Meacham’s ATLAS Part 4/4 – Art, Architecture and Landscape

The Prince Edward Island atlas is embellished with 163 lithographed views of various Island buildings, farmsteads, commercial establishments, churches, and broad rural landscape. Among those topographical categories are works of art, at a minuscule scale, that display extraordinary skill in presenting very ordinary rural scenes with compositional genius.

The Artists

At present, we know virtually nothing about the artists Meacham employed in his various projects. Looking closely at the 163 views in the atlas it is easy to see different hands in the composition of the pictures, some just adequate and others very skilled. Throughout the writing of these posts on Meacham’s atlas I only came across the name of one artist, a person who had just died after a life of violence and high adventure. The Examiner of March 2, 1883, on page 2, tells us this incredible story.

Patrick Cunningham appears to have kept extremely unsavory company, and may have been a member of an extreme Irish nationalist group called the Irish Invincibles who, on May 6, 1882, armed with knives, in Phoenix Park, Dublin, murdered Lord Cavendish, who was Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and Thomas Burke, the Permanent-Undersecretary. One wonders if Cunningham was connected to, or was a member of the Fenian organisation in North America. For more on the associates of this atlas artist, check out this site.


The Views in the Atlas

This collection of Island scenes could be a textbook for an introductory course in Island topography, for, not only do the various pictures show us the most up-to-date architecture – domestic and commercial – in their landscapes, but also everything that came before 1880 for a hundred years. Thus, we can see the earliest home of the earliest British Colonial settlers – the central chimney house – in the landscape with its buildings and surrounding vegetation.

We can use the farm illustrations to reconstruct a century of evolution in clearing away the forest, the establishment of field systems marked with hedgerows, and even see a progression of house types from the first log cabin to the most fashionable Italianate architecture of the 1870s. All the barns and sheds, constructed for specific purposes, are also visible and identifiable.

Various commercial buildings in their setting can also be studied, from the ubiquitous saw- and grist mills to the latest development in food processing – the lobster canning factory. Take, for example, this view of the Cairns lobster factory, which once stood in Lot 64 just ten minutes down the road from where I live. It was a new enterprise and in the Examiner of 28 November 1877, we read the following:

We will now move on to the White Sands, where we have our esteemed friend, John Cairns, Esq. (who has been for several years past foreman at the Beech Factory and well known for his many gentlemanly qualities), opening up a large canning establishment of his own, having one large building already up and busy constructing another, which, when completed, will be about one hundred and forty feet long.

The factory was situated right on the edge of Northumberland Strait, in White Sands, just east of Guernsey Cove. There is an enormous amount of information which can be gleaned from this tiny 31 x 9 cm lithograph found on page 150 of the atlas.

The Cairns homestead is in the top left corner of the view. It is a typical two bay centre plan house with two chimneys. Such houses were built all over the Island from the late Eighteenth Century on. Soon, to bring light to the upstairs landing, centre dormers would be built. Despite their evident wealth, the Cairns have not modernised their home. The kitchen wing might well be the original log cabin of the first settlers.

The factory is a complicated arrangement of buildings, logically arranged to accommodate the canning process. Water, required in large quantities for various processes, appears to have been provided by a stream flowing from a pond to the west of the property. It is carefully indicated on the Lot map and is still draining onto the beach today. In a tiny cove, a primitive seasonal wharf allowed fishing boats to unload their catch where it was taken to the huge boilers to be cooked. After cooling the lobsters were taken to the room where the shelling took place and the lobster meat sorted. Next, the meat was moved to yet another room where it was packed in tin-soldered cans containing the various grades required by the market. After being sealed and boiled, the cans were given a colour lithographed label – very fancy – like this one from a lobster factory in Tignish.

This kind of flashy label was found all along the Atlantic seaboard, and came off American lithographic presses. Before the coming of the railways lobster had been so plentiful that it was used for fertiliser in the fields (Luzer). The lime in the shells sweetened the ground and made it more fertile. Lobster became popular for the first time in the 1870s when, either tinned or boiled, it was used in American railway dining cars to feed the passengers. It quickly became popular and the desire for this new seafood spread to big city restaurants where it became the expensive delicacy it still is today.

The finished product was then moved and stored in the warehouse next to the road that ran behind the factory complex. From there the lobster was sent in crates to the railway depot, and to various ports, where it would be shipped to its far destinations.

It is quite easy to locate the Cairns factory on the Map of Lot 64. To carefully accommodate the data of the Cairns factory, Allen the surveyor had to break through the lined edge of the map and allow the factory to pour into the margin. The White Sands Road ended at an intersection where there were two churches, Roman Catholic and Wesleyan Methodist. From there it went north to Murray River or east to Guernsey Cove. It is worth noting that there are two lime kilns that flank the Cairns factory, and it is probable that all the lobster shells were processed to extract lime, which was a rare commodity on an island with no access to limestone which was vital to make mortar for brick and stonework. Although Prince Edward Island is most familiar with Nova Scotia stone in the form of its fine buff-coloured sandstone out of which Province House was built, Nova Scotia also has considerable deposits of limestone which could, in Meacham’s time, be transported to a major port such as Pictou and carried to the island in barges where it could be burnt in local kilns.

The Cairns factory was located in a shallow cove with a view of a headland in Guernsey Cove. That headland is very clearly drawn in the little lithograph and can still be seen today in this view of the former site of the factory.

I do not yet have a history of the Cairns factory nor know how long those buildings occupied that site. Traces were still visible in the 1935 aerial photograph (see below) and as well as in a photo taken in 1958. Today everything is gone. If you examine the low cliff face you will find that its surficial geology is composed entirely of glacio-fluvial deposits – esker, a kame complex and a peat bog covered by salt marsh (Frankel, Map 1208A).

There was nothing in the geology of the factory site that would preserve any of it from complete obliteration as the action of the sea dissolved hundreds of metres of cliff and the land behind it. Whatever was there is now completely under the waters of Northumberland Strait.

There is interesting and tantalising evidence of how the Cairns lobster factory site looked in 1935 when, for the first time, almost all the Island was photographed in its first aerial survey. This is what the area looked like at that time.

1935 White Sands, detail of Flightline 5347, Photo 19 – National Air Photo Library

More research is required to interpret the various parts of this air photo correctly, but Harry Holman (personal communication) wondered if the farm above the shore factory could be the original Cairns home which, in the process of foreshortening the view for artistic purposes, was made to appear to be quite close to the factory by the artist. The perspective arrangement of the composition could easily produce that compression of space.

This contemporary Google Maps satellite view of the area we have been examining shows a shoreline very similar to the Meacham map, but it is all an illusion. The nature of the geology of the area was such that the coastline eroded inward for a huge distance at more or less the same rate.

When you visit the site today you walk, at low tide, on a lovely sandy beach interspersed with many red sandstone boulders rounded by the glacial rivers as they furiously crushed, shaped, and polished everything they absorbed in their continental movements.


Meacham’s picture of Cairn’s factory as a work of historical art.

This tiny, 31 x 9 cm lithograph, because of its high artistic quality, deserves not only to be studied as a topographical record, as I have done above, but also as a work of art that is part of a tradition that goes back to the Renaissance of the Fifteenth Century that was born and evolved in Italy.

In the early Fifteenth Century, two Florentine architects, Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), applied a geometric framework to be used in the composition of pictures that changed the course of art for all time. Using a horizontal format, they drew a line parallel to the base that was the height of a person (3 braccia – an ancient measure) standing at the very front of the picture. This was called the horizon line. Along the base they inserted a grid using one braccia as the unit. A point on the horizon line was chosen and called the vanishing point, where distant objects on the horizon vanish from human sight. Lines called orthogonals were connected from the base grid to the vanishing point, and from a point outside the frame, using the same geometrical system, lines were connected to the base grid, intersecting the orthogonals and creating transversals that diminished. All this created a framework in which landscape, architecture and people could be inserted in such a way that they were reduced to their proper scale in distance, and so were in perspective. From this time on artists learned to construct compositions in this manner and the general effect had the accuracy of a modern photograph, that captures everything in perspective as the human eye sees it.

