Travel Blog: Prince Edward Island
The little island with a lot of character, Prince Edward Island has welcomed us like we belong here.
Spanning vermilion fields span acres across the endless rolling emerald hills, dotted with farmhouses of eras past. These are the sights that accompanied the drive from the Confederation Bridge towards Charlottetown. It’s easy to read about the pastoral countryside in a book, or even see it in photos, but if it’s anything to experience PEI’s landscape in person, it’s certainly not overrated.
Our first four nights were spent in a Charlottetown bed & breakfast called the Shipwright Inn. While I thought the joint’s nautical theme may be a bit kitschy, it fits right in with the neighborhood’s restored Victorian atmosphere, and I can say without a doubt that it’s the most welcome we’ve felt in our accommodations throughout the trip. The innkeepers are a charming English couple who keep the place up to the standards of its 5-star rating, and serve delicious and diverse breakfasts every morning. I’d recommend the place without hesitation to anyone spending a few days on the island.
In order to find our bearings, we opted in favour of touring the city for the first two days, wandering the cozy downtown corridor and hitting up all the local shops. The strange and wonderful thing about Charlottetown is its size compared to its nature. It’s no larger than an Edmonton suburb like Sherwood Park, but it comes with a few blocks of tall metropolitan buildings, a rush hour, and suburbs of its own, complete with strip malls and box stores.
Though small, the city does have its fair share of attractions. The notable destination on my radar was the Province House. Not only does it currently serve as PEI’s provincial legislative building; it’s also the spot where the concept of Canada as a country first gained momentum. Although no official documents were signed at 1864′s Charlottetown Conference, it was the first major event in Canadian Confederation, and the Province House proudly flaunts this fact with history and artifacts from the nation’s founders.
Down the street is St. Dunstan’s Basilica, its gothic spires reaching towards the heavens and bringing much old-world charm to Charlottetown’s downtown potpourri of architectural styles. While it’s difficult to compare the building to Montreal’s Notre Dame, that’s not out of any disrespect towards St. Dunstan; it’s more the case of comparing Pride and Prejudice to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—each is a great work in itself and panders to similar crowds with different merits.
Of course, it would be simple to assume we came to PEI just for Charlottetown. As any island tourist knows, the true gems are found outside the city, along the countryside and coasts. In fact, the basis of this entire vacation was conceived on the desire of my mom—a lifelong fan of L.M. Montgomery’s works—to see Green Gables.
The historic spot is located in Cavendish, a quick 40-minute drive from Charlottetown. It’s worth noting, however, that The Dunes Studio Gallery and Cafe near Brackley Beach is a worthwhile detour along the way, as it showcases some of the more unique and higher-quality trinkets to be found on the island. Our collective purchases were nowhere near compact enough to fit into our luggage, but fortunately, they ship across Canada, so I’ll have some extra presents waiting on my doorstep upon my return.
Green Gables is everything one would expect from the quaint and unassuming Cavendish area: a well-preserved rural homestead that’s small enough to tour quickly, but offers enough in the way of its surrounding trails to justify the price of admission and spend a few hours exploring on a summer afternoon. Two walking trails famous to the Anne of Green Gables books encompass the farmhouse: the lush and whimsical Lovers’ Lane, and the foreboding Haunted Woods. The former offers an excellent showcase of the area’s flora and fauna, barely touched by civilization, like a sort of fairy tale setting. The Haunted Woods, on the other hand, was a bit of a let-down; we only encountered two ghosts, and neither was all that frightening.
Prince Edward Island is undoubtedly the perfect stopping point in a Maritime tour for rest and relaxation. The slow pace of the island life may catch the busy traveller off guard, but coming in without the pretenses of metropolitan hubbub is the best way to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. Our last few days have been made up of lazy afternoons reading outdoors and taking in the island’s various beaches, most notably those at Cavendish and Greenwich. As I’ve been trying with mixed success to keep these posts digestable, I feel it’s best to let photos do the rest of the talking: