The City of Charlottetown Planning and Heritage Department has created an exhibit exploring the history of its five historic squares. The display is part of the ongoing Picturing a City series that celebrates Charlottetown’s past through photos, stories and artifacts. Entitled, Picturing a City: Historic Squares, the new exhibit features images from the City’s Archival Collection and numerous other institutions and individuals, as well as a host of artifacts donated by the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and members of the community.
When surveyor and army officer, Charles Morris laid out the streets of the main town site 250 years ago, he set aside space in the centre for political, judicial and religious purposes. It would be three more years until the revision of his plan by surveyor, Thomas Wright, on order of Governor Walter Patterson, who created four more squares and christened the centre square “Queen Square” for Queen Charlotte, the namesake of the City of Charlottetown. Queen Square would undergo numerous changes but remained true to its original intent with the addition of the market, the Confederation Centre, and for a time, City offices.
The other four squares would undergo renaming and in some cases, relocation, but generally remained free of buildings — all except for Connaught Square, which included the town jail on its eastern side from the early 1800s to 1911. Throughout history, these special spaces have hosted a wide variety of activities including: baseball games, pancake breakfasts, religious services, grazing livestock and even the last public hanging; but they remain parklike sanctuaries where the average citizen or visitor can go to enjoy a little bit of nature and calm in the middle of the city.
All are welcome to come and view the display in the storefront windows of the Planning and Heritage Department at 233 Queen Street. The exhibit runs until September.
The Heritage staff wish to thank all of the individuals who donated images and artifacts to make the department’s exhibits possible. These donations allow the history of the city to be shared with the public and promotes Charlottetown’s heritage.
The exhibit archive can be found at charlottetownstories.wordpress.com