There was always a problem with the vanishing point in the creation of a picture. This tiny early experiment, now in a museum in Berlin, plays nervously with the vanishing point left uncovered. Heavy architecture frames the composition while our eye travels to the sea, articulated with ships in sail. It suggests an arrival – or a departure – but little else inspired by a story or an event.

Quickly, in practice, the vanishing point was covered over, either at the base line of the picture, or somewhere in the vast space created by the lines of perspective. This little painting, one of several to survive from the early 1400s, shows a perfect perspective exercise. The paving in the town square reproduces the underlying lines of the perspective while a round temple occupies the middle ground, obliterating the vanishing point and looking splendid in its own space.

The artist who drew Cairn’s factory for Meacham had obviously received professional training and constructed his composition by placing the lobster factory in the middle ground, blocking the uncomfortable vanishing point completely. He created three compressed planes in the depth of the picture that are rational, and which allow you to move about with the figures working with the lobster traps in the foreground. Wanting more, you can move into the complicated lobster factory itself, and even cross the mostly hidden road and visit the Cairns house. It is situated on a small rise in the ground that runs across the whole picture space to a headland with its view to Northumberland Strait on the right.

This device of introducing a wider landscape that the main interest of the picture obscures is also a Renaissance perspective trick. In the circa 1480 Giovanni Bellini painting in the Frick Museum in New York (above right), showing the moment when Saint Francis receives the stigmata (the wounds of Christ), a far landscape in the left background not hidden by the main subject is revealed in detail, despite its tiny scale. Meacham’s artist did the same thing in placing the Cairns home in the upper right of the lithograph.

Meacham’s artist was also familiar with more early perspective conventions, one of which was to have multiple vanishing points in the same picture to create different points of interest. One of the loveliest – perhaps the loveliest – part of the Cairns factory view is the glimpse we get of Northumberland Strait, with various boats – in perspective! – sailing towards Nova Scotia.

In 1641 the French Baroque painter Claude Lorraine (1600-82), one of two great landscape artists (the other was his contemporary Nicolas Poussin) painted one of his sailing-off-into-the-sunset views, a subject for which he was famous. In a vague generalised way where the story was subjugated to the architecture and seascape, he painted the Embarkation of Saint Ursula (a mediaeval legend) that is now the pride and joy of the National Gallery in London. Our hearts are drawn not to the noble round temple on the left, or the little ant people scurrying about, but to the glorious view of the sun setting on the water, silhouetting ships against the sky. And this is exactly what Meacham’s artist has done at the top of page 150 of the Prince Edward Island atlas!

For a student of composition in art Meacham’s atlas is an extremely important resource for the study of topographical art revealing aspects not only of its date of publication but of the century that came before. If I were still in my long past Art History teaching days, I could well picture myself teaching a semester course called “The Art in Meacham’s The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island.”


More painterly views

There are a few more vignettes in the atlas that deserve a closer look and could perhaps to be considered as sketches for larger works in oil or watercolour. Remember that you can always find the precise location of each of these views by checking the Lot map in the atlas, and in many cases, stand in the precise location from which the artist composed his view. The house itself might still be standing!


Brave is the artist who will employ the basic central vanishing point as the subject of his painting, yet this is exactly what this one has done in portraying Rupert Donald’s house on the Malpeque Road. The road divides the property in two and so the country road has become the main feature of this composition.

The elegant 1860s centre gable house is enclosed by an ornamental fence and young trees mask the view of the barn from the sitting room window. The barnyard, a hive of activity, is also fenced off from the road, and these two lines of receding fences increase the intensity of the single vanishing point arrangement. It should be a disaster but somehow you are drawn by the evening light, along with the cows and sheep returning home, down the road, into a world of calm, peaceful rural life.

