Friday, October 24, 2014

Brewing History - Charlottetown, PEI

While craft breweries abound as a new trend, there was a time when many breweries existed in Charlottetown. The history of those early breweries is well told in a couple of articles by historians, Edward MacDonald, Carolyn MacQuaid, and Harry T. Holman. These excellent articles are linked below as well as a newspaper article from the 1980s and some notes I compiled on the early operations. I am indebted to Catherine Hennessey and the City of Charlottetown Heritage Website for their research.

  • John and Mary Cambridge established the Island's first brewery on the Wright's Mill site in East Royalty around 1808. The location is also known as Andrew’s Pond/Wright’s Creek with members of the Andrew family still living at this historic location. Various partners involved including George Wright of Wright’s Creek and the operation has been described as Bird Island Creek, the Island's first brewery.  H. T. Holman states that it probable didn’t even have a name but it may have been called Cambridge’s Brewery, Wright's Brewery or possibly Bird Island Creek Brewery.  George Westcomb, arrived from England to operate it as the Island's first brewer.
  • 1838 saw a brewery established by James H. Down at his roadhouse and inn on what is now the Research Station lands on University Ave. It was called Devonport Lodge.  Davenport Lodge opened on the Princetown Road [now University Avenue] as early as 1827. James H. Down announced the opening of his new house  where ever accommodation will be given to travelers by keeping always a good stock of liquors, with good bedding and private rooms . Things did not always run smoothly and its years in operation were rocky. Down also owned the Davenport Brewery and Distillery with 4 acres reserved for a hop garden. In 1849, the property became the home of prominent businessman, George DeBlois. He sold the property to Maurice Blake in 1887. It was acquired for the Experimental Farm in 1910. The building on University Avenue was demolished about 1971, leaving only the trees to tell where the property was located.
PARO Acc. 3466/HF
Devonport Cottage (Residence of G.W. DeBlois), ca. 1860's

  • Pethick Brewery opened in 1824 through a partnership with brewmaster Thomas Pethick in a renovated brick building located on the west side of Weymouth Street between Euston and Fitzroy Streets. Thomas Pethick started with George Wright but went on to operate his own brewery in 1830. Business continued for 40 years.
  • Coles' Brewery & Distillery, opened in 1835, and located on Kent Street where the current Central Christian Church is located. Operated by George Coles who eventually became premier of PEI.
  • Brighton Brewery established in 1848 by Robert Henri Frederick Smith - was operated by Charles Hyndman and Thomas Morris in 1868 and they sold it eventually to the Oland family of Halifax with English backers in 1895. Located near the corner of Goodwill Ave. and York Lane on what was known as Brewery Lane they carried Brighton Ale to the cricketing grounds by the bucket for thirsty cricketers in Victoria Park.
  • Kensington Brewery (Parkdale)
  • Job Bevan on Euston St. was a brewer who like George Simmonds (head of Prince initially and eventually operated on Simmonds Farm near North River Rd.) switched over to “cordials” and soft drinks. The Simmonds name lives on as sports fields and a rink located on the former farm bear the family name.
  • Spring Park Brewery  - owned by John Connolly and Co. in 1864 - it was also owned by W.C. Hopkirk in 1874. At one point an operation named Spring Park Steam Brewery and Distillery was advertised. 

Location of Spring Park Brewery in 1880 at top centre.
Located in the Connolly St. - Pond St. area west of University Ave. (then called Malpeque Road)

The most complete article on Island brewing history is by Dr Edward MacDonald and called, “Spirituous Liquors: Brewing and Distilling in 19 -Century Charlottetown"

A valuable source on the first brewery is Harry Holman’s article The Island’s First
Brewery, published in The Island Magazine, 25(Spring/Summer 1989).

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