Maps of Prince Edward Island 1798-1834

Just as the Eighteenth Century gave humankind some of the greatest thought, architecture and art, so did it give us the name by which our beloved home is known across the world – Prince Edward Island.

I discussed how this happened in my previous post, and in this one, I want to explore the maps that were produced up to the 1840s to see what new information about the Island they presented, and to look at some of the great changes that were taking place in the world during those years. As Prince Edward Island began to be settled, and began to face the issues of living in a mediaeval feudal system, a need emerged for a new form of government, while the most astonishing revolutionary changes imaginable were taking place in the world of science, technology and politics.

Steam had been harnessed so that waterwheels could be replaced by engines that moved machines in factories, provided transportation on land in the form of railways, and even a few steam-driven road vehicles. The steam engine was also taken to sea, ringing the death knell of millennia of sailboats with their dependence on favourable winds. The speed of travel, on land and on sea increased in ways no one had thought possible. The re-invention of great sewers, not known since Roman times, brought cleaner environments in homes and cities, and  improvements in public health issues. The nature of disease was understood for the first time when Pasteur and others developed the germ theory. Surgery became less risky and painful with the adoption of antiseptic conditions and anaesthetics. Instantaneous communication over vast distances became possible through the invention of telegraphy based on learning how to generate and use electricity. The list goes on, and think, this all happened in the generations chronicled by the maps we will examine.

On Prince Edward Island, roads began to proliferate, and communication improved; fine architecture on a monumental and private scale began to appear; landlords aggressively collected their rents; tenants revolted against the tactics of rent collectors; the colonial government did not adjust to the needs of the times; politicians moved to greater independence in the Legislature, and in the end, the feudal tyranny of the landlord system was abolished. Islanders became proud landowners and began to consider the blandishments put forth by the other British colonies who wanted to unite into an independent country called Canada. What a time it was!


(Some of the information that I present in this post has already appeared in Appendix Five of the book, Samuel Holland: His Work and Legacy on Prince Edward Island, by Earle Lockerby and Douglas Sobey. The Appendix (pp. 185-189) lists and briefly describes a selection of maps that depict the Island exclusively, away from the mainland. I have not been able to find any pictures of the following four maps which creates unfortunate gaps in my narrative. Should I find these maps they will be inserted in the appropriate place in the sequence. They are: Laurie & Whittle 1806; Adlard 1826; Laurie & Whittle 1835 and Wyld 1850.)


As we saw in my previous post, the Ashby map physically marked the creation of a new geographical entity which, in two generations, would leave behind the feudal dreams of British Colonialism, and consider a very significant independence from Britain, as it saw that the only road to future success was self-government and association with similarly governed other colonies. Although the presence of feudalism found on this map – counties, townships, parishes and county towns – would, as a courtesy, remain to this day, along with a very visible connection with the British Crown in the person of the Lieutenant Governor, the Island, as it became called, would strike out on its own.

1798 – Prince Edward Island/ divided into/ Counties & Parishes,/ with the Lots,/ as Granted by Government,/ Exhibiting all the/ New Settlements,/ Roads, Mills/ &c &c., 18.3 x 35 cm. London, Publish’d as the Act directs March 1, 1798, by H. Ashby, King Street, Cheapside. Robertson Library, UPEI.

The great survey of Samuel Holland in 1765 defined, for the first time ever, the shape of Saint John’s Island, and indicated very clearly where settlement in the new colony would take place, subservient to the wishes of the new landlords, who in turn, had to rent to tenants according to set rules.

This map is often called the Stewart map because when in 1806 John Stewart published his book, An Account of Prince Edward Island … , there was no other map available with the new name of the colony on it. It was also pretty much up to date in its representation of Island topography. 

Stewart was a Scottish army officer, Island politician and author, who has the honour of being the Island’s first historian for having published this book. He describes in acerbic detail the political state of the colony in its early years with which he was entangled to the point of indulging in physical violence with his enemies. The book is now appreciated for its descriptions of the natural history of the Island rather than its history.

On the title page reproduced here there is a quotation from the Latin poet Horace – est quadam prodire tenus, si non datur ultra – which means that its a good thing to have come this far if one is not allowed to go further. What is not generally known is that over the centuries this had become the Scottish proverb or saying, “If it will be no better it is well that it be no worse.” Stewart is being clever with his Eighteenth Century wit. He could be referring to the book he has just written, but just as well, it might be a sarcastic comment on the state of Prince Edward Island.


