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VIDEO: Iconic former Peter Pan building in Charlottetown demolished March 12

A piece of history has been taken down in Charlottetown today. Heavy machinery was hard at work on demolishing the former Peter Pan restaurant building on Thursday morning. The man operating the equipment, who didn’t want to be identified, said the sign above the front door to the restaurant was saved and the Peter Pan billboard sign in the middle of the parking lot will also be saved. He added that people were also stopping by during demolition to see if any memorabilia was available.
The former Peter Pan restaurant building in Charlottetown was demolished Thursday, March 12, 2020. - Dave Stewart

The end came for one of Charlottetown’s most well-known properties on Thursday.

A piece of heavy machinery spent the morning demolishing the former Peter Pan restaurant at the corner of Capital Drive and University Avenue.

The business operated at the corner from 1958 to 2013 and, while there were some efforts to revive it since, things just didn’t come together.

TE Holdings in Yellowknife owned the property and originally envisioned it as the centrepiece of a new mall concept but that didn’t happen either.

The company responsible for taking the building down said a few people dropped by on Thursday to see if there was any memorabilia they could have, adding that the outdoor sign just above the front entrance and the billboard in the middle of the parking lot were saved from demolition by the owner.

People on social media were sad to see it go.

“End of an era, even though it’s been closed for a while,’’ @lmunn1979 said on Twitter. “Best burgers ever.’’

“Part of me always hoped it would re-open someday,’’ said @jillparkerx.

“Oh, no! An icon on that corner,’’ added @Motherhector.

“One of P.E.I.’s most architecturally interesting buildings and a fond childhood memory for those of us in the pre-McDonald’s age, is gone,’’ said @DerekMacEwen.

Valerie Beer, whose father, Bill Beer, started the restaurant with his partner, Doug Hill, in 1958 declined to do an interview but provided The Guardian with a piece she had written about the business in 2004.

Valerie Beer said the redwood cedar timbers that supported the A-frame design were transported in from British Columbia.

She also talked about the Fresh-O-Matic machine that steamed the hamburger buns and reminisced about the fried onions and the special relish that so many people remember.

“My grandmother created beautiful handmade Barbie doll clothes and that were for sale at the front counter, each outfit carefully wrapped and priced,’’ she wrote. “Dad’s right-hand lady, Bridget Saunders, made all the delicious doughnuts, cakes and pies in the big Hobart dough mixer. According to my dad, that brand name was, and still is, the Cadillac of the trade.’’

Beer said once a year she would invite several friends to the Peter Pan for her birthday, ordering the food they wanted, and playing on the restaurant's swings and 10-cent rides.

“Dad would give me the key to open the money box on each ride and I would grab a fistful of dimes and hand them out to my guests so they could enjoy the circus clown ferris wheel and the horsey ride.’’

Beer said when she was 10 years old, she got her first job sweeping the gravel from the edge of the Trans-Canada Highway back into the restaurant parking lot on Saturday mornings.

“By age 14, I had graduated from parking lot worker to kitchen helper and eventually waitress.’’

Beer had many more memories to share, but she concluded her story by saying she thinks the corner is destined to always be known as the ‘Peter Pan Corner’.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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