The only other view in the atlas that dares to use the central vanishing point as the main element of its composition is Thomas Tanton’s farm at St. Eleanors. Certain details alter our perception of the scene very dramatically. Yes, we can still join the farmer with his cows in the foreground and walk down the road peacefully – but wait! The peace is gone, and a noisy, frightening steam locomotive is about to cross the road, probably on its way to nearby Miscouche. As well as the fenced off yard and fields that increase the rate at which our eye travels into the scene, there are now telegraph lines, disturbing the rustic quality of the place, which brings you the viewer into a specific moment in 1880.

Gone forever is the assured rustic serenity of past years. We have moved into the modern world and, increasingly, such views will be become commonplace. New technology is taking over the ancient landscape.

But the glory of farm life in its purest form can still be seen in other views such as this one that plays clever perspective games. Mr. Howard is obviously proud of his huge barn as it dominates the left side of the view, forming a backdrop for the new orchard which has been recently planted. This was the time when orchards became an important economic asset to the Island economy because of the easy and rapid transportation of the fruit provided by the new railway system.

The artist makes us look across the busy road, across hedge and fence, to see the property in a formal prosperous setting. The Howard house is a large centre gable structure decorated in the popular romantic Gothic Revival style of the 1850s. The gable window has a pointed crowning element, and the roof crests are crowned with pinnacles! In the centre of the picture, in the direction of the vanishing point, we are given a view of cattle in the pasture, but it is on the right that our eyes are allowed to soar over hundreds of acres of cleared fields that extend to the far horizon, kept in order by a system of fences aligned to compass points, as the Holland survey of the previous century had intended.


George Anderson in New London is extremely proud of his new house in the Italianate style. It has been built onto the original house, of the centre gable variety, which has now become the kitchen wing. The drive circles to the front door where a horse and cart is waiting, while a lady, riding side saddle, moves to the left of the view, in the direction of a woman seated on a rustic cane bench, very popular at that time, placed in the shady grounds in front of the house. Strollers point at some activity at the harbour with its lighthouse, which leads our eye to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence horizon.

This composition can be criticized in several ways, especially its extreme heaviness on the left side, compared to the space, the air, and the open sea on the right. But in a clever way the artist, who, after all, was probably instructed to paint this precise view by the client, allows a central vanishing point to occur but then quickly effaces its demands by placing three large trees in the immediate foreground, thus creating two pictures for the price of one and saving his artistic neck.

A more complicated and drivingly powerful composition is found in the view of William Richard’s house in Biddeford in Lot 12. Here there is a road running diagonally to the harbour where boats are waiting to be loaded with the contents of the very heavily laden carts that are moving along the road. The arrangement of the undistinguished Georgian-style house, with all the barns and sheds leading up to it, followed by a group of warehouses that go down to the water, creates a very energetic progression to the boats, paralled by the busy road that runs in front. This activity is  slowed down by the rustic simplicity seen in the triangle on the lower right, with grazing cows oblivious to the activity of a man and a boy trying to catch a prancing recalcitrant horse. Mr. Richards quite probably instructed the artist to make sure that viewers knew that his prosperous mercantile world was an active one.


Sherwood Cottage, the home of Peter MacNutt in Darnley (which I visited and recorded in its abandoned state) was an austere centre gable house with very elaborate Gothic Revival barge boards on the eaves, and a new technological innovation! – lightening rods mounted on the roof. Progress was everywhere in 1880.

In the garden an animated game of croquet – a very fashionable activity introduced from France in the 1860s and now the prerogative of the middle class – is taking place while farmers stop on the road to gossip. This is another of those divided compositions, obviously requested by the client, even at the expense of obscuring the elegance of the house. The glorious view of Darnley Basin had to appear, and, to animate the foreground and create more depth, the artist introduced a scene of haymaking.


Panoramic Views of the Countryside

Most views in Meacham’s atlas are of farms in the countryside. These views are of great use in the study of architectural and garden history, presenting us with accurate documents of house styles and the way in which gardens, carefully fenced off, are filled with the latest fashion in trees, such as the Lombardy poplar, the arrangements of flower beds, and the shrubs that provide the middle accents in the space.