In an earlier post I described in detail my vision, which has been growing for many years, that the Island ceased to be a natural artefact and became a human one when Holland finished his survey. Every square in was accounted for and every settler would obtain a lot with absolute dimensions. Holland also looked at the bigger picture and required that capital towns be laid out in each county according to a grid plan, originally based on Roman military camps, just like the one depicted in this 1726 French engraving. As difficult as it is to comprehend, the only practical guide to establishing new colonies in the wilderness in the Eighteenth Century was to be found in the writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius (81-15 BC), who wrote a treatise, De architectura (On Architecture), a handbook for Roman architects. Today, when you study the history of many European cities, you discover a Roman camp, similar to this one, at the core.

Roman military camps had a large often central core in which were located the military command, a temple to contain the statue of the relevant deity and other buildings to service the legion. This engraving lists all the required facilities based on information found in ancient authors.

In the years following Holland’s survey of 1765, guidebooks for surveyors in the New World who were charged with providing generic town plans were all based on Vitruvius. Governor General Lord Dorchester issued Rules and Regulations for the Conduct of the Land Office Department in 1789 to guide settlement on the banks of Lakes Ontario and Erie which contained versions of the town model similar to this one (Wood, pp. 243-255).


It is another connection we have with the Ancient World. When Charles Morris prepared this plan for the new capital city of Charlottetown for Saint John’s Island in 1768, we see a direct progression from Vitruvius, to classically-educated colonial officials, to Samuel Holland and Charles Morris, the Surveyor General in Halifax. It is also a moment of the deepest significance when the Island artefact was to have a jewel set into it whose form nd divisions would connect directly with practices originating in Roman antiquity. In typical Roman fashion Morris places his capital city right over several major swamps because the site had already been chosen by Holland. He didn’t care. Like the Romans the British could drain any swamp.

1768 – Charles Morris. Detail of a plan for the new city of Charlottetown. Composite from photos taken by Dr. Douglas Sobey in the National Archives at Kew.

The original concept had a central square reserved for the courts and a church. Later, a legislative assembly, a market and the school would be added to the list. In this vision of Empire citizens would be fed nourishing food, fed the fear of the Lord, fed the necessity for Justice and Governance, and educated. There would be need for designs for all these buildings as well as the houses of the citizens that would crowd into the city. This in turn raised the question of what sorts of houses these colonists would erect. Each house, in time, would become another jewel set into the crown that was the colony.


Samuel Holland himself owned a copy of the most popular builders’ manual of the century in which were to be found plans and specifications for every kind of structure that would be needed in the new world.

1749 – Halfpenny, William, A new and Compleat System of Architecture Delineated in a variety of Plans and Elevations of Designs for Convenient and Decorated Houses, … Neatly engraved, and designed by William Halfpenny, Architect, printed for John Brindley, Bookseller to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in New Fleet Street, London, 1749.

It was a quarto book, printed in horizontal format, which today we call landscape, and was full of designs for every class of person. This book circulated in Charlottetown in various places for over 200 years until it was bought at auction in the 1990s and became part of a private collection. The book would remain in print, in numerous editions, well into the Nineteenth Century, and would inspire the population of Britain as well as the settlers in Prince Edward Island. Many houses still stand whose inspiration can be found in this copy of Halfpenny. Take this one, for example. It is the core design of every central plan Georgian house found right across the Island.


Even before the appearance the first map of the Island printed in the new century, this particular austere symmetrical house, the essential shape of what would be known as the Georgian style, was built near the source of fresh water at Spring Park in Charlottetown, by Robert Gray (c.1747 – 1828), a judge, militia officer, politician, and holder of various offices, who, in those years of utter political corruption managed to die with a clean reputation.


Circa 1800-1810 – A Plan of Spring Park in Prince Edward Island/ The Property of Robert Gray Esqr., engraving, 44 x 35 cm, PARO 0642.

The house was surrounded by an estate of considerable size in The Common, which Holland had originally set aside “for public uses” as shared pastureland for residents of the city. The estate was laid out in the English Picturesque style, with the small fields and woods set out as an ornamental park. On special occasions it was opened to the public for festivities. The house survived, in perfect condition, until 1996 when a developer was permitted to demolish it.



The earliest map that I can find of Prince Edward Island in the new century to show you is this one, in the wide regional context, engraved by John Cary in 1811. However, Lockerby and Sobey (p. 187) mention a map, based on the Holland survey, originally published by Laurie & Whittle in 1794 and again in 1806 in The North American Pilot. They viewed it in LAC but I have not been able to find a picture of either in my searches. I will insert it when I find it.


1811 – J. Cary, A/ NEW MAP/ OF/ NOVA SCOTIA, / NEWFOUNDLAND &C./ FROM THE LATEST AUTHORITIES. / By John Cary, Engraver. / 1811/. At the bottom of the map margin, London: Published by J. Cary Engraver &c Map seller No. 181 Strand, April 28, 1811. Engraving colored with wash, 46 x 52 cm. Digital reproduction from the W. K. Morrison Special Collection of the J. B. Hall Library at the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences, WKM-M-183.

