Small Town Needs

Here is Ian Williams’ list of thing “I think I’m looking for… out of a town:”

  • you can walk everywhere, including to the mall
  • 2 separate independent record stores with a rivalry
  • three coffee shops, all equipped with wifi internet, each different according to mood
  • at least two arthouse movie theaters
  • tons of gays and lesbians who are allowed to hold hands
  • a fantastic underpriced thrift store
  • a place to dance, 3 places to see bands
  • an all-night diner with fresh donuts
  • a garden shop
  • a hardware store manned by a Guy Who Knows Everything
  • at least one business owned by one family since 1799

If you can call Froggie’s a “a fantastic underpriced thrift store” (and I think that’s a stretch), then Charlottetown probably qualifies for that, for the garden shop (we have many), and for the hardware store (many of those too). We fail to meet the other criteria.

By the way, if you have some spare cash, and are looking for a worthy place to spend it, I can think of no better investment than The Pink House, the film that Williams wrote and co-directed that’s currently in post-production and in need of cash. You can read about the cash needs here. If you’re kicking yourself for not having given $1000 to your roommate’s friend’s cousin Quentin Tarantino 10 years ago, now’s your chance to redeem yourself.


Alan's picture
Alan on February 4, 2003 - 17:21 Permalink

I’ve been happily reading the Pink House blog since you linked to it in the fall. If you think about the list and the Rustico area, at least you have a Froggies. Halifax might have six on the list. They don’t have Wormwoods anymore but there are two walking distance malls — an odd criteria, I thought. Ottawa would be the nearest place with two rep movie theaters (in English).

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on February 4, 2003 - 21:50 Permalink

Those interested in what factors contribute to the features like this should check out Jane Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (no HTML allowed in comments, but here’s the link:…

Rusty's picture
Rusty on February 5, 2003 - 14:18 Permalink

Williams list (like books by Richard Ford) is a vague nostalgia that is yearned for by many americans pop-culturists who base their idiosyncratic preferences on what they see in movies that give them a warm fuzzy feeling. His list has nothing to do with how a person might actually live a life in such a city but rather a person might observe a life in such a city, suggesting a detachment or voyeuristic manner of being. I mean, really, the criterion about having lots of gay and lesbian people wandering about holding hands, for example, seems like a great idea for aesthetic purposes, but what is Williams actually prepared to do help achieve greater acceptance of gays and lesbians in the city in which he currently lives (or anywhere else)? And for that matter, what are people in Charlottetown prepared to do in order to financially support, for example, two rival record stores? Or will we continue to prefer the trend of down-loading music from the internet? Let us strive to improve the place we live in rather than pine for elusive aesthetic elements.

Eaglethorpe's picture
Eaglethorpe on February 5, 2003 - 16:41 Permalink

You’ve struck the nail on the head — Charlottetown is a small city. And not wealthy. Instead it is suburban whithout the urban. The kind of city you can get on a first name basis with all the homeless people, maybe even go to school with their grandkids.
Things are improving though, Taj Mahal has awesome Indian food, and they read the vagina monologues at UPEI last year.
Oh yeah, and City Cinema rocks.
In fact I think Charlottetown is 2-3x cooler than one would expect, but still, it is Charlottetown.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on February 5, 2003 - 16:45 Permalink

My jury is not out on the Taj Mahal, and I have misgivings about looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I have yet to have anything resembling “awesome Indian food” there yet.

Eaglethorpe's picture
Eaglethorpe on February 5, 2003 - 18:47 Permalink

Ok, mediocre Indian food; but still enough to warm my soul during cold, white winter. And it is the best Indian restaurant in the province! And I’m probably their biggest fan. And that, in a nutshell, is PEI.

Christopher Ogg's picture
Christopher Ogg on February 5, 2003 - 19:19 Permalink

Where is the Taj? I have been relying on the Harp & Thistle for their very authentic Anglo-Indian nosh, but I’d kill for a decent papadam, and if they have tandoori, well…

Surpisingly absent from the list of small town desiderata is: music shops. With Toombs, National and Sobers we cater for all sorts of tastes (and brand prejudices) They are very kind about allowing folks to wander in and start playing and will talk music for hours without making rude gestures towards the cash desk. Music shops are surely essential to civil living? And if there are no coffee shops that meet code, how about such fine establishments as 42nd Street — as nice a watering hole as I have seen this side of Fulham Road. Or the aforementioned H&T? You can keep your effete latte shoppes — give me a town with a few decent pubs.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 5, 2003 - 19:48 Permalink

Next to Formosa Tea Room on University overlooking the lovely future home of the provincial bovine insemination centre.

To-Ell's picture
To-Ell on February 5, 2003 - 20:06 Permalink

Alan — for just a second I was tempted.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 5, 2003 - 20:29 Permalink

I would be interested in views on the restaurant. I just stopped in for a couple of samosa (first in province? Last again?) and liked the place. Very pleasant owner. Others had the tandori chicken and a lunhc special that came on a metal plate — food with its own GUI. She said she could make kedjaree if I called ahead.

Christopher's picture
Christopher on February 5, 2003 - 21:35 Permalink

Ah, and I thought I was the Island’s only kedgeree maker. There’s a very nice samosa to be had at the Farmer’s Market, but, El-Al and To-El, I will happily join you to sample the tandoori at the Taj. Fri at 12.00 if that suits you? I can’t place the Formosa and at the risk of tempting To-El to unleash whatever it is, I don’t know the site of the future bovine insemination centre. Can you please elucidate location for the Chastown-challenged.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 5, 2003 - 22:00 Permalink

University Ave, facing ATC. I am on the road Friday but can do next week. In fact, why don’t you all just come, seeing as we are setting appointments on a blog…

anon's picture
anon on February 5, 2003 - 22:34 Permalink

Charlottetown is still in desperate need of a good coffee shop for lounging.

Cafe Diem is great during summer hours, but those last what, a month? Why can’t they be open to midnight everyday of the year?

Ken's picture
Ken on February 6, 2003 - 00:04 Permalink

This is a great idea, going to lunch, but none of us will live up to our imagined selves as lurk here. I for one look nothing like myself.
Next week is good for me. Maybe we need nametags!
Or am I even part of this group? Hmmmm…
And of course, the big question, will Peter be there?

Alan's picture
Alan on February 6, 2003 - 14:15 Permalink

I thought I was being facetious…

Christopher's picture
Christopher on February 8, 2003 - 16:25 Permalink

That has now dangled there a couple of days just crying out for a “Tom Swift” response, Alan. We have failed you, my boy. I’m so sorry…