Personal Accounts and Memories of the North River Ferry

“There used to be a ferry there in the summer time.  People used to hop on and go across the river.  That’s how they travelled in those days.”22 – Shared by Howard MacPhail

In an interview with Dutch Thompson, Lester Hickox recounted his memories of the North River ferry. He remembered the wharf at the end of the Ferry Road, and the ferry would from that point to Charlottetown and landed at Pownal Wharf.  He also remembered an Englishman operating the ferry and refered to him as “a funny character”.  He remembers the ferry as a motor boat that only ferried passengers.23

The following story was taken from Dutch Thompson’s interview with Louis MacDonald.

LM – “The mid-winter was the best and the spring was terrible, and mid-summer once there was a time that the ice was out wasn’t fit to travel but as soon as the ice went out, there was a ferry down at York Point, just down below Dockendorff’s they had built it to accommodate the York Point ferry big they had the York Point ferry call there a few times but there wasn’t enough traffic to warrant it so they had a had a motor boat, like a fishing boat, Cape-Island (?) type and some of them were just open, Cape Island has got a cab not far some of them are just open and I think he got a subsidy of around 300 dollars a year, you paid 10 or 15 cents to get across, Sundays were free”

DT – “Why was that?”

LM – “Well you were going to Church.  And there was a family from England down there; Butlers, a couple of the boys were over-seas”

DT – “What were they? Butler?”

LM – “Butler, yeah, anyway he was English and he had a farm down at York Point and they used to cross on the boat see and they went to the Anglican Church.  Well, he got a drive in this day with a car and he came out across the boat and the captains was name was Stanley and he was English, I don’t know what nationality you are but the English are pretty stubborn in an argument.  Well, these two argued about Butler wasn’t going to pay because he was coming home from Church and Stanley was going to charge him because he hadn’t crossed in on the ferry.”

DT – “And who won?”

LM  - “I don’t know (Dutch laughs) but the argument went on hot and heavy.  Well this, the boat left, in the tape I tell all this, in the 20’s and 30’s you’d have farm chores to do you had to go out and bring in the cows, and milk them, separate feed the calves and the pigs and then no later than 9 o’clock take a dip or a grain and go out to the pasture to catch the driving mare, hitch her up the wagon, and come in and get dressed for church.  You’d have to put on what I’d referred to as ‘me other suit’ and leave here and drive down to the ferry hoping that you wouldn’t meet a car on the narrow ferry road because even for years and years the horses were scared of cars and the boat left at twenty after ten.  There was a shed down there you could tie the horse in and you walked down to the boat, twenty after ten, twenty minutes to cross and twenty and then you’d walk up to the Basilica, the last time we was Palley’s wharf, you know where that is”

DT – “No.”

LM – “Well its Palley’s wharf’s down where the navy yard used to be”

DT – “Oh yeah down, down by the Sacred Heart home”

LM – “Yeah well that was we used to go to Pownal wharf and Carvel’s wharf and they were closed I guess and ah the last one we went down was at Palley’s wharf but anyway Carvel’s and ah the Court house was one of the more.  Carvel’s were wholesalers and anyway we’d walk up to church well then we were supposed to leave at 12:30 and the Butlers at the Anglican church seem to be always late, it would be perhaps ten to one before we’d leave.  Come back, hitch up the horse, drive home put the horse out on the pasture and Sunday was kind of a special meal we’d come in for dinner, Sunday dinner at 2 o’clock we went out to catch the horse at 9 and we had Sunday dinner at 2 the rest was taken up going to church and gettin’ home”24

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