Adventures along the New Year’s Levee trail
I’m Dining Out Here
by Andrew Sprague
Levee Day 2018 was supposed to be a less boisterous affair. It happened on a Monday, after all. Surely some people would stay home for fear of the cold and a long Tuesday at work. But not only were this year’s levees well attended, the crowd is changing, and a new guard is forming that will help ensure one of Charlottetown’s most cherished traditions remains relevant well into the future.
I travel on a bus with a group of long time friends. We call ourselves the Secret Levee Society. We think it’s a funny name. It’s neither secret nor exclusive but we do have a founding committee. The only real requirement for membership is a free seat on the bus. We’ve been doing the levees for years and we have it down to a science. As such, we plan ahead, and we maximize the number of stops we make in order to get the most out of the day.
We started at the Lieutenant Governor’s at 10 am sharp. Her Honour Antoinette Perry was hosting her first levee and she did very well greeting and receiving introductions. If anything she took a little too long with each person. We were at the head of the line to start, and when we left at 10:30 the line was easily 300 deep.
City Hall was next, followed by The Rotary Club of Charlottetown and the Guild. We made our way through each receiving line quickly. There are a lot of early stops. Lingering too long can put you at the end of a long line.
Our next stop was Upstreet Brewery. It was packed. They had delicious chili on offer, and entertainment all day long. I’m betting the place was full from noon to midnight. This was the first place I noticed the age of the people around me. It was far younger than usual. A development I would notice the rest of the day.
UPEI was next. They put on a great spread of sandwiches and hot food. For the third year in a row they gave out scarves.
Our seventh stop was the PEI Regiment. The Regimental band sounded tight. The seafood chowder was great, and the mood was starting to loosen. We whizzed through another bowl of chowder, and a glass of moose milk at HMCS Charlottetown then we were off to a perennial favourite for our group, the Town of Stratford.
We got an earful from Mayor Dunphy and Councillor Copper for a certain Compass interview where a certain someone extolled the many virtues of the Stratford levee which they claimed increased numbers. I’m not sure that’s true but we captured a great picture of the group and a couple of glasses of wine each.
Andrew’s of Stratford hit it out of the park. They had bacon-wrapped scallops. They had lobster bruscetta. They had meatballs. They had a resident ukulele band that brought the joy. It was one of the finest levees our group has ever attended and it guaranteed itself a stop by our merry band in 2019.
The Bishop’s residence was next, followed by the Mason’s Lodge, then the Benevolent Irish Society. The BIS always puts on a good show with fiddles, guitars, and pianos. It’s always packed, and it’s always the point where our membership starts to dwindle due to fatigue, and prior commitments.
The Alley was the second receiving line for Ray Murphy after Andrew’s of Stratford. It was so full of people it made getting a drink a monumental task. We then had what we call a “secret levee” at the Gahan House.
Our last official stop was the Sports Page. We were very late and the levee was over when we got there. I tried the Fire Hall but the line up was massive and I decided to call it a night.
It was a great levee day. I’ve been to over a dozen and it was easily one of the best. More and more venues are popping up and the crowd is getting younger. If this year is any indication our levee tradition is in good hands with a new generation and a host of new venues.