Tag Archives: Augustine Cove

From New York to Charlottetown – By Canoe

Late in the afternoon of Monday, 24 August 1908 a small craft  moved past Blockhouse Point and across Charlottetown Harbour. Aboard were only two crew members and the vessel carried no cargo. The little boat was the sailing canoe Patsy Green and it had left at 5:30 that morning from Augustine Cove. The passage from there to Charlottetown under clear skies and a light breeze had taken less than eleven hours.  That was an impressive time, even though they were probably able to pass in the shallow waters between St.Peter’s Island and Rice Point. What was more impressive is that the journey had started in New York City, 900 miles to the south.

Aboard the canoe were 36 year old Henry A. Wise Wood and his wife Elizabeth Ogden. They had been canoeing for more than fifteen years but this was their longest journey. Henry was the son of a former mayor of New York City but had made his fortune as the inventor of the high-speed newspaper press and held hundreds of patents. His maritime interests were not limited to canoes and he was a member of the prestigious New York Yacht Club and later became one of the founders of the Cruising Club of America.

In several years of canoeing they had developed a canoe especially fitted for long-distance cruising. The Patsy Green was sixteen feet long, thirty-five inches in beam and she drew about six inches of water when loaded. The canoe was decked much like a kayak with one small cockpit forward for Elizabeth and one at the stern for Henry. Between them was a bulkheaded compartment for camping supplies, provisions and their clothing. Henry boasted that “We are often wet ourselves, but our supplies are dry always.” At the bow was a diminutive mast which could carry two boomed-out sails and was the responsibility of the bow crew. When not in use the mast could be unshipped and strapped to the deck.

The sailing canoe had been popularized in the 1880s by English yachtsman John MacGregor  and his long-distance adventures in his tiny Rob Roy canoe yachts but the English type of sailing canoes were simply small, narrow vessels, usually with a yawl rig. In North America enthusiasts embraced indigenous designs and their vessels were recognizably “indian” canoes, quite different from their English counterparts. What was similar was the frequent long-distance trips completed such as one from Lake George, N.Y. to Florida.

The Wise Wood’s journey to Prince Edward Island had really begun the previous year with a trip from New York to Gloucester on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. The Cape Cod Canal was not to open until more than seven years later and so the first challenge for the pair was to round Cape Cod in the cold swells of the Atlantic Ocean.

Once this was accomplished safely the proposal for the next year was to follow the Maine Coast north up to the Bay of Fundy, across the Chignecto Isthmus and Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island.  The pair left Gloucester in mid-July. When the wind favoured they sailed, but they  paddled most of the way, and stopped nights on shore at some house or settlement, or perhaps camped when necessary. Normally they made from thirty to thirty-five miles per day. After nineteen days paddling and sailing and a few days spent with friends at Campobello Island they reached Saint John.  Fog and storm kept them there for almost a week. Stopping at St. Martin’s and again at Alma they crossed the Bay and reached Sackville on the evening of Monday 17 August.

Loading the Patsy Green on the New Brunswick and Price Edward Island Railway train they re-launched at the “rather unattractive seaport of Cape Tormentine” but were again delayed by bad weather for most of the week. Setting off on Friday afternoon they decided to cross, not to the short direct route to Cape Traverse, but bound for Victoria cutting off a few miles by the diagonal. Three-quarters of the way across they were struck by a squall but kept their small sails up even though lobster boats around them were “scudding under bare poles.” They landed safely at the nearest shore, Augustine Cove, where they were “entertained at the hospitable home” of Louis Howatt for several days.

After a few days in Charlottetown at the Victoria Hotel the Wise Woods left for home – by steamer to Pictou then rail to Yarmouth, then by steamship to New York. The Patsy Ann accompanied them as baggage. In mid-September the story of their trip appeared in the magazine section of the New York Herald and was picked up in numerous newspapers across the United States. For most editors the lead feature of the story was not that the trip had been completed but that it had been completed by a woman! For once it was “Mrs. Henry A. Wise Wood and husband” rather than “Mr. and wife.” While only the Herald seems to have developed artwork for the story most of the papers re-printing it did insert a grainy photo of the couple in Charlottetown Harbour, as seen above.  Presumably while underway in stormy waters the straw boaters and neckties were safely below.

Magazine Section New York Herald 18 September 1908

Patsy Green on display in Clayton N.Y. photo from: http://www.sailingobsession.ca/2014/07/mr-mrs-wood-patsy-green.html

The last word of the story, however, is from Henry. When asked why the couple had embarked on the trip he said “When I take my vacation I want to get away from the sound of steam and the chug-chug of the motor boat I like to get out on the sea with only sails and your own hands to help you along.”  Today the Patsy Green is part of the collection of the Antique Boat Museum in the Thousand Islands at Clayton New York, a considerable distance from the salt water where she achieved her fame.

