Description du lieu patrimonial
This section of the Old Princetown Road has been designated as an example of one of the first colonial roads in Prince Edward Island hewn through the wilderness from Malpeque (Princetown) to the Island capital at Charlottetown. The designated area is the section beginning at the intersection of the Adams and McCourt Roads and then travelling in a westerly direction for 175 metres and then northwesterly for 1.4 kilometres until it meets the intersection with Route 254. It consists of a narrow scenic road shaded by a natural forest cover on both sides. Indigenous vegetation blankets the ground on either side of the road.
The designated section of the Old Princetown Road (Old Malpeque Road) is valued as a cultural landscape and for its many historical associations with the area. It represents one of the earliest examples of colonial road construction in the province.
It is believed the first evidence of creating a roadway in this area occurred in 1733 during the French Regime. The governor at Port La Joye, De Pensons, ordered a new road constructed between the capital and Malpeque. This would have been hacked through the wilderness with axes, picks, and shovels. It was no more than ten to twelve feet wide. After the British Regime began in 1758, they realized that enhancing the road would help facilitate inland settlement and cause people to be less dependent on coastal travel by boat. The work of enhancing the old French road and connecting the county seats of Princetown and Charlottetown began in 1771. By 1806, marks were made on trees to inform travellers of the distance they had gone over the 38 miles between the capital and Princetown. In 1810, these marks were replaced by more permanent tin plates nailed to the trees showing each mile travelled - but these were often subject to vandalism.
Princetown Royalty had a larger population - 243 - than any other township in PEI in 1798. Together with Lot 18, it had a combined population of 431 - surprisingly larger than that of Charlottetown Royalty at 421. Princetown was an important shipbuilding area, but these vessels had to be registered in Charlottetown. The mail came from the capital, as did many legal and government services. All of these required a reliable inland route between the two settlements.
In 1825, in response to growing complaints that the original trail was too hilly and needed to be modified, William Curtis (1775-1853), the assistant surveyor of PEI, conducted a new survey of the Princetown Road. Curtis owned land about seven miles west of Charlottetown in an area once called Curtisdale - now known as Milton. In an October 5, 1825 letter to Lt. Governor Ready, Curtis indicated that he was surveying "a new line of road... a very fine trail for a road and only two small brooks to bridge (except Indian River) which bridge will serve not only for the road to Charlottetown but also for Bedeque and the western parts of the Island." This new road into Princetown was completed in 1827 - somewhat south and west of the original one.
In addition to being an economic lifeline to the interior of the Island, the Old Princetown Road, served a military role as well. Perhaps the most famous of these was the "Siege of Malpeque" of 1797. When orders from Charlottetown's Governor Fanning to muster were ignored by the Prince County Regiment (formed in 1793), Fanning and over thirty volunteers, travelled the road on horseback to put down any potential insubordination. In the 20th century, the road was used by members of the Prince Edward Island Light Horse to gather in Charlottetown for their summer exercises at the Brighton compound.
The section of the road which has been designated is evocative of many of these early historical associations. The natural state of the road with its narrow width, associated vegetation, and overhang of shade trees also contributes to its heritage value.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4320-20/O3
The heritage value of the road is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the width and depth of the road
- the manner in which some parts of the travelled portion of the road have been cut into the landscape
- the presence of natural forest and vegetation along the roadway providing a shaded cover over the roadway