The first successful fishery was set up by Charlottetown’s Daniel Davies on Beach Point, and it likely started out processing herring, cod, and mackerel. The workers would likely have dried or pickled the fish, and sent it away for sale. Davies was a merchant and eventually a politician; he had his first ship built in 1848 (the 54 ton Peri) at the age of 23,27. and used it to ship items like molasses from Barbados and onions from New York.28. Details are hard to pin down, but rumour has it that it’s around this time that he started commercial fish processing in Beach Point. In any case, his name appears near present day Beach Point on an old, very weathered map of the Cunard property dated 1850, so he was definitely present in the area by this time.7. But why would a young man from Charlottetown want to start up a fishing venture in lot 64?
Well for one thing, Island officials had long regarded the fishery as a money making opportunity that was not being properly taken advantage of. At that time, American fleets had been fishing off the coast of PEI for decades. In 1852, it was estimated that they took in at least £100,000 worth of fish every year; this was a stark contrast to the £6,700 worth of fish exported from PEI in 1851.26. He was likely aware that there was a decent profit to be made. He was probably also aware of the political pressure that had been building around this issue for the past 50 years. In 1843, Governor Henry V. Huntley fueled the fire by calling legislative attention to the habitual disregard the American fleet showed for the three mile zone around PEI’s shore which they were not permitted to enter. This resulted in a committee sending an appeal to London for better enforcement,26.and while the British didn’t respond favourably, change was clearly in the air.
It came in the form of free trade agreement in 1854 which gave the American fleet access to the inshore fishery in exchange for the free trade of coal, forest , fish and farm products. This was a boon for Island farmers, but it may not have been the change Davies expected; he may have wished for better enforcement so that he would have less competition. On the other hand, maybe he understood the effect it would have, and welcomed it. Regardless, this began a major shift in the Islands fishery as the Americans soon realized the advantage of processing their catch on the Island and invested accordingly.26. But is this what happened in lot 64?
Well, Island history books say that American investment wasn’t very long lived. By the time the agreement that granted them inshore access ended, there were Island investors ready to take over. In lot 64, there’s no record of any Americans owning processing facilities here, although that doesn’t mean they didn’t influence development. They may have contracted with Davies to have their catches dried, or provided capital for improving facilities. But whether Americans invested or not, the owners were always resident Islanders; The Prowse family ran several factories all over lot 64; Malcolm McFadyen eventually took over Davies’ operation; and McFadyen’s brother in law, John Cairns was reportedly the first in the area to can lobsters in White Sands.29.