Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island view by CC user 96510847@N06 on Flickr

Introduction

In much of Canada, the majority of the population in the provinces have tended to gather in towns and cities for a generation more so than in the countryside. As a whole, 81% of Canadians live in towns or cities, while a scant 19% lives amidst the farms and villages of the hinterland. This has led to the quickening of the pace of life, and with it, stress has increased.

Ready for a break from all this madness?

Prince Edward Island has the cure.

Even in the present day, Prince Edward Island has bucked this trend, as a majority (53%) still reside in the rolling pasture land outside Charlottetown and Summerside, the two major settlements that exist in Canada’s smallest province, in population and land area. Spud Isle, as it is affectionately called for its #1 export crop, has plenty to offer travelers though, as it is viewed by many in the Maritimes as a summer vacation destination.

Increasingly, people outside the region are taking the same view, led by the Japanese, who idolize the stories of Anne of Green Gables, written by local author Lucy Maud Montgomery in the 19th century. Apart from this particular group though, PEI (along with much of Atlantic Canada) remains off the radar of many foreign tourists, so a trip here will satisfy those looking for fulfilling journey off the beaten track.

Green Gables by CC user barneymoss on Flickr

What To Do – Culture & History

After cresting the peak of the massive Confederation Bridge and glimpsing your first view of this delightfully red island (seriously, the asphalt here takes on a pinkish hue), you’ll likely be either chomping the bit to see the Anne of Green Gables House, or rushing to get it over with in order to tick it off your list, and subsequently get away from the masses at one of PEI’s biggest tourist draws.

The stories of Lucy Maud Montgomery are in fact fiction, but the farmhouse within Prince Edward Island National Park that is the locus of tourist activity is the place where she drew the inspiration for the novels that she penned, making the homely environs of the old house and bucolic surrounds of the farm plot come alive for fans of her series of stories.

If using your imagination isn’t enough to satisfy your inner Anne geek, then taking in a show at Confederation Centre of the Arts hopefully will. This performing arts centre in Charlottetown puts on stage shows based on the Anne of Green Gables novels each and every summer, entertaining countless patrons. Of course, this facility also plays hosts to other performing arts presentations and concerts, so check with the box office or consult their website to see what else in playing during the time of your visit.

While many islanders make their living by harvesting potatoes from the rich red earth, others take to the lucrative waters of the Northumberland Strait or the Gulf of St. Lawrence to harvest the bounty of the sea, much to the pleasure of seafood lovers everywhere. Some of the best shellfish that is fished out of the ocean lands at many lobster suppers that spring up across the province during the summer months (May through August is lobster season in varying locations across the island).

Keeping your eye out for the plentiful signs announcing these events is the best way to experience some of the cheapest, best tasting lobster you’ve ever had, but the small town of New Glasgow is particularly famous for the suppers that is puts on, some if you are frozen by analysis paralysis, then you can’t really go wrong heading there.

Sand Dunes, Cavendish Beach by CC user kitonlove on Flickr

What To Do – Natural Attractions

If mountains are important to you, you’ve come to the wrong place, as this gently rolling loamy island tops out at a modest 142 metres above sea level. If you adore farm filled terrain and subtle coastal beauty though, you will love your time on Prince Edward Island.

Some of the best beaches in the Canadian Maritime provinces can be found here, and of those, Cavendish Beach ranks as one of the most beautiful and popular of the lot. The pink sands of this 8 kilometre stretch of summer fun are backed by dunes and red sandstone cliffs, providing the perfect backdrop for a family getaway, or an active day playing in the waves with travel friends.

Country music lovers will want to visit during the Cavendish Beach Music Festival during mid-July, as this celebration of down to earth tunes has featured A-list artists like The Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, and local artists Ashley MacIssac and George Canyon in the past.

If bicycle tourism is something that is straight up your alley, then tackling the Confederation Trail is the perfect way to explore PEI at the speed that life moves at in this province. Situated where the former railway of this island used to exist, this delightfully flat path extends a total of 410 kilometres through quaint towns and villages, lush farmland and stands of hardwood trees, and alongside sweeping bays, allowing the slow traveler to commune with the spirit of this relaxing province.

Finally, the combination of gentle hills, inspiring sea views, and a challenging stiff breeze from the ultimate water hazard has given rise to many world class golf courses across the province. The Links At Crowbush Cove has been rated a full 5 stars by Golf Digest, Brudenell River consisting ranks in the top 5 course in Canada, and has hosted the LPGA Skins Game in 2000, and Fox Meadow Golf and Country Club plays host to the Canadian Golf Academy. So get your clubs re-gripped and get ready to rip’em at one of many quality courses in Prince Edward Island!

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