While Charlottetown is the smallest of all the provincial capitals with a modest 34,000 people living within the city proper, this is the place that brokered the deal that enabled the birth of a nation that counts as the 2nd largest in the world by land area. Also, while this city is not the epicentre of the international phenomenon that is Anne of Green Gables, a stage show that beings the stories in her novels to life takes place here during the summer months.
The biggest attraction of all for some people though will be a slower pace of life that is the antithesis of the “faster, faster, faster!!” ethos that is commonplace throughout much of the modern world. The entire city feels what a small town should feel like, despite its status as the capital of Canada’s smallest province.
This is entirely appropriate though, as this entire island is a wide open outdoor therapy clinic for the frazzled and overwhelmed people that predominate in this 21st century world. And in case you are tempted to stay? Some of the lowest real estate prices in Canada can be found here, so indulge in your fantasies of escaping the urban hell in which you are currently stuck. In this increasingly mobile economy, it is an option that is tantalizingly possible.
Want to get your Anne (of Green Gables) on? Drop by the Confederation Centre of the Arts during the summer months, where a perennially annual stage show that brings the stories of Lucy Maud Montgomery to life in the form of an incredibly popular musical. Entering its 50th season in the summer of 2014, Anne and all the people that encompassed her life will move you, make you laugh and thoroughly entertain you with expert choreography, elaborate costumes, and dialogue that will transport to an era where kindness and manners were commonplace.
Serving as the centre from which Prince Edward Island is governed, and the cradle from which a great nation was conceived, Province House National Historic Site of Canada is the other point of interest that you should make an appearance at before leaving town for points beyond. Aside from its present day significance as the centre of government for PEI, and its role in birthing Canada all those years ago, Province House is also a marvellously beautiful structure constructed in the Roman/Greek Revival style, which will please architecture fans.
Question period can be attended by respectful members of the public when the legislature is in session, and living history actors/actresses bring the events of 1864 to life, allowing you to understand the issues and historical context surrounding the deal that brought four of British North America’s colonies together in the act of Confederation that brought Canada into existence.
A splendidly gorgeous church worth seeing can be found in Charlottetown, as St. Dunstan’s Basilica was named as a structure of historical significance in 1990. This stone church was born after a fire burnt down the previous wooden structure in 1916; being crafted in the French Gothic style, the soaring interior and elaborate carved stone will keep avid photographers busy for at least a half hour, while granting those who belong to the Catholic church a deeply spiritual place to reflect and pray.
Looking to purchase a piece of Prince Edward Island to take home with you? If this is a big priority for you, then Peake’s Quay in the downtown core is the best place in Charlottetown to get your trinket shopping done. After you’re done procuring the cliche crystal Inukshuk or cheesy tourist t-shirt for the folks back home, there are many fine dining restaurants where you can sample the best of PEI’s seafood; from lobster to mussels, it’s all succulent and considerably cheaper in most other parts of North America.
If dinner time isn’t imminent, then make a stop at Cow’s Ice Cream, a retail experience that started around homemade ice cream more than 20 years ago, and has since used its amusing focus on bovines to produce a series of amusing t-shirts and other charming gifts. If these touristy things don’t appeal to you, get one of their outstanding creations in a waffle cone, which makes the perfect accompaniment for a mid-summer day in Charlottetown.
If you are looking for a peak dining experience to cap off your time in Prince Edward Island, then set aside an evening to eat dinner at the Lucy Maud Dining Room. While there is little here that relates to Anne of Green Gables (other than a refreshing strawberry cordial perhaps), this restaurant co-opts the name of PEI’s most famous author to represent their mission to produce the best dishes from foodstuffs sourced from island farms and waters. This place may not be cheap, but you’ll get a true taste of the agricultural and marine bounty that comes from the land and sea on and around Prince Edward Island.