It is a simple map of Gaspé, the Maritimes and Newfoundland with vague indications of the major fishing banks. This map is clearly modelled on the late Eighteenth Century maps that were being produced by cartographers such as DesBarres that I discussed in an earlier post. It uses many names from the Desbarres map and even includes his Nova Scotia home, Castle Frederick.

The representation of Prince Edward Island is in the new accurate outline established by Holland and found on the Ashby map. Because of the small scale of the map not a great many place names are indicated on the Island.


The map may not be telling us of the exciting events and personalities in the early decades of the Nineteenth Century but there was lots of activity on the ground, and from the very beginning, the introduction of the most stylistic kind of civic architecture you could ever imagine. The Island Artefact was about to evolve in the most unexpected and fashionable way.


John Plaw (1746-1820) was an architect of the Picturesque, that movement in British architecture where grand scale was reduced to “cottage” proportions, given extremely elegant “rustic” decoration and was set in a small landscape that produced a very pretty view indeed. Plaw wrote 3 books on the subject, Rural Architecture or Designs from the Simple Cottage to the Decorative Villa (1785), Ferme Ornee or Rural Improvements (1785), and Sketches for Country Houses, Villas and Rural Dwellings (1800). He created, on Belle Isle in Lake Windemere – one of the most picturesque spots on earth – a country house based on the massive Hadrianic Pantheon in Rome, miraculously reduced to human scale and proportion. Here is a view of its façade from – what else? – a postcard.

For reasons that are not at all clear – perhaps escaping creditors? – Plaw arrived in Charlottetown in 1810 and energetically set to work to obtain commissions. Almost at once he was hired to produce a map of the city as it looked, and as it was to remain right up into our day. It is a lovely thing, done in coloured inks, showing not only the great central Queens Square, but also four flanking lesser squares, east and west, designed for the pleasure of the population. Plaw also indicated stylistically, at either end of the main square, the spaces intended at the time for a church and courthouse. He would have copied this from the 1768 Morris map shown above.


1810 – 1811 – Plaw, John, PLAN OF CHARLOTTE TOWN/ PRINCE EDWARD/ ISLAND/ NORTH AMERICA/ JOHN PLAW M. S.? / 181?. Manuscript map of Charlottetown drawn with coloured inks. PARO.


Interest in the new capital city and its designated central square – Queens Square – was high because, having remained a stump-filled field with the edge of a large swamp on the north side, the time had come after 42 years of almost total neglect, to erect public buildings, grouped together in the English style, that would meet the needs justice and government, a church for official Anglican worship, a school and a market to feed the city population. Plaw was quick to provide plans for a new Courthouse and Houses of Assembly and this plan was chosen and the building erected in 1811.

1811 – John Plaw, Elevation of the Courts of Justice & Houses of Assembly, J. Plaw Architect, / Charlotte Town 1810. / Wash drawing, PARO.

It was very elegant in its design, having two porticoes and two central wings that created a cruciform plan. Plaw was very fond of this layout and had used it on a church that is still standing in London on Paddington Green. The Charlottetown courthouse was very small, but so was the government, and the need for a courthouse was not yet very great, but the building was extremely elegant. It had a central plan and was entered by a pedimented portico built in the Palladian tradition. In the picturesque style, Plaw played with the classical orders, even creating new designs never seen before. The corners of the building were covered with broad boards or pilasters that were topped, under the eaves, with a flat bracket called a modillion. This simple act was to have a huge impact on the appearance of even simple town and country houses for the next generation.

Plaw’s Courthouse, on the west side of the Square, served its purpose well for 30 years. From time to time, it needed repairs which were conducted by a young Yorkshire builder’s apprentice called Isaac Smith (1795-1871), who arrived in Charlottetown with his brother in 1817 and would dominate architecture almost completely for the next 35 years, introducing his vision of the Greek Revival style, completely different from that found on the Mainland.

Plaw and Smith had three years in which to get to know each other before Plaw’s death in 1820, and speculation will never cease about whether it was the great architect of the Picturesque who inspired, and instructed, Smith into becoming the Island architect of his generation.


1862, August 15 – Lieutenant Trotter from HMS Nile, stereoscopic view of Queen’s Square with the town crier, Trevor Gillingwater Collection.

