Red Gap


Roamer at Red Gap ca. 1920

About a mile up the West River from Rocky Point a number of brooks run into the river from the south creating coves in the low river bank.  The largest of these brooks,  Ferguson’s Creek,  has a sandy bar at its mouth and provides a fine river beach.  The gap in the low sandstone cliff gave the name “Red Gap” to the area.

Red Gap 1938

Red Gap 1938

Early in the 20th century the area became a destination for boaters from Charlottetown.  The coves provided shelter and the water was deep enough for boats to get close to shore. The sandy beach was an attraction in itself.  On the land side a grove of trees at the bottom of the farm located on the point formed by Webster’s and Ferguson Creeks soon became a camping area for those seeking more than simply a day trip.  In 1915, for example, the site was used by Archibald Irwin, proprietor of the Irwin Printing Company and sometime Kings Printer to host his annual staff picnic. Chaperoned by Mrs. Irwin the event was, according to the Guardian “…ideal in every way. ”


Boats at Red Gap ca. 1920. Runabout closest to shore at left is Hal Bourke’s “Flirt”. Large Cruiser is “Roamer”

The more social aspects of the site can be learned from a detailed account from the 7 August Guardian of the same year…

Red Gap, situated on the Wet River was last  night the theatre where was staged a thoroughly enjoyable Clam bake and lawn party of truly gigantic proportions.  Fully fifty or sixty people from the city journeyed to this resort which a large party has turned into an ideal camping site. The “Vineo” owned by Mr. Stentiford, the “Flirt” by Mr. Bourke, and the “Mutt” by Mr. Schurmnan were utilized to convey the party to the grounds. Arriving there they found Chinese lanterns strung around among the trees and a huge bonfire lighting up the scene, and –  best of all perfectly unlimited quantities of clams. Then consensus of opinion seemed to be that, to be appreciated to the full the clams should be eaten only under such circumstances and in such surroundings. A large table under the trees and lighted by Chinese lanterns was used to seat most of the party for the latter part of the evening where the more conventional fare of the lawn party made its appearance.  Mr. Malcolm Irwin’s phonograph and the mouth organ of “Bobs” McKinnion furnished the music.  “Bobs” imitation of the bag pipes being particularly good.  All the-party expressed themselves as delighted with the arrangements and entered thoroughly into the spirit of the evening. An ideal night added materially to the pleasure of the evening, the calm surface of the water being unruffled by the slightest breeze.  Small wonder that when the party broke up about eleven o’clock many expressions of regret at the necessity of departing.  It is hoped that one more gathering may be arranged  the camp breaks up. The campers are to be  upon their appreciation of the beautiful I having picked such an ideal spot for their outing. An evening under such  brings most forcefully to mind the many advantages of the Island as a resort  where such enjoyments may be had for the taking. 

Small016-2Red Gap continued to be a destination for the first half of the century. Like Holland Cove its shallow water and sand beach made it excellent for both children and adults.  It was here that many later members of the Charlottetown Yacht Club learned to  swim and sail and row and the many photos in the Weeks, Bourke and Irwin family collections at the Public Archives and Records Office attest to the popularity of Red Gap.  For many young members of the Yacht Club a trip to Red Gap was their first nautical outing. In addition, its position of shelter in a south-west  gale resulted in its being known as a safe “hole” to park a boat when the winds rose.

Ferguson and Webster's Creeks - Google Earth 2011

Ferguson and Webster’s Creeks – Google Earth 2011

Today the creeks flowing into Red Gap run less quickly and the channels are less clearly defined as the water threads over the sand and mud bars.  The shores have becoming populated with cottages and homes and the quiet and isolation that made Red Gap a “nearby wilderness” have been eroded.  While there is still good sand near the shore the bottom of the cove at low tide is now mostly mud carried down from the fields. When I went over the side of the boat two years ago my leg measured more than two feet of dark thick mud studded with razor-sharp oyster shells which cut me badly.  And, like most areas near the more populated centres the clams, if they can be found, are now no longer recommended for consumption.  Yet Red Gap, especially at high tide, remains pleasant spot to throw over the anchor and take lunch or a nap.  It is still one of my favourite Charlottetown Harbour destinations.



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