52 Ancestors #13: Albert P. Prowse (1858-1925)

Prowse House current
Photo from historicplaces.ca

If you’ve ever been to Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island, you’ve likely seen this house. It’s the most prominent feature in the village, although depending when you went, you may remember it as being blue, like I do. The house was built by my 2nd great grandfather, Senator Samuel Prowse (52 Ancestors #4), was passed down to his son, my great-grandfather, Albert, and then to my great-uncle, Gerald. I loved visiting Gerald and his wife Connie when I was younger, and exploring this great house!

My great grandfather, Albert Perkins Prowse, was born on December 24, 1858, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was the 2nd child of Samuel Prowse and Eliza Willis. He had an older brother, Frederick. Soon after Albert’s birth, the family moved to Murray Harbour, where Samuel went into business. Albert’s mother died after giving birth to a baby girl, Eliza Elizabeth, in Feb 1860. Tragically, the baby only lived for a few months, and Frederick died a couple of years laterSamuel Prowse then married his late wife’s older sister, Louisa Willis, and had two more children, William H. Prowse and Samuel Willis Prowse.

Albert became a partner in his father’s business around 1879, then known as Prowse & Son. In 1884, his half-brother William joined the partnership, which then became known as Prowse & Sons. In addition to a General Store, Prowse & Sons exported dried fish, canned lobster and agricultural produce. The business included a starch factory, using local potatoes to produce starch, a lumberyard and a cannery, where employees made cans throughout the winter for use during the next canning season. Following Samuel Prowse’s death in 1902, William sold his share in the business to Albert, who continued the business alone under the same name.

Albert P and Williamina (Kirkland) Prowse.jpg

On November 29, 1881, Albert married Wilhelmina (Minnie) Kirkland at her parents’ home in Rexton, New Brunswick. The couple settled in Murray Harbour, where they raised a large family of 10 children over the next 21 years. Although their first child, Louisa, died before the age of 4, the remaining 9 children all survived.

Prowse family
Preston Prowse (b. 1888), Samuel Prowse (b. 1891), Gordon Prowse (b. 1894), Vivia Prowse (b. 1897), Hon. Albert P. Prowse, Minnie (Kirkland) Prowse, Gerald Prowse (b. 1899), Louise Prowse (b. 1903), unidentified minister, Joseph Prowse (b. 1896), Pearl (Hobbs) Prowse and Fred Prowse (b. 1883) Missing – Edith Prowse (b. 1885). Photo likely taken around 1907. 

Along with following his father into business, Albert also followed his father into politics. He first ran for the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly in 1897, where he was defeated. He was subsequently elected in 1899 in 4th Kings, the riding his father Samuel had held between 1876 and 1889. Albert held the seat from 1899 to 1900, from 1904 to 1919 and from 1923 until his death in 1925. He was Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 1918 to 1919.

Albert died on Saturday, June 20, 1925, and his obituary was on the front page of the Charlottetown Guardian newspaper the following Monday. His funeral was held on June 22, 1925 in Murray Harbour, and was “one of the largest attended funerals in the community for a number of years”. Albert was buried in the Murray Harbour Cemetery.

Newspaper - Funeral of Albert P. Prowse (cropped).jpg
The Charlottetown Guardian, Wednesday July 8, 1925, Page 5