Connolly, Owen
Archive of Incoming Business Letters to Owen Connolly, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, written by merchants from Canada, the United States, and Europe, 1881-1887

Collection of 856 incoming letters, 957 pages, plus 90 pieces of ephemera, dated 1867-1939, however, only two letters are dated outside the main period of correspondence, the years 1881-1887. The letters are handwritten, in ink, in legible hands, (with no retained mailing envelopes).

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Description of Collection:

As might be expected, a large part of the correspondence is written by Prince Edward Island merchants. In particular the following gentlemen wrote multiple times: Bernard D. Brown, Lyne Valley, PE (23, 24p); J. W. Chisholm, Souris East, PE (23, 28p); Wm. F. Commeau, Souris East, PE (28, 30p); Doyle & McBride, Souris, PE (49, 49p); S. Farquharson, Souris East, PE (31, 37p); Patrick Kelly, Montague, PE (46, 55p); Donald McEachen, Souris East, PE (19, 28); J. H. McQuaid, Souris East, PE (27, 31); Morson & Morgan, Cardigan’s Bridge, PE (112, 149p); John P. Sullivan, St. Peter’s Bay, PE (7, 7p).

Besides P.E.I. merchants, other merchants from various Canadian provinces wrote to Connolly, in particular the merchants from Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which wrote multiple times were:

From Quebec - John Baird & Co., Montreal, QC (8, 9 p); Henry Chapman & Co., Montreal, QC (12, 12p); J. & E. Collas, Point St. Peter, Gaspe, QC (8, 9p); Crane & Baird, Montreal, QC (4, 4p); S. Greenshield’s & Sons, Montreal, QC (5, 5p); and John Hope & Co., Montreal, QC (10,10p).

From Ontario - James Goldie, Guelph, ON (4, 4p); W. P. Howland & Co., Toronto, ON (2, 2p); C.H. McLaughlin, Stratford, ON (7, 7p); Joseph D. Saunby, London, ON (4, 4p); Stark Bros., Toronto, ON (3, 3p); and W. Worden, Toronto, ON (6, 6p).

From Nova Scotia: - Geo. E. Forsyth & Co., Halifax, NS (3, 3p); Jerusalem Warehouse, Halifax, NS (14, 18p); and John Tobin & Co., Halifax, NS (4, 4p).

From New Brunswick - A. McMullin, St. John’s, NB (5, 5p).

Besides his local business in P.E.I., and his national business with fellow Canadian merchants in other provinces, Connolly also had far reaching business activities with suppliers or customers in the United States and in Europe. From the United States and Europe the following merchants wrote on multiple occasions:

From the United States - J. C. Bates & Co., Boston, MA (9, 10p); Faxson, Williams & Faxon, Boston, MA (6, 6p); Hathaway & Co., Boston, MA (3, 3p); C. F. Listman & Co., Chicago, IL (7, 7p); Middleton & Co., New York, NY (7, 7p); B. W. Underwood, Chicago, IL (4, 4p); and Woods, Perry & Co., Boston, MA (3, 3p).

From Europe - Blankenheijm & Nolet, Rotterdam, Holland (5, 6p); Budgett, James & Branth, Bristol, England (17, 17p); Davis, Kemble & Co., London, England (9, 9p); and Reinach’s Nephew & Co., London, England (4, 4p).

There were also many other merchants who corresponded with Connolly, either once or twice, with the main years being 1884-1887. These merchants were from P.E.I., other Canadian provinces, or other countries. We have not listed every person who wrote a letter, rather we have counted the number of letters per year for those merchants that only wrote once or twice: 1867 (1,1p); 1882 (1, 2p); 1883 (1, 2p); 1884 (103, 113p); 1885 (84, 87p); 1886 (25, 26p); 1887 (87, 88p); 1939 (1,1p); and Undated (15, 18p).

There are also 90 pieces of ephemera including invoices, receipts, accounts, telegrams, etc.

Of the letter writers, the three main correspondents were Morson & Morgan (112, 149p), who were successors to Owen Connolly & Co., at Cardigan Bridge, P.E.I; Doyle & McBride (49, 49p) of Souris, P.E.I., with Doyle possibly being a former partner in Owen Connolly & Co.; and Patrick Kelly, of Montague, P.E.I. who was a former partner in Owen Connolly & Co., he writes 46 letters (55p).

Owen Connolly (1820-1887)

Owen Connolly was born in 1820 in Donagh, County Monaghan, Ireland. He immigrated to Prince Edward Island in 1839 and was employed on the farm of a Mr. Smallwood, in Lot 28, where he remained for 2 years before buying a farm on the Monaghan Road. In the early 1840’s, Connolly married Anne Hughes, also a native of Ireland.

After his marriage, Connolly opened a store for country trade. In 1852, he moved to Charlottetown where he opened a liquor and grocery store on Dorchester Street. In 1864, Connolly built a new store on the corner of Dorchester and Queen. He later established businesses in Souris, Cardigan, and Montague. Connolly’s stores catered largely to the rural trade, selling staple products such as flour, tea, sugar, tobacco, molasses, soap, and liquor. Merchandise later included dry goods and clothing. In the summer of 1870, Connolly entered into partnership with Patrick Kelly and Joseph Doyle to form Owen Connolly & Co. This partnership lasted until 1881, which is about when the present collection, offered here, starts.

Owen Connolly was a prominent member of Charlottetown society. He was the first agent on the Island for the Merchant’s Bank of Halifax and when the Union Bank of Prince Edward Island (later the Merchant’s Bank of PEI) was established in 1860, Connolly was appointed director and eventually, Chairman of the Board. He served as a Justice of the Peace and played an active role in exhibitions and other public occasions in Charlottetown. Also, Connolly distributed coal and blankets to the deserving poor during the winter. He died on 27 December 1887 at the age of 67. Except for one letter of the Connolly Estate (1939) this correspondence collection ends in 1887.

At the time of his death, Owen Connolly owned buildings in Charlottetown, Souris, Montague Bridge, Cardigan, and Summerside as well as farms in Charlottetown Royalty, St. Peter’s, Morell, and Lot 48. His large estate was administered by three appointed Trustees: Lieutenant Governor A. A. MacDonald, Chief Justice W. W. Sullivan, and future Premier Fred Peters. In his will, Owen Connolly established a bursary fund for the education of deserving Irish Catholic males. The first of the Owen Connolly Bursaries were granted to five students in 1881.

The original trustees of the Connolly served together until 13 December 1897 when Peters moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. In 1912, MacDonald died, leaving Sullivan to administer alone. The original trustees were not replaced until 27 October 1913. A petition was presented to the Provincial Legislative Assembly and an Act to Incorporate the trustees and increase the number was introduced to the House in Session in 1918 by Sir Charles Dalton, MLA. The Act was passed after a short debate. In 1968, due to the increasing costs connected to maintaining the various properties of the Connolly Estate, the real estate was disposed of and the proceeds invested in accordance with the Trustees Act. The Connolly Estate is still in existence.