Salute to the Prince Edward Island Railway

The Prince Edward Island Railway began operating in 1875.  Its establishment was accomplished largely through the efforts of two Summerside brother, James Colledge Pope, who was Premier when the Railway Bill was passed in 1871, and William Henry Pope, a Father of Confederation.  The narrow gauge track ran from Tignish to Souris.  The routing through Summerside, bypassing the more established communities of Bedeque and St. Eleanors, reflected the town’s growing prominence as an important centre of commerce and trade.

The massive and controversial debt incurred during construction was the single most compelling factor in forcing the Island to abandon its strong Anti-Confederation position and join Canada in 1873.  The terms of Confederation were negotiated for P.E.I. by Premier J. C. Pope, and included a guarantee of a continuous steamship connection with the mainland.  This became a significant factor in Summerside’s early development since freight and passengers were transported from Summerside by steamship to Pointe du Chene, New Brunswick.

The rail connection continued until the Borden, P.E.I. – Cape Tormentine, N.B. ferry service was introduced in 1917.  The last train rolled out of Summerside in 1989, ending more than a century of railroad tradition.

The mural depicts six historic photographs:

1.  Rail men posing proudly with hand-fired steam engine #4, driver David Pound at the throttle

2.  Summerside Engineers Ernie Deighan and Freddie MacKinnon in front of engine #119

3.  Summerside freight shed crew 1910

4.  Oiler standing by narrow gauge steam engine mounted with large cowcatcher

5.  The 1913 “Million Dollar Train” transporting breeding foxes from Tignish.  Among those

shown in Charles Dalton, co-founder of the silver fox industry

6.  Freight train carrying dehydrated potatoes destined for military forces overseas 1945

Location: The Rotary Regional Library (former Railway Station), 192 Water Street

Facts:  Mural # 2.  Erected 1998 in partnership with Tourism PEI.

Mural Artist: Greg Garand

Streetscape – Downtown Summerside – c1893

During the middle part of the 19th century, Summerside became a thriving centre of commercial and mercantile trade, servicing the agricultural and shipbuilding industries.  This view, looking west on Water Street, highlights a number of businesses and features that defined the personality of Summerside.  Familiar establishments, such as John MacKenzie, Tailor, Godkin Bros., Jeweler and Milligan’s Dry Goods are evident.  The famous Holman’s Department Store, founded in 1857, is seen under expansion on the extreme left.  On the right, fronted by the wooden sidewalks typical of the day, is Campbell’s Hotel that catered to many travellers frequenting the town. In later years, during the Silver Fox “Boom,” Campbell’s, together with the Queen and Clifton Hotels, housed fur buyers from around the world.  Note the horse-drawn wagons that were used to deliver bulk coal and other commodities throughout the town and surrounding communities.

Location: The building at 223 Water Street

Facts:  Mural # 3.  Erected 1999.

Mural Artist: Tammy Peters