Victoria Row (on Richmond St.)
Victoria Row is one of downtown Charlottetown’s gems. It’s a pedestrian street located on Richmond St., between Queen Street and Great George St. The street is approximately 800m long and can be found here on the map.
This street has an amazing history! Victoria Row was once the market centre of Charlottetown and was the home of the original market to the city that was twice destroyed by fire. The fires swept through the commercial district in 1866 and 1884, but led to a wonderful rebuilding in Victorian style, with brownstone structures and cast iron prefabricated storefronts.
Today, Victoria Row contains a wonderful array of restaurants with outdoor patios and gardens, as well as galleries, craft and gift shops, cafes, and live music. Victoria Row has become a popular venue for street festivals including DiverCITY, Nigwek festival (http://www.nigwek.com/) and others! It is a cherished pedestrian street in downtown Charlottetown, close to the main attractions in town, such as the Confederation Centre, Province House, Peake's Quay, etc. In the summer, there's often very talented jazz bands playing on Victoria Row, and it’s a wonderful place for people-watching.
Victoria Row has so many great features that make it such a popular destination. In addition to catalyzing spontaneous social gatherings, being a bicycle and pedestrian street, and being a safe, great place for children to play and musicians to perform, Victoria Row reflects local culture and history. It is a street that supports local business and is framed well by its neighbours and resident maple trees. Other features that make Victoria Row exceptional include:
- Victoria Row is basked in sunlight during the afternoons and evenings. The sun pours in from the west end of the street and casts its rays
- Victoria Row is home to beautiful heritage buildings and everyone that comes, gets to be welcomed by a beautiful decorative and ornate iron arch which acts as an entry and welcome to all who visit.
- Its proximity to the Confederation Centre of The Arts, live music, and downtown make it an ideal resting place on your way to and from anywhere. The restaurants and cafes all have amazing patios and you can interact with friends, or people walking and cycling by.
- The street is lined with beautiful flowers, benches, people and trees; it feels happy!
The street has transformed into a great destination through the vision and support of The City of Charlottetown and the local merchants and property owners. They financed the project when the street was to be opened as a pedestrian street. Once the redesign was complete, the street was open to receiving the community of residents and visitors that bring life and vibrancy to the patios, benches, bandstand, and cobblestone.
Victoria Row was redesigned and “opened” as a pedestrian street in 1997. The planners took great care in the cobblestone street, installing two fountains and an entry arch at the west end entrance off Queen Street. The entire south side of the street is an urban patio with awnings, trees, tables with umbrellas, and live entertainment. It is lined with lively and interesting windowscapes with great details that can be appreciated while strolling by. The scale of the buildings and layout creates a warm, charming, and inviting atmosphere.
The heritage value of 126-128 Richmond Street lies in its Italianate Commercial influenced architecture, its association with various Charlottetown businesses and its position within the Brown Block, which is part of Victoria Row, a tangible reminder of the commercial heritage of Charlottetown.
John George Hamilton Brown Jr. had the Brown Block constructed after the fire of 1884 destroyed the wooden buildings along this stretch of Richmond Street. Brown's father and uncle had operated the British Warehouse, a dry goods store, for many years prior to the fire. After the building was destroyed, John George Hamilton Brown decided to buy the land next to it, on which a store named Cheapside once stood, and built a row of three buildings, which would be named the Brown Block. Prominent local architects, Phillips and Chappell were hired to design the Italianate Commercial style buildings. Unlike the Cameron Block next door, the three sections of Brown Block were not identical in their construction.
The following Italianate Commercial character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of 126-128 Richmond Street:
- The overall massing and construction of the building with its three storeys
- The style and placement of the brick and stone throughout the facade, including the various decorative mouldings and carvings
- The placement and style of the windows, including the large plate glass storefront windows, the arched windows of the second floor and the paired windows of the third floor that together form an arch
- The placement and style of the doors, particularly the recessed front doors of the first floor facade
- The storefront with its sign band, large plate glass windows and recessed doors with transom lights
- The simple roofline, which was originally more elaborate with a pediment and various carvings
Victoria Row is important because people in our city love to spend time there, and people attract more people, which creates an opportunity for social fusion. When people think about Victoria Row, it’s often the intangible qualities—vitality, sense of place, and positive experiences—that they remember most. Victoria Row provides an anchor to downtown development.
This street is important in reconnecting local economies and people to support the pivotal role they play in the community. The popularity of Victoria Row expresses a desire for neighborhoods that offer a rich variety of experiences. Here, a broad array of activities and destinations has created the conditions that attract people, and where residents and visitors alike feel comfortable, welcome and safe.
There is a thought that, “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.” Victoria Row is a street for people. This street celebrates the safety of our streets by improving pedestrian and cycle mobility, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, enhancing sustainability, and making our local community more resilient.
Victoria Row continues to evolve. It continues to attract more street festivals including DiverCITY, hosted by the PEI Newcomers’ Association to Canada and Nigwek festival (http://www.nigwek.com/) and many others!