The Acadians of Summerside and the Queen Hotel
From the earliest years of Summerside, many men and women from the outlying Acadian communities came here to find work. They were employed as truckers, seamen, fishermen, farmers, carpenters, coopers, tinsmiths, stonemasons, maids, dressmakers, and washerwomen. Through the years, they advanced to more lucrative and prestigious occupations.
Among Summerside’s first Acadian entrepreneurs were Frank Perry (François Poirier) and his wife Annie Arsenault. In 1899, they opened the popular Queen Hotel that served the community for half a century. This 35-room hotel, described as “one of the most comfortable and homelike hotels in Maritime Canada,” was located south of the Journal-Pioneer next to the railroad track, today the Confederation Trail.
Standing on the Queen Hotel’s steps are Aubin E. Arsenault and Joseph Gaudet. Aubin E. Arsenault (1870-1968) was Summerside’s first Acadian lawyer. He was also the first francophone elected to town council where he sat from 1906 until 1908, the year he was elected to the Legislative Assembly representing 3rd Prince. In 1917, he became Premier of the province and in 1921 he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island.
Joseph J. Gaudet (1880-1933), better known as “Joe Bunn”, was born in Summerside. As a young man, he worked as a trucker and then opened a local restaurant business. In 1908, Gaudet operated one of the first movie theatres in Summerside, “The Happyland.” In 1922, “Joe Bunn” Gaudet opened the Capitol Theatre on Central Street.
Today, one third of Summerside’s population claims Acadian ancestry. The most common Acadian names in the city are Arsenault, Bernard, Blacquiere, Blanchard, Cormier, DesRoches, Doucette, Gallant, Gaudet, Perry (Poirier), Peters (Pitre), Richard, Sonier, and Wedge (Aucoin).
Location: The Summerside Seafood Supreme building on the corner of Queen Street and Harbour Drive
Facts: Mural # 8. Measures 16 x 16 feet. Erected November 2000 with funding from the Canada Millennium Partnership Program (CMPP).
Mural Artist: Arno Freitag – 2000