Description of Historic Place
The Hillsborough Square is a park that includes a variety of large mature trees, asphalt paths and playground equipment. It is one of five public squares in the City of Charlottetown, four of which are public parks and the other, Queens Square, contains public buildings as well as various memorials and monuments. The designation encompasses the entire parcel of land.
The heritage value of the Hillsborough Square lies in its role as one of Charlottetown's five historic squares.
Hillsborough Square was one of four squares laid out in the 1771 Plan of Charlottetown by surveyor Thomas Wright and Governor Walter Patterson. The other three squares were Rochford Square, Pownal Square and Kings Square. Each of the four was placed in one quarter of the original rectangular town plan. Charles Morris had already planned for Queens Square as a space for public buildings in the centre of the town, three years previous in the 1768 plan of Charlottetown.
Throughout its long history, the Hillsborough Square has been used in a variety of ways. It had been fenced in as early as 1825 and was used to pasture animals. At some point, the fence was taken down and the square assumed a less agricultural role with band concerts being performed and a flagpole installed. The area was not without its troubles however, as the June 1868 edition of the Charlottetown Herald reported that Thursday evening performances of Galbraith's Band were being discontinued due to local boys destroying trees and grass!
Throughout the years, newspapers chronicled both improvements and problems in the square such as public drunkenness, vandalism and the activities of quoit players (a game similar to horseshoes). Generally, however, it appears that residents of the area took pride in the appearance of their square and in the 1860s, they asked City Council for permission to enclose it with a fence once again and plant ornamental trees. Some residents would continue to take advantage of the fenced in property however, as reports of individuals allowing their animals to graze within its borders appeared as late as 1922, which did not please local parents, whose children were using the area as a playground.
Finally, in the 1950s, the square was reseeded and asphalt paths were added. Since then, the property has been used as a park and contains mature trees, playground equipment and asphalt paths. Part of the City of Charlottetown since its earliest days, Hillsborough Square is an important part of the City's history.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of the Hillsborough Square:
- The property's park like landscape, with numerous mature trees and paths
- The continued use of the square as a public space