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Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
- For the federal electoral district see Charlottetown (electoral district)
Charlottetown is a Canadian city and the provincial capital of Prince Edward Island, with a population of 32,245 as of 2001. The city, which was incorporated as a town in 1855 and redesignated as a city in the 1890s, is situated on its namesake harbour which is formed by the confluence of three rivers in the central part of the island along its south shore. The harbour itself opens onto the Northumberland Strait. In 1995 the present city was created by amalgamating Charlottetown with the communities of Sherwood , Parkdale , Hillsborough Park , Winsloe , West Royalty , and East Royalty .
Port La Joye
The first Europeans in the area, then known as Īle Saint-Jean, were the French, whereby personnel from Fortress Louisbourg founded a settlement in 1720 named Port La Joye on the southwestern part of the harbour opposite from the present-day city. In August 1758, at the height of the Seven Years' War, a British fleet took control of the settlement (and the entire island) and promptly took to deporting those French settlers that they could find, this being fully three years after the original Acadian expulsion in Nova Scotia. British forces built Fort Amherst near the site of the abandoned Port La Joye settlement to protect the entrance to the harbour.
Charlottetown's early years
Charlottetown was selected as the site for the "royalty" of Queens County in the colonial survey of 1765 by Captain Samuel Holland of the Royal Engineers. Further surveys conducted between 1768-1771 established the street grid and public squares which can be seen in the city's historic district. The royalty, also chosen as the colonial capital, was named in honour of Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, consort of King George III of the United Kingdom.
Expansion and the "Golden Age" of sail
In 1805, the local British garrison constructed another harbour defence at Fort Edward to the west of the capital's waterfront. The Prince Edward Battery was then relocated to this facility.
In 1793 land had been set aside by Governor Fanning on the western limits of the community for use by the "Administrator of Government" (the Governor), and as such it became known as Fanning Bank. In 1835, Government House was constructed at Fanning Bank, intended as a residence for the colony's Governor (now used by the Lieutenant Governor).
The construction from 1843 to 1847 of a new legislature building, named Province House, was an important milestone in the history of the capital and it is still in use today as the provincial legislature. The Charlottetown Conference was held in this building within two decades of its construction, in September 1864, marking the first negotiations which would lead to Canadian Confederation. When Prince Edward Island entered Confederation on July 1, 1873 the "Government House Farm" at Fanning Bank was designated a park, named "Victoria Park" in honour of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
The decline of shipbuilding was superseded by August 1874 when the Prince Edward Island Railway opened its main line between Charlottetown and Summerside. The railway, along with the shipping industry, would continue to drive industrial development on the waterfront for several decades to come.
Development into today's community
Religion played a central role in the development of Charlottetown's institutions with Protestant and Roman Catholic schools (Queen Charlotte High School vs. Birchwood High School), hospitals (Prince Edward Hospital vs. Charlottetown Hospital), and post-secondary institutions (Prince of Wales College vs. St. Dunstan's University) respectively.
As with most communities in North America, the automobile shaped Charlottetown's development in the latter half of the 20th century, when outlying farms in rural areas of Brighton, Spring Park, and Parkdale saw increased housing developments. The Charlottetown airfield in the nearby rural community of Sherwood was upgraded as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and operated for the duration of World War II as RCAF Station Charlottetown , in conjunction with RCAF Station Mount Pleasant and RCAF Station Summerside. After the war the airfield was designated Charlottetown Airport. Further post-war development saw residential properties continue to expand in adjacent outlying areas, particularly in the neighbouring farming communities of Sherwood, West Royalty, and East Royalty.
To commemorate the centennial of the Charlottetown Conference, the 10 provinces and federal government contributed to a national monument to the "Fathers of Confederation." The Confederation Centre of the Arts, which opened in 1964, is a gift to the residents of Prince Edward Island, and contains a public library, nationally-renowned art gallery, and a mainstage theatre which has played to the Charlottetown Festival every summer since.
In the 1960s new public schools were constructed in the community and in 1969 the city became home to the amalgamated University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), located on the campus of the former St. Dunstan's University. Together with the federal Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food's Charlottetown Experimental Farm (also known as Ravenwood Farm), these properties comprise a large green space surrounded by the city. The Prince of Wales College downtown campus became part of a new provincial community college system named Holland College, in honour of the island's famous surveyor.
In 1982 the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, named after Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, was opened, followed in 1983 when the national headquarters of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs was moved to Charlottetown as part of a nation-wide federal government decentralization programme. In 1986, UPEI saw further expansion with the opening of the Atlantic Veterinary College.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Charlottetown witnessed increased commercial office and retail development which saw a waterfront hotel and numerous apartment complexes as well as shopping centres being built. In the 1990s, abandoned railway and industrial lands on the waterfront were transformed into parks and cultural attractions.
In keeping with its heritage cityscape, and due to the lack of adequate bedrock in the area, Charlottetown limits buildings to a maximum height of six storeys.
- City of Charlottetown - municipal website
- Visit Charlottetown - tourism website
- University of Prince Edward Island - academic website
- UPEI Student Campus Community - campus commons website
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