Here is a fine photograph of Plaw’s Courthouse, dominating Queens Square in spite of its tiny size, as it looked when a Royal Navy cadet training ship called HMS Nile docked in Charlottetown in August of 1862. It was probably on a spy mission to monitor the progress of the American Civil War which had begun the year before. On board was a Lieutenant Trotter who was an avid photographer who had a camera that took stereoscopic views – two identical pictures but from separate lenses – which when looked at with a special viewer gave a 3-D effect to the scene, permitting you to “enter” it. He took many such views in the various ports he visited, and my friend Trevor Gillingwater obtained what remained of his collection. This is one of his Queens Square views, of which there are several, showing the Town Crier ringing his bell and disclaiming the latest news in a loud voice for the benefit of the population.

Plaw’s Courthouse, which after 1855 became the Charlottetown Town Hall for a few years, eventually sank into obscurity, was moved to a new location, and demolished in 1972.


Before he died Plaw was commissioned to build a market for the city where farmers from the country could bring in their produce to sell. This could range from vegetables to live animals. An all-season building was required and Plaw, in pure English tradition, designed a beautiful round temple with Tuscan Doric posts that supported the round veranda that provided both shade and a place to display goods. This design had originated in England in the middle ages and several examples still exist. Unfortunately, Plaw became ill and could not finish it so the young ambitious and clever Isaac Smith, now 6 years in the city, finished the building in 1823.

1860 circa – View of Plaw’s Round Market and Court House from the top of the Colonial Building. From a tinted glass transparency made for a magic lantern. Judge Alley Collection, PARO.

This view of the Market, from a very early photograph taken perhaps in 1860, gives you a feeling of the space around this building, surrounded by hitching posts for all the sellers and shoppers to tether their rigs. Shutters on the outside walls could be opened in season. The whole was capped by a miniature temple that could be reached by a ladder on the roof.


The next map to appear in the new century was Charles Torbett’s map of most of the Maritimes. Torbett’s interest was clearly Nova Scotia but he provides a passable map of PEI with the Holland outline.

1819 Charles W. Torbett & J. G. Toler, MAP/ of the Province of/ NOVA SCOTIA/ Including/ CAPE BRETON Prince Edwards Island AND PART OF/ New Brunswick/ Engraved by C W Torbett/ Compiled from the best Authorities/ and Published by J. G. Toler. / Outline color; 58 x 118 cm, Digital reproduction from the W. K. Morrison Special Collection of the J. B. Hall Library at the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences, WKM-M-189.

As one finds in such regional maps there is an abundance of sounding charts to guide navigation and even information about mail routes on the upper right. Here and there are various helpful notes about geography and tide charts for navigation. The various county lines are dramatically marked with pairs of colours.

Prince Edward Island is given a fair number of place names and an effort has been made to indicate the extent of the road system. This information is largely taken from Ashby’s 1788 map. The map does not provide any new important information about the Island.


Maps and Travel Accounts

At various times, starting in the late Eighteenth Century, various individuals with differing interests visited Prince Edward Island and wrote guidebooks to future settlers. They make very interesting reading, ranging in tone as they do from outright lies to trap the innocent to extremely careful descriptions of what was actually to be found on the Island. My favourite, and the best of the lot, I think, was by Walter Johnstone (fl. 1795–1824). He was a shoemaker in Dumfriesshire, Scotland who was brought up in strict religious training. He was poorly educated but had a deep love of the Bible and a very strong urge to set up and teach Sunday Schools. He married and had four children but still had a strong desire to leave the country and make a new life in which preaching would be a main feature. He sought encouragement from the Scottish Missionary Society which had been newly formed in his area but did not receive the support he hoped for, probably because of the high value set in Scotland on educational qualifications. As a result of this, and, knowing there was a substantial number of Scot emigrants on the Island in need of spiritual support, at the age of 55 he set out on April 19, 1820 for Prince Edward Island. There he hoped to make money by selling some of his possessions, teaching Sunday School and through extensive travel, very thoroughly examine and evaluate the new colony. He crisscrossed the Island a number of times, exploring all areas of settlement except for the poorly settled parts west of Malpeque. He was an acute observer and recorded what he saw in letters to the Rev. John Wightman, the Minister of Kirkmahoe in Dumfriesshire. He wrote 9 letters which he published upon his return to Scotland in October of 1821, and a book of travel sketches, which included narrative not contained in the letters but accompanied by a very valuable map. If you want a sharp picture of what life for all classes of society on the Island at that time was like, read Johnstone’s books, which have been reprinted. You can find the books in the collection assembled by D. C. Harvey listed below.


Here is the lovely Johnstone map, in the post Holland tradition of depicting the Island lying flat on its back in order to include more of it in the paper space available.

