W281 | The Province House, Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The Province House, Charlottetown, P.E.I.
1880, 19th century
Wood engraving on wove paper
17.1 x 23.4 cm
John Clarence Webster Canadiana Collection
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

Current events, exemplified by the Trent Affair and the growing British military presence in Canada, provided the inspiration for turning an ordinary doll into Lady Blanche Paulet. The toy was given to Fanny Jack (1854-1913) on her eighth birthday in 1862. The political events of the next few years only increased the repertoire of adventures and fantasies associated with the doll.

The William Jack family followed with great interest the progress of the Confederation movement through the Charlottetown meetings and subsequent conferences in Quebec and London. In the face of political and military threats from the United States, the confederation proposals - particularly the greater security they represented - seemed rather attractive. As with most conferences, however, the meetings were not all business; social activities rounded out the official program of talks. Dinners and receptions dazzled the assembled luminaries, including the spectacular ball held at Province House, the Prince Edward Island legislative building, in 1864. Perhaps Fanny imagined Lady Blanche attending the grand Charlottetown ball and dancing with John A. Macdonald (1815-91) or Samuel Leonard Tilley (1818-96).

Within weeks of Fanny's thirteenth birthday in 1867, Canada became a nation, and we can speculate whether Miss Jack, then a teenager and young woman, dressed Lady Blanche appropriately for the occasion.

  • What

    The portico and grand columns of Province House are in keeping with the 19th century interest and preference for monumental classicism in public buildings.

  • Where

    With the exception of stone from Nova Scotia, the legislative building was built from locally obtained materials and by local tradesmen.

  • When

    Five years in construction, Province House held its first legislative session in 1847.

  • Who

    After a public competition, Isaac Smith, the leading Prince Edward Island architect of the time, was chosen to design Province House in 1842.