Rocky Point Ferries

 

Rocky Point Ferries

 

                The very first ferry from Rocky Point to Charlottetown was run by Captain Hibbard around 1850. There was no wharf at the time, and plans were not in place to construct one for many years. Hibbard lived about a mile from Rocky Point and remained for several years before departing for Alberton with his family.[1] After Hibbard’s departure the Indians took over as ferrymen for some time, and several others until the steamship Elfin was set to service.

               The SS Elfin was built by Joseph Fairchild in Georgetown, P.E.I. The Elfin was 81 feet long, and 22 feet wide, with a gross tonnage of 122. She plied between Rocky Point and Charlottetown until October 8th, 1906 when she caught fire and burned to the water line. At the time the ferry was owned by the Prince Edward Island Government. An article in the Patriot from Monday, January 8, 1894 reads: “One of the most novel sights we have seen for some time is the ferry steamer Elfin plying between here and Southport, conveying teams and passengers, while the more venture-some pedestrians walk over the ice-almost at her side.“ Another article from a May, 1873 issue of the Patriot states: “The steamer Elfin arrived from Georgetown, on Monday last, and is receiving several accessory fittings to adapt her for plying on the Southport Ferry. She was fortunately engaged by the late government and a contract entered into, or perhaps the people on the south side of the river might have put up with the inefficient and uncomfortable old ora for some time to come. The Elfin is a great improvement on the Ora. She will take 18 horses and vehicles, and they cannot trespass on the places set apart for foot passengers. The seats are all under cover which will be great protection to those persons who have to travel at all seasons.”

                                  The Harland and Hillsborough tied in Charlottetown            

The Hillsborough launched in 1894 and was constructed in Mount Stewart. The Steamship plied between Charlottetown and Southport until the bridge was constructed in 1907.[2] Once the new bridge was in place, the Hillsborough was no longer needed, and was put into service between Charlottetown and Rocky Point.  The SS Hillsborough had a length of 105 feet, width of 25 feet, thirty and a half horsepower steam, and paddle wheel driven. The Hillsborough was double ended- she had a helmut on each end to ease navigation on the river. Her registration was closed in 1939. Published in The Daily Examiner, Col 1, page 3, July 23 1894: “Launched Steamer: The ferry steamer built at Mount Stewart for the local Government by Mr Angus MacDonald of Pisquid was launched on Saturday in the presence of a large number of people. She is fastened with copper and galvanized iron and is sheathed with yellow metal up to 6 feet draft of water. Her boiler and engine will be put in by McKinnon and McLean.” [3] The SS Hillsborough was replaced with the Fairview which was a diesel Ferry built in Georgetown. 

The Fairview

             The Fairview, built by Captain Charles Fitzgerald in Georgetown, was launched on December 12, 1935. The Fairview was capable of carrying up to 15 cars and serviced Rocky Point and Charlottetown pedestrians until 1958, when the West River Bridge was constructed. The Fairview was owned and operated by the P.E.I. Department of Highways and was 115 feet long, and 28 feet wide. She had a gross tonnage of 227 and was diesel powered. Aside from the ordinary ferry route; Friday and Saturday night trips were a great way for youth to get out and catch a ride to Charlottetown for dances or movies.[4] Not only was the ferry important for residents looking to travel to Charlottetown from Rocky Point; the summer months brought an influx of visitors from the city to the beaches of Rocky Point. As Linus Alchorn stated, “there was no Dalvay, or Cavendish, or Stanhope; Rocky Point was the only place they had to come. Sometimes two  or three hundred people would come on the weekends…It was a very busy place, Rocky Point.”[5] The Ferry was sold and used as a construction barge after it was taken out of service in Rocky Point.

Captain and Crew of the Fairview



[1] R. MacMillan, West River 100 Years Ago, Prince Edward Island Magazine, May 1899

[2] Fulton MacLaine, Notes on Hillsboro, N.d.

[4] Charlie Currie, Interviewed by Natalie Carragher, February, 2011

[5] Linus Alchorn, Interviewed by Natalie Carragher, March, 2011

 

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