Les Maisons de Bouteilles (The Bottle Houses)Édouard Arsenault (1914-1984)

About the Artist/Site

Édouard Arsenault was born and lived his entire life on Prince Edward Island in Canada’s far northeast, except while he did his military service during the Second World War in Europe. A lobster fisherman, he was also a gifted carpenter, and built fishing boats both alone and as an employee of several different construction companies. In 1948 he married Rosina Leclerc, also a Prince Edward Island native, and they had four children. The first two, daughters, were raised while the family lived at the Cape-Egmont lighthouse. They were the final family to live here, and did so until the lighthouse was automated in 1957.

After leaving the lighthouse, they moved to the current site of the Bottle Village. Here, two sons were born. After retiring, and after having seen some postcards of a bottle house located in Vancouver, British Columbia that his daughter Réjeanne brought to him, Arsenault began to collect bottles, with humor and in an improvisatory manner. This was in 1979, when recycling programs as we know them today did not exist, so he collected them from local restaurants and bars, or received them from relatives and friends. The process included cleaning the bottles and removing their labels, and then arranging them by size and color. At age 66, in 1980, he began building, and by 1981, his first house had been completed. Between 1980 and 1984 he positioned over 25,000 bottles within a concrete mortar. This included three bottle buildings: a six-gabled house created from 12,000 bottles and measuring 20 x 14 feet; a hexagonal-shaped tavern built with 8,000 bottles; and, the last, a 10,000-bottle chapel, completed in 1983. They are all sited within a floral garden enhanced with a pond and a fountain. There is also a gift shop on the premises.

While Arsenault was enthusiastic about his project, he was not particularly versed in building construction, and the difficult winters on Prince Edward Island took their toll. Consequently, between 1992 and 1998 the buildings were thoroughly photographed and then dismantled. New foundations four feet deep were poured, and the same bottles used by the original builder were replaced within the new walls; only the roof and the central cylinder of the second building are original.

The Bottle Houses, now under the management of Réjeanne Arsenault, are open for public visitation from May 18 to October 4 each year; check the website for special events. Adult fee is $8; children and group rates are also available.

~Jo Farb Hernández

Map & Site Information

6891 Route 11
Wellington, Prince Edward Island, C0B 2E0 ca
Latitude/Longitude: 46.4019082 / -64.101979

Status

Extant

Address

6891 Route 11 , Wellington, Prince Edward Island, C0B 2E0, ca

Visiting Information

The Bottle Houses, now under the management of Réjeanne Arsenault, are open for public visitation from May to October each year; check the website for special events. Adult fee is $8; children and group rates are also available.

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