Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Accommodations’ Category

A Summer’s Day in Charlottetown

By Jennifer MacPhail

First, I’m here to tell you a secret. Like any good secret, it’s a well-known one, but in the event you haven’t been told – this city is pretty great in the summer.

Summer starts on Sunday, June 21st. To kick off the season and celebrate the longest day of the year, Discover Charlottetown has created Summer Solstice Weekend, which will feature three days jam-packed with summer-inspired things to see, do, taste, and hear in Charlottetown, running from June 19th to June 21st.

With so much to enjoy in the City, where does one begin? I’ve been asked to share my tips on how to make the most of a sun-filled day in Charlottetown – whether it be during Summer Solstice Weekend or any other time during the season.

Fueling Your Day

The sun is shining and you’ve just woken up. What are you going to do today? Well, first you need to grab a bicycle. The Confederation Trail runs through Charlottetown and links downtown to the rest of the Island, offering a safe route for cyclists, dog walkers, joggers, and everyone else you find on the trail. If you’re visiting and don’t have a bike, we’ve got you covered with numerous rental spots in Charlottetown.  If it’s Saturday or Wednesday, you’ll want to head to the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market first thing in the morning. It’s conveniently located on the Confederation Trail and full of delicious local foods and beautiful artisan items. As part of the Summer Solstice Weekend, on June 20th, the Market is hosting a special chef demo. Be sure to sign up ahead of time for this tasty experience!

Enjoy locally produced food at the market!

Enjoy locally produced food at the market!

If your trip to the market didn’t fill your belly (hard to imagine!) and you find yourself a bit peckish, you’ll want to head to Receiver Coffee Co. on Victoria Row. You will arrive, look at the menu, and think, “So many delicious options, however will I decide?!” You will order the breakfast bake. Yes, other things will tempt you, but don’t second guess yourself (If you choose to ignore my advice you’ll be fine, as everything on the menu is excellent!).

Shopping & Wandering

So far I have advised you to eat a lot of food. It’s important to maintain balance in life, so now you might want to take a stroll. Make your way to Peake’s Wharf Historic Waterfront and visit the shops that open their doors for the summer season. Enjoy live music at the outdoor stage and check out the sales taking place during Summer Solstice Weekend. On your wander down to the waterfront, you’ll also discover plenty of other unique shops and beautiful storefronts, particularly on Queen Street, Great George Street, Water Street, and Victoria Row.

Peake's Wharf Historic Waterfront

Peake’s Wharf Historic Waterfront

Peake’s Wharf Historic Waterfront is handily located next to Confederation Landing Park, which will play host to many Summer Solstice Weekend activities. Stop in and visit Parks Canada’s Discovery Dome, stroll through Artisan Alley and stop to marvel at the artisan demonstrations, enjoy a sneak peek of snippets from the Island Fringe Festival, take in National Aboriginal Day Celebrations, and get your face painted (or, you know, maybe your kid’s face).

Fun Times Outside

Charlottetown is blessed with great swaths of green space, the most popular being, arguably, Victoria Park. There is a boardwalk that stretches along the waterfront, trails in the woods, a children’s play area, tennis courts, a pool, and lots of space to toss around a frisbee. During the summer, one of the driving lanes is shut down to traffic and turned over to cyclists, skateboarders, and in-line skaters.

Enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk

Enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk

Frisbee at Victoria Park

Frisbee at Victoria Park

If your golf clubs are begging to be used, you are in the right place. Although there are many golf courses in the Greater Charlottetown Area, Fox Meadow Golf & Country Club gets a special mention for their Summer Solstice promotion. On June 20th or 21st, you can enjoy unlimited golf for the entire day at a special rate of $50.

Perhaps swinging a club at a tiny, white, unpredictable ball (sigh) doesn’t appeal to you, but you feel like reaching new heights. Cornwall’s Rise and Climb Adventure Course gives you the chance to channel your inner monkey as you clip on for an exciting ropes course. On Friday, June 19th, they are hosting their first-ever Solstice night climb starting at 8:30pm, which will allow participants to complete the course in a new, challenging way.

I’m Hungry Again!

For entertainment of a different sort, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino offers a choice of two restaurants and front row seats to live harness racing while you enjoy your meal. You can even place bets on the races from your table!

Enjoy front row seats to the races while enjoying dinner at Top of the Park

Enjoy front row seats to the races while enjoying dinner at Top of the Park

Watch live harness racing up close.

Watch live harness racing up close.

Stomach still rumbling? Perfect, now it’s time for ice cream. COWS was selected by Reader’s Digest as Canada’s best ice cream, a well deserved designation. Ice cream is also available at numerous other downtown locations, including Billy Timber Ice Cream & Candy Co. at Peake’s Wharf, Downtown Convenience, Cy’s, Kiwanis Dairy Bar at Victoria Park, and others. I feel pretty confident in saying Charlottetown is an ice cream friendly destination.

This COWS statue gets almost as much love as their ice cream!

This COWS statue gets almost as much love as their ice cream!

Sometimes it happens that you’ve already had ice cream for, oh, eight days in a row. For something different head to Anne of Green Gables Chocolates. Smile politely and act surprised when the store’s friendly staff offer you a sample. There are lots of goodies here fighting for your attention, but the show stealer is the chocolate covered potato chips.

Night Time Fun

You’re full now, right? Good, because we need to talk about fun evening activities. One particular Charlottetown cultural activity you might not read about in your guide is pub trivia. On almost any night of the week there is a pub somewhere in Charlottetown hosting trivia. Hunter’s Ale House leads the pack by having trivia three or four nights a week. I will warn you, trivia can be busy. You shouldn’t expect to get a table if you wait until start time to arrive. Also, schedules do change and you may find some places on hiatus during the summer months (surely reason enough to return to PEI during the fall or winter!).

Oh My, It’s Raining

Anytime I imagine a particular day or event, I always envision sunny skies. It is a fact, however, that PEI’s weather can be unpredictable by times and the reason our grass is so green is because it rains on occasion. No bother, grab your wellies and rain coat and head downtown. Do you like musicals starring red-headed heroines? Me too! Catch Anne of Green Gables – The Musical on stage at the Confederation Centre of the Arts or cross the street to The Guild and enjoy Anne all grown up and in love in Anne & Gilbert: The Musical. Both venues also house art galleries, so be sure to arrive early and take some time to wander around. The Confederation Centre is also the temporary home of an impressive recreation of Province House’s legislature, which is currently closed for refurbishment, and a fascinating video that will give you insight into the role Charlottetown played in Confederation.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts

The Confederation Centre of the Arts

If you prefer stage productions that don’t star enthusiastic orphans, you’ll be pleased to know that there are numerous live theatre performances and musical revues at the Confederation Centre, the Mack, The Guild, and the PEI Brewing Company on select nights to suit all ages and tastes.

Sometimes it’s nice to incorporate a bit of education into your day. Pop up your umbrella and head to Founders’ Hall. This attraction tells the story of Canada’s birth and how the country evolved geographically to get to where it is today. The venue also has a shop, restaurant, and Visitor Information Centre should you be stuck for fun activities, need a map, or wish to pick up some souvenirs.

Many people are willing to golf in the rain, but if you prefer to stay dry go upstairs in the Confederation Court Mall and go to All About Golf, an indoor golf simulator.

City Cinema is a single-screen cinema showing movies that are not typically screened at major theatres. On the weekend there are two showings per night, which still gives you plenty of time to pop into a pub later for a beverage and live music.

Well That Was a Busy Day

That was a pretty full day, wasn’t it? And one of the best parts is that there is still lots left to do throughout the rest of the summer! Be sure to return to Discover Charlottetown’s website frequently, give them a like on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to learn about the latest Summer Solstice events and other festivals happening throughout the summer.

Happy exploring!

Jennifer MacPhail is a long-time blogger, avid cyclist, former Disney World Cast member, and cat lover. She lives in downtown Charlottetown and is excited every time there is a cruise ship in town.

Like!
3

How I Came To Transform A Vintage Home In Charlottetown, PEI

By Steven Fudge

As a west coast Canuck who relocated to Toronto over two decades ago, it wasn’t until 2005 that I first passed through Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island en-route to a wedding in Cape Breton. Charlottetown was on my itinerary because my dear friend and musician, James Ormston, was playing in the Charlottetown Festival. On that first visit, I instantly became smitten with the east coast charm of PEI’s capital city. Of course, during that initial rendezvous with Charlottetown, I had no idea that just three years later James and I would co-purchase a dilapidated vintage triplex on Upper Hillsborough that was in dire need of TLC and take on the task of renovating it remotely from Toronto.

7 - Black_House

 

Our original plan was simple enough. We’d buy a triplex and once the mortgage was paid off in 25 years, we’d each have a unit and the third could cover our operating expenses. Our income property proposal was a simple (or so we thought), strategic way to secure ‘free housing’ in our retirement years. As someone who has cultivated his passion for housing into a career, we sleuthed out the right opportunity in a transitioning location . We wanted to find a place where we could act as an anchor to a neighbourhood’s rejuvenation, while also capitalizing on a more economical acquisition price.  It all seemed reasonable enough. Along with our $153,000 purchase price and $4000 in closing costs, the home inspection revealed some significant repair needs totalling around $54,000. We figured we’d systematically tackle these projects during the summer months over the next five years, however, it wasn’t ultimately that simple (when is it?).

2-Black_House_Archive_Photo

 

When James arrived to take occupancy of the top floor apartment during our first summer of ownership, he discovered it sufficiently ruined. A wall soaked with water and mould from an on-going roof leak meant that the suite had to be gutted, reconfigured, and refreshed into what would become James’ contemporary Attic Atelier.

