Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Presentation to Island Heritage Committee

February 23, 2008


The Upton Farm Preservation Network made a presentation to the IRIS Group, which was tasked by the PEI provincial government to undertake an Island Heritage Study. The IRIS Group has travelled across the Island to provide groups and individuals the opportunity to share their views on the Island’s heritage and its future. The UFPN presentation, which can be read below, noted the rich history of the Upton Farmlands, including the Acadian settlement; the airport located there; the story of Louise Jenkins, who owned the property with her husband, and was the first female pilot on PEI; the race track located on the Farmlands; as well as the heritage value of the land itself.



We are members of a working group representing the larger Upton Farm Preservation Network. The Network was created by a large number of people dedicated to seeing the Upton Farmlands remain as a greenspace.

The Upton Farmlands is a 258-acre parcel of land that is divided by the Trans Canada Highway just east of the North River Causeway. It is the entrance to the City of Charlottetown.

This land has a long history that is both interesting and significant.

In the 1700’s when Samuel Holland and his crew surveyed the Island (previously Isle St. Jean), he found seven Acadian homesteads existing on the Upton Farmlands in the area known then as Riviere du Nord (North River). (see attached map). The census of 1752 listed the Acadian names and occupations of the folks making their homes there. As the Upton Farmlands has fresh water springs and natural wetlands that attract wildlife, it would have been a preferred place to settle even under the harsh circumstances the Acadians endured.

According to the City of Charlottetown’s website, the Upton Farmlands has been owned and operated by historically significant people. The Hon. Stephen Rice was a physician with the British at the Battle of Waterloo. His descendants, the Jenkins family, owned and operated this farm for several decades. Dr. J.T. Jenkins (1829-1919), built a horse trotting park there in the 1870’s. Dr. Jenkins held the reputation of being the most prominent breeder and importer of race horses in Eastern Canada at the time. His grandson, Colonel (Dr.) Jack S. Jenkins (1887-1972), was a cattle breeder and farmer and became established as a successful medical practitioner and surgical pioneer. His wife, Louise Jenkins, was the first woman to fly in PEI, and is listed as one of the first female pilots in Canada. She was the proud owner of her own plane, Puss Moth.

Dr. Jenkins became an accomplished pilot on PEI in 1930 and played a major role in aviation by developing the first Island airport. Pilot Erroll Boyd and navigator Harry Connor were guests at Upton Farm on their way across the Atlantic. Boyd was the first Canadian to pilot a plane across the Atlantic ocean.

The Jenkins’ architectural talent was also well-known and written about. Visiting guests would be ushered in through a driveway emerging from a little wood to find a picturesque home with gardens sloping down to the North River.

Dr Jenkins eventually sold part of the property to the Federal Department of Agriculture in 1948. The site was operated as a research station for nearly 50 years. It operated as a dairy farm, and crops were still grown in 2007.

In 2001, the land was transferred to Canada Lands Company.

The Upton Farmlands is still a beautiful, pastoral piece of green property that slopes down to the North River and still attracts many birds and wildlife. It has become a very popular spot for walkers, birdwatchers, children playing, folks in wheelchairs, joggers, dog walkers, etc. It is a special place and a large part of our heritage.

Our belief is that this wonderful farm should be preserved as part of the heritage of the City of Charlottetown and maintained as a sanctuary where people can go and view the wonderful vistas and views. There are few things and places in life that haven’t changed drastically over the years. We have the opportunity to save this unspoiled part of our history, let’s not squander it.

If you would like more information, please check out our website at


Ref: City of Charlottetown /search/record

CAHS PEI “Carl F. Burke MBE” Chapter Newsletter June 2006

1752 census PEI Government


Location of Acadian Homes at Upton Farm

October 22, 2007


By using the 1765 map of the French Acadian settlement of Rivière du Nord drawn by Samuel Holland and the computer program MapInfo, Dr. Doug Sobey has plotted the location of Acadian homes of the Upton Farmlands on a modern map, seen above. The map is bisected by the TransCanada Highway as it crosses Poplar Island; Maypoint and Beachgrove Roads can be seen to the lower right quarter of the map and Upton Drive in the top right quarter. Dr. Sobey shows 10 Acadian homes on the Upton Farmlands property. According to a 1752 census, the land was given to the families of Rivière du Nord verbally by Monsieur de Bonnaventure, the Commandant for the King at Ile St.-Jean (a former name of Prince Edward Island). Family names included Landry and Daigre. They earned their living by sowing and harvesting wheat and also owned various stock animals; pigs, sheep, cows, chickens and oxen.

Acadian Settlement Found on Upton Farmlands

October 15, 2007


Historian Dr. Doug Sobey’s research has discovered a 1752 census of PEI that shows seven Acadian families, bearing the names Daigre and Landry, lived and farmed on the shores of the North River on the Upton Farmland property.

According to Dr. Sobey, the Acadian settlement was located near what is now the causeway at Poplar Island.

In addition, his research reveals that Dutch explorer and surveyor Samuel Holland (1728 – 1801) was instructed in 1764 by his superiors at the Board of Trade in London to begin a survey of all the British possessions north of the Potomac. He arrived on Prince Edward Island (then known as St. John’s Island) in early October 1764 and spent the next twelve months based at Observation Cove near Port La-Joie overseeing the work of four survey parties mapping the various parts of the island’s coastline. His knowledge of the forest over much of the island was based on what he and the others could examine from the coasts and rivers – he wrote: “all rivers and creeks were surveyed as far as boat or canoe would go, or the chainmen penetrate, but sometimes we were obliged to stop, by inaccessible woods and swamps”. Dr. Sobey has superimposed Samuel Holland’s 1764 survey map on a modern-day map of PEI. It clearly shows the Acadian settlement located on the Upton Farmlands. This map will be posted on site shortly.

