The North River Ferry

From the 1820’s to the 1950’s there existed a ferry service which operated from the Dockendorff property in York Point to Brighton Road in Charlottetown.  Crossing the North River at Dockendorff’s was the quickest and most efficient way to get to Charlottetown.  People as far as Carleton would travel through Cornwall along what became known (for obvious reasons) as the Ferry Road to take the ferry.  The alternative was to follow the route running north of Cornwall, and crossing at Moore’s bridge in Milton.  This route continued on to the Malpeque Road into Charlottetown, so crossing the North River saved a lot of time.  During the winter, people would cross the North River on the frozen ice with a horse and buggy.  This method of travel was only available for a short time before the ice began to melt, but it was the most efficient and most popular.  Therefore, it seemed only necessary to implement a ferry service for the rest of the year.  It appears that the ferry service began around the year 1828.  The following article was taken from The Prince Edward Island Register:

York River Ferry
To Be Let from the 14th June next, the FERRY across the North (York) River, on the following conditions, viz:
There shall be kept a good and sufficient To-Boat for the ferrying of horses and cattle, and one or more flat-bottomed Boats of not less than 16 feet in length, for the accommodation of Passengers –
These Boats to ply whenever occasion requires.
Persons desirous of taking the Ferry upon these conditions, are requested to send Tenders to the Private Secretary’s Office on or before the 11th day of June next, naming their Sureties of the due performance of the engagement.
Charlotte-Town, May 23rd, 182819

The ferry departed from the York Point wharf.  It was operated by the government, and its first captain was Donald Murchison, its last captain was a man by the name of Stanley.20  This wharf was not only used by the ferry service but widely used by many.  Numerous different boats and ferries carried numerous different products across the river.  Produce, coal and lumber were transported across the river, and many women took their home-made butter, eggs and chickens to the market in Charlottetown.21

It appears that the ferry began to lose popularity around the mid 1900’s.  This could have been the result of the onset of automobiles.  Many of the life-long residents of Cornwall did not make much use of the ferry and those who did remember it operating only at certain times of the year.  The ferry service was discontinued around the same time as the causeway was constructed.  With a new and more efficient method of travel to Charlottetown, it was likely that the ferry service was no longer needed.

Ferry House

Although it has been renovated, the centre section of this cottage in York Point was the former ferryhouse where passengers would await the ferry.
 

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