Charlottetown’s Cultural Life

Charlottetown has a great deal to offer when it comes to art, culture, and history.  It has a thriving arts scene of its own – drawing artists , historians, performers, and audiences from near and far.  There is no shortage of festivals to experience in Charlottetown; the largest of them being this year’s 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.  More than 150 festivals, events, and activities have nearly completed a year-long , province-wide celebration.

The picnic basket wanted to take in some of the history and culture of Prince Edward Island and found itself bundled at the doorstep of the welcoming Charlotte’s Rose Inn.  The historic Charlotte’s Rose Inn was constructed in 1884 and is all about style, comfort, and location – an excellent selection for the basket, as it wanted to be in the heart of the city so it could envelop itself in all of the culture the historic downtown has to offer.

The Charlotte’s Rose Inn blends a central location with an eclectic interior design.  Modern art is skillfully interwoven with fine antique furniture and period architectural detailing to create a relaxing but stimulating atmosphere.  In addition, the basket discovered that innkeepers Chris and Eileen Byart shared in some of the same interests that it was seeking to discover on this journey.  Innkeeper Chris has strong interests in history and art, while his wife Eileen takes on a more hands-on artistic approach with  gardening and cooking.  Both of them love to travel and explore, allowing them to have a personal outlet for continued inspiration for their inn.

Chris and Eileen visited with the basket in the front foyer and talked about their longtime dream of owning a B&B.  After being in the business/ hospitality industries for over 20 years, they decided recently to take the plunge and purchased the Charlotte’s Rose Inn in March, 2014.  They discovered the Inn after several vacations with their family on the Island and decided this was the place to call home and make their dreams come true – they loved the closeness of the water, the beaches, and pace of life.

Signs of the innkeepers passions were evident from the moment the basket entered the Inn.  Eileen’s love for gardening presented itself beautifully throughout the house and in the well-tended garden.  As the innkeepers welcomed the basket inside their home, the basket took its place in the Lounge, admiring the eclectic mix of paintings, sculpture, books, and artifacts collected by Chris and Eileen over the years.  The basket was pleased to explore the art of many local artisans featured throughout the room.

For its first history lesson, Chris and Eileen took the basket on a tour of the luxurious guest rooms.  The Inn’s rooms all have a historical bent…  The Jacques Cartier Room is named for the explorer who sailed by PEI in 1535, failing to realize that it is an island.  This room faces south and has a Victorian footed bath tub.

The William Henry Pope room, with twin beds, features period reproduction wallpaper.  It is named after a famous supporter of Confederation who was also a lawyer, judge and newspaper editor.

A private hallway leads to the John Hamilton Gray suite.  Colonel Gray was Premier of PEI from 1863 to 1865 and was Chairman of the 1864 Confederation Conference, the anniversary of which has been celebrated extensively this year.

The charming Confederation Room showcases a four poster bed, heritage design wallpaper and a view to the front of the house.  This room celebrates the Charlottetown Conference  in 1864, which laid the groundwork for the Confederation of Canada.

Chris and Eileen didn’t have to stretch their legs far before they and the basket stumbled upon more Island culture. Downtown Charlottetown is still a compact city, which makes it easy to explore on foot.  Only two blocks from the Inn you will find the Confederation Center of the Arts, a place that houses the provincial capital’s art gallery, performance theatre, and public library.  During the holiday season, the Centre’s Upper Plaza is host to the city’s giant Christmas tree, illuminating the historic downtown streetscape.

As the Inn’s tour guide, Chris couldn’t bear to have the basket bypass Province House National Historic Site as the building represents such history,  being both the “birthplace of Confederation” and also the seat of Prince Edward Island’s provincial legislature since 1847.  Along with Chris’ knowledge of Canadian history, a guided tour, displays, and an audio-visual presentation, the basket definitely had a basket-full of historical information it couldn’t wait to share on its continued journey around the Island.

These were just a couple of the cultural experiences that the basket discovered during its time at the Charlotte’s Rose Inn, never mind the local cuisine, the Charlottetown Harbour, historic churches, and pop-up Farmers’ Markets, all conveniently located within a few blocks walk of the Inn.

Charlottetown today is a city of contrasts, melding old with the new.  A lot of care has gone into preserving and echoing the city’s heritage while maintaining a vibrant urban core.  This is exactly the balance that the Charlotte’s Rose Inn has perfectly created for their guest(s) with its eclectic mix of art,history, and preservation of the Inn’s character.  Innkeepers Chris and Eileen are eager to share their knowledge and passion for the culture that surrounds their Inn – an area which is still well-defined in a unique layout grid that is nearly 250 years old.

Have you had the pleasure of visiting Charlottetown?  Share with us your favourite sight-seeing feature through the Island tradition of storytelling or through the more modern form of art, a digital photograph.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

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