Prince Edward Island – Part Two – Section One
This is the second of three articles related to Prince Edward Island (PEI). This article covers places to see and things to do and due to length, will actually be broken down into two separate articles.
To be perfectly honest with you, I could just visit PEI and sit and watch the tide roll in or out. I love the water and the sound of the waves hitting the land (be it on a sandy beach or rocky shore). If there is a storm, all the better. Big crashing waves and wind-swept beaches that will offer up new treasures when the storm is over. But PEI has greater offerings for those who are looking for more than just the watery vistas and this article is designed to give you a little taste of what is available.
First up, I am going to tackle the subject of Anne of Green Gables and the author Lucy Maud Montgomery. I confess that prior to this visit, I was not an “Anne Fan” but given the character’s worldwide popularity due to various film and stage adaptations of the story, I opted to read the book and see what the attraction is. Enjoying the read, I decided to visit two of the places associated with the author on the island. The first was the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace and the second was the Green Gables Heritage Place run by Parks Canada (.https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/pe/greengables).
I will begin with a little background information about the author as she is arguably one of Canada’s more famous writers. I may like Burton, Mowat and Atwood but when it comes to worldwide recognition, our creator of the beloved Anne of Green Gables still grabs international attention over a hundred years after that book’s publication. Born in PEI in 1874, Montgomery set most of her novels and short stories in that province. Her love for PEI clearly shines through in her descriptions of various locations real or imaginary (but based on physical characteristics of real locations). Unfortunately, her mother died when Montgomery was 21 months old and her father headed west to Saskatchewan leaving her in the care of her maternal grandparents, Alexander and Lucy Woolner Macneill of Cavendish. It is believed that these two older parental figures became the inspiration on which the fictional characters Mathew and Marilla Cuthbert are based.
Lucy grew up to become a teacher and a writer of poems, short stories and books. Following the death of her grandfather, she looked after her grandmother until Macneill’s death and then married a man she had secretly been engaged to for five years. Her marriage in March of 1911 to the Reverend Ewan Macdonald would lead to the birth of three children (one of whom was still born) and be the cause of her leaving her beloved island when Macdonald was offered a position at a church in Ontario.
When visiting the island, you can visit her birthplace in Clifton (now called New London). It can be found on Route 6, New London. The house is not large, and your visit will not take very long but you will find it informative and interesting. Parking is free but limited. However. you can also park along the side of the road as the house is located at an intersection.
Moving on, you will come to the Green Gable Heritage Place which is run by Parks Canada. A larger and more substantial site, this place has much more to offer and as such, is a busier tourist location. We were able to tour the house, grounds and assorted out buildings. There is a pathway that leads to the Enchanted Forest and the view of the stream is nice.
There is plenty of parking at this site, public toilets and walking pathways. There is an entrance fee for those 18 and over with a discount for seniors. If you tour the house, you access the second floor by stairs so those with mobility issues may run into some problems. The museum displays have a great deal of information about Montgomery but also displays on the island history and about the indigenous people who lived (and still live) there. Overall, this was a great place to visit and well worth the price of admission. There is a gift shop, but you can get similar items at cheaper prices at other locations on the island.
Next up on my list of places to visit on the island is Charlottetown. A cruise ship stop it has a very walkable and historic downtown area with some interesting architectural features. Walk along the waterway to take in some of the sights and don’t miss Peake’s Warf.
The display “A Story of Confederation” is located on the upper foyer of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. This is a replica of the chamber where the fathers of confederation met during the Charlottetown Conference. While there, you can take in a Parks Canada’s film entitled “A Building of Destiny,” You can view this film for free and it encompasses information about the start of, and move towards, the creation of the nation of Canada.
I suggest a visit to the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils building which opened to the public in 2021. Check to see if you are able to view a powwow as part of the Mi’kmaq cultural celebration.
Interestingly enough, as I walked around I came across a statue of a soldier and the monument had the date 1900 and the heading Paardeberg. I knew from the date that it had to be a memorial of some sort to the Boer War but I knew little about Canada's participation in that war. That statue led me to research the issue and I found that 1,000 Canadian troops joined the British in that war. The battle of Paardeberg (18-27 February 1900), was the first major British victory in that war. There were over 4000 Boer casualties and the Canadian contingent is considered to have been a major factor in that victory. John McCrae, who wrote In Flanders Field, was a Canadian who served in the war.
Other popular activities in Charlottetown include a walking tour of the historic center where you can happen upon various places of interest and little shops. We spent time walking the Great George Street historical district. You might also pay a visit to the PEI Regiment Museum at 3 Haviland street. Admission is free. The museum highlights the history and heritage of the military forces on the island. I found it particularly interesting to learn that some of the PEI forces served with the Devil's Brigade during the Second World War. (www.peiregimentmuseum.ca).
I also recommend a stop at St. Dunstan’s Basilica. For those who regularly read my travel articles, you know I routinely visit historic buildings and churches. St. Dunstan certainly falls into that category. However, due to covid restrictions, we were not allowed to enter the basilica and I had to content myself with an exterior tour. I posted a picture of the outside of St. Dunstan’s on one of my social media pages and I subsequently learned from one of the response postings that a friend was married there. She was able to provide me with some interesting information about the basilica including background on a stained-glass window donated by her family.
Check out my photos of the locations I have described and other sights I captured on my walks around Charlottetown.
Next up – more on PEI sites to see and things to do. As always, if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to comment here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org