Councillor Greg Rivard, Chair of the Planning and Heritage Committee, holds the 1925 Charlottetown Messervy Cup, an award for horse racing on ice in Charlottetown, while Heritage Researcher and Collections Coordinator, Natalie Munn shows one of the historic images featured in the display.

Charlottetown heritage

Picturing a City: The Horse of Course

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The City of Charlottetown invites the public to explore the role of the horse in Charlottetown’s history in the Planning and Heritage Department’s exhibit entitled, Picturing A City: The Horse of Course.

A hundred years ago horses were moving people and goods, and plowing fields well before the engine was invented. Not only a beast of burden, the horse was a companion and a highly regarded member of the household. People were proud of their horses and enjoyed showing off their abilities and beauty. In fact, before the Charlottetown Driving Park was constructed in 1888, locals were racing their horses up the St. Peters Road to see whose was the fastest.

It should be noted that one of the main reasons PEI banned the automobile was that horses were frightened by the noise and appearance of the motorized vehicle. It was a safety issue for the passengers in a buggy but also for the valued horse. So, on this year, that marks 100 years since the automobile ban was lifted, it is an ideal time to put a spotlight on the horse, whose role in our ancestors’ daily lives was so vital.

City staff have searched their collections for images and ads, and the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation has graciously provided artifacts for the exhibit. Among the numerous historic images of horses at work (and play) in the Charlottetown of yesteryear, City staff have included some of the delivery horses and wagons that at one time delivered milk, water or coal throughout the city, as well as the horses racing at the Charlottetown Driving Park in the early 20th century.

The Heritage staff say that they wish to thank all of the individuals who donated images and artifacts to make the department’s exhibits possible. These donations allow the history of the city to be shared with the public and promote its rich heritage.

All are welcome to come and view the display in the storefront windows of the Planning and Heritage Department at 233 Queen Street. The exhibit runs to July 22.

For information on donating photos or allowing the City’s Heritage staff to scan images to be used in a future display, contact the Planning and Heritage Department at 902-629-4051. Exhibits can be found at