Description of Historic Place
The Judges' Stand at 46 Kensington Road is a small, three storey building located within the inner section of the racetrack at the Charlottetown Driving Park Entertainment Centre. Constructed in approximately 1888, it is an important and very visible reminder of Charlottetown's long harness racing tradition. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of the Judges' Stand lies in its association with Charlottetown's harness racing industry; its unique architecture; and its role as the oldest freestanding judges' stand in Canada.
Harness racing has always been a popular activity throughout Prince Edward Island. By the 1880s, the Island had over 24 community racetracks. Charlottetown hosted saddle racing on the St. Peters Road in the early part of the 1800s but had no track of its own until 2 October 1889, when the Charlottetown Driving Park was opened for standard bred harness racing. There have been horse races there ever since. The Charlottetown Driving Park consisted of an oval racetrack, a two-storey grandstand and the Judges' Stand.
Built in approximately 1888, the Judges' Stand is the oldest part of the current Charlottetown Driving Park Entertainment Centre (CDPEC). It is located prominently inside the racetrack. It remains the oldest freestanding judges' stand in Canada. The Judges' Stand was restored in 1999 and is still used for special events.
The grandstand was a casualty of Hurricane Juan in 2003, however, a much larger, 25 million dollar facility was built in its place. The CDPEC, which opened in 2005, includes a restaurant and a gaming facility that overlooks the racetrack and the Judges' Stand. Harness racing continues to be popular on Prince Edward Island and is an important part of the culture. The Province of Prince Edward Island has been referred to as the "Kentucky of Canada" underlining the important place the industry holds here.
Since the early part of the 20th Century, each August, Islanders "from away" or expatriates come home to the Island to participate in Old Home Week, an event that began in Charlottetown in 1905. In 1960, the extremely popular Gold Cup and Saucer Pace was added. A parade and ambassadors were added soon after. Old Home Week includes a number of harness racing events that lead up to the Gold Cup & Saucer race and parade, as well as the Provincial Exhibition, a midway and other entertainment. Old Home Week is the highlight of the Island summer and it a common saying on the Island that once Old Home Week has passed, then the summer is over.
The building has three sections topped by a pyramidal roof and weather vane. It features wood shingle cladding, paneled doors, an array of windows types, and dentil details at the roofline.
An attractive building, within the large modern CDPEC, the Judges' Stand is a monument to the importance of harness racing to the culture of Charlottetown and the rest of Prince Edward Island.
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 Judges' Stand:
- The overall massing of the building with its wood frame and wood shingle cladding
- The size and shape of the pyramidal roof topped with a small weather vane
- The size and placement of the windows particularly the windows of the second floor and the large windows that wrap around the building
- The size and placement of the wood panel doors
- The mouldings painted in a contrasting colour, including the dentil detailing along the roofline and the mouldings along the top of the third floor windows
- The large balcony that wraps around the entire second floor of the building
- The placement of the Judges' Stand inside the racetrack
- The landscaping around the building