Fix The Streets Of Charlottetown
This is an editorial which appeared in the Morning Guardian April 14 1891 deploring the condition of Charlottetown and its streets. It paints a vivid picture and makes one want to scoff at the term “Good Old Days”
What a host of phantoms and realities start up with these words. The ghost of McAdam falls disconsolate on his forsake shrine; the very stones cry out in shame; hoops and tin cans rattle woefully in the gutters; the scraps and shavings circle sadly in the wind puffs; the platforms stand on edge, the nails start from their sockets; the mud tugs frantically but vainly at the ankles of passers by. Vainly. Yes vainly, unless the ankles belong to strangers. Nobody else seems to mind it. But there is hardly a hotel smoking room in Canada where some commercial missionary does not sit himself down an idle hour to spend by telling his eager listeners hoe he last crossed the strait and how afterwards he ferried himself about the streets of Charlottetown.
It is wonderful how people become accustomed to and satisfied with disagreeable surroundings. When their surroundings are pleasant and goodly to the eye, people become particular and watchful with jealous pride; but when they become as ours are, people apparently cease to care much. Occasionally a newspaper calls for a mended sidewalk. Of if the editor’s mouth gets choked with dust as he sits in his office, he sputters for the watering cart. But this is only at intervals. We get used to these things and nobody knows what they can put up with till they try. We well remember on returning to Charlottetown after an absence of several years, how melancholy everything looked. The buildings never seemed so dreary and paintless. The streets – but never mind the streets. Well they have not improved since, but somehow they do not seem so dingy. We have almost ceased to notice these things. It is surprising how so many can along the streets now and not notice anything wrong.
And yet we have the filthiest streets we know of. (The Montreal doctors have come to the conclusion that la grippe is caused by dirty streets. They must be wrong: we have very little la grippe here. But perhaps we will have it.) From every second back yard deposits are running into the gutters, we have no drainage, and the ground is being contaminated by holes dug therein for water closets.
What are the prospects? Ask our journalistic neighbors. If they will unite with us in a crusade to reform the city, lock stock and barrel, to awaken public spirit and to show up the hideousness of so many things, something must be done. Come brethren, let us be up and doing. The trade question and the treaty with the Sandwich Islands can take care of themselves for a while. Let us begin earnestly and persistently to look after the interests of the city wherein we dwell.