Island of St. John by the English, Prince Edward Island (its present name since 1799) came under British rule after the Treaty of Paris in 1763. A top priority of the British was to have their new acquisitions surveyed. In 1764, Captain Samuel Holland was appointed the Surveyor-General and given the task of surveying British holdings in the New World. He recommended what is the current site of Charlottetown and suggested this be one of the primary Island towns and be named Charlotte Town in honor of Queen Charlotte, wife of George III of England.
1765 saw Charlotte Town being designated the capital city of the province. In 1768 and in accordance with Captain Holland’s wishes, Charles Morris of Nova Scotia began laying out the streets of Charlotte Town. Thomas Wright, a surveyor, expanding upon Mr. Morris’s plan, created a layout of the town with 500 lots (84’ x 120’ each), streets 100’ wide stretching from the water and streets 80’ wide crossing at right angles, a central square for public buildings and four large green “squares”. Later alterations allowed an encroachment of 40 feet on the east-west streets, creating lots 84’ x 160’, the elimination of some streets, and a few lot consolidations. On the non-water sides of the town, there was a 565-acre buffer of land called a common reserved for future expansion of the town. Adjacent to the common was included another 12, one-acre fields of pastureland. Many changes have occurred over the years, but the basic 500 lots can still be defined and the 4 green squares are still in existence.
Formal government in Charlottetown began with the arrival of Governor Walter Patterson in 1770. In addition to being the administrative center of the Island, Charlottetown was also the headquarters for the military, the militia being housed at Fort George. Charlottetown became a City by act of the General Assembly of Prince Edward Island under the City of Charlottetown Act in April 1855. One hundred and thirty-nine years later in 1994, the Charlottetown Areas Municipalities Act was proclaimed (effective for April 1, 1995) to create the new City of Charlottetown by amalgamating the six communities of Hillsborough Park, East Royalty, West Royalty, Winsloe, Sherwood, Parkdale, and the City of Charlottetown.
The Fathers of Confederation originally met to discuss the uniting of Upper and Lower Canada in the Provincial Legislature of Charlottetown. This meeting resulted in the capital City being known as the “Birthplace of Confederation”.
Sources for the above information include the following:
Charlottetown: The Life in Its Buildings, Irene L. Rogers, The Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown, 1983.
Charlottetown Centennial 1855 – 1955, Official Souvenir Booklet, The Charlottetown Centennial Committee; The Tribune Press Ltd., Halifax, NS, 1955.