The smallest province of Canada, Prince Edward Island has been famous for both its aesthetic beauty and historical significance. With a variant of inhabitants consisting Scottish, Irish, English and French, the island is mostly dependant on agricultural means to sustain its economy. In our detailed guide to explore Prince Edward Island – we will discuss all the key elements pertaining to PEI and why it is worth a visit?
Where is Prince Edward Island?
Situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the island is bordered on the west by Cape Breton Island, in the north by Nova Scotia peninsula with New Brunswick in the east and Northumberland Strait in the south. The capital city of Charlottetown, towns of Cornwall and Stratford, and the city of Summerside construct the urban area of the province.
The provincial landscape untouched by the concrete civilization has preserved the natural beauty of the place. Rolling hills, woods, red and white sand beaches, ocean coves and red soil lands are characteristic features of the place. The exuberant landscape of the agrarian economy has attracted tourists from all over the world. Lucy Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables written in the late Victorian Era was set in this landscape. The leisure activities like golfing, eco-tourism adventures, and cultural events of the local rural and urban communities offer various attractions to the tourists.
How to get to the Island?
The crescent-shaped island has an airport at Charlottetown which is well-connected to the mainland. Otherwise, one can cross the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to the island; this journey takes about ten minutes and lands you to Borden-Carleton which is the south-western region of the province. One can even avail the Northumberland Ferries from Nova Scotia; the services remain operations from May to the middle of December. The mini-cruise ride takes about 75 minutes and docks in the Wood Islands in the south-eastern region.
Flora and Fauna of the Island:
As the tourists had flocked to the island, the hunting and habitat disruption has made extinct the various native animals of the island. Recently, the conservation acts of the government have been enforced strictly to preserve the habitat of the animals. Native Moose, bear, caribou, wolf and other larger species are the specialties of the region. Non-native species like red foxes, coyote, blue jays, robins, skunks, raccoons are also found in the region. Piping plovers, American eel, bobolinks, little brown bats and beach pinweed are the species at risk on the island. A new ascomycete species was found recently from a freshwater creek on the island. North Atlantic right whales which are one of the rarest of whale species found in the Gulf, a notable number of whales have been recorded around Cape Breton and the number has only been gradually increasing every year.
The island was named by the French during their colonization of it in 1604. In the 18th century, several battles were fought between the French and the Brits on the island. In 1763, the island was handed over to the British with the Treaty of Paris. The most significant incident of Prince Edward Island took place in September of 1864 when the Charlottetown Conference was held in the town which eventually led to the Quebec Resolutions and later to the creation of Canada in 1867. In 1871, the island negotiated terms with the United States as it considered joining the expansion. But in 1873, Canada negotiated terms with the island and the island became a part of the Dominion Government of Canada.
As a result of its rich historically significant presence throughout the ages, the island is known as the “Birthplace of Confederation” and bears several marks of the events that had taken place there. Several buildings, a ferry vessel and the Confederation Bridge commemorate the historical significance of the island.
The population of 142,910 was recorded in the 2016 census in Canada. English is the most spoken language, French, Mandarin, Arabic, and Dutch are the next four top languages spoken on the island. Tagalog, German, Spanish, Chinese, Cantonese, Nepali, Persian, Russian and Korean are also spoken. The religion of the island has been mostly divided between Catholic and Protestant affiliations.
The moderate climate of the island is strongly influenced by the sea surrounding it. The warm current of the Gulf of St. Lawrence keeps the climate milder than the inland locations. But the climate is characterized by the frequently changing weather which seldom lasts long.
With an average of 285 centimeters of snowfall and 855 millimeters of rainfall yearly, the average daytime high in July-August is observed at 23°C and -3.3 °C in the winter months of January-February. The winters are moderately cold and long with gusts of cold Arctic air and milder Atlantic air clashing and causing sudden temperature changes. The winters are stormy and humid continental climate wields more influence on the island as the Gulf freezes over eliminating any scope of moderation. Summers are warm but not uncomfortable, barely reaching 30°C temperature. Storm activity increases in autumn but the pleasant weather delays the onset of frost and extends the summer weather.
Seasonal Attractions of the Island:
Though spring, fall, and winter are all equally enjoyable on the island, summer is unbeatable by all means. The heritage byways in the fall, the taste of lobster in early may and 700kilometers of snowmobile trails, cross-country trails, and downhill skiing activities in the winter are huge tourist favorite pastimes.
- Summer– The postcard beauty of the pastoral land is best experienced in the summer. Grassy hills, outstretched red sandy beaches are the central tourist attractions of the island in summertime. The tourists flock to the beaches and the seaside villages, and the National Park of the province.
The delicacies of the province are especially famed for their fresh shellfish, lobster and oyster dishes. The culture of presenting food directly on the table from the harvest adds to the taste of the cuisine. Food lovers will also get to try the modern Canadian cuisine at the world-famous restaurants in Prince Edward Island.
Between mid-September and late-October, the vegetation is at its most vibrant state. Many of the biking and hiking trails are best enjoyed during this season. The unpaved Heritage Road winding behind farmlands and forests transports one back to the past as it offers a rural view of the island.
- Fall– The brilliant fall colors of the forests of eastern North America are observed on the Prince Edward Island as well. The orange of sugar maples and vibrant red of red maples, cherry, and sumac, combined with the yellows of poplar, birch, and beech paint the landscape into a perfect fall picture in the backdrop of the green of fragrant softwoods of spruce, pine, and fir.
