- Past Businesses
- Community Services
- Businesses Still Operating Today
The community of Murray River is
located in Southern Kings County in eastern
Prince Edward Island on the
east coast of Canada. This area is approximately 15 km east of the town of
Montague, and 60 km
Charlottetown, the Island's capital city and birthplace of Confederation.
Like other parts of Prince Edward Island, Murray River 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, temperatures normally range from 8 to -10 degrees Celsius.
The community of Murray River has changed in many
different areas since the 1930's. At that time there were six general stores,
four blacksmith shops, two sawmills, four butcher shops, two hotels, and
Jenkins factory which canned clams, beef, chicken, and lobster. This factory
was destroyed in a fire in the 1940's.
In 1935, Allison MacLean of Montague started showing
motion pictures in Murray River's public hall. Mr. MacLean sold out to
Mr. Bruce Yeo of Montague, and motion films continued to be shown for many
years in the hall, until Emerson Johnston built a new theatre. However, it closed down a few
years later. Dr. Bonnell then renovated the building for bowling by
installing four alleys. This business continued for a few years, then closed.
Today the building is used for selling crafts and souvenirs during the summer months.
David Hawkins, who was one of the tailors in Murray River, also was
involved in fox ranching. This was a big industry during the 1920's and 30's.
Fortunes were made but the demand for fox furs fell rapidly, and some lost a
great deal of money.
In the 1930's, a man by the name of John Stymeist operated a
sawmill on the same property as the one owned by Jerry Moore. Mr. Stymeist
built coffins for many years at this mill. Another sawmill was managed in
Murray River by Ralph Gordon at the top of Morris Hill.
Next to the bridge, there was a store which was owned by Daniel MacLeod.
The last merchant to do business in this store was Fred Johnston, after
which it was remodelled as a funeral home, and operated by Parker Hamilton.
The Old General Store owned by Curtis Horton had a gas pump; he
would hand pump gas for his customers.
Over by MacLure's dam, there is a depression in the ground which
stretches right to the shore; a shipyard, where all of MacLure's vessels were
built, was located here before the turn of the century.
There was an old gristmill and a shingle factory located near
the Murray River dam. Some buildings are still standing around the dam.
The building where Glen MacKinnion & Son is located now, used to be a
telephone office, and then later, a bank. Today, the new bank is located
across the street from the United Church in Murray River.
One of the largest community businesses in the 1930's was T.L. Cook &
Son. It was situated on the property where Timmy Fraser lives now. This
store was owned and operated by Mr. Ross, who also managed a drug store and
hotel. In 1954, the T.L. Cook & Son store was destroyed in a disastrous fire.
A prominent business in the 1950's was the Chrysler Car Dealership and
General Store, which was owned and operated by Emerson Johnston. This
building was bought by Roderick MacKenzie from Souris, and was called M & M
Motors. The General store was called MacLeod's Red and White. It closed and
was for sale for many years; now it is known as Albright's.
Another well-known business that was located in Murray River was the barber shop.
Vance Strickland owned a grocery store, and part of this building was used as a
barber shop. There is presently a barber shop operating in Murray River,
owned by Ralph Billiard.
In the late 1920's, there was an outdoor rink built behind Basil
MacLeod's house. For many years hockey games had to be played in the daytime
because the rink didn't have any lights for night games. Later, lights were
installed over the ice, so that hockey could also be played at night. In 1977,
a rink was built in Murray River, called the Northumbland Arena; it is a
steel building with seating on one side for about 400 people.
There was a train station in
Murray River; the train would travel from Murray Harbour to Charlottetown
once each day, except for Sundays. This train would arrive in Murray River
from Charlottetown at around 6 pm, with all of the mail. The postmaster,
Roderick Keenan would sort the mail on the way out from Charlottetown.
A set of railway tracks ran from the Murray River wharf, west along the
river, then up joining to the main railway. This was referred to as the lower
tracks; they were used to transport
goods and cargo to and from the boats. After the railroad closed, the old
station was moved, and became an addition to the store which is now owned by
The present bridge across Murray River is the third bridge that was
built on the same site. The first bridge was a drawbridge, and was used for
many years when ships were being built at MacLure's shipyard, and then sailed down
the river. The second bridge was built in the 1930's; it was very
similar to the one in use today, except there was a guardrail on both sides
of the sidewalk. The present bridge was constructed in the 1950's by John England,
a contractor from Charlottetown.
In the 1950's, the village of Murray River bought a plot of land from
Fred Johnston, and a section of his warehouse building, which was moved onto
the lot to house the Fire Hall. In 1992, the village bought a building owned
by Sterling Palmer, where he operated a feed mill. The fire department
moved the building back, and built an addition onto it to create the new Murray River
One of the first doctors to practice medicine in Murray River was Dr.
MacIntosh, who came from New England, PEI. The second doctor to arrive was
Dr. Barnes, and the third doctor was Dr. Brehaut. The last doctor to settle
in Murray River was Dr. Lorne Bonnell, who is still living in Murray River today.
Prior to the year 1940, there were no refrigerators; some households
would have large blocks of ice cut out of the dam, which would then be
stored in their ice houses. These blocks of ice would be completely covered
with sawdust which would keep the ice in a solid form until late in the
summer. This was the only way to keep milk and other perishables as fresh as
Businesses Still Operating Today
Today there is only one general store in the village, Baird's IGA, owned
by Bev Baird, and one convenience store operated by Arlene Miller. There are
no blacksmith shops or tailors in Murray River, but there are now five
churches, and a garage and service station, owned by Garnet Sorrie.
I would like to thank Buster Dutney, Boyde Allen, Alvin Ferguson, Ralph
Billiard, Lizzie MacLean, Donna May Hume, and Glenn and Donalda MacLeod for
providing me with information and pictures for my research project.