There are, however, larger panoramas that provide us with much information about the way the land has been cleared, the survival of woodlots, the arrangement of the fields and patterns in planting and fencing.

One such view is Melrose Cottage, the farm of John Sutherland at Park Corner in Lot 20. The view has been drawn from a medium bird’s eye view so that we can see not only the foreground, filled with energetic agricultural activity, but the main road that provides the transition to the middle ground where the house and barns are located, and far beyond that, the hilly country that reaches to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

There is a very complicated arrangement of barns that terminate on the right in a large forge, something unusual in a private dwelling, even a 300-acre farm, as the description proudly tells us. The house is screened from the road not by big deciduous trees as you might expect, but by a row of Lombardy poplars which had become extremely popular in North America when the Italianate style in domestic architecture had become the rage. Sutherland’s house is not Italianate but harkens back to the centre gable style of the 1860s. Its spirit however comes from the Romantic style of the 1840s and ‘50s when highly eclectic designs for country houses were published by the American Andrew Jackson Downing, such as his The Architecture of Country Houses, which appeared in 1850, the year of his tragic death in a river boat accident. This book, and others like it in that period, is filled with designs for Gothic Revival houses,  as well as Tudor, Swiss, Norman, bracketed style, Romanesque, and Italianate styles, to name a few. Downing’s book changed the face of architecture in North America, leading to the abandonment of the colonial Georgian styles in favour of many other historic styles, reduced to country house size and designed to be decorated with wooden, not stone, architectural ornamentation.

Melrose Cottage is a wonderful example of the pointed or Gothic Revival style, with heavy looping bargeboards decorating the eaves and all the roof crests decorated with Gothic pinnacles. This is the house as I first saw it. It subsequently went into a state of considerable decay, was bought, and partly restored, and kept appearing on the market. I have no idea of its present status, but it is of the greatest importance in the history of Island architecture.


The Clearing of the Land

The Meacham views are of the greatest interest to those who study the history of Prince Edward Island forests. Several of them, which I include here, give us a very clear idea of how the process of clearing took place and what the first farms of the early settlers looked like. The property of John McRae on the New Glasgow Road in Wheatley River has been beautifully illustrated with a bird’s eye view taken from a point high enough to depict the hilly country at the rear of the property. It is the only picture of its kind in Meacham.

The farm itself is still quite small and very little land has been cleared. However, it is productive enough to produce a good crop of grain and there is lots of pasture for cows and horses. The most telling part of the drawing is on the right side of the picture, in the forested area, where the early stages of land clearing, with many trees cut to the ground, can be seen. It is a picture of determined progress.


Another property, also seen from a drmatically high angle, is the farm and mill property of James Elliott and other members of his family. It is a beehive of activity and the complicated view has been composed with a great deal of thought and cleverness. Your attention is first captured by the huge mixed forest that occupies the top right quarter of the view. At the upper edge there appears to be land clearing going on with many trees cut down. The left portion of the picture is all cultivate farmland, with large fields neatly fenced off. It was Doug Sobey who brought this particular scene to my attention years ago when he was writing his comprehensive history of Island forests.

Having been captivated by the panorama we move down to the base of the composition. Here we are overcome by signs of progress that crowd into the foreground. Before we are allowed to approach the Elliott property, we are overcome by a field of tall grain being harvested not by the traditional scythe, but by a modern horse-drawn machine, of the kind that was manufactured on the Island. Men on the right are raking up the last stalks that have escaped being tied up into the neat stooks clustered together. Only then is your eye allowed to travel to the railway line, where a train, belching smoke, approaches with several cars in tow. They are about to go over the braced wooden bridge that goes over the mill stream. And only then does the artist permit you to jump the tracks to the middle ground where the mill, obviously the most important feature of the property, is in full production. The house with its barns is given little importance and is placed in a strong diagonal at the back of the middle ground, on rising land.

