A new Roman Catholic Church was being built in St. Charles, PEI and the parishioners had to raise funds for the cause. One of the biggest fundraisers at this time in Island history was a large tea with games, food, fun, frolic, and people would come from many areas of the province but especially from the eastern part of Kings County. In 1897 the event was planned for July 15th by Father Walker and the local committee. Heavy rains on July 14, 1897 continued into the next day and on the morning of the famous tea many men arrived to help with the set-up operations for the day. However, the weather did not appear to be co-operating and it soon looked like the tea would have to be called off. This news was disappointing, and so the men, before heading home for the day, decided to try a drink of the cider, which had been ordered by Father Walker as sweet apple cider, to cheer themselves up. Well, they certainly found it cheerful as somehow hard cider had been substituted for the non-alcoholic variety! One drink soon led to another, and it wasn’t long before that rainy field was filled with tipsy men who were looking for a good time. Words turned to boasts, boasts turned to shoves, and before too long the entire event was alight with curses, bravado, and blows.
Two verses from a song written by Lawrence Doyle, a PEI native, give a description of the weather at the time of the tea.
The morning dawned upon us and the rain came down in torrents
And the tables set so neatly in a row;
And the ladies all prepared to do business on the square
And to make the tea a credit to Groshaut.
About noon it turned fine and the sun began to shine,
What was done was for the best you all well know;
If it wasn’t a success, ‘twas a frolic none the less
And ‘twas time to have a picnic at Groshaut.
Note: The exact date of this event is still somewhat uncertain however the above date seems to be the best fit with the public notices in the newspapers and the stories handed down through the years.
Sources: The Examiner, July 12, 1897; The Examiner, July 13, 1897; Red Rock Adventure Company; Edward Ives, Tea at Groshaut, 1968; Juanita Rossiter, “A History of the St. Peters Fire District Area”, 2000; “The Picnic at Groshaut”, song lyrics, 1897, Lawrence Doyle.