One dream I have is to one day own a charmingly old house. Preferably Victorian and is a bright, cheerful colour on the outside and filled with character on the inside. This house would already be renovated with all the modern conveniences of course and I wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. Unfortunately this will be a long time in the future before I could even hope to turn it into a reality because I don’t have steady employment, which means I don’t have a regular income so I can’t really save up and no bank would ever think of lending me money… but that’s why they call it a dream, right?
But all that is beside the point. The point is, when I think about the kind of house I would one day like to own, I have something like this in mind.
This is Beaconsfield in Charlottetown. Isn’t it beautiful? It was built in 1877 for James Peake Jr. He was a shipbuilder and merchant. He built the house to show off how wealthy he was. Unfortunately his wealth didn’t last and when he lost his fortune, he also lost Beaconsfield. Today, this house is a museum. This means, sadly, that I’ll never live there.
After James Peake Jr. lost ownership to the house, Henry Jones Cundall acquired it. He was a land agent and surveyor president of the Island Telephone Company and treasurer of the Charlottetown YMCA. He lived in the house for 30 years with his two sisters, Penelope and Millicent. When he died in 1916, he declared in his will that the house be used as a residence of young women with no place else to go. And it was. Then in the 1930s it became a residence for student nurses and continued in this manner for 35 years. In 1970, ownership passed to the Prince Edward Island Heritage Foundation and in 1973 it was opened as a museum.
When we entered the house, we were given a short and rather abrupt tour by a lady who seemed more interested in talking about the life histories of the people touring the house than giving us information on the house itself and its contents. Despite that, Beaconsfield is a beautiful house and a testament to the splendour of days gone by. It actually had hot and cold running water in this house in 1877!