From the Maysville, Kentucky newspaper The Evening Bulletin, October 3, 1896, I’ve come across “PRINCE EDWARD LAND: The Simple Capital of a British Province and Its American Visitors”, which reads as follows:
Charlottetown, PEI, Sept. 10. – This little town is cut off from the world in an aggravating way. The coast of Nova Scotia is in plain view along most of the southern coast of Prince Edward Island, but the transfer by boat from Pictou takes three hours, so it is almost as long a journey from Halifax to Charlottetown as from Halifax to Sidney, twice as far away. This fact and the utter absence of any picturesque feature on the island would make Charlottetown a place unknown to any but commercial travelers or insurance agents if it were not that a Boston steamship line has made this place its terminus. Once a week the big ship from Boston, which has stopped at Halifax and Hawkesbury en route, comes to her wharf at Charlottetown and discharges a shipload of passengers. They are chiefly from Boston and interior Massachusetts. Some of them are from New York and Philadelphia and even cities of the west. All have come for the sail. They don’t care a fig for Charlottetown. The chance to spend six days on the ocean with opportunities at several intervals to “get off and walk” for a change draws from 50 to 200 people from Boston every week. Many would much rather stick to their pleasant berths aboard ship when they reach their destination, but most of the passengers go ashore for the night. So Thursday nights are gala occasions in Charlottetown, and the greater part of the population gathers at the wharf. The people arranged in tiers on a bank that looks down on the landing, and they fight for position near the entrance to the shed through which the travelers must pass. What satisfaction this crowd gathers from gaping uncomfortably in the semidarkness at the string of commonplace men and women, satchel laden, filing out of the shed is comprehensible, I think, to none but a Charlottetown mind. That there must be some satisfaction is plain from the fact that the crowd is as great at the end of the season as it is at the beginning.
They have primitive ways of running a hotel in this country. When you register, the clerk assigns you to a room and waves you toward the stairway. You climb three flights of stairs and find your way along the hall to the room. The door stands hospitably open. The key is in the lock. This at least is an improvement on Halifax, where the keys, having no tags attached, are carried off by the guests, leaving the next occupant of a room no protection but a chair braced against his door.
Charlottetown surrounds Queen’s Square, an oblong strip of parking very prettily laid out. Facing the park are the provincial parliament buildings of graystone. Adjoining are the post office and the city hall. Beyond the post office is a long market, whose odors are an offense against the pretty place. Outside this square Charlottetown suggests nothing so much as a small county seat in Illinois. All the merchants of the town are gathered in two or three streets near the square, and their establishments are very like American country stores. All the sights of Charlottetown can be exhausted in half an hour, and the traveler welcomes the time when a blast from the steamer’s hoarse whistle warns him that it it time to start on the homeward trip. – Grant Hamilton.