I recently had the opportunity to copy a small collection of photographs which had belonged to Fred and Jean Small, pillars of the Charlottetown Yacht Club, and had been passed on to a current club member. The shots probably pre-date the creation of the current Charlottetown Yacht Club but they detail activities of some of the boats and people who formed the core of the Club. Central to the collection are photos of the boat above – the Roamer, owned by Malcolm (Mac) Irwin. Mac, Hal Bourke and Fred Small spent a lot of time together on their boats. There are many shots of the Roamer at Red Gap (more about that in a later post), camping up the West River and on cruises such as one to Murray River.
There are two photos, both in the same location, that I had not been able to definitively place but I have a guess. The problem is that these are just holiday snapshots and detail is lacking. In addition, in the almost 100 years since the snaps were taken the shorelines have changed and roads and bridges have been moved. Clearly this is a spot where there is a bridge and road are close to the shore. It is a good-sized stream and a road with telephone lines (although that is not a good clue as there were many rural telephone companies and most of the province had phones by the 1920s)
It’s also a place that appears to be pretty exposed to the open sea as the second shot shows more clearly. Given the sand exposed and the general lay of the land it’s also likely to be on the South Shore of the Island. Looking at a map there are very few places where bridges are so close to what seems to be a poorly protected shore. However photos can be misleading because of what they don’t show. If my guess is correct there is a body of land just to the left of the photos which is not shown and which would give a great deal of shelter for the boat tied up to the bridge.
After much head-scratching and peering at early and recent maps my guess is that this is the bridge over the north branch of the Pinette River. In the late 1950s a new bridge was built east of the old bridge which eliminated a number of right angle turns, one of which can be seen in the top photo if you follow the line of the telephone poles. The remains of the old bridge approaches and piers can still be seen as you drive down the Trans-Canada towards Wood Islands.
Note that this is not the bridge at Pinette Harbour which is just south of a little roadside park on the point between the north and south branches of the Pinette River. The guess is strengthened by early aerial photographs. Maddeningly the 1936 series does not show the whole area but the north branch bridge is seen in the corner of one photo. One can faintly make out the channel near the north end of the bridge and looking north-west from where a boat would be moored the view is almost identical to the scene in the second photo. McAulays Wharf is not visible, either because the background of the photo is indistinct or it is masked by the trees on the point
The 1958 photo is badly over-exposed but both the new and old bridges can be seen. The spot where I believe the Roamer was tied up is just south of the section of woods highlighted as “FC” in the photo.
While the mystery may not be completely cleared up I am satisfied the I now know where this photo was taken however any other guesses or comments are certainly welcome .
Pinette continues to be a good spot for a day-sail or an overnight trip. I have been there a couple of times and aside from the tricky channel getting in it is a safe harbour in most winds.