Delving into Dalvay

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You will notice that I have been lax at writing on this blog these past weeks. I have been away on a little trip to Prince Edward Island (PEI). I took many pictures of this island of beauty. There are many things to write about this province in Canada but I wanted to write first about the place we stayed at in the National Park. The place is called Dalvay-By-The-Sea National Historic Site. You may recognize it as The White Sands Hotel in the popular Anne of Green Gables series starring Megan Follows.

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As soon as I stepped into the Hotel I was transported back to the 19th Century. The walls were made of pure wood. The big fireplace was lit and warm and inviting on the rainy day we arrived. The hotel staff were so pleasant and helpful. We were made to feel like royalty. Our room was on the top floor of the 3 story building. We first had to descend on the lovely wooden stairs with wooden railings.

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We were brought to Room 21. The room had 3 windows in the front which overlooked the lake (the lake of shining waters as I like to call it) and beyond, the ocean. It had a smaller window on the side which overlooked the side of the house. We had to climb a couple of steps to get to the king size bed which we had to literally stretch our legs to climb up on top as the mattresses were very large. We were able to look outside at night as we drifted off to sleep and welcome the sun in the morning as we awoke.

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We decided to eat in the half circle shaped dining room which overlooked the ample gardens and lawns as well as the lake. The decision was made to have the lobster for our evening meal. The chef had decorated our plate with a very tasty delight to our eyes. I say decorated, as the food was laid out on the plate so beautifully that I had to think twice before disturbing it’s beauty. I was glad I did as the lobster was done to perfection. The potato salad as well as the asparagus set off the lobster wonderfully.

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The original owner of Dalvay-by-the-sea was Alexander McDonald, born in Forres in Northern Scotland. He was to become president of Standard Oil of Kentucky. He married Laura Palmer in 1862. They had a daughter, Laura who later died in 1895 leaving a husband, Edmund and two daughters, Laura and Helena. Shortly after Laura’s death the McDonalds made their first visit to PEI in the summer of 1895. Their son-in-law and granddaughters accompanied them. First they briefly stayed in Charlottetown then they relocated to Tracadie to stay in the Acadia Hotel. They must have fallen in love with the island as they decided to buy land nearby and built their summer home, Dalvay-by-the-sea. It was common for wealthy people to construct an elaborate seaside retreat to escape from the heat of the summers. The construction firm, Rhodes, Curry and Company which built Alexander Graham Bell’s summer home in Cape Breton built Dalvay for Alexander McDonald.

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Dalvay was built in the style known as Queen Anne Revival which was a popular design in the late 19th century. The design tends to asymmetrical, which has a steep roofline with many gables, dormers, bay windows, and a huge encircling verandah. The rusty red of the sandstone, the sandy hue of the stucco and the green shingles seem to help make the house a feature of the landscape.

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Mrs McDonald died in 1903 and the family visited Dalvay less frequently. Alexander McDonald died in 1910 and left an estate approximately 15 million dollars to his granddaughters. Laura Stallo married Prince Rospigliosi, an Italian nobleman. Her sister Helena married Prince Murat of France shortly after. By 1930 their inheritance had disappeared as a result of financial mismanagement by their father, Edmund Stallo. Neither marriage was successful. Prince Murat was a compulsive gambler and he and Helena were divorced before she died at the age of 38. Laura and her Prince divorced later as well and she returned to the United States to live with her two daughters.

A former employee of the McDonalds, William Hughes, later acquired Dalvay. Then sold to William O’Leary. It was during this time many of the furnishings were removed from the house. In 1932 Captain Edward Dicks bought the property with the idea of operating it as a summer’s resort. When Dicks went bankrupt in 1936, George DeBlois assumed ownership. DeBlois was one of Dick’s creditors, as well as the lieutenant governor of the Island at the time. Soon after, DeBlois sold the property to the provincial government, which was interested in acquiring Dalvay for inclusion in the new national park. Ownership of Dalvay-by-the-sea was transferred to the federal government in 1937 when Prince Edward Island National Park was created. The rest is history as they say. For more of an in depth history of this grand hotel please visit Dalvay-by-the-sea history. Hopefully you can one day visit this wonderful place but until then please enjoy these photos I took. Nothing would make me happier if you were to share this story or any of my blog postings to your family and friends. Thank you so very much in advance and thank you for visiting today.

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4 thoughts on “Delving into Dalvay

  1. What a great article on our property & beautiful photos that show the richness of the wood we are so proud of our hotels history and this helps share it with everyone . We welcome all of your readers to come visit & experience our unique historic hotel a place to truly enjoy all PEI has to offer

  2. What a terrific post, Averil, I just LOVE this heritage building! So many intricate details and cues at play here, and the shots you’ve taken from inside are spectacular my friend! This is definitely on our must-visit list!!

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