Hands on his­tory

Well-known P.E.I. lec­turer, Reg Porter, pro­duces im­pres­sive books on Govern­ment House, stained glass win­dows of Trin­ity United Church

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - El­iz­a­beth Cran At­lantic Pages El­iz­a­beth Cran is a free­lance writer who writes a book re­view col­umn for The Guardian. To com­ment or to send her books to re­view, write her at her new ad­dress: 95 Or­ange St., Apt. 101, Saint John N.B., E2L 1M5, or call her a

Ev­ery­one who lives in Char­lot­te­town or who vis­its there for any rea­son has seen the res­i­dence of the lieu­tenant-gov­er­nor of the prov­ince.

Si­t­u­ated, as it is, near the shores of a beau­ti­ful bay, and en­hanced by wide lawns, it is both a beau­ti­ful and im­pres­sive sight. Few peo­ple, how­ever, know any­thing more about it.

Now, Regi­nald Porter, the well-known lec­turer and au­thor­ity on Is­land an­tiq­ui­ties and ar­chi­tec­ture, has pro­duced a book en­ti­tled “Govern­ment House and the Fan­ning­bank Es­tate: a Guide­book”.

While orig­i­nally pro­duced for the Govern­ment House com­mit­tee of the P.E.I. Mu­seum, and pub­lished in a very lim­ited in­house edi­tion, it is now avail­able as a pdf file at both the Govern­ment House and Prince Ed­ward Is­land Mu­seum web sites.

This book is far more in­ter­est­ing than at first it may ap­pear. From it, we may learn not only the his­tory of a build­ing and its sur­round­ings, but also the many changes both went through from when the house was built in 1833-1834 and the present. For in­stance, the farm dis­ap­peared. In 1873 the city ob­tained half of the es­tate to form Vic­to­ria Park.

And in 1917 the lieu­tenant­gov­er­nor of­fered the prop­erty for a con­va­les­cent hos­pi­tal for wounded sol­diers re­turn­ing from the Great War. Soon af­ter­wards, it fell on evil days. Some thought it should be pulled down. Oth­ers be­lieved it should be made into a tourist home. For­tu­nately the opin­ion that pre­vailed was that it should be re­stored.

Porter has writ­ten an in­for­ma­tive book in a lit­er­ate but easy style that any­one can read. And we hope ev­ery Char­lot­te­town res­i­dent - and some vis­i­tors - will read it too.

Later in 2015, Porter pro­duced an­other, smaller book which has been most suc­cess­ful. It sold out im­me­di­ately and is no longer avail­able. It is spon­sored by the Trin­ity Clifton Pas­toral Charge of the United Church of Canada, and has a fore­word by the min­is­ter, Rev. John Moses. The sub­ject is con­tained in the ti­tle, which is “The Stained Glass Win­dows at Trin­ity United Church Char­lot­te­town”.

Si­t­u­ated in the middle of the city, in­ter­ested vis­i­tors can eas­ily find it.

The church was built by the Methodists about 20 years be­fore its opaque glass win­dows be­gan to be ex­changed for stained glass ones.

This was due to the pro­hi­bi­tion against them (and against or­gans too) be­ing lifted around that time; beauty to the glory of God be­came the ideal, rather than aus­ter­ity.

Each colour il­lus­tra­tion is ac­com­pa­nied by a page of de­tails. Th­ese in­clude size, when in­stalled, religious quotation, donor in­scrip­tion, and de­scrip­tion of win­dow with Bib­li­cal ref­er­ences.

De­signed pri­mar­ily as guide­books and works of ref­er­ence, rather than nar­ra­tives, both th­ese books will have other uses and will be ap­pre­ci­ated by all lovers of beauty in ar­chi­tec­ture, stained glass, and the dec­o­ra­tive arts.

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