- The Early People of Lower Montague
- Past Businesses
- Changes in Local Properties
- Changes in Family Names
The community of Lower Montague is located
on the Montague River in Southern Kings County in
eastern Prince Edward Island
on the east coast of Canada. This area is approximately 5 km east
of the town of
Montague, and 40 km east of Charlottetown, the Island's capital city
and birthplace of Confederation.
Like other parts of Prince Edward Island, Lower Montague has
mild weather. The daytime
temperatures are comfortable and moderate; from the onset of spring to the
end of summer, they usually range from 8 to 30 degrees Celsius; from autumn
to winter's end, the temperatures normally range from 8 to -10 degrees Celsius.
Lower Montague has undergone many changes over the years; like
many communities on the Island, it is rich in historical
background and its people have great pride in its heritage.
The Early People of Lower Montague
The first white settlers arrived in 1732; they were the Acadian
French people associated with the DeRoma settlement in Brudenell. They
inhabited Lower Montague from 1732 until the expulsion of the Acadians in
1758. Then, for about a period of 19 years, Lower Montague had no inhabitants. In
1775, the first British settlers arrived on a ship from Dumfries, Scotland; one of the
first families was the Aitkens. The settlers experienced many
hardships, including the harsh winters of Lower Montague. The people today
do not experience the hardships that the early settlers endured, because
the winters are not nearly as severe.
Lower Montague was a self-sufficient community in the earlier
years of existence. In 1880, there were four forges, four lime kilns, two
stores, a church, a school, a lobster factory, and numerous farmers.
There was a ferry connection to Georgetown from Lower Montague, located about 1 km
east of the present day wharf. The ferry carried about 12 horses and wagon
carts, and in later years, vehicles. Many doctors and other important figures
of society came to Lower Montague from Georgetown. The doctors had to be
shared between communities because there was a scarcity of them. The ferry
began operation in 1838 after the recommendations made by Mr. Thomson and
Roger Westaway to the town of Georgetown. Fifteen pounds was granted for the
building of the wharf. It was operated by a company from the United States.
The ferry ceased operation in 1953 with the promise that the road from Lower
Montague to Georgetown would be paved.
One of Lower Montague's two stores was the Poole's store, built in 1888.
This store was relied on heavily by the citizens of the community. It was a
general store which sold just about everything that was necessary for
people to live. Many ships would come into the wharf near the store to
transport the store's merchandise. The original building was torn down and
a new structure was built, but Poole's ceased operating as a general store
in 1964. There is no store in Lower Montague today. However, the newer
building is still standing, and stores fishing equipment.
Lower Montague once had a saw and grinding mill called Herb's Mill,
located on the French Creek Road. The mill was built in the
early 1900's, and was in use until 1944. It was believed that the last
miller was Billy Thompson. Today the original mill is no longer standing.
There was a church in Lower Montague, located across from the present
day cemetery, that was built in 1922. It was used often by the early citizens
of Lower Montague and was in the center of the community. However, the
church building is now a residence.
In the early 1900's, Jim Hewitt ran a canning factory that processed
lobster, clams and hake that were brought in by the local fishermen. There was also a
shipbuilding operation run by the Cameron family, but not much is known of
Many of the historic buildings have either been dismantled, torn down,
or remodelled; most of them weren't rebuilt because there was no need for them when
schools consolidated, and people went to Montague to shop, can fish, and to
take wood to the mill.
In the 1800's and early 1900's, most of the residents worked at
fishing, farming, and shipbuilding, and many people still work in the fishing and farming
industries. However, shipbuilding is no longer a business in Lower Montague.
Citizens who don't participate in these occupations work in the local
One business that has changed but still continues today in Lower
Montague is mail delivery. The postman would deliver the mail by horse and sleigh; people referred to it as the Little Red Caboose. It was
owned by mail driver Murdock MacKenzie. Today, the mail is delivered by
car by Kenny King.
The way of life for Lower Montague residents has changed
dramatically over the years. A certain aspect of their life that has changed
is the way people entertain themselves. Nowadays, many people watch TV.
and play computer games for entertainment. In earlier years, however, there
were no T.V.'s or computers; people found other means of entertaining
In the early 1900's, the people of Lower Montague did various
activities; they enjoyed dances and parties at the community school,
where folks were asked to play instruments such as the fiddle, the guitar,
and the spoons. For many, these events were the highlights of their lives,
since they worked hard all the time.
Young children looked forward to the Christmas pageants and
concerts at the school each years. The children would either tap dance or
perform a talent that they had. It was fun and very entertaining for them.
Many people anxiously waited for summer to arrive so that they
could enjoy summer picnics at St. Andrew's Point. Folks would travel
there on horse and flat cart. Community picnics were a time to socialize
with friends and to tell stories to children. Storytelling was a favorite
pastime for most people, especially children. Adults would also tell stories to
children before bedtime.
In the 1940's, people were enjoying the treat of listening to
the radio. A favorite program among the younger children of Lower Montague
was called Fibber McGee's Closet. Also, the radio was a new way of
receiving the local news; adults appreciated this new convenience.
Since children did not have board games, they had to make up
their own games. A favorite was the horseshoe game where children
would toss iron horseshoes onto an iron post; this was also popular with
Changes in Local Properties
Many farm properties have lost buildings
and barns that had once been used. In most cases, all that remains of the
property is the farmhouse and the land. Most of the homesteads were very
large and often sheltered large families. One farmhouse in particular, that
was formerly owned by Albert and Fanny Horton who were formerly from Murray
River, was used as a type of bed-and-breakfast for people travelling on the
ferry. They would store the passengers' horses in the buildings on the
property. The homestead was adjacent to the ferry dock and was used
for this purpose between 1911 and 1930. This house is still standing, but is
home to the MacDonald family.
In the early 1900's, houses in Lower Montague were usually built
with verandahs. Many of the older homes existing today have been remodelled
or rebuilt, which often involved taking away some of their unique features.
Changes in Family Names
Some families have lived in Lower Montague for many years; they
include the Aitkens, the MacKenzies, and the Pooles. However, other families
such as the MacDonalds, the Campbells, and the Fitzpatricks who presently live
in Lower Montague have ancestors originating from other communities.
I'd like to thank the following people for helping me complete the
research on my community. They gave me useful information and pictures from
the past. Thank you very much to Corena Gairns, Christine Ellsworth, and