Introduction to Prince Edward Island

(continuer en français) – Last updated: January 3, 2022

Canada’s smallest province is only 140 miles, 225 kilometres, at its longest, which is tiny by national standards. The small population of 160,000 is, however, the most densely populated of the Canadian provinces.

Charlottetown was the site of the 1864 conference between several British colonies that led to the formation of the Canadian Confederation in 1867. Ironically, Prince Edward Island decided not to join and did not enter Confederation until 1873.

However, it was not until 1997 that the promised link with the Continent took the form of a bridge, 8 miles, 13 kilometres, over an arm of the sea that freezes in winter. This is particularly beneficial for agricultural exports and tourism.


Overlooking a beautiful natural bay, it sometimes feels as if life stopped 150 years ago, a phenomenon accentuated by the island effect. This is especially true during the summer months in Victoria Row where traffic is stopped and actors in period costume are on show to maintain the 19th century atmosphere. Fanningbank, the Lieutenant Governor’s residence, still welcomes visiting royalty (more).


This is where the first settlers from France settled in 1720, the island was then called Isle Saint-Jean. A fort with trenches and pickets was quickly built, the structure can still be seen in the ground. Port-la-Joye remained the capital until it was moved to Charlottetown across the bay in 1768, once the British took control of the island. The Port-la-Joye fort was subsequently dismantled and abandoned.


As in the other Maritime provinces, the Acadians were deported. After the Great Upheaval of 1755 in Nova Scotia, it was the turn of the 4,000 Acadians of Isle Saint-Jean to be deported in 1758, half of whom perished on this forced journey. Today, the Acadians are still present in several communities, notably in the Miscouche and Tignish regions. Their particularities and their tragic history fuel the tourist activity.

Acadian cemetery in Mont-Carmel


The village is an old port founded in 1819. It was then a thriving port, trading with Europe, the West Indies and other East Coast ports. But the Trans-Canada Highway ignored the port, and soon only the fishing huts remained. Not much has changed since then and thousands of visitors come to see its authentic Victorian look. The old grocery shop transformed into an artisanal chocolate shop is also worth a stop.


Prince Edward Island has 1,240 miles, 2,000 kilometres, of indented coastline, with many estuaries and bays. Although the water is generally warm enough for swimming in the summer, beach activity remains moderate, but tourism plays an increasingly important role with over 700,000 visitors in a normal year. However, due to severe shoreline erosion, some of the cliffs are unstable.


With so much coastline, there are bound to be many lighthouses, offering a beautiful diversity of shapes and even colours. A number of them are no longer in service, those that remain have been automated since the 1960s. The last lighthouse keeper, the one at Souris, was in charge until 1991. Several lighthouses have been restored in order to welcome the public, they show the living conditions of a disappeared function but which still arouses many dreams.


Fishing is a traditional part of the island lifestyle. The fishing industry on Prince Edward Island has evolved, with fishermen seeking shellfish such as oysters, mussels, crabs and the famous lobsters. The regulations limit the quantities caught and also the length of the season, making it a supplementary activity, practised in a small-scale, family-run fishing environment.


With limited urbanization, the island has retained a tranquil atmosphere and rural landscape. The reddish-orange colour of the soil is quickly noticeable, due to the strong presence of iron oxide. There is little elevation, the undulations of the landscape blend in nicely with the blue of the sea. Despite the presence of many wind turbines, more than 60% of the electricity needed is imported.


Agriculture continues to be the dominant activity on Prince Edward Island. The farming population is higher than the national average, with 1,700 farms in the 2006 census, ranging from a few hectares to 3,000 acres, 1,200 hectares. Potatoes are the main crop, with over 50 varieties. Most of the harvest is processed into frozen products and crisps. There are also twenty thousand apple trees in the orchards and some vineyards.

Anne of Green Gables

The adventures of Anne of Green Gables have sold over 50 million copies worldwide since 1908, followed by films and television series. The reconstructed house from the novel is visited by many readers, especially from Japan, where the novel became part of the school curriculum in the 1950s. Cavendish receives 125,000 visitors each year, one of the driving forces behind the island’s tourist activity (more).

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      • Every country or region has something that they are tired of people asking them about. I assume Anne of Green Gables is the pet peeve of PEI

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure about Alberta per se, but I have had some Californian friends ask me things about Canada like, “How do you manage to live through winter there?” They also asked me if I see moose and bears walking down the street. My response, “No, honey”. When I say that, it’s not a compliment

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Beautiful! I spent only one day on PEI about 8 years ago so we barely scratched the surface. I enjoyed this tour, as most of it was places we didn’t have a chance to visit. Looks like a return trip is in order.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was late November when I had an opportunity to drive on a bridge from New Brunswick (Moncton) to PEI. In the middle of the bridge, when both of shores are invisible, the wind is whistling, and the waves almost approach the bridge the feeling is really special. It is not a fear but some kind of uncertainty.

    Liked by 1 person

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