Right, so last week got a bit out of hand. I apologize for that. I’m supposed to keep things short, but occasionally I do find myself wandering down historical rabbit holes. Anyway, I figured today I’d make it up to you. So instead of reading paragraph upon paragraph, kick back and relax with this amazing film footage of Charlottetown from 1925.
Perhaps you’ve seen this film already. I only saw for the first time myself last week, when it made the rounds on social media. There was no information posted with it, so I did a bit of investigating. As it turns out, the footage was captured during Old Home Week 1925 (July 13-17), at the behest of the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau (CGMPB). Founded in 1918, the CGMPB was initially known as the Policy and Exhibits Bureau until 1923. In July 1925, bureau director Raymond S. Peck and official cinematographer W.S. Carter came to the Island in order to capture “moving pictures” of the fesitivites as well as general footage of the city and rural locations. The aim was to have it shown in theatres the world over (whether it was or not I don’t know). The CGMPB was ultimately absorbed by the National Film Board in 1941 (hence the “NFB” stamp on the video).
The film runs about seven minutes. Should you require it, I’ve taken the liberty of breaking down the footage for you to provide a bit of context, in addition to including third-party links for additional information (see below); other than that, enjoy the show!
0:12 – 0:27 — Three women (unidentified) shown getting off a train, likely at the Canadian National Railway Station in Charlottetown (14 Weymouth Street, presently home to the Worker’s Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island). These same women are shown frequently throughout the film.
0:28 – 0:40 — Shot looks west down Fitzroy Street, from Prince. Note that traffic is keeping to the right; in 1924, Islanders made the switch from driving on the left to driving on the right.
0:41 – 1:08 — Our female trio arrive at Fairholm, on the corner of Prince and Fitzroy Streets in Charlottetown. In 1925, it was a private residence owned by the Rogers’ family.
1:09 – 1:16 — Unidentified location. It may be the grounds of Fairholm, or possibly Fanningbank (Government House).
1:17 – 1:30 — Another unidentified location. Perhaps Victoria Park?
1:31 – 2:01 — The scene here shows the formal unveiling of the War Memorial (Cenotaph) in Charlottetown, which took place on the morning of Thursday, July 16, 1925. The view is from the corner of Great George and Grafton Streets (Bank of Nova Scotia), with the Coles Building visible in the background.
2:02 – 2:13 — Automobile proceeding along an unidentified roadway.
2:14 – 2:22 — A shot of Beach Grove Hotel, once located where Beach Grove Home stands today. It was started by R.H. Sterns in 1921.
2:23 – 2:31 — Our female trio, along with an unidentified dog somewhere on the grounds of the Beach Grove Hotel. Visible in the background may be a portion of the nine-hole golf links which once existed there.
2:32 – 2:38 — Location again uncertain, although quite likely somewhere on the grounds of the Beach Grove Hotel.
2:39 – 2:48 — This shot appears to have been filmed in front of the Beach Grove Hotel, with the mouth of Charlottetown Harbour visible in the background.
2:54 – 3:01 — Exterior shot of the private residence (Edgewater) of then-Lt. Governor Frank R. Heartz on West Street in Charlottetown. It burned to the ground in February 1931.
3:02 – 3:40 — Location unknown. Perhaps the grounds of Fanningbank, or the Experimental Farm.
3:41 – 4:09 — Street parade featuring naval and military personnel, and firemen (with bands) that was held on the morning of July 15, 1925. The shot faces north on Queen Street.
4:10 – 4:16 — Likely more of the same parade.
4:24 – 4:38 — I think this one goes without saying: horse races at the Charlottetown Driving Park!
4:39 – 4:45 — This is likely footage of the yacht races, held on July 14, 1925.
4:46 – 5:07 — Aquaplaning, another Old Home Week event held on the same day.
5:08 – 5:15 — This appears to be the greasy pole event, held at the docks on July 14.
5:16 – 5:24 — Throngs of people gathered along the docks in Charlottetown, quite likely July 14.
5:25 – 5:31 — “Tub races”, likewise held on July 14.
5:40 – 6:46 — Exterior and interior footage (Confederation Chamber) of Province House National Historic Site. The opening shot is of the building’s south facade, where vehicles were able to pull up.
6:47 – 7:00 — A shot looking up Prince Street to Euston, filmed at the intersection of Prince and Fitzroy. The gates of Fairholm are partially visible to the right.
What are your thoughts? If you think you may be able to fill in any of the blanks, post me a comment. I’m particularly interested in putting names to the faces of those three women!
Oh, and before I forget: Believe it or not, we’re about to turn the corner into February, which is when we in Canada, and our neighbours to the south, celebrate Black History Month. As a result, I’ve decided to dedicate my February musings to various aspects of the Island’s black heritage. It rarely gets discussed in the grand scheme of Island history, so it’ll be my little bit to help spread the word and raise awareness. I can promise you won’t be disappointed!
PEI History Guy
P.S. – One other item: Canada’s History Magazine is currently taking a poll on its list of 30 Great Women (Canadian). Among an impressive group of nominees is the Island’s own world-famous authoress, Lucy Maud Montgomery. If you’re a fan of her work, you can cast your vote here!
January 29, 2016 at 9:26 am
Amazing commentary! Thank you for giving this film context!
My favourite scene is when they debark the train…
January 29, 2016 at 9:29 am
Thanks! I wish we still had those trains…
LikeLiked by 1 person
January 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm
this is great!!!!
January 30, 2016 at 5:34 pm
0:28-0:40 is Fitzroy Street looking west from Prince Street.
January 31, 2016 at 12:36 pm
Thanks – I was starting to think that myself!
January 31, 2016 at 4:22 pm
How wonderful that this film, intended for audiences all over the world, is still making the rounds almost 100 years after it was made.
January 31, 2016 at 11:42 pm
I couldn’t agree more!