About the Stanley Bridge Centre
In September, 2008, due to declining membership and financial costs to maintain the building, the Stanley Bridge United Church, in Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island, was decommissioned. The United Church Presbytery of PEI and Maritime Conference decided in 2009 to officially turn the building over to the former members of the church and they in turn applied to be incorporated as the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society Inc.
Directors and trustees were appointed to provide the leadership and direction for the building, as they felt that it was important to maintain its rich heritage and legacy.
The Board’s Mission Statement was the historic preservation of the church and heritage of the Stanl]ey Bridge church. The Stanley Bridge Centre would provide a Cultural/Events Centre and Archival Room that will house historical items and artifacts of significance as well as genealogy records.
The renewal project will require a large financial undertaking as a new basement is needed as well as washrooms, a kitchen, window restoration, a new roof, insulation and accessibility for all. The Stanley Bridge Memorial Society Inc, owner of the building, has charitable status and is continuing a campaign to raise funds for building improvements.
We ask that you consider a donation to our renewal project as we believe that the building is a landmark in the community and deserves to have it’s legacy continue for years to come. We trust that you will support this important community effort in Stanley Bridge.
Stanley Bridge Memorial Society
This website will include developments in the planning, historical research and the ongoing process of fundraising and of the restoration, repair and reconstruction of the Stanley Bridge Cantre. Check back often to keep abreast of what is happening and how your contribution is helping to realize the goals of the Society.
A new vision for Stanley Bridge
Story and photos by Jim Brown
I am surrounded by trees at my Sutherland Lane home. Behind my house I can step into the woods and be transported into a magical world of beauty and enchantment.
A short walk later I break through the woods and am on a well-worn path carved into a farmer’s field. I can look in one direction and see a line of trees standing like flagpoles, arched to the sun and clouds and in another direction see the blue waters of the Stanley River, framed by large bales of hay.
Just a few minutes walk down Rattenbury Road past more fields and beautifully kept homes, partially hidden by shrubs and trees, and I am at the roundabout, where I can go straight ahead and walk for another half hour or so to Cavendish, or hang a right and head down St Mary’s Road past rolling hills, seasonal and permanent homes and historic farmsteads. In the winter fields that stretch from the road to the sky are draped with snow and ice.
Turn left at the roundabout and walk past the gas station and there is the Stanley Bridge Centre, a historic site upon which stands a decommissioned church – a favoured haunt in the summer and fall of Islanders and tourists alike for farmers’ markets, musical performances and history circles. Just a few minutes more and I am at the Stanley Bridge Harbour wharf, home to dozens of pleasure craft and lobster and mussel boats. There I can look across to see the inviting waters of New London Bay.
It’s something all people who live in the area, whether as seasonal or permanent residents, take for granted and know, deep down, they really shouldn’t
Many tourists would be thrilled to live in a community like ours.
Joyce Phillips, who lives in the area, says she sees tourists outside her home transfixed by the sight of something we see every day, the Cavendish dunes nestled on the other side of New London Bay.
It’s not enough to simply witness it – visitors want to lay claim to the landscape, as Islanders do.
That’s the whole point of the Stanley Bridge Accelerated Destination and Design open house, held Nov 7 at the Sterling Women’s Institute Community Hall. It was one of several held recently.
The event drew 20 participants, including Joyce, a Four Winds Lane resident.
“People would literally walk down our lane, cross our property and stand there amazed (at the sight). It’s the view. Where can I go? Where can I get out to those dunes? How come those boats are going out there,” said Joyce.
Consultant Harvey Sawler said “tourists need to be led by the hand”, since they have never been part of anything like this before.
Weaving all of Stanley Bridge’s many attractions into one seamless experience would help make the area a much more desirable destination.
Tourists are increasingly looking for unique, original and immersive experiences – something off the beaten path, that includes history, culture and wildlife.
The world doesn’t need more tourist traps, it needs more of what Stanley Bridge offers.
Another presenter, Adam Hickey of Maritime Fun Group, said a pedestrian walkway would help connect Stanley Bridge’s most sought after attractions.
“A pedestrian walkway from Stanley Bridge Resort to the Gables to the pier to the Swimming Rock, (would connect) all of the major points in the community,” he said.
The exercise is volunteer driven and co-ordinated by Mr Sawler and the firm iImagine.
“Tourism is only these things: accommodations, retail, food, entertainment and outdoor activity, ” said Mr Sawler.
Those five things are the key with every destination.
Among the priority initiatives discussed by volunteers was the ability to just get out and stroll. To do that and get enthusiastic thumbs up from visitors, these things were needed: a boardwalk, light posts, hanging baskets, a place to walk behind the cemetery, picnic tables, attractive signage, wooden materials for a playground, parking, small shops, bike racks and somewhere to visit away from the road.
Volunteers who walked the community with Mr Sawler also looked at the marina and saw the need for food trucks and space for all types of vehicles including motorhomes.
The Stanley Bridge Roundabout and its corner also got a close look and volunteers saw the need for more parking, greater accessibility and lighting for evening use.
They also investigated the idea of an ‘oysters and mussel’ motif and the use of nautical ship wheel and carriage sculptures, with that becoming a feature for park benches and resting areas.
Preserving and enhancing Stanley Bridge’s natural beauty and promoting the area as eco-friendly were top of the list.
But Mr Sawler warned even if a comprehensive plan is developed that has the support of all levels of government it could still take years for the transformation to occur. Patience is needed.
Similar programs have been implemented for Georgetown and Souris.
“What does it take to build tourism? Time and money,” said Mr Sawler.