Charlottetown is famously compact, which makes it particularly fun for a pub crawl, and if required, a crawl back to your hotel. With an abundance of live music, friendly locals and good beer, the stage is set, but first, some rules must be established. Firstly, there’s no point having a pub crawl if you get stuck at one pub, so a 20 minute time limit is essential. Second, a new drink must be sampled at each destination, and yes, that can include the island’s legal potato moonshine. Finally, I forget the finally, because this is an epic pub crawl where rules are made to be broken. Grab a pint as The Great Canadian Bucket List takes a look at the nightlife in Charlottetown.
I begin the night at The Gahan House, a popular micro-brewery offering fine beer around the island. It’s busy, with some tables crowded with student types, others with better dressed professionals. I order some snacks to line the stomach, as one does, and wolf down a burger. Gahans offers a beer tasting menu, and all their ales are highly drinkable, be it the Honey Wheat Ale, the Amber Ale, the Pale Ale, or the seasonable Raspberry Ale. For good measure, I order a round of shooters, and ask a table of girls (a giggle of lasses) where they’d suggest next
Across the street and mere steps away is The Brickhouse, and upstairs is Marc’s Lounge. The former loft space of well known local artist Marc Gallant, the lounge offers live music and laid back chill vibe. Nothing wrong here at all, but after a cocktail, it’s time to move on. It doesn’t take long to walk to the Old Triangle, a Gaelic themed pub with Irish beers on tap. A local musician is strumming away on his old guitar, while a large crowd of students festively cheer on, having dropped by after an event of some sorts. I get chatting to a guy originally from Ontario and his girlfriend from New Brunswick. Both have settled in as happy islanders, as most transplants seem to do. I’d moved onto a pint of Kilkenny (this is an Irish bar after all), but joined others on stage when the singer launched into a folk song with an easy-to-remember chorus: “Prince Ed-Ward I-Land!” By now the entire bar was singing, some of us on stage, some at the bar, tables and booths. Now I know why everyone I’ve ever met who has visited the island has a sparkle in their eye when talking about the bars in Charlottetown. Toasting the health of my new friends, it is time to move to the next stop.
Hunters Ale House is heaving when I walk in, with a large Budweiser promotional bus parked outside and a cover band in full Led Zepellin swing. At this stage, my notes tend to get a little wiggly, and the memory equally foggy. Needless to say, I remember singing loudly and hugging a couple strangers. Twenty minutes went by awfully quickly.
Next stop is the Old Dublin Pub, where I catch a few songs from a band featuring Nick, who I’d seen jamming a fiddle earlier that day. This is what happens on the island. You quickly begin to recognize faces, and refer to folks as friends even though you just met them. I es-rock out to a cover of Sweet Caroline, and significantly, realize that I have ended up just steps away from my starting point of Gahans Pub, and my hotel, The Great George. I would have liked to have made it that night to Peakes Quay and Churchills (home of the best butter chicken in Canada), but the night had finally caught up to me, and there’s no use sleeping late on an island this beautiful. There is one more scribble in my little black notebook. On returning to the hotel, I found the receptionist baking fresh cookies. It was 2am in the morning. Now that’s service.
– Robin Esrock