This is the moment to introduce you to a little-known feature of Meacham’s promotional activities in selling the atlas. For a small sum the picture of your property would be pulled off the lithographic stone and sent to you elegantly framed. A small number of these framed views have survived, and this one of the Elliott properties is owned by Arnold Smith, who kindly allowed me to photograph it.

The drawing is small, only 12 inches wide, but its composition is so powerful and packed with interrelated detail that it creates a powerful impression of complicated prosperity.  Arnold can take you to the very spot where this picture was drawn and point out buildings seen in the view that are still standing. Such is the stability of the Island historical landscape.

There is another view related to the one we have just examined, and it is Clyde Mills, the farm and mill of William Bagnall and Sons in New Glasgow. It is a far more placid view, free of the furious activity of the grain combine, the roaring train and noisy spillway of the mill stream seen in the Elliott scene.

The land has been largely cleared and vast acres are filled with harvest and grazing animals. On the left foreground is an ell-shaped house which at that time was becoming very fashionable. On the right is a quite grand Georgian style 2.5 storey house probably the first major family home after the period of settling in a small cabin.


Progress was changing the Island at a rapid rate when Meacham’s artists did their fascinating drawings of the evolving landscape. Increasingly you see appearing the proud evidence of progress and growth. The fields are all cleared and fenced, the roads are greatly improved and maintained at the local level, shipbuilding has crested, and lime is being burnt to supply the brick building industry which is also cresting at this time.

The property of Wesley Myers at Victoria has begun to take on the quality that we associate with Victorian prosperity – improved transportation and new manufactures intruding into, and modifying forever, the rural landscape of the first colonists.


Studying these remarkable small works of lithographic art that document settlement and development in the past and present of Prince Edward Island is a happy task that could go on for post after post in this blog. A line must be drawn and, for the moment, this post is it. There are still pictures to examine and interpret in the areas of shipbuilding, lobster canning, roads, and railroads, as well as the beginning of hotels for the new tourist industry that is being born. There is much valuable material that tells about the history of architecture on the Island, and it will not be forgotten but appear, in future posts, in its chonological position. Before I leave however, I want to finish with several views that celebrate the glory and power of the capital city of Charlottetown.


Meacham documents the city

There is a very grand full-page presentation that celebrates Queen’s Square with its 1840s legislative building by Isaac Smith, a great market hall by Mark Butcher, a very fine post office by David Stirling and the new Italianate law courts by Thomas Alley. Sexy sailors crown the arch that encloses these architectural marvels, and they are flanked by views of David Stirling’s asylum and Isaac Smith’s Central Academy renamed Prince of Wales College in 1860. Is this a hint to Islanders that too much knowledge leads to madness? When I was a child in the country, long ago, that was a popular belief held by the rural population.

The bottom vignette, encased by a segmental arch that harkens back to the massive bases of the Province House porticoes, gives us an idyllic view of Charlottetown Harbour with Government House in its now greatly reduced estate of Fanningbank. Half of the land had recently been given to the city of Charlottetown to create a public park – Victoria Park. Feelings rankled and there was still legal activity regarding the nature of the transaction. Government House had retaliated by enclosing within its boundary fence the alignment stone marking the North of 1764, essential to surveyors in adjusting their instruments. Government House itself had been debased and insulted by losing the Ionic and Tuscan Doric columns of its portico and verandas, which were replaced by square posts that survived for nearly a century, and for the next fifty years there would be little interest shown in this classically austere, yet friendly building, with verandas on three sides.


Charlottetown had been planned to have a Commons or shared area for the citizens of the city to dig gardens, or graze their animals. Beyond the Commons were two vast areas called Royalties set aside by the Crown for future development. Ignoring the strict geometrical planning of the Eighteenth Century, influential and powerful people began to carve urban estates out of all these lands. Most of these houses, sadly reduced in land, and often in poor condition, still survive. One of the most beautiful of these Royalty estates was Belmont built near Wright’s Creek in the early 1800s. It was approached by the Saint Peter’s Road where a formal entrance welcomed visitors, while the back of the house, the garden front, had a deep veranda and faced the city across many acres of perfectly tended fields. Although now a tenement house, Belmont is still one of the most precious architectural gems on the Island.

