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School Community of Murray River

by Denver
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 east of 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.

Past Businesses

Murray River

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.

Community Services

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 Bev Baird.

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 Fire Hall.

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 possible.

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.

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