1823 – Kirkwood & Son, PRINCE EDWARD/ISLAND/ divided into/ COUNTIES & PARISHES, / With the Lots as granted by Government/ Exhibiting all the/ ROADS, SETTLEMENTS &C./ Engd. By Kirkwood & Son for Johnstone’s Travels in the Island/ in the Years 1820-21. Frontispiece folded in 4 to fit inside the book, Travels/ in/ Prince Edward Island, / Gulf of Saint Lawrence, North America,/ in the years 1820-21/. … Printed for David Brown, Edinburgh, 1823. Size of image 18 x 34.5 cm. R. Porter Collection.

I attach a pdf of my slightly bruised copy of the map, printed on flimsy paper, because its extreme clarity makes it possible to obtain an exact idea of where all the roads are and to which settlements they connect.

1821 Johnstone – Travels


More Regional Maps

At the quarter of the Nineteenth Century a map of the Maritimes by James Wyld appears that finally shows New Brunswick complete with the beginnings of county lines. It is one of those lovely pocket maps where the original engraving is cut into rectangles that are then pasted on linen which can then be folded to pocket size. This had been done rarely for some time but increased in frequency as the century progressed.

1825 – James Wyld, A Map/ of the PROVINCES of/ NEW BRUNSWICK, / and/ NOVA SCOTIA, / Describing/ All the New Settlements Townships &c/ Including also the/ ISLANDS of CAPE BRETON AND PRINCE EDWARD/ BY/ James Wyld/ GEOGRAPHER TO HIS MAJESTY/ & TO H. R. H. The DUKE of York. / Map colored; 65 x 96 cm, folded into 18 x 13 cm pocket map by cutting original in to 32 rectangles mounted on linen. Digital reproduction from the W. K. Morrison Special Collection of the J. B. Hall Library at the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences.

Prince Edward Island is well presented with its county lines clearly marked out and what was considered al the most important settlements legibly indicated at spacious intervals.

While the map does not increase our knowledge of the Island it shows it, for the first time, I believe, in the context of a larger regional whole, which is the Maritime Provinces as we know them today.

(Note: In 1850 Wyld would publish a map of the Island, perhaps the last based directly on the Holland survey as it was engraved. I have not seen it and have been unable to obtain a picture of this map, which can be found in LAC #122325.)


In the same year as the Wyld map there appeared a phenomenal product on the map market. In 1825 Philippe Vandermaelen and Henri Ode embarked on a project to produce a lithographed atlas of the world where the surface of the earth was divided up into suitably sized portions so that they could be detached, trimmed and glued to a huge globe, 7.75 metres in diameter. It sounds fantastic!


1825 – Philippe Vandermaelen and Henri Ode, Amér. Sep. NOUVELLE ÉCOSSE et NOUVEAU BRUNSWICK, Lithograph, 47 x 53 cm, with colour outlines. Vandermaelen’s “Atlas Universel” where all the maps are at the same scale. Each map could be joined to the next and form a globe 7.75 meters in diameter. It was the first lithographed world atlas. Published in Brussels by Philippe Vandermaelen. Digital reproduction from the W. K. Morrison Special Collection of the J. B. Hall Library at the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences” WKM-M-188.

As you can see the segment containing the Maritimes tapers towards the top so that, when trimmed, it could be attached to the surface of the globe and fit neatly with its neighbours on the curved surface. I don’t know if anyone ever went to the huge trouble of working on that scale with scissors and glue, but there you are.

Ile St. Jean, as it is labelled, more or less follows the Holland outline with most of the placename interest limited to the north shore. There is even a neat inscription, which I have never seen the likes of in any map of the Island so far, that describes how the north shore tides are more dramatic in their impact than the protected ones in Northumberland Strait. Is it advice to mariners, or something else? Here is a translation of that inscription above the Island: The Island of Saint John is now Prince Edward Island. On this side of the island the tide is very exposed to the winds that is why it is irregular, but on the Northumberland Strait side it is not so violent, and the tides range from 5 to 9 feet.



The first lithographed map of Prince Edward Island?

In the National Map Collection at LAC in Ottawa is a map given the accession number 14400 (Lockerby and Sobey p. 189). It is a huge map, 24 x 54 inches, and is described as a lithograph by the firm of William Day, an extremely prolific printmaker who specialised in the new lithographic process. This was a complete departure from engraving and involved drawing the design on a polished block of limestone with a greasy pencil. The outline absorbed an oily ink and was then easily transferred to paper. It was cheap and editions of prints could be rolled off printing presses at great speed. (I will discuss this process in more detail in my last map post, that on Meacham’s Atlas).

I have never seen the Ottawa copy of this map, neither have I seen any other original copy of it. I know it only from a photostat copy inscribed in 1960 to Premier Walter R. Shaw that is now in the provincial archives. It is mostly very clear, and one can easily read the place names on the map. At the bottom of the “Scale of Miles” table can be seen, very faintly, W Day, lithr. To the King, 17, Gate S.


