[Transcribed from The Summerside Journal 1 February 1940]
SUMMERSIDE AN IMPORTANT BUSINESS AND RESIDENTIAL CENTRE OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
The following article written by a Summerside newspaperman appeared in a recent issue of a Maritime daily:
Summerside, the capital of Prince County, Prince Edward Island, the second largest town of the province, possesses many interesting and attractive features. It is prettily situated within Bedeque Bay, in the midst of the richest agricultural area in Prince Edward Island.
On the north, separated by a neck of land scarcely four miles wide is Malpeque Bay, home of the luscious oysters, which bear that name familiar to epicures across the Dominion and even beyond it. Bedeque Bay and adjacent waters on the south side have in their day yielded many thousands of dollars worth of oysters of renowned flavor, which also have helped to make the name of Summerside known in other parts.
Had Its Origin
Summerside has gained worldwide publicity within the last 35 years from the fact that it became the world's center of the silver fox raising industry. Here that industry was cradled, here was formed the first commercial fox company in all Canada, and here through days of proud prosperity and in the more recent dark days of depression the industry was maintained and still persists in the face of a fallen market, to provide a means of livelihood for many.
In the palmiest days of the industry and many times since silver foxes raised in this area have carried off world championship honors at all the leading fairs of Canada and the United States where foxes have been exhibited. It was no exaggeration on the part of whoever made the statement when it was said that more foxes could be found in the environs of Summerside than in all the rest of Prince Edward Island combined, and more prize-winning foxes than anywhere else on the continent. In view of this peculiar fact it was nothing else but natural that the Canadian National Silver Fox Breeders' Association, which is Dominion-wide in its scope, should find its birthplace here and its headquarters ever since its incorporation back in l920 have been maintained in Summerside.
Here also is situated the Experimental Fox Station operated by the Federal Government where the many problems in the raising of silver foxes are scientifically studied.
Many other industries flourish in Summerside, not so far-famed as the fox business, but which are solidly established and furnish employment to many of the residents. The stores of Summerside are among the finest and most up-to-date to be found in any part of Canada, one of them having the distinction of being the largest home-owned departmental establishment in the Maritimes.
Summerside as a town dates back to the early 1830's. St. Eleanors, a suburban village about three miles west of the present Summerside, was the proposed original site for the town in this locality, but the dream was never realized. Business naturally converged around what was known at the time as Green's Shore, the future Summerside. Here in 1838 the inner portion of the present Queen's Wharf was completed. This was on the property of Daniel Green, a United Empire Loyalist, who had obtained it from Governor Fanning in 1795. The first store in the hamlet was also started by a man named Green along about this same period so that the place naturally became known as Green's Shore. When Daniel Green passed away in 1825 his 500-acre grant of property was bequeathed to his six sons, who in time disposed of it in sections to various parties who built up homes and laid the foundations of the present town of Summerside, which by the way received its present name so tradition has it from one Colonel Harry Compton, a retired British army officer. The colonel lived on the northern slope of the watershed north of the town and had considerable experience with cold, raw, blasts which swept from the north across Richmond Bay. The story goes that coming over the hill on a raw March day he was struck with the strength of the sun on the southern side. He met Joseph Green, one of Daniel's sons, and exclaimed, "Why, you are on the summer side here!" which remark so pleased Mr. Green that he placed the words "Summer Side" over the door of his residence and the name stuck to the embryo town, and Summerside it has remained ever since.
A big event in the history of the town was the arrival in 1840 at Queen's Wharf, formerly Green's Wharf, of the first steam-propelled ship to enter the harbor. This was the side-wheeler "St. George". For some time this steamer made regular trips between Charlottetown, Pictou, Summerside and Miramichi and was followed about 1860 by the "Westmoreland," and in due course by the S. S. "Princess of Wales" and then the "St. Lawrence" - all paddle-box steamers.
Summerside started to flourish in real earnest in the palmy [sic] days of wooden shipbuilding, when vessels built in various parts of the Maritimes sailed the seven seas. This town along with other places on the Island produced many handsome ships. Notable among them was the handsome craft "Gondolier" of 1049 tons, built in 1877, which in the next year was credited by the New York Maritime Register with having made the fastest sailing trip on record up to that time between New South Wales and Yokohama - 33 days.
From these early beginnings Summerside has developed into a notable business center and for well-organized large and up-to-date general stores and other business institutions it stands in a class by itself in towns of a like size in the eastern provinces.
The town of Summerside is not only remarkable for its splendid business houses but its chief charm lies in its attractiveness as a residential center. It is a town of handsome homes on well-laid-out streets adorned with numerous shade trees, well-kept lawns and gardens. Practically all of the streets are paved and citizens enjoy all the privileges of a city with none of the handicaps. Having the lowest tax rate in Canada, it is by every means a desirable place in which to make one's home. This is proved by the fact that within the past 10 or 12 years quite a number of retired farmers and others have located here and erected comfortable homes. The increase in population within that period has not been surpassed by any town of the same size in the Maritimes, if in the Dominion.
The town owns its water, sewage, electric light and power systems and all of these turn in a very good revenue.
Summerside has excellent hotel accommodation, an up-to-date and attractive theatre, four banks, four newspapers, two woodworking factories, flour mills, three creameries, 2 modernized ice-cream making plants and butter factories, boat building establishment, printing and bookbinding plants, lobster and chicken canneries, two modern laundries and dry-cleaning plants, up-to-date garages and filling stations, cold storage plants, potato bag factory and various other industrial works.
It has one of the finest schools in Canada, teaching up to grade 11, and many of the pupils have achieved distinction both at home and abroad in their chosen avocation.
The principal exports at present from the port of Summerside are seed and table potatoes. The harbor and wharf facilities are vastly improved over a few years ago and ships of quite heavy tonnage now come here and load cargoes for various distant ports. The growing trade in potato export has made enlargement of wharf and warehouse facilities imperative and a view of the interior of the huge new frost-proof warehouse at the Government wharf during the shipping season is something to be remembered. Other exports comprise horses and cattle, fox furs, canned and live lobsters, oysters, smelts, etc.
Passenger and freight steamships call here through the summer from Montreal, Quebec and other ports.
Visitors to Summerside have the privilege of stopping at excellent hotels and private boarding houses, and if they so desire in summer, at clean, comfortable and well-equipped over-night cabins which are within easy distance of the town and the shore.
Fine Golf Courses
The town has one of the finest golf courses to be found in eastern Canada and visitors are always assured of a hearty welcome. Summer visitors are within easy reach by motorcar of offshore fishing for mackerel [gap in original] bathing, clambakes, impromptu dances and picnics, baseball, golf, etc. There are many alluring streams at which to try one's skill at trout fishing.
For those who enjoy winter recreation wonderful opportunities are here, good skating and curling rinks, indoor and outdoor hockey games, horse racing on the ice, ice-boating, snowshoeing, skiing and skating are all to be had.
Owning its own lighting plant the town is one of the best lighted in Canada. Its drinking water is unsurpassed for purity anywhere.
Summerside is on the C.N.R. line of railway and has daily communication both by rail and air with the mainland.
The town has seven churches of different denominations, a convent and an up-to-date hospital.