Holman’s Island, former resort property being preserved

Colin MacLean colin.maclean@journalpioneer.com
Published on June 15, 2015

The lavish Island Park Hotel on Holman Island opened on June 12 ,1873, closed October 1878 with a reputation for hoards of mosquitos, burned down December 1904.

©Public Archives and Records Office

Nature Conservancy of Canada continuing campaign to buy 90-acre island in Bedeque Bay

Holman’s Island, site of the first hotel resort on P.E.I., is on its way to being protected for future generations.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is starting a campaign to raise money to buy the 90-acre island, which sits about one and half kilometres off Summerside’s port in Bedeque Bay.

The island has a colourful history as one of Canada’s first major resort. It has changed hands several times over the years but has been owned by the Clark family for the last 60.

MORE: On lavish Island Park Hotel

In a statement, Rodney Clark and Sue (Clark) Kelly, said they felt it was time to let go of the island and selling to the NCC allowed them to do that while ensuring the land’s protection.

The total conservation project, which includes administrative expenses, the purchase price and various other costs, comes in at about $530,000.

MORE: On helping Nature Conservancy campaign

Most of that money is already in the bag, but the NCC still has to raise about $130,000, which it is hoping to do through local private donations. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of September.

Julie Vasseur, a co-ordinator with the NCC, said her organization is interested in Holman’s Island for a number of reasons, but the foremost would be its ecological importance to the area as a multi-species bird nesting area and as a remnant of the area’s old Acadian forests.

“We’re pretty excited about it honestly, because it’s got such a fascinating history from a cultural perspective and because of its ecological importance,” she said.

 

 

 

 

Island Park Hotel

The lavish Island Park Hotel built on the island by James L. Holman was a destination for wealthy United Empire Loyalists.

Opened on June 12 ,1873, it had upward of 100 rooms, a barbershop, bowling alley, banquet halls, bars and immaculately maintained trails and grounds. A ferry, called The Frank, took people over from Summerside.

It also had mosquitoes and lots of them. Most of the articles written about the resort during its years of operation mention hordes of bloodthirsty mosquitoes descending on the guests from the salt marshes on the island.

This didn’t stop Holman from trying to make a go of the business. He next tried appealing to the upper echelons of Island society as well.

Trains would run up from Charlottetown and for $2.25 customers got their train ticket, diner and entertainment. Diners, according to a bill of fare from July, 1874, included: mock turtle or oyster soup, boiled salmon or fried trout, beef, lamb, chicken and caper sauce. There was also cold dishes, like ham, tongue and corned beef, and various kinds of pastries like floating island and lemon and custard pies.

Despite Holman’s efforts, the business was a failure. Not enough guests came.

In October of 1878 the hotel closed and Holman died six days later.

The property burned down in early December of 1904.

FACT BOX

Anyone who would like to know more about the conservation project can contact the regional NCC office by calling 1-877-231-4400, emailing faith.flemming@natureconservancy.caor going online to www.natureconservancy.ca.