Fans of history are able to travel back in time courtesy of friendly staff guiding you through a selection of PEI newspapers on microfilm, transcribed census and gravestone records, and other valuable resources. The facility has comfortable reading and microfilm rooms and a reference library of published and unpublished community histories and genealogies, all available free of charge.
Staff will introduce you to online resources on the PEI Ancestry website created and managed by Wyatt Heritage Properties. Membership is available on a yearly basis and can open the door to a variety of databases that will enhance your research. Visit www.peiancestry.com to browse.
The MacNaught History Centre also includes a small exhibit space. Displays include a gold pocket watch that belonged to Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, a collection of historical paintings and sketches by Summerside artist John Gothard Baker, and an 1867 tintype of loyalist descendant Peter Schurman displayed with the unique cane that he was leaning on for the photo.
The MacNaught History Centre and Archives at 75 Spring Street is at the heart of Summerside’s celebration of heritage in documents and monuments. It is a gateway to discovering family connections and Island ancestors and is open year round to local residents and visitors.
MacNaught History Centre
& Archives History
042.1 John Clay Collection
The house at 75 Spring Street, now known as the MacNaught History Centre and Archives, was built in 1887 for local surveyor, John Clay, who bought the lot and an earlier house from foundry man, George Bishop, in 1877. The property was purchased in 1912 by Cyrus B. Morris, who was involved in the industries of lobsters and foxes. Mr. Morris and his wife Florence sold to Theron Morrison in 1947, but lived in the house for their remaining years.
The next owner, in 1957, was J. Watson MacNaught, a lawyer and politician who served four terms in Parliament. In 1963, he was appointed Solicitor General in the Liberal administration and in 1965 became Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys. After Mr. MacNaught’s death in 1984, his wife Eva resided in the house until 1997.
In 1998, the MacNaught house was acquired by the Wyatt Foundation and became the third property in the formation of the Wyatt Heritage Properties. The structure underwent six months of restoration beginning in April 2000. The work was the first phase of the city’s comprehensive heritage project resulting from a multi-million dollar gift of the Wanda Wyatt Foundation.
The former residence houses the MacNaught History Centre and Archives, which offers an historical and genealogical research area on the main level. It is a Designated Heritage Building, protected by the municipality and included in the provincial and national registers of historic places.