1832 William Day, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND/ A PLAN of the ISLAND ST. JOHN in the GULF oF ST. LAWRENCE in the PROVINCE of NOVA SCOTIA in NORTH AMERICA from a Survey made by Saml. Holland Esquire in 1765. / WITH ADDITIONS TO 1832. 138 x 64 cm, Inscription below Scale of Miles, W Day, lithr. To the King, 17, Gate S. Photostat copy given to Premier Walter R. Shaw, dated March 10, 1960. PARO PEI 1174.

1832 William Day – Prince Edward Island

William Day must have had access to a copy of the Holland map that was made from the great original in order to get all the detailed township information that Holland himself had provided. A possible source that comes to mind is the John Lewis copy, that I discussed in a previous post, and which has all the Holland data in a very large horizontal chart spread along the top of the map space.

1765 [Samuel Holland] and John Lewis, A Plan of the Island of St. John in the Province of Nova Scotia, MR 1/1785, 4’ 10” by 2’ 4”, The National Archives, Kew.

Day must also have referred to the printed maps produced by people like Dury because he includes completely outmoded and fantastical information about settlements that never existed, such as Bessborough Grove, Maryborough Town and Fairford Grove in Lot 31. Similar examples of imaginary places can be found in other Queens County lots.

What is really interesting in this map is the development in the road system it shows, the increased number of grist- and sawmills, churches and schools. Little dots representing houses now begin to give a credible image of village clusters. This map helps form a new topographical image of the Island and allows us to see the settlements as we move from place to place. One of the settlements always grabs my attention, because it is my hometown.

Quite incredibly Day has obtained information about the existence of Tignish in Lot 1, that settlement founded furtively by Acadians in 1799, who had decided to seek greener, rent-free fields, away from those provided by their Malpeque landlord.

By 1832 the name Tignish appears for the first time in maps, and will become the village, near the shore, where two churches will be built in 1801 and 1826. By the late 1850s the village will move inland due to the machinations of the extraordinary parish priest, Peter McIntyre. He wisely bought hundreds of acres, and moving inland, built a third church – an architectural marvel – in 1857-60, of local-made brick in the Gothic Revival style, designed by the celebrated New York architect Patrick Keely. It was the first true Gothic Revival structure on the Island.

It is here that the village as we know it today developed, and where the railway terminus would be built a few years later. It was here also that American entrepreneurs, the Myricks, seduced by the perfection of the harbour at the Tignish Run, bought up fishing rights and set up a fishery operation that enslaved the population with the credit-based economy of their stores for a hundred years.


There were other people at this time who were interested in the progress being made on the Island as a colony. A small, but very interesting map was published in his book, British America, in 1832 by John McGregor.

1832 – MAP/ of/ PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND/ in the/ GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE/ for/ McGREGOR’S BRITISH AMERICA. / Map from John McGregor, British America, 2v., Edinburgh and London, 1832; 2nd ed., 1833. Engraved image, 11 x 17 cm. R Porter Collection.

McGregor had already published a book on the Maritime Colonies in 1828. He travelled extensively on the Island in his position of High Sheriff and would have visited many of the communities that appear on his map. Interestingly, Tignish appears for the second time in one year. One cannot help but wonder why he chose to include it except perhaps to acknowledge that there was a sizable French and Irish settlement in Lots 1 and 2 and landlords had perhaps begun clamoring for their unpaid rents.


In 1834 an 1827 map from the report of the Emigration Committee was published and dealt with all the British possessions in North America.

1834 – BRITISH POSSESSIONS/ IN/ NORTH AMERICA, / from the Report/ OF THE/ EMIGRATION COMMITTEE/ of/ 1827. / CORRECTED TO 1834/ Engraved by S. Hall 18 Bury Strt. Bloomsby. 35 x 18cm. Publisher H. Ashby. Robertson Library UPEI.

There is a tiny representation of Prince Edward Island depicting a small number of communities and lines that hint at the road system. It is not an important map but the year of its production, 1834, was important for Prince Edward Island.



More Noble Architecture – and Isaac Smith dominates the Scene

Starting in 1769 when Walter Patterson was Governor of Saint John’s Island, and continuing with the series of Lieutenant Governors, starting with Edmund Fanning in 1786, there was no official residence for the governors. It was not until the time of Sir Aretas Young (1831-35) – a wait of 65 years!! – that a suitable residence, Government House, was built on an estate thoughtfully set aside by Lieutenant Governor Edmund Fanning (1799-1804). Isaac Smith, who we have discussed above in relation to John Plaw, was now the chief architect/builder on the Island and he and his associates got the contract to build a suitable house for the governors. (I will discuss Smith and his work more fully in a later post.)

