CHANTER, THOMAS BURNARD, merchant, shipbuilder, and landed proprietor; b. in 1797 (baptized 6 April) at Great Torrington, Devon, Eng., only son of Moses Chanter and Elizabeth Burnard; d. 17 March 1874 at Bideford, Devon.
Thomas Burnard Chanter’s uncle Thomas Burnard, a successful English merchant and shipbuilder, established a shipbuilding settlement, New Bideford (later Bideford), on the eastern end of Lot 12, Prince Edward Island, in 1818. A year later, Chanter, who had been trained in England to be a merchant and shipbuilder, assumed charge of the venture. Shortly afterward he took over a farm on Penman Point, P.E.I., which he named Port Hill; here he built a house and a store to serve the extensive settlement on the eastern part of Lot 13; he also established a fishing industry out of Richmond Bay. Chanter became a justice of the peace and captain of the 5th Battalion of the Island militia, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the colony’s assembly in 1823.
He returned to England to live in Bideford in 1829 and Thomas Heath Haviland* (d. 1867) became agent on the Island for Chanter’s financial interests in the timber trade, land, shipbuilding, and shipping. In 1835 Chanter acquired extensive landholdings, stores, and shipbuilding sites in the area of present-day Alberton, P.E.I. These he ran from England in association with Lemuel Cambridge of Charlottetown. Through the years Chanter’s money built at least 35 ships on the Island, and he was responsible for the settlement there of a number of skilled shipbuilders. His ships brought hundreds of immigrants from Britain to Quebec and to P.E.I. On the island these settlers provided labour and a market for his stores.
Thomas Chanter never returned to Prince Edward Island but remained at Bideford, where he and his wife Isabella Scott, whom he had married in 1829, had a fine estate. Chanter played a prominent role in the business and political life of the west of England until his death. He was survived by several children including Robert Campbell Chanter who settled on the Island at Mount Stewart Bridge. Thomas Chanter played a significant part in the establishment of shipbuilding in P.E.I., and this industry was to become one of the Island’s most important. His settlements on Lots 12 and 13 also played an important role in populating the western part of the Island.
Private Archives, Lot 13, Prince Edward Island, Port Hill papers, especially letters from Thomas Chanter to William Ellis, 31 Oct. 1831–10 Aug. 1836. North Devon Journal (Barnstaple, Devon), 23 Jan., 16 Oct. 1828; 24 June 1830; 4 April 1831; 31 March 1836; 29 Dec. 1842; 26 Jan. 1843. Prince Edward Island Register (Charlottetown), 13 Nov., 29 Dec. 1824; 27 May 1825; 7 Aug., 19 Sept. 1826. Basil Greenhill and Ann Giffard, Westcountrymen in Prince Edward’s Isle, a fragment of the Great Migration (Newton Abbot, Eng., and Toronto, 1967). Past and present of Prince Edward Island . . . , ed. D. A. MacKinnon and A. B. Warburton (Charlottetown, ).