Monday, September 23

Built Heritage Rules in Charlottetown

Beaconsfield Historic House
They say great things come in small packages. It is hard to imagine a more vivid example than Charlottetown. This smallest of Canadian provincial capitals (population 34,000) resonates differently in the hearts of different people. Many Canadians see Charlottetown as the birthplace of Canada. Quebecers think of Charlottetown as a great day-trip from Cavendish Beach during their summer holidays. For a growing number of cruise ship tourists, Charlottetown is a great destination to visit on their cruise through the Maritimes.

Prince Edward Battery
Charlottetown does have a rich history in that its first European settlers originated from French held Louisbourg Fortress on Cape Breton Island. They built Port-La-Joye on this site in 1720. It was the first of a succession of events, which led to present-day Charlottetown. Is because the city hosted the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 that would result in the signing of Canada's Confederation that the people here seem rather keen to preserve their built heritage? Or is is because buildings here on this island landscape tend to occupy a more significant surface area of the viewshed than one might perhaps perceive in a more mountainous terrain? Hard to tell. However, Built heritage seems to matter here.
Historic church built with local pink sandstone
The pink sandstone harvested from the cliffs lining Charlottetown's harbour are particularly striking. Sadly, the sandstone is also vulnerable to the climate, often requiring replacement long before the mortar which binds the blocks together into magnificent structures.

One of many eminently walkable streets, downtown Charlottetown
What also works in Charlottetown's favour is that wherever you go, there are trails for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy a sense of place that is found nowhere else in Canada. It is a place for reflection, for discovery and for understanding what makes places and small cities great!