Gone 100 years – P.E.I. iceboats celebrated in Cape Traverse Friday

Published on April 26, 2017

The community of Cape Traverse is getting ready to host a special celebration on Friday to mark 100 years since the iceboat service between P.E.I. and N.B. came to an end. From left are some of the organizing committee, Danny Howatt, Robyn and Everyleigh MacKay and Scott Cutcliffe.

©Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

Cape Traverse is a small community that’s hoping to throw a big party on Friday. Cape Traverse is a small community that’s hoping to throw a big party on Friday.

A local committee has been hard at work preparing to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the iceboat service between P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

To mark the occasion, the group has organized a ‘tunnel tea’ social gathering, fireworks and community dance.

“It’s going to be a hell of a good time,” laughed Danny Howatt, one of the committee members and host of the tea.

The iceboats were P.E.I.’s only inter-provincial transportation service in wintertime for generations, but were officially discontinued on April 28, 1917, when the first ferry started operation. The iceboats were based in Cape Traverse.

Howatt has always had a keen interest in local history and recently partnered with fellow history buff Scott Cutcliffe to send out a letter to every home in Cape Traverse explaining the significance of the upcoming date.  

Danny Howatt is hosting a gathering at his property in Cape Traverse on Friday to help the community celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of the iceboat service.
Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

A committee was quickly formed, local businesses sponsored or otherwise offered services in kind and, through a lot of work in a short amount of time, a party has was organized.

Robyn MacKay, a committee member, lives in the community and is excited at the prospect of sharing this aspect of its history.    

“We walk on the beach all the time at the wharf and sometimes I just look over and think that it’s so beautiful and there’s so much rich history, it really needs to be preserved and showcased,” said MacKay.

All are welcome to the celebration, which will get started Friday, at 5 p.m. at 169 Wharf Road in Cape Traverse. A fireworks display will start at 8:45 p.m. and there will be a dance with a live band at the Borden-Carleton Legion from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the event the Friday timeframe is rained out, the celebration will be moved to the same time on Saturday. The Legion dance, however, will happen Friday regardless of weather.

The ‘tunnel tea’ is being promoted as is a historical reference to two events that took place in Cape Traverse in 1885 and 1905; they were rallies by Islanders who wanted a permanent, year-round, link to the mainland. At the time, it was believed a tunnel would be the best way to do that, hence the name.

The teas were also briefly brought back in the 1990s and early 2000s when the Cape Traverse Historical Society was attempting to raise money to rebuild the historic community wharf.