Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2022
Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island. It is a small town with a lot of charm and history. It is referred to as the birthplace of Canadian Confederation after the historic Charlottetown Conference in 1864, which merged the three British North American provinces at the time into a united federation. Over the years, there have been numerous changes and expansions, which led to the Canada we know today with ten provinces and three territories.
While staying in Prince Edward Island National Park, we made a day trip to Charlottetown to check out the smallest capital in Canada. It was super crazy windy outside. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but a week later Hurricane Fiona would be making landfall here.
We first went to Victoria Park where the Prince Edward Battery is located. We parked on the side of the road and walked along the waterfront boardwalk to get there. It’s the only surviving fortification of the Charlottetown Harbour’s coastal defences. The site has recently been restored and showcases a series of cast iron guns facing the harbour.
It looked like it was about to start raining at any minute, so we decided to drive to the downtown to find parking rather than walk there from Victoria Park. We headed to the Confederation Centre of the Arts, which was temporarily showcasing a replica of the historic Confederation Chamber. The Province House National Historic Site, which typically displays the restored room where the Charlottetown Conference meetings occurred, was closed for conservation work.
We then walked to St. Dunstan’s Basilica, a large stone church located in the heart of Charlottetown. It was built in 1916 after a fire destroyed an earlier cathedral that was built here. The basilica has been designated as a national historic site of Canada because of its fine representative example of the High Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture. While Canada isn’t really known for its opulent churches, the St. Dunstan’s Basilica is pretty stunning with its stained glass windows and Gothic architecture.
We continued wandering around the downtown, admiring all the brightly coloured historic houses.
We made our way to the Beaconsfield Historic House, which faces the Charlottetown Harbour. It was built in 1877 for James Peake, a wealthy shipbuilder. The Victorian style house has been converted into a museum and contains furnished rooms that you can tour through at our own pace or as part of a guided tour.
We started off at the main floor and explored the rooms at our own pace. But, as we made our way up to the second floor, we joined the guided tour since it seemed pretty interesting. The guide provided more information about the original owner and how the house was designed.
Once we wrapped up the tour, we headed back towards our car. We planned to spend the remainder of the afternoon in Greenwich exploring the biggest sand dunes on Prince Edward Island.