You can visit it today, in an extremely complicated street maze near a fast-food outlet, and you can get out of your vehicle and walk around it. When I last saw it much of its original architectural trim in the Greek Revival style that emerged on the Island was still intact.

The garden front has had picture windows installed, and there is a parking lot instead of Victorian flower beds and a long vista, but the architecture of the house is so powerful that it still dominates its shabby enclave.


I will conclude my examination of the small, lithographed views in Meacham by looking at a house that is still standing on the corner of Prince and FitzRoy streets. It is called Fairholm and was built in 1838-39 in a late Regency style by the Hon. T. H. Haviland, one of the most important men on the Island in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. By the time this elaborate drawing was done ownership had changed.

The grounds of the house occupied the entire block, and originally there were walks and gardens as well as a carriage house and stables. As built the house had a semi-circular Ionic portico topped, in the upstairs hall, by a Palladian window that echoed the width of the door with its Georgian sidelights. In time this house passed into the Rogers family, of hardware store fame, and it was in the last years of their occupancy that I was permitted to see its wonders.

Today the house is very well-kept and is a guest house. Its two semi-circular bays, which give it its Regency flavour, are diminished by an appallingly clumsy and vulgar Edwardian porch topped by a solarium.

Should I live a while longer, and should I win the biggest lottery of the day, I will buy Fairholm, and with my cats, books, pictures, and other treasures, will take up residence there. My first act will be to have a large backhoe tear off the abysmal porch in preparation to restore the house to its original appearance, as seen in this circa 1840 engraving by George Thresher.


Detail from Clement Allen’s map of Charlottetown from Meacham’s ATLAS.

The last word is J. H. Meacham’s, the man whose vision and drive created for us the most comprehensive record of the Island artefact ever produced:

1879, November 13, The Daily Examiner, p. 3

We take great pleasure in calling the attention of our patrons and the public generally to the Atlas of P. E. Island now being prepared by Messrs. J. H. Meacham & Co., assisted by a corps of experienced and skilled workmen, comprising surveyors, artists, engravers, etc. Having inspected specimens of their workmanship in each department of the business, we have no hesitation in saying that the mass of useful and entertaining matter being compiled, will reflect credit alike to the Province and the publishers. Great care, judgment end skill have been displayed, and samples of views with which we are familiar show a high degree of artistic merit, both in the sketching and engraving, being faithful representations of the subjects treated.




Special Thanks

Once again I want to thank Harry Holman, this time for bringing to my attention the newspaper article that brings Cairns into the picture at White Sands, and also for suggesting that the 1935 aerial photograph, showing traces of the lobster factory, might be useful in interpreting the perspective of the Meacham view.


Reference Material

Dembosky, April, How the Lobster Clawed its Way Up: A crustacean’s climb from pauper’s fare to modern-day delicacy,

Downing, A. J., The Architecture of Country Houses (1850), reprinted by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1969.

Frankel, L., Geology of Southeastern Prince Edward Island, Bulletin 145, Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, Queen’s Printer, Ottawa, 1966.

Luzer, Daniel, How Lobster got Fancy,

Meacham, J. H., Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island, J. H. Meacham & Co., Philadelphia, 1880.

Murray, Jeffrey S., “The County Map Hustlers”, Canadian Geographic, December 1990/January 1991.

Rayburn, Alan, Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island, Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names, Ottawa, 1973.

Reps, John W., Views and Viewmakers of Urban America, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1984.

Ruell, David, “The Bird’s Eye Views of New Hampshire 1875-1899”. New Hampshire Historical Society, 1983.

Tuck, Robert C., “Guernsey Cove: Community of Homesteads,” The Island Magazine, Prince Edward Island Heritage Foundation,

University of Prince Edward Island,