I was born in the smallest province in Canada – Prince Edward Island, although we moved to Ontario when I was two years old we have always gone back periodically for visits to our relatives. When I was sixteen, a friend and I travelled by train then bus to Charlottetown (cradle of Confederation) and couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was down there or talented for that matter. All my cousins and their kids play some kind of musical instrument and sing. I loved when we all got together and had old fashioned square dances or ceilidhs (kitchen party). They are some of the warmest and happiest memories for me.
I feel it is my duty to give you a little taste of what life is like on the Island at least in the summer months, as there and elsewhere in Canada we are now moving into the snow season which lasts up till March, early April. Here is the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of nuggets regarding PEI.
The floral emblem of PEI is the Pink Lady’s Slipper established in 1965. This perennial orchid grows from a height of six inches to 15 inches (15-40 cm). You can find her in early summer in mixed woodland and bog areas of the Island. These are rare flowers and you are not allowed to pick them. Other names for it are Whip-Poor-Wills Shoe, Stemless Lady’s Slipper or Moccasin Flower. The Lupins or lupines above grow wild and populate the ditches and meadows unfolding a carpet of colour in early summer.
This is the land of Anne (of Green Gables fame) and is a popular destination for the Japanese tourists who think of her as a role model who personifies virtues that they admire. The musical play based on the book has been running in Charlottetown every summer since 1965.
Lucy Maude Montgomery published 20 novels, over 500 short stories, 30 essays, an autobiography and a book of poetry. Many of them are still read around the world.
Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 25 languages and the historic site of Prince Edward Island National Park, which is technically Anne’s birth place, sees over 125,000 visitors each year.
The birthplace of Confederation and the seat of PEI’s provincial legislature since 1847, Province House National Historic Site is Charlottetown’s most significant cultural landmark. A magnificent example of neo-classical architecture set in a beautiful and quiet garden you can learn about the history of the Fathers of Confederation and see how the house remains a centre of political life for Islanders today.
Fun Facts about PEI
- The famous P.E.I red dirt actually gets its colour from the high iron content which oxidizes when exposed to air.
- The Confederation Bridge, completed in 1997, connects P.E.I. to New Brunswick and it is the longest bridge in the world over ice covered waters!
- Potatoes are big in P.E.I. as it is the number one crop in the province!
- Ten million world-class Malpeque oysters are harvested annually.
- PEI is known for it’s lobster suppers and homemade pies and internationally renowned mussels.
- Seaweed from PEI’s famous beaches (Irish Moss) ends up in your shampoo, cheese and ice cream.
- P.E.I. is so small that it accounts for only 0.1% of the total area of Canada!
- Prince Edward Island’s flag was adopted on March 24, 1964. It mimics the province’s shield, showing an oak tree and three saplings. The Oak is known as the “Oak of England” the saplings represent the three counties of the province: King’s, Queen’s and Prince
- Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island. In 2017 it had a population of 36,000 plus.
- The Mi’kmaqs were the first people to live on Prince Edward Island. They called the island Epekwik – meaning Resting On The Waves.
- The island was named Prince Edward in 1799 in honour of Queen Victoria’s father – Edward, Duke of Kent.
- Charlottetown takes its name from Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.
- The population of PEI is approximately 153,000. About 46% of the population lives in a city or town; the rest of the population lives in a rural setting.
- Prince Edward Island is 220 kilometers long by six to sixty-four kilometers wide. There is no place on the island that is more than 16 kilometers from the sea.
- The 273 kilometer Confederation Trail – is open to walkers, cyclists, runners and wheelchairs in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. It takes you from one tip of the island to the other on old railway lines.
Stay tuned for some more information on the beautiful lighthouses that dot the countryside.