Description of Historic Place
Victoria Park, named for Queen Victoria, is an approximately 15 hectare parcel of parkland that includes both treed areas and landscaped grounds. The Park was established in 1873 and includes a number of historical features including the Prince Edward Battery and Magazine, as well as survey stones marking the meridional line. The designation encompasses the layout of the Park and its geographic features.
The heritage value of Victoria Park lies in its long history as a place of recreation for residents of Charlottetown; its association with the Province's military history; and its role as the site for the establishment of the meridional line.
The land on which Victoria Park is located was set aside by Lieutenant Governor Edmund Fanning in 1789 as the site for a future home, grounds, and agricultural land for the Lieutenant Governor. However, it was not until the 1820s that a farm was established on the property and not until 1834, when Government House was finally built. In 1873, 40 acres of the Government House Farm was given to the City of Charlottetown for park use. It would be 1905 before 16 more acres of land, including the Prince Edward Battery and the field to the west of Government House, would be given over to the City of Charlottetown making Victoria Park the size it is today. After the Park was acquired in 1873, the City began to make improvements including the planting of trees, the removal of stumps, the construction of bathing houses and the removal of 600 loads of mud from Dead Man's Pond.
After a legal struggle between the Lieutenant Governor of the day and the City of Charlottetown in 1896, a roadway from Government Pond to the Prince Edward Battery was constructed and officially opened for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. In 1903, the roadway was extended from the Battery around to Brighton Road. It remained a dirt road until it was paved with gravel in 1925. During WW II, it was suggested that part of the Park be used to construct a Naval Barracks, but this was never built.
Some of the most important features of Victoria Park are the markers of the meridional line. The Legislature passed an Act in 1809 to establish a meridional line so that surveyors could set their compasses correctly and avoid faulty readings. It was not until 1820 when three commissioners charged with the task by Governor Charles Douglas Smith ascertained the magnetic variation for True North in Charlottetown as West 18 degrees 22 minutes 49 seconds and placed markers to this effect. In 1846, an Act was passed that provided for two more markers to be placed at right angles of the meridional line. Some of the survey stones still exist today.
Features of the Park today include a dairy bar, a playground, a swimming pool, improved tennis courts, sports fields, a skateboard park, and a waterfront boardwalk. Victoria Park plays host to a number of events including City sponsored events, Canada Day Celebrations, outdoor plays and concerts. Other popular attractions include the newly refurbished Prince Edward Magazine and Battery.
Victoria Park has historically played an important part of the recreational life of Charlottetown's citizens. Its numerous attractions and historically significant monuments make it one of the most important sites on Prince Edward Island and the jewel of the Charlottetown park system.
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 Victoria Park:
- The various woodlands with original cultivated stock, which includes varieties of pine, fir, oak, birch, beech, maple, linden and spruce trees
- The size, shape, and location of Dead Man's pond
- The size and placement of the tennis courts, playgrounds, sports fields, skateboard park and swimming pool
- The various trails throughout the woodlands
- The placement and overall construction of the various survey monuments at right angles of the meridional line
- The components and placement of the restored Prince Edward Magazine and Battery
Other character-defining elements of Victoria Park include:
- The continued use of the Park for recreational purposes
- The unobstructed view of the harbour
- The boardwalk running along the Park's perimeter