Winter Mail (1867)
Winter Mail (1867)
Title: Winter Mail Service on Prince Edward Island
Image Size: 5 3/4 x 9” [14.6 x 22.9 cm]
Description: Wood block engraving from the Harpers Weekly newspaper.
Winter Mail Service
Prince Edward Island, the smallest as well as the most fertile of the British American provinces, is situated in the Gulf of St Lawrence between the 46th and 47th parallels of latitude. It is about 140 miles long, and lies along the northeast coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, from which it is separated by the Strait of Northumberland, which is nine miles wide in its narrowest part. The telegraph cable crosses at this point, its termini being at Capes Tormentine and Traverse, the first of which is in New Brunswick. The route of the winter mail service also lies between these two capes. There are few places more delightful or better a visit than Prince Edward Island in the summer season, and it has recently become the resort of many American tourists. Two lines of fine steamers connect it with the adjacent Provinces. In winter, however, the island is completely isolated from the rest of the world by the compact fields of ice or drifting floes that fill the Gulf of St. Lawrence. For four long months at least the only means of intercourse which the inhabitants have with other men is the ice-boat, which carries the mail across the Strait three times a week. It is a perilous journey, and occupies from four to ten hours, according to the condition of the ice. Nevertheless it is occasionally undertaken even by ladies. No baggage more cumbrous than a valise or carpet-bag is allowed, and but two or three persons except the boatmen can go at a time. Sometimes the surface of the ice is comparatively level and unbroken; again it is seamed by long channels of open water. In either case the journey is made with tolerable expedition. But in general the aspect is Arctic. - Harpers Weekly, April 6, 1867
Although the image depicted in the Harpers’ Weekly is said to illustrate a Prince Edward Island ice boat, it’s not. The newspaper engraving is based on a painting by Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872) showing a boat crossing the St. Lawrence River at Quebec in winter.