According to Parks Canada, the first Europeans to settle Prince Edward Island came from France in 1720 and were quickly joined by a small group of Acadians from Nova Scotia. They were warmly received by the Mi’kmaq, who helped them considerably. The Acadians endured great hardships including crop failure, infestations of mice and the ongoing conflict between the French and British in North America. The British deported all but a small group of approximately 300 Acadians from the island in 1758. The Acadians who remained and those who returned to the island in later years established numerous fishing and farming communities along the coast during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Picture courtesy of Parks Canada.

Upton Airfield Plays Part in 1931 Aerial Wedding

July 9, 2007


The first airfield on PEI opened for business in 1931 on Upton Farm. This entertaining story by Syd Clay is about about the airfield and the part it played in the first airborne wedding in the Maritimes. It was featured in the June issue of the Voice for Island Seniors.

An Aerial June Wedding


In August 1931 the first airfield on Prince Edward Island was granted a licence and opened for business with an air display and exhibition staged by many visiting aircraft and attended by hundreds of local citizens. It was situated on land bordering the North River, approximately two and a half miles northwest by road of the then boundaries of Charlottetown and was the end result of much effort and expense on the part of Doctor J. S. (Jack) Jenkins and his wife Louise. They had cleared and levelled a portion of their “Upton Farm” and erected a small hangar in a far-sighted venture to establish air travel to and from the province. Mrs Jenkins was also the first licensed woman pilot in the province, owning her own plane which, by special dispensation of the federal aviation authority, bore the registration – CF-PEI.

Three years later, at ten o’clock on Friday morning, the 8th of June 1934, a plane lifted off from the grass field and slowly turned and climbed in a south-easterly direction. The “Fairchild” had already earned a reputation as an outstanding “bush” carrier of freight and passengers, helping to open up the vast reaches of the Canadian North and the type was now being used by Canadian Airlines Ltd. to link Maritime centres, operating the first licensed air mail services between Prince Edward Island and the mainland from the Upton Airport. In the winter, fitted with skis, it used the ice-covered harbour off Victoria Park.

On this sparkling, blue-skied June day, the “Fairchild” followed the south coast of the Island down the Northumberland Straits, piloted by W. W. Fowler, the Maritime Superintendent of Canadian Airlines Ltd. His “load” comprised four passengers, Margaret Littlewood and Russell Lent, both of Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia; Mr Walter Grant, Manager of the Island Telephone Company and President of the PEI Flying Club, and the Reverend J. G. Wakeling, North River, PEI. As Mr Fowler climbed the plane to 5000 feet, the land and seascapes lay in all their glory for all to see.

Although almost “state-of-the-art” by the standards of its day, the “Fairchild” was small and primitive in comparison of those of today. Of metal and wood construction, covered in tightly stretched linen with no insulation or soundproofing, it was powered by a single air-cooled engine in the nose and thus very noisy and prone to chilling draughts. The pilot sat alone in the cockpit with the passengers seated quite close together behind him in the cabin in which it was not possible to stand.

After following the coast for a while, the pilot changed course over the open water and within minutes Pictou Island, Nova Scotia, appeared. Climbing still further to 7000 feet, he throttled back the engine to reduce the noise level and circled the small island in a gentle glide in the smooth air. It was the signal for the minister to commence the ceremony which united Margaret Littlewood and Russell Lent as man and wife. In short order, the vows were recited and the marriage documents signed and witnessed.

Within five minutes it was all over, the course set for return to Upton Airport where the party was met by a “throng of people” upon landing after almost two hours in the air at 11:50 a.m. The accounts in the “Guardian” and the “Patriot” newspapers record that the bride wore a blue ensemble with hat to match. Immediately after landing, the couple entered their automobile and motored back to Granville Ferry.

It was claimed that it was the first airborne wedding in the Maritimes and possibly Canada.The choice of aircraft was dictated by it being the only one in the Maritimes with the necessary passenger-carrying capacity and it was based at the Upton Airport. A good deal of planning must have been undertaken, even to acquire the services of a minister to officiate. Unlike the prospective bride and groom, the Reverend Wakeling had never flown before.

Superintendent Fowler offered similar services to anyone wishing to be married “up in the air” while it was even suggested that a gramophone and records playing the “Wedding March” and “Here Comes The Bride” be added to the ceremony! Apparently there were no takers, then or since.

Another piece in the lore of Upton Farm which has been much in the news of late.

**Thanks to the “Carl F. Burke, MBE” Chapter of the PEI CAHS for the historical photo of Upton Airfield.

History of the Upton Farmlands

March 4, 2007

Please click the links (to the upper right of this page) to read about the rich history of the Upton Farmlands. It was the home of pioneer aviators Dr. Jack and Louise Jenkins. The Jenkins built and developed the first PEI airport on their own land at Upton Farm. Louise Jenkins was the first female licensed pilot on PEI. An excerpt from this fascinating history:

“[Dr. Jenkins] had offered a part of his farm to the City of Charlottetown for an airport but received no effective response. Consequently, he built it himself. With advice from a Federal Airways Inspector, Dr. Jenkins proceeded to remove fences, trees and stone hedges until there was landing spaces in the shape of the letter L on the northern end of his farm for an airfield. The longer north-south runway was 2,880 feet and the shorter east-west runway was 1,600 feet. Both were 500 feet wide. At the southern end of the longer runway, he built an aircraft hangar which could house three small aircraft. In addition, there was a small administration building complete with an office, store room, lounge, fireplace and kitchen. With the co-operation of local authorities, Dr. Jenkins was enabled to receive the Trans-Canada Air Pageant on August 23, 1931 which was attended by 8,000 people and marked the official opening of the Upton Airport.”

Our thanks to the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, PEI Branch, for this valuable information.

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