
gone up in smoke. I shall quote almost in full, Mr. John Lepage's account
of it, as given in the second volume of the "Island Minstrel".
"The Great Conflagration"
On the 15th of July 1866, the inhabitants of Charlottetown were
awakened from their slumbers by the hoarse clangour of the fire bell,
breaking through the stillness which usually prevails on a summer Sunday
morning. It was soon discovered that it had originated among some shavings
in a house recently purchased by Mr. J.G. Eckstadt of this city; and which,
at the time was undergoing some repairs. The house itself formed part of a
group of buildings, known as the Bagnall property, one block north of the
present Cavendish Apartments...............The weather for some time
previously had been exceedingly dry, and the roofs of the houses around, in
consequence, were almost like tinder which, kindling from the sparks that
fell upon them in fiery showers, burst into flames and spread with
resistless fury in all directions. The firemen and inhabitants did all they
could, but not withstanding their utmost efforts, the buildings on four
blocks, in the most populous part of the city, were, in a few hours, almost
"Fire! Fire! said the Crier,
Where? Where? said the Mayor.
In Pownal street! said Major Beete,
Those ancient piles of wood
The Bagnall buildings, which complete,
For sixty years have stood!
Of venerable memory;
Amongst our oldest names;
ring! ring! the bell, the folk to tell
these buildings are in flames!
Enwrapt in balmy slumbers, lay
The citizens around,
Tired with the toils of Saturday,
And "sleeping very sound".
Ding, dong! Ding, dong! both loud and long,
The Fire Bell in its way,
Said,'sleepers rise and rub your eyes,
There's work to do today !
In haste they rose, put on their clothes,
Each striving for the van;
Some with the engines and the hose
And some with buckets ran.
the people swarm'd the lines were form'd,
But hope and hose were vain,
'Twas all too late to stop the fate
Of Bagnall's old domain!
thence, raging conflagration red
Went forth, three several ways:
North to the "Mansion House", it spread
And set it in a blaze...
Up Water Street with raging heat,
The igneous billows roll,
Eastward their course, with gathering force,
And rage beyond control.
But ah! to trace their onward way
Exceeds the Muse's flight;
On shingles dry the cinders fly,
And blaze where'er they light.
A hundred roofs in ruin flare
Tis vain to think on names
Alas! for teeming millions there,
Truck Street is all in flames!
One blacken'd scene is all between
That meets the astonished eye;
Save Peake's brick warehouse, two whole blocks
In smoking debris lie!
How great a matter! who can tell
One spark abroad may send;
Or who divine, if kindled well
Where its effect shall end?
Across Queen Street the flame is sent,
Urged by the heated blast
To the old seat of Government,
That relic of the past
Though ninety years it there has stood
Defiant to decay,
Enveloped in a fiery flood,
Behold it pass away!
Up! up the hill ! to Great George Street
the fire has made its way;
But there, thank God for the mercy great,
The flames their fury stay.
Thanks be unto the fire brigade
Who fought through stifling air,
And by their efforts, nobly made,
Stopped devastation there
Some say the Bishop turn'd the flame;
Well! if that tale be true,
I'll not object, in wonder's name,
to thank the Bishop too!
For had the large cathedral caught
And burn't from steeple down,
we might have said, as ruin spread,
Goodbye to Charlottetown!"
The Town Crier
Who of us can remember old John Hatch, the Town Crier? The present
generation would regard a character of that kind as a curiosity. Yet in the
fifties and sixties it was looked on here as nothing uncommon. Centuries
before that, such an occupation existed in the old lands. Within my
recollection the work of Town Crier and Court Crier were two regular
occupations. The earliest of the kind that I can remember of was an old man
named Squires. I imagine that I only heard him once, but John Hatch paraded
his occupation before the public for many years. In the old times, previous
to confederation, daily newspapers had not arrived and the means for
advertising were fewer than now. A few handbills pasted on the walls and
fences of unoccupied lots, announcing an auction sale, a concert or a horse
race, were not considered by some sufficient publicity, especially by the
auctioneer, hence the services of John Hatch were requisitioned. The
procedure was somewhat like the following; The crier would walk down the
middle of the street about half the length of a block, ringing a bell then
would stop and shout:"O Yes! O Yes! O Yes! (Hear ye). To be sold by
auction on Monday the 10th day of June, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon,
on Pownal Wharf, a cargo of lumber, consisting of (here followed the list).
terms liberal and made known at sale, William Dodd, Auctioneer.
"God save the Queen""
The small boys on the street would sometimes follow poor old Hatch
and tease him with interjected remarks during his announcement, as when "O
Yes!" was about to be called, they would shout "were you ever in jail"? , "Oh
Yes!" would follow by the crier, when the old fellow would stop his work to
chase the boys.
The Hatch family lived in a small apartment in the east end of the
Temperance Hall (the present Guardian office). the "family" consisted of
John, the crier, and his very aged mother. They were both old when I was a
boy. Mrs. Hatch used to attend divine service in the old Wesleyan chapel
and was dressed in black with a "poke" bonnet extending out several inches
from her face. During the sermon she would express her feelings by piously
wagging her head from side to sidethe motion of the bonnet being
expressive of her appreciation of the preacher's remarks.
I think it was in the year 1861, that a preacher named Baxter gave a
series of addresses in the lower room of the "Temperance Hall" on "The
Second Advent", "Napoleon III as Anti - Christ", and subjects bearing on the
end of the world. Just behind the lecturer's desk was a door leading to the
Hatch Apartments. The story as I heard it told, ran something like this:
the speaker made a prophecy that before the end of 1867, everyone listening
to him would be either in Heaven or the other place. As he concluded this
statement, Old Mother Hatch, looking like a bird of ill omen appeared in the
dark doorway behind the speaker and caused something like a shudder to pass
through the audience.
Speaking of the town crier, it must have been quite an occupation
centuries ago. In Shakespeare's play of "Hamlet" the town crier was thus
alluded to by the latter in his advice to the players: "Speak the speech,
I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, tripplingly on the tongue; but if you
mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my
lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus but use all
gently,... Be not too tame, neither, but let your own discretion be
your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to the
action....... o'erstep not the modesty of nature:... O, there be players
that I have seen play - and heard others praise and that highly, not to
speak it profanely, that not having the accent of Christians, nor gait of
Christian, pagan or man, have so strutted and bellowed, that I have thought
that some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well they
imitated humanity so abominably".