P.E.I. Stereoviews 1922

Loading sheep for Newfoundland -  Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

Loading sheep for Newfoundland – Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

Loading cattle  Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

Loading cattle Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

Late in the summer of 1922 a photographer from the Keystone View Company of Meadville Pennsylvania visited Prince Edward Island. The company was preparing a series of photographs of industries across the country.  In addition to Charlottetown the photographer visited farms and took photos in Emerald, Mount Albion, and Augustine Cove as well as at the Experimental Farm in Charlottetown.  Most of the photos from Prince Edward Island, aside from shots of the Provincial Building, Prince of Wales, Prince Street School and St. Dunstan’s were not-so-riveting shots of turnip harvesting, old and new methods of potato picking and hen houses for comparative egg-laying experiments.

Loading Coal Keystone Mast UCR (2)

Coal handling in Charlottetown – Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

Following the agricultural theme the photographer also captured several images on the waterfront. At the Buntain & Bell wharf a steamer with stalls built on the deck (possibly the Canadian Steamships Line  S.S. Morona which had a regular service from Montreal to St. John’s, stopping at Charlottetown) was loading livestock for Newfoundland and images of sheep being driven aboard and cattle winched from the wharf are included in the collection. Besides being a labour-intense operation the loading was also of considerable interest to boys and other by-standers for whom the wharf-side activity was a source of entertainment.    At the next wharf over several coal schooners were in port and although hardly picture-postcard material shots of coal carts being loaded were captured by the lens.  They give a good view of Charlottetown’s working waterfront in 1922. These types of shots are rare because most photographers of the time focused on streetscapes, dramatic events or the impressive public buildings of the city.

Rosebank fur farm 1

Dr. Leo Frank at Rosebank Fur Farms – Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

Across the harbour on the Langley shore another type of farm was in operation,  The early 1920s were the height of the fox farming boom and Dr. Leo Frank’s Rosebank Fur Farms was one of the leading fox ranches in the country. The Keystone photographer took a whole series of images at the fox farm and the black silver foxes were clearly of interest. Silver fox breeding had been developed in Prince Edward Island like no where else in the country and it is not surprising that a series concentrating on industries would include photos of this type.

Indians Langley

Indian basketmakers at Langley shore – Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

Another image, probably taken at about the same time shows aboriginal basketmakers, in an encampment at Rosebank, with Minchin’s Point and the ferry wharf at Southport in the background

Indians Detail

Detail showing Minchins Point and Ferry Wharf – Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.

st-view-viewerThe photos taken in 1922 were stereoviews, taken with a dual lens camera that resulted in a double image. When viewed through a stereo viewer the image appeared as a three dimensional representation of the subject.  Beginning in the mid-19th century the views were popular. Series of views of exotic locations, dramatic events and even pornography were produced. Besides being a parlour entertainment the views were promoted as an educational tool.   Several factors which helped increase stereography’s popularity was the novelty of experiencing explicit three-dimensional detail in a stereo card and the potential for card owners to frequently revisit views of world events in private or during social gatherings. By enabling armchair observers to have vicarious experiences in faraway places stereographs became to the later nineteenth century, what television and the Internet are to contemporary culture.  Some stereoviews were produced by local photographers and even amateurs but most were created by companies with traveling photographers and the views were marketed in series. Special boxes and furniture were also produced to house collections of images.  The standard stereocard was about 3.5 x 7.0 inches with a curved surface to enhance the 3-D effect and a variety of viewers produced to provide the 3-D effect.


Some Keystone images from a local collection.

The Keystone View Company was founded  in 1892 by an amateur photographer, B. L. Singley of Meadville, Pennsylvania. Starting with a series of thirty views of a local flood he soon expanded his work and eventually became the largest producer of stereocards in the world and by 1905 was offering 20,000 different views. Taking over the collections of competitors the company eventually gathered a established a collecton of over 2 million negatives and continued to produce images into the 1950s.  In the 20th century Keystone specialized in educational stereocard sets and promoted their use for teaching of geography, social studies, science, history and reading.  Their educational nature can be seen in this excerpt from the text on the back of Charlottetown lamb loading view:

Did you ever play “follow the leader”? Lambs and sheep always follow their leader. In this picture their leader has gone on board this boat and the lambs are crowding each other to follow. You wonder where they are going.  They have been raised on an Island and are going to be shipped to the mainland., There they will be taken to the stockyards. 

After 1955 the company moved into other lines of business and In 1978, the company’s records, prints, and inventory of negatives, weighing more than 30 tons, were donated to the UCR/California Museum of Photography at the University of California Riverside, where they are now known as the Keystone-Mast collection.  Of the more than 250,000 glass plates and negatives and 100,000 images some 40,000 are available on line and can be searched here.  In the on-line selection some 2700 items are from Canada and  about 60 are from P.E.I.  The collection includes duplicate views as the photographer tried to get the best exposure and framing.  Not all of the shots were turned into finished stereo cards.

Some of the raw PEI images are shown below:  Click on any item to start the slide show:

All images from  Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside.