Peake's Wharf Complex
1, 3, and 5 Water Street, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, C1A, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Peake’s Wharf Complex, which lies at the foot of historic Great George Street, contains four former outbuildings that have been converted into seasonal retail shops, a boardwalk and a 150 slip marina. The historic wharf was originally an industrial area where ships imported and exported goods to destinations all over the world. The wharf was also a place where Islanders left Canada to fight wars or pursue their dreams in the United States. After the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries had acquired the wharf in 1904, it constructed various outbuildings that were used for storage and testing. The Charlottetown Area Development Corporation restored the area in 1989. The designation encompasses the buildings' exterior and parcel; it does not include the buildings' interior.
The historic value of the Peake’s Wharf Complex lies in its association with the Peake Bros. family business and its association with Charlottetown’s seafaring past.
The Peake Brothers constructed the Peake No. 3 wharf in 1872. The wharf was one of three wharves the Peake Family owned along the Charlottetown waterfront. Their father, James Ellis Peake (1797-1860) had developed a large shipping empire before his premature death in 1860. His sons continued in the business and established the successful company, Peake Bros. & Company in 1866. At this point in Prince Edward Island’s history, the Island exported a great deal of oats, potatoes, dried fish and wood products to the other Maritime Provinces, as well as to Britain and the United States. Over half the trade was funneled through the port of Charlottetown and some of the trade was probably conducted from Peake’s wharf.
By 1887, the Canadian Atlantic & Plant Steam Ship Company had operated a direct route from Prince Edward Island to Boston, Massachusetts. The company transported many Islanders to Boston through the wharf until 1904. During this period, there was a large emigration to Boston from the Maritimes, with the largest number leaving Prince Edward Island. Originally, the wharf stretched out further into the harbour and the Peake’s warehouse, which was located at the far end, was rented for use as a departure building. After the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries took over the wharf in 1904 the building was still being used for departures. Service men remember marching through the warehouse to waiting war ships in 1915. Unfortunately, a fire in the 1980s destroyed the original Peake warehouse that the Plant Line Company had rented.
After the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries acquired the wharf, the Dominion Government ran the icebreaking steamers from Peake’s Wharf to Pictou, Nova Scotia, replacing the route from Georgetown at the eastern end of the Island. Icebreakers were necessary in order to maintain year round contact with the mainland and fulfill the constitutional requirement of the federal government to maintain continuous efficient steam ship service with the rest of the country. The buildings that are featured in the Peake’s Wharf Complex today were built during the federal government’s ownership. None of the buildings were built by a recognizable architect, builder or engineer. They served various uses on the wharf, including storage and testing. The buildings include the lifesaving station, the testing shop, the foreman of works/lamp and buoy testing shop and the oil and chain storage building.
When the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation acquired the property and completed a major development project in 1989, the buildings were renovated and converted into seasonal retail shops. A large pedestrian boardwalk was constructed which was linked to the Charlottetown Boardwalk system. Currently, a 150 slip marina sits where the burnt section of the wharf once was.
The Peake’s Wharf Complex calls to mind the Island’s seafaring past. Its buildings have retained their simple design and add to the heritage character of the area. The buildings were all involved with some aspect of maritime life and reflect how important the sea was to the Island's economic well-being.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of the Peake’s Wharf Complex:
- The overall placement of the buildings on the wharf
- The size and shape of the simple buildings
- The wood construction of the buildings
- The placement and style of the windows and doors
- The gable roofs
- The wooden cladding
- The location of the wharf on the Charlottetown waterfront
Prince Edward Island
City of Charlottetown
City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
- Harbour Facility
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
Cross-Reference to Collection