Well I won’t lie: today really snuck up on me. What with all the electoral reform business here on the Island (talk about a historic result), and the climax of political antics south of the border (no comment), I quite lost track of time and fell a bit behind the eight ball (hey, there’s a first time for everything). But as luck would have it, back in September I had the good fortune to chance upon this little gem of Island history, and was absolutely chuffed to add it to my collection. I also knew, from the moment I first saw it, that at some point it would make for a neat, tidy little post.
And now that day has come.
In the latter stages of 1954, a committee was struck to assume the responsibility of commemorating the City of Charlottetown’s 100th anniversary. Although the long-time county seat of Queens County dating all the way back to 1764, and the political capital of colonial Prince Edward Island, it was only in April 1855 that an act had been passed which formally incorporated the town as a proper city. In honour of the occasion, one of the centennial committee’s commemorative efforts, largely inspired by a similar idea undertaken for another centennial celebration in Kitchner-Waterloo the year before, was this:
The photos likely speak for themselves, but what you’re looking at is a mint condition (yes, pun intended) souvenir bank note. Also known as “Centennial Souvenir Scripts”, these commemorative bills were printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company in 25-cent denominations, and circulated beginning in December 1954. Valid through until December 31, 1955, the notes were redeemable at city stores, and at city hall, and could be cashed in at any chartered bank in the city; however, they were primarily intended to give people the chance to own a keepsake from a momentous year in municipal history (additionally, any monies made from the distribution of the notes were to be used to offset a portion of the cost of a number of centennial celebrations and activities to be held throughout the ensuing year). Due diligence and a spot of research turned up this promotional piece published in The Guardian of December 10, 1954, at the behest of Charlottetown’s Centennial Committee.
Now, if you’re feeling adventurous, I would advise you check out the official centennial issue published by The Guardian in June 1955. It’s a whopping 32 pages, but contains an absolute wealth of retrospective articles, mostly about Charlottetown. Trust me, it’ll be worth your while.
On a final note, Film Friday this week happens to coincide with Remembrance Day, and as after giving it some thought (and as the self-appointed CEO of the PEI History Guy “enterprise”), I’ve decided to forego posting any material in honour of that important date. I know last week I said that we were back to regularly scheduled programming, but in the lead up to and on Remembrance Day itself, a lot of my time goes to personal research and reflection. And frankly, if you should be anywhere and doing anything on Friday, it’s gathering at a cenotaph or some such location to pay your respects (if you’re able), not on here watching videos.
So see you next Wednesday instead!
PEI History Guy
P.S. – If you’re reading this and were lucky enough to actually experience Charlottetown’s centennial celebrations first hand, please drop me a comment. I’d love to hear about it!