If you’re wondering why the Duke & Duchess of Windsor made a stop to Prince Edward Island, here’s why. Prince Edward Island is also known as the birthplace of Canada, as it was here that Canada became a federation in 1864.
PEI is Canada’s smallest province, with only 142,000 inhabitants, yet receives as many as 1 million visitors every year. Even though it’s an island, thanks to the building of the Confederation Bridge in 1997 it’s easy to get there by car.
PEI is steeped in history, being inhabited by the Mi’kmaq, French and English cultures. First named L’ile St. Jean and settled by the Acadians in 1720, the early French settlers prospered, establishing both fishing and farming communities that still exist today. Between 1755 and 1763, in nearby Nova Scotia, the British began expelling the French settlers, taking over their property and forcing them off their land. The French began fleeing in large numbers to PEI, as well as Quebec, New Brunswick and Cape Breton.
In all, 11,500 Acadians were deported first to the 13 American Colonies, then to France. Today, only remnants of this Acadian culture remain, in the cities of Port-la-Jolie and Havre Saint-Pierre. To learn more about the plight of the Acadians, be sure to visit the Island Acadian Museum in Miscouche.
Charlottetown, Canada’s 2011 Culture City
Charlottetown, PEI’s capital, is also PEI’s biggest city. Voted as the cultural capital of Canada for 2011, Charlottetown offers a plethora of activities for a city of its size. From summer theatres galore, to some of the best restaurants on the Island and in Canada, visitors have a host of culture to choose from. It’s also small enough you can still walk around. Leave your car behind and walk to the nearby theatre and restaurants.
Hotel on Pownal – Urban Chic
One hotel in the middle of it all is Hotel on Pownal, a newly renovated upscale motel with a Boutique Hotel feel. With big screen plasma TVs, individual Keurig coffee-makers, and an iron to freshen up wrinkled clothes, the perks give the hotel a homey feel. Plus chocolate chip cookies are always available to guests!
Free Sound and Light Show at the Province House in PEI
Mirrored after Ottawa’s similar Sound and Light Show at Parliament Hill, the PEI Show is entitled ” Celebrate the Canadian Dream – Voices of the Island”.
Projected against the facade of the Province House, the multimedia displays the history of PEI as the birthplace of Canada and all PEI has to offer, it’s a great way to get an overview of everything there is to see and do on the Island.
Cow’s Ice Cream, World’s Best by Tauck Tours
Ranked Best in the World by Tauck Tours, Cow’s Ice Cream is worth a visit. Just the smiling cow logo is enough to tempt you to try their creamiest of creamy ice creams. If that doesn’t do it, their funny names like Wowie Cowie, or Cowberry will. Cowberry is made with local PEI berries–strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.
I didn’t think you could get any creamier than Ben & Jerry’s, but I have to say it was creamier! They even beat out Berthillon Ice Cream on the Ile St. Louis in Paris, that’s impressive!
Green Gables, A Gentleman Farm Historic Site
One of PEI’s biggest tourist attractions is Green Gables. Named after the book Anne of Green Gables, and modeled after L. M. Montgomery’s descriptions in her world-famous book, Green Gables is a preserved gentleman’s Victorian farm.
Visitors can view everything from a Victorian barn with its thrashing equipment, to a replica of the house where Ann of Green Gables lived. Receiving over 100,000 tourists each year, including 10,000 Japanese tourists, Green Gables exemplifies the history of PEI’s Scottish heritage.
Confederation Bridge, World’s Longest Bridge Over Ice-Covered Waters
The Confederation Bridge, linking New Brunswick to PEI, is the longest bridge in the world over ice-covered waters. The 8-mile civil engineering wonder makes travel to PEI both convenient and car-accessible. Built in 1997 at a cost of $1 billion dollars, the bridge quickly doubled the foot traffic to PEI in the first years after its opening. The cost of the bridge is subsidized by a toll of 43.50 $C round trip, well worth it as a ferry alternative.
Hopewell Rocks, Canada’s Grand Canyon
Even though Hopewell Rocks is located in the neighboring province of New Brunswick, it’s worth a quick detour on the way back from PEI. Going for the designation as one of the top natural wonders in North America, Hopewell Rocks is a unique opportunity to experience some of the world’s highest tides.
Visitors get to walk on the ocean floor during low tide and can return 6 hours later to see 50-feet high tides. With over 200,000 visitors during its 5-month opening, Hopewell Rocks is New Brunswick’s number one tourist destination and well worth the trip.