The fresh produce of the fall consists of fruits, vegetables, and seafood. The Fall Flavours Festival takes place in September which celebrates the food and culture of the island all month long. The International Shellfish Festival opens up the island for the tourists interested in indulging in the culinary delights at what is truly “the biggest kitchen party in Atlantic Canada”.
- Winter– The winter adventures are distinct in character. The festivals and events highlight the culinary and cultural experience of the island, and the trails offer a very tranquil hike through the woods and farmlands.
The Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park honors the success of Mark Arendz in the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. The park offers a variety of attractions for tourists of all ages. Mountain biking, Alpine, Nordic or Cross Country Skiing, Fat biking, Biathlon, Tubing, and Snowshoeing are some of the activities of the park. There is even a snow school that offers various programs for kids and adults alike to enjoy the season at its best. The Jack Frost Children’s Winter Festival makes use of the artistry of Canada’s Olympic Snow Sculpting team and makes the snow and ice come alive under the stars.
- Spring– White dust snow of winter, melts away to give way to the colorful bloom of spring. Tulips line the roads as the red soil contrasts the green fields. The lobster season begins in May and so does the theatre season. The best productions of Canada perform on the island during this season. The outdoor activities of golfing, hiking and cycling through the trails are also a huge hit among the travelers as the enthusiasts take in the spectacular view of the island in full bloom.
The Trans Canada Trail portion of Prince Edward Island is the Confederation Trail. It was modified to accommodate a walking and cycling path when the railway works were abandoned in 1989. With exceptional landscapes and bay seascapes, and quaint villages dotting the trail, the beauty of it is heightened.
The seasonal shops and restaurants opening in spring attract tourists from all over the world. The fresh produce provides an exceptional culinary experience of the island and gives the tourists a taste of the island flavors.
The Top Tourist Attractions of Prince Edward Island:
The tourist attractions are numerous on the island. With the help of the Regional Tourism Associations and Destination Management Associations, the places have been highlighted to bring in more tourists to experience the rich culture of the island. The experiences of Arts, culture, and history through various events and festivals have been popular among visitors. The adventure sports, golfing and the picturesque beaches also make provisions to accommodate all kinds of vacationers. Some of the top tourist hotspots are listed here.
- Prince Edward Island National Park- The National Park is along the north coast of the island. It runs along the shore for 42 kilometers and consists of some finest beaches of the world. Dunes, sandstone bluffs, and wetlands are present in abundance in the forest. The park is open for visitors all year round but most facilities and services are seasonal. The park is fully operational from mid-May to mid-October, especially in July and August special guided tours are conducted and the tourists can enjoy all the services of the park.
- East Point Lighthouse- The heritage site of the East Point Lighthouse is on the north-eastern shore of Prince Edward Island. There are 67 steps to the top and a collection of old lenses greet the visitors. The lighthouse was built in the year of the Confederation and was moved twice from its original location. A gallery of former lighthouse keepers and the ancient lantern machinery are on display in the lighthouse. The fifth-floor observation deck offers a wraparound view of the coastal area as well as the landscape of the inland. A craft shop in the foghorn building avails souvenirs to the visitors.
- Lennox Island Cultural Centre- The ancient Mi’kmaq culture is preserved in the 1320 acre wooded islet of Lennox. The cultural center provides the means of being acquainted with the history, beliefs, and traditions of the First Nations people. The nature trail of the Path of Our Forefathers begins from this center and continues through the forests and along the coastline of the island. These trails are operational in July and August, and you can avail guided tours by native Mi’kmaq tribal people who can tell you more about the culture and tradition of the life on the island.
- Maisons de Bouteilles- The tourist attraction serves as an awareness program as well. The three buildings here are entirely constructed from recycled bottles that were collected from the local community with the help of fishermen, carpenters, and lighthouse-keepers. The first building was a house, built in the 1980s with 12000 bottles; the second building was a tavern constructed in 1982 with 8000 bottles and the third was a chapel built in 1983 with 10000 bottles. The light creates a breathtaking effect as it enters through the bottle into the buildings. Visiting at sunset to enjoy the full impact of the scene is highly recommended.
- West Point Lighthouse- The 69ft high black and white lighthouse was built in 1875. It is the tallest lighthouse of the island and now houses a small museum that explores the history of the structure. There are a craft shop and inn situated in the area as well.
- Point Prim Lighthouse- The gorgeous lighthouse with historical significance is maintained by the non-profit organization Point Prim Society. The view from the tower is absolutely surreal and the informative museum educated the tourists about its glorified past. There are regular guided tours available.
- Victoria Park- The waterfront green space of Charlottetown is a 40-acre lush green space. There a boardwalk along the southern edge of the park giving way to cycling and jogging.
- Sir Andrew MacPhail Homestead- Built in the 1850s, the gable house was home to eminent local author, Sir Andrew MacPhail who was also a physician and soldier. It now houses a museum celebrating his life and works. The grounds consist of a nursery, vegetable garden, and woods. The Veranda Cafe near the place is famous for its delicacies.
The charm of Prince Edward Island is undeniably pleasing with its various attractions for all sorts of tours. It has something to offer to all age groups and both indoor and outdoor activities. Pleasant weather, delicious cuisine and picturesque setting of the island have made it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada. The perfect blend of history, adventure and leisure experience has been the magnetic force behind the popularity of the island.