The Prowse's

Cunard wasn’t the only one influencing lot 64 in the latter part of the 1800’s. 

In fact, while Cunard may have had some impact on new settlement, he had very little obvious impact on the communities of lot 64. The only visible contribution he is remembered for is an Anglican church, and even that didn’t last long; it was built in 1846 and by 1877 it had been moved to Guernsey Cove to be used as a barn!15. The real community architects of the time were the resident businesspeople, and while there were many around, the Prowse’s were undoubtedly the most influential. They were merchants like Cunard, but unlike Cunard, the scope of their businesses was much more local. Samuel Prowse was the one who brought the family to lot 64, moving from Charlottetown to Murray Harbour in 1859. Prowse had started a business in Charlottetown with his brother, but apparently left because he saw an opportunity to make money in the fishery. He made a great success of his many ventures here in shipping, fishing, cabinetmaking, manufacturing, and as a general merchant.16. Prowse businesses stretched through Beach Point, Murray Harbour and Murray River, providing jobs and shaping the communities in ways that are still visible today. In Murray Harbour, some of the most prominent buildings are Prowse buildings, including the elegant, showy old Prowse home across from Brehauts restaurant in Murray Harbour, and the building that now houses Miss Elly’s Store in Murray Harbour. They had a lobster canning factory in Beach Point, a factory on the wharf in Murray Harbour, a starch factory, a general store, and they even made their own cans in the community!

Samuel Prowse had one daughter and four sons; it was his son Albert who eventually took over the business. Samuel went into politics, and was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of PEI in 1867. He served in that capacity for almost 20 years over a 22 year period. In 1889, he was appointed to the senate on the advice of Sir John A MacDonald, and he served there until his death 12 years later. While he was only 30 years old at the time, Albert had been working with his father for many years and was able to run the businesses and maintain the family fortune.

It’s only in recent times that the Prowse’s have ceased being major merchants in Murray Harbour; the business was sold within ten years of Albert’s 1925 death. Some older members of the community reflected on shopping at their general store in interviews with Dutch Thompson; In this 1998 interview, Abney resident Milton Buell recalled the Prowse store and family:

…a big business of course they sold all kinds of fishing gear and rope and all that kind of stuff you know and it was… and ran the canning factory down in Beach Point I think it was… so it was, it was quite an operation but….Mr. A.P. Prowse was a fine gentleman I understand and uh fairly strict as to how he felt about booze and that kind of stuff you know but…… I don’t think the boys were quite so strict on that sort of thing… as I recall (laughs)!17.

Ray Brooks also shared his memories of going to the store in the 1930's. He told Dutch all about how he used to take pork down to sell to Prowse's:

Well I remember taking, we used to butcher the pigs you know, years ago.. I remember taking two cartloads down to Prowse’s… carts is for… it was either 3 and a half or 3 and a quarter cents a pound18.

 

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