Standing for 128 years, the Summerside Journal Building still has stories to tell

Posted on March 10, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments


The Summerside Journal Building in the early days (photo credit: The SaltWire Network)


From copy to coffee, the Summerside Journal Building has almost two centuries of history as a commercial building on P.E.I. Built for Summerside’s oldest newspaper, the property has also been home to a number of other notable businesses over its 128 years.

Brick foundation

The historic building was constructed by William A. Brennan for The Summerside Journal’s publishing and printing operations. Originally from Kentucky, in the 1870s William followed in his father’s footsteps and began his career as a journalist. After moving to Summerside, in 1879 William became the sole owner of The Summerside Journal, the city’s oldest newspaper (established in 1865). After its offices were destroyed by a fire, Brennan acquired a new property on 4 Queen Street and construction of the landmark building began in 1895.

Once described as “one of the handsomest brick and stone blocks on the Island” by a paper in Charlottetown, the property is well known for its architecture, proximity to the Summerside harbour and association with journalism in the city. The building was constructed of brick, with a rounded corner at the intersection of Queen, Water and Central Streets. Its three-story section housed operations for The Summerside Journal, including space for printing equipment, office space, newsrooms, storage and bookbinding. The rest of the building was occupied by other tenants, including the Bank of Nova Scotia, which operated from the two-story annex on the southern section of the building.


William A. Brennan, former owner of The Summerside Journal and responsible for the construction of its namesake building (photo credit: Meacham’s Illustrated Historical Atlas of P.E.I.)


Mergers & expansions

The Summerside Journal and its namesake building were eventually passed down to William’s son Arthur in 1916, who managed the business through the merger between The Summerside Journal and The Pioneer in 1951. Renamed The Journal-Pioneer, operations remained onsite and the business also absorbed commercial printing company Williams & Crue in 1952.

The property had its first large expansion in 1966 to add a modern rotary press and another two-story expansion in 1985 to provide more space for Williams & Crue’s operations.


A view inside Samuel’s Coffee House’s location at the Summerside Journal Building, which showcases the history of the building through its décor (left) and uses an original vault once used by the Bank of Nova Scotia (right) as a private seating area (photo credit: Rachel Peters)


New owners

In 1972, Bill Brennan, third generation family owner, sold the business and building to Hollinger Incorporated. Transcontinental Media Inc. acquired the business and its property in 2002 and sold the building to Vista Properties two years later. With plans to convert the building into Harbour Terrace Condominiums, Vista removed the 1966 and 1985 expansions and construction of a new four-story addition to the original building was completed in 2006.


A view of the Samuel’s Coffee House team outside of its location in the Summerside Journal Building at 4 Queen Street (photo credit: Rachel Peters)


More to tell

Today, the Summerside Journal Building remains a condominium building, with commercial businesses occupying the ground floor. The Journal-Pioneer (now part of the SaltWire Network) still has offices in the building, while printing is completed offsite. Other businesses in the building include an accounting firm, a medical clinic and a Samuel’s Coffee House location.

Moyna Matheson, owner of Samuel’s Coffee House says the history of the building was a big reason for choosing the property: “We love the unique history that we’re able to bring into the future as a place where people can come to share their stories and enjoy a long-standing part of the community.”

More stories to tell, 128 years later.


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