Attic Atelier Kitchen Transformation

 

SBS_Attic_Bed1

 

It was during this time we also had to acknowledge most of the major building components were beyond repair – the roof was shot, there was no insulation in the walls, the windows leaked like sieves and the heating system was almost kaput. Furthermore, James really craved an outdoor terrace for the attic suite, which basically meant we had to build a 3-storey ‘deck tower’ and I realized that the house had to have at least one 3-bedroom suite for our parade of friends and family.  James never did live in the house that summer, but we reconciled that this sad, forlorn 1880’s shell of a manse truly deserved our commitment to comprehensively ’do it right’. What began as a $200,000 long-term investment quickly ballooned into a $600,000 capital injection over a six-year period. While our slow and steady good intentions were quickly shattered, we embraced transforming the property into both our ‘home away from home’ and a luxury vacation rental guest home we ultimately called The Black House.

After - Attic Atelier Living Room

 

After - Attic Atelier Dining

 

Just as the Attic Suite was complete, our second floor tenant vacated, which prompted a cosmetic refurbishment including installing a new ‘vintage inspired’ washroom with ensuite laundry. When it quickly rented, we gained the confidence to rebuild the triplex as a low-maintenance, high-yield investment and summer residence. Tackling the ground floor Garden Suite reconfiguration was our next endeavour and it took an entire year to complete. A bland 1980s former bedroom addition was expanded an additional 180 square feet to create the Garden Suite Great Room (complete with reclaimed barn plank floors and beams) on which we stacked a ‘Sleeping Porch’ for the second floor apartment and a Sky Tree Terrace on top of it for the Attic Suite. While the additions were being built, we gutted the entire main floor to the studs, where we discovered the house was full of knob and tube wiring (which had been missed in the home inspection), and the hot water radiators were in need of all new plumbing lines.

After - Attic Atelier Terrace

 

As it progressed we turned our attention to redesigning the exterior, where we rebuilt the poorly enclosed front porch into a proper Centre Hall entrance serving  the second floor suite while a newly constructed well-proportioned Side Porch was  built as elegant entrances to both the Garden and Attic Suites. And as it neared  completion we ponied up a tidy sum to landscape the front with a Black Garden  using our landscape designer Dan Nuttall and resurfaced the asphalt driveway.

6C - Black_House_Siding_

 

The Garden Suite was an opportunity to engage and celebrate all the wonderful tradespeople who make Charlottetown their home. We enlisted the best of the best, including contractor Paul Coles, who is brilliant in his sensitive approach to elevating vintage properties, to create a bespoke suite that offers all the contemporary comforts we seek in a home today with a nod to the past. We used reclaimed plank floors and beams, incorporated bead board, custom parquetry, and had marble mosaic tiles laid as ‘carpets’ in classic patterns. The washrooms are indulgent, the sleeping spaces are discreetly tucked away from the Great Room, and the cedar wrapped terrace with barbecue off the kitchen is situated under the canopy of an enchanting 100-year old Ash Tree. Our sublime ’pinch me perfect’ Garden Suite, which we furnished with a mix of eclectic designer pieces, is ideal for family fetes.

Garden Suite Kitchen Transformation

 

Garden_Living_BeforeAfter

 

Garden Suite Rear Deck

 

Finally, when our second floor apartment became vacant again, we made the decision to fully restore, furnish and elevate this space into the Captain’s Quarters to complement the other two fully-equipped suites. While James had always gravitated to the Attic and I love being able to walk into a garden, when we finally flew in to furnish the second floor newly renovated suite last year, we both instantly felt the power of this space. It has that insouciant, compelling charm that comes with the patina of original rooms that have been happily occupied for over 125 years. Committed to reclaiming its original pedigree, we restored the stair banisters, added crown mouldings and bead board in our Centre Hall Makeover, built a dining bench in the cozy entertainment space and installed a breathtaking custom kitchen that included a built-in pantry with antique-leaded glass doors.

Captains Quarters Kitchen / Dining

 

Captains Quarters First BedroomCaptains Quarters WashroomThis year will be the first year since our purchase in 2008 where we don’t have a massive ‘To-Do’ list – and all 15 rooms are furnished. With the exterior complete in Black (here’s why), and two of the three suites being quickly booked for weekly summer stays), we finally get to fully enjoy ‘The Gentle Island’. While this labour of love will never be finished (yes, we’re obsessed with design), we’re looking forward to engaging more with the community, which has fostered several dear friendships. No matter what time of year we’re visiting The Black House, we feel like we’re home.

The Black House

Steven Fudge is co-owner of The Black House and divides his time between Charlottetown and Toronto.

For more about Steven and James’ Charlottetown dream-come-true vacation retreat visit www.charlottetownaccommodations.com 

Learn more about Steven’s Toronto enterprise at www.urbaneer.com
Follow them on twitter @urbaneer 

Like!
5