Home / Accueil

Apothecaries Hall

150 Queen Street, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, C1A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1979/10/26

Showing south west elevation; City of Charlottetown, Natalie Munn, 2005
Apothecaries Hall
Showing south east elevation; City of Charlottetown, Natalie Munn, 2005
Apothecaries Hall
Commemorating the 1860 visit of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII; City of Charlottetown, Natalie Munn, 2005
Cannon on street corner

Other Name(s)

Apothecaries Hall
DesBrisay Block
Hughes Drug Company

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/05/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The DesBrisay Block or Apothecaries Hall, as it is more widely known, is a National Historic Site of Canada due to its association with a prominent 19th century Charlottetown pharmacy. The impressive three storey, brick, commercial building was constructed in 1901 to replace a wooden building that was formerly on the site. Apothecaries Hall, and later Hughes Drug Store, were two pharmacy businesses that operated continuously from the site. The large building now houses Cow’s Ice Cream store, a Subway shop and the Evolution Artistic Hair Salon. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.

Heritage Value

The historic value of the DesBrisay Block lies in the building’s association with the Apothecaries Hall/ Hughes Drug Company business; its Commercial style architecture; and its role as a landmark in Charlottetown.

The DesBrisay family built the DesBrisay Block in 1901. Prominent architect, William Critchlow Harris designed the building and the Lowe Brothers were hired as the contractors. The impressive structure was built with imported buff pressed brick from Ontario and trimmed with olive colored freestone and mottled brick. The new building replaced a large wooden building that housed Apothecaries Hall since its opening in 1810.

The building's definitive Commercial architectural style was popular in much of North America at the turn of the 19th Century. By replacing a more modest wooden structure with a solid brick/stone construction, it sought to emphasize improvement and progress. The more pronounced vertical height of the building was yet another symbol of the perceived optimism of the times. Other embellishments of such buildings included: decorative cornices, large storefront windows, and recessed entrances.

Thomas DesBrisay owned and operated an apothecary shop on the site since 24 December 1810. His son, Theophilus DesBrisay, continued in the business until 1874 when the DesBrisays sold the Apothecaries Hall business but kept ownership of the building. The new owners of the Apothecaries Hall business, Dr. Frank D. Beer and George E. Hughes, continued in their partnership until 1881, when Hughes assumed complete control of the business. Hughes eventually bought the building from the DesBrisay estate in 1924 and continued to operate the company until 1949, when Earle C. Baker took control of the business. Eventually, the pharmacy closed and the building has housed Cow’s Ice Cream and Subway since the 1980’s.

Apothecaries Hall is a landmark in Charlottetown. The building is located in what is referred to locally as Dizzy Block, an area that has been a thriving commercial section of Charlottetown for many years. Due to its striking appearance, association with Charlottetown’s early business community and its location, the building is vital to the Grafton and Queen Street streetscapes.

A prominent feature on the street immediately in front the building is a 19th Century cannon, set upright. Theophilus DesBrisay removed the cannon after it had fallen to the waters edge at the Charlottetown blockhouse. He had it placed on the corner of Queen and Grafton Streets, in an upright position, with the muzzle pointing skyward. A flagstaff was placed in the bore of the gun, and the Union Jack was displayed for the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1860. The gun was also used as a hitching post for many years. It remains to this day, a unique commemoration of the first royal visit to PEI and a reminder of Charlottetown’s early military fortifications.

Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of Apothecaries Hall:

- The size and shape of the brick exterior with various designs of freestone and colored brick
- The style and placement of the windows including the arched windows of the first floor and the deeply set, tall, single and grouped windows of the second and third floors
- The style and placement of the doors, including the arched doorway located on the corner of Grafton and Queen Streets, as well as the recessed doorway of the west side corner entrance
- The storefront of the south section with its large plate glass windows, transom lights and awnings
- The recessed storefront of the west side entrance, with its large plate glass window, doorway and transom light
- The high level of detailing including the multicolored brick bands, the dentil detailing between the second and third floors and the extensive detailing along the roof.
- The pediment of the south side roof with its decorative tympanum
- The decorative pilasters throughout the building’s facade
- The name and date that the building was constructed on the south side, second storey belt course of the building
- The 19th Century upright cannon situated on the corner of Queen and Grafton Streets
- The location of the building on the corner of Queen and Grafton Streets



Prince Edward Island

Recognition Authority

City of Charlottetown

Recognition Statute

City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw

Recognition Type

Heritage Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

William Critchlow Harris


Lowe Brothers

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2 #1167

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

General view

Apothecaries Hall National Historic Site of Canada

Apothecaries Hall National Historic Site of Canada is a three-storey brick building in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Built as an apothecary in 1900, it replaced an…


Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places