Smith is somewhat of an enigma in that we have no idea of where he received any kind of training that would have qualified him as an architect. Yet, from the early 1820s until his departure in 1848 to do missionary work in Nova Scotia, he designed and oversaw the construction of over 20 important public buildings and churches from Saint Eleanor’s to Rustico to Charlottetown and Georgetown.

In 1834 work began on Government House that was set in an 80+ acre estate that soon became called Fanningbank, named after Governor Fanning, who had the foresight to create, in the style of an English country house, a suitable home for the Governor, adjacent to the city. The style chosen was predictably Georgian in the Palladian style with a great Ionic portico soaring above a veranda in the Tuscan Doric style that encircled three sides of the house. This drawing by David Webber shows what it must have looked like when it was finished.

The presence of verandas on the House has been discussed for years and no consensus has been arrived at. I think that it is entirely possible that they were inspired by the circular veranda on John Plaw’s market building that Smith completed in 1823, or Belmont, a grand estate in East Royalty, that had been built early in the century. Both had the stylistically obligatory Tuscan Doric columns on the ground level.


A New Legislative Assembly and Courthouse is built.

Smith would go on to crown his building career, and dramatically change the topography of the city of Charlottetown by building, from 1842 to 1848 a structure to accommodate the provincial legislature, which had the typical British upper and lower chamber, and all the other functions, including justice, that had formerly taken place in Plaw’s 1811 Courthouse. The Plaw/Smith Market was moved from the centre of the Square and Province House was built out of Pictou sandstone from Nova Scotia. The original plan of the building, which was in a very austere Greek Revival style had real Greek Doric columns flanking the entrance. When the light shone on these massive fluted columns the effect must have been most impressive in a massive Greek way.

Sadly, these were soon put into eternal shade when the design was modified greatly after it was decided that North and South porticoes were required to give the building more dignity and flair, and, to balance this out, side wings or pavilions were added as well.

In this watercolour below, one of perhaps half a dozen painted very badly by an amateur during the period of construction, we see Province House approaching completion. In spite of its awkwardness, the watercolour has charm and gives you a pleasant and surprising impression of the space of Queen’s Square, with its new Anglican church, Province House, the Market, the shed for the steam-driven fire engines and, on the edge, the side of the Plaw Courthouse. As a sociological aside, note that the Mi’kmaq peddlers are not allowed a place in the roomy market, but must sell their wares well away from polite society.

If you take a copy of this picture and stand next to the cannon barrel on the corner and Grafton and Queen Streets, you will have a moment of revelation as the scene appears again before you.

1846-48 – Colonial Building and Queens Square, looking southeast from Queen Street, watercolour – Christie’s Auction Company, sold Sept 2010.


This detail from the 1863 Lake map, which will be the subject of a future post, helps you place this landscape into the street plan context. It exudes dynamism.


Thus, we finish the first part of the story of maps of Prince Edward Island in the first thirty or so years of the Nineteenth Century. It is a story bursting at the seams with excitement as the new colony manifests itself with maps that indicate the nature of the new settlements and the astonishing variety and quality of architecture that adorns the topographic landscape. The Island Artefact has experienced extraordinary modifications and embellishments.

Beginning in the late 1830s, the decades of ’40s and ’50s in the area of map-making would be dominated almost completely by the great hydrographic survey of all the waters from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Captain Henry Bayfield. He produced extremely accurate charts, ascetic in their presentation, that would continue to be used into the Twentieth Century. His wife and daughter, in their own particular ways, also contributed to our knowledge of landscape, topography and architecture in the 1850-60 period. The combined Bayfield contribution – a phenomenon! – will be the subject of the next post.

This period was also the time of the bursting forth of Romanticism in Europe, when music, painting and sculpture, architecture and especially literature broke away from the order and restraint of classicism to the irrationality of emotion-driven creativity. At the same time, inspired by the writings and lifestyle of people like the poet Lord Byron, freedom from tyranny in the form of popular revolution, rapidly fired the imagination of ordinary people who took to the streets in popular uprisings so intense that they toppled monarchies.

These European uprisings of the people would in time inspire similar aspirations, and even revolts, as the settlers of the colony of Prince Edward Island fought the threats and greed of their landlords, and the absence of meaningful representation in the colonial government.



Bayfield, Helen, Album of Photographs, 19 x 2.5 cm, 121 pp, stitched, circa 1858-65. Bound photocopy made by Reg Porter. Property of the DuVernet family. (Album subsequently donated to the Heritage Foundation, which placed it in the Provincial Archives where it was taken apart and stored in archival paper sleeves.)

Beck, Callum Vere, The Protestant-Catholic Divide on Prince Edward Island, Canada: Its Creation, Growth and Resolution, Submitted for the Degree of PhD in Religious Studies, Open University, May.2010. Pdf courtesy The British Library through EThOS.

