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History

It is believed that this building contained Thomas and Dawson’s store, known to have been located on Upper Great George Street. This establishment was a landmark in the 1850s. Irene Rogers has written that, “some features of the present building suggest that it could be the Thomas structure with major renovations. A new front was installed after 1900, possibly by owner Francis J. Trainor. Inside an embossed tin ceiling could also date from this period.” [1] This building has served a variety of uses since the 1850s: a men’s furnishing store operated by William Full in 1866, a photographic gallery run by C. Lewis in 1877, a harness maker’s shop owned by John Stumbles (1824-1898) in 1887, a restaurant, a laundry, a crockery store, auction rooms and, several dress shops. John Thomas of Thomas and Dawson eventually returned to his native England. He appears to have maintained ties with Charlottetown, though, since he was entrusted with the task of selecting a steam fire engine for the City of Charlottetown in 1866. He chose a pumper from Merryweather and Sons for the price of 540 pounds. It was shipped from Liverpool aboard the L.C. Owen. After Thomas Dawson, the building was owned by William Stumbles, Ewan McDougall and Francis J. Trainor. [2]

Block Overview

Known as Dizzy Block, this block has been a centre of business activity for much of Charlottetown’s history. Once made up of a number of individual buildings, the construction of the Confederation Court Mall stabilised this commercial core without intruding greatly on the streetscape. Though damaged in a 1970’s fire, the building at 119-121 Grafton Street is now the oldest structure on the block. The 1960’s façade of the former Holman’s Department Store covers a wonderful brick and stone building. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognised the long-time existence of a pharmacy on the corner of Queen and Grafton Street with the placement of a plaque on the DesBrisay Building. (150 Queen Street, 99 Grafton Street) The DesBrisay Building was built to replace an earlier wooden apothecaries building. The landmark cannon barrel on the corner of Queen and Grafton Street was rescued from the waters near Fort Amherst and placed on the corner by Theophilus DesBrisay in 1860.

Researchers: Rogers, Irene; Hennessey, Catherine
Footnotes: 1 Irene Rogers, Charlottetown: The Life in its Buildings, p. 295

Part of University Avenue got its old name back in May 6th 2015

A portion of one of the most historic streets in Charlottetown is getting its old name back. As of May 6, the section of University Avenue from Grafton Street to Euston Street will be renamed Great George Street. That’s the name it used to have until 1969 when St. Dunstan’s University amalgamated with Prince of Wales College to create UPEI.

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Charlottetown city council voted 9-0 (Deputy Mayor Mike Duffy was absent) Monday night to green light the move. Downtown Charlottetown Inc. (DCI) needed a decision so it can make the change to the 2015 tourist maps that will be coming out. Addresses will change for businesses along that stretch and that will obviously come with a cost because letterhead, for example, will have to change.

The number 1 will be added to all addresses between Grafton and Euston streets on University Avenue.

Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the planning committee, said he met with Dawn Alan, executive director of DCI, and was told that most of the office/businesses along that stretch are in favour of the move.

In fact, it was DCI that approached former Coun. Rob Lantz, who chaired planning prior to the November 2014 civic election, and asked him to champion the move at City Hall last fall.

The Charlottetown police and fire departments have already signed off on the decision.

Other than the cost to businesses, the one other concern was whether visitors would be able to find these businesses on Google.

Rivard said Google will make the change on its end but only if enough requests come in to make that change.

Rivard said there will be an education campaign for tourists and locals, one that could include signage since it could be confusing for some visitors who hit Province House on the Richmond Street side and wonder where the rest of the street is.

The name is the first step in the process to make changes to the streetscape. DCI has also had discussions with Maritime Electric about burying the cables although that’s all it is right now, a discussion.

The idea, in the long run, is that the view scape, as people look down to Province House from Euston Street, should reflect the historic nature of the street.

Great George Street, from the waterfront to Euston Street, was the very first street named in the downtown core when the first 500 lots in the city were established.