Beck – Protestant Catholic Divide on PEI

Bumstead, J. M., Land, Settlement, and Politics on Eighteenth Century Prince Edward Island, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Kingston and Montreal, 1987.

Bumstead, J. M., The People’s Clearance: Highland Emigration to British North America 1770 – 1815, Edinburgh University Press, The University of Manitoba Press, Edinburgh, 1982.

Buote, François J. And Buote, Gilbert, L’Impartial: Numero Illustré – Souvenir de la Celebration du 100me. Anniversaire de la Fondation de Tignish, L’Impartial, Tignish, 1899.

Campey, Lucille H., Planters and Paupers: English Settlers in Atlantic Canada, A Natural Heritage Book, A Member of the Dundern Group, Toronto, 2010.

Cran, Emily Elizabeth, Success on the Edge: Portrait of a Small Town, New World Publishing, Halifax, 2000.

Douglas, R., Place Names of Prince Edward Island with Meanings, F. C. Acland, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, Ottawa, 1925.

Edelson, S. Max, Colonizing St. John Island: A History in Maps, internet site:

Edelson, S. Max, The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence, Harvard University Press, 2017.

Greenhill, Basil, and Giffard, Ann, Westcountrymen in Prince Edward’s Isle: A Fragment of the Great Migration, David & Charles, University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Harvey, D. C. editor, Journeys to the Island of St. John or Prince Edward Island 1775-1832, The MacMillan Company of Canada Limited, Toronto, 1955.

Hornsby, Stephen J., Surveyors of Empire: Samuel Holland, J. W. F. Des Barres and the Making of the Atlantic Neptune, Carleton Library Series 221, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 2011.

Kershaw, Kenneth A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, Vol, III – 1703-1799, First Edition, Second Impression, Alexander Books, Ancaster, Ontario, 2002.

Lockerby, Earle and Sobey, Douglas, Samuel Holland: His Work and Legacy on Prince Edward Island, Island Studies Press, University of Prince Edward Island, Holland College, Charlottetown, 2015.

MacIntyre, Wendell, Editor, The Abegweit Review (A Scottish Issue), Fall 1995 – Spring 1996, Volume 8, No. 2, Published by the Friends of St. Andrews Press, printed by Kwik-Kopy Printing, Charlottetown, 1996.

MacMillan, Rev John C., The Early History of the Catholic Church on Prince Edward Island, Evenement Printing Company, Quebec, 1905.

Macnair, Andrew, Anne Rowe and Tom Williamson, Dury and Andrews’ Map of Hertfordshire: Society and Landscape in the Eighteenth Century, Windgather Press, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2016.

Naftel, William D., Prince Edward’s Legacy: The Duke of Kent in Halifax: Romance and Beautiful Buildings, Formac Publishing Company Limited, Halifax, 2005.

Pedley, Mary Sponberg, The Commerce of Cartography: Making and Marketing Maps in Eighteenth-Century France and England, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005.

Porter, Reginald, Government House and the Fanningbank Estate: A Guidebook, The Friends of the Gatehouse Cooperative, Charlottetown, 2015.

Rayburn, Alan, Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island, Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Ottawa, 1973.

Reps, John W., Views and Viewmakers of Urban America: Lithographs of Towns and Cities in the United States and Canada, Notes on the Artists and Publishers, and a Union Catalogue of their Work, 1825-1925, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1984.

Robertson, Ian Ross, editor, The Prince Edward Island Land Commission of 1860, Acadiensis Press, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1988.

Robertson, Ian Ross, The Tenant League of Prince Edward Island, 1864-1867: Leasehold Tenure in the New World, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1996.

Rogers, Irene L., Charlottetown: The Life in its Buildings, The Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown, 1983.

Stewart, John Esq., An Account of Prince Edward Island, In the Gulph of St. Lawrence, North America. Containing Its Geography, a description of its different Divisions, Soil, Climate, Seasons, Natural Productions, Cultivation, Discovery, Conquest, Progress and present State of the Settlement, Government, Constitution, Laws, and Religion, Folding map by Ashby 1798, 33 x 17 cm, W. Winchester and Son, Strand, London, 1806.

Turner, Orsamus, The Pioneer Settler upon the Holland Purchase, and His Progress, Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 425-435, Oxford University Press, 1975.

Webber, David, A Thousand Young Men: The Colonial Volunteer Militia of Prince Edward Island, 1775-1874, Prince Edward Island Museum & Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown, 1990.

Wood, J. David, “Grand Design on the Fringes of Empire: New Towns for British North America”, Canadian Geographer, Volume XXVI, Issue 3, pp. 243-255, September 1982.