The province of Prince Edward Island, also known as PEI, is Canada’s smallest province and situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Canada's east coast. Prince Edward Island is separated from mainland Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, by the Northumberland Strait. The Island, as many call PEI, is a pastoral, peaceful and beautiful place with old-country flavour, not much different than it was described in the novel Anne of Green Gables written by Lucy Maud Montgomery almost one century ago.
Although you would never guess this, Prince Edward Island is the most densely populated province of Canada. However, towns of PEI aren’t big at all and the romantic island is always good for a lazy vacation.
The most westerly part of PEI, often referred to as the Sunsets & Seascapes Region, is dominated by red sandstone cliffs formed by nature’s forces and lighthouses along the coast. Potato enthusiasts should visit the Potato Museum in the community of O’Leary in the heart of the Island’s most productive potato farming regions. The story of Irish Moss that is gathered by horse-drawn carts can be explored at the Interpretive Centre in Miminegash. Almost one half of the world’s supply of Irish Moss comes from PEI. The only inn and restaurant of Canada situated in a historic lighthouse, dating from 1875, can be found south of Miminegash. The West Point Lighthouse Inn offers views of the white sandy beaches of Cedar Dunes Provincial Park.
If you go further east you will reach the Island’s Ship to Shore region with the province’s second largest city of Summerside. Learn about the town’s history and the traditional boat-building methods at Spinnakers’ Landing on the Summerside Waterfront. In summer visitors can enjoy free live music here. Green Park Shipbuilding Museum and Yeo House give even a more detailed insight of the province’s shipbuilding history. Heading west of Summerside along Route 2 brings you to the Acadian Museum in Miscouche that is worthwhile visiting to learn more about the early history of Acadians. Interested in Acadian history, you should drive a little further west and then south on Route 11 to the small village of Mont Carmel. The Pioneer Acadian Village, a replica of an early 19-th century settlement, consists out of a school, store and church. Don’t miss to sample some traditional Acadian food while touring around the French-speaking area of PEI. The province’s largest native population can be found on Lennox Island, in Malpeque Bay. About 50 Mi’kmaq families live here. Explore Mi’kmaq culture, traditional music and history at the local museum or during ecotours.
Driving further southeast brings you to the Island’s economic and political centre of Prince Edward Island, often referred to as Charlotte’s Shore. The region can be reached by the 13 km Confederation Bridge that links the Island to the province of New Brunswick. Charlottetown, Canada’s smallest provincial capital is a quiet country town, with a compact downtown core and tree-lined colonial and Victorian streets. The city of Charlottetown is the birthplace of Canada since the Dominion of Canada was born here in 1867. Learn more about Canada’s history at Founder’s Hall on the Charlottetown waterfront, where a multi-media exhibit leads you from the Charlottetown Conference to the Canada of today. Visit the original chamber were the discussions to unite Canada were held at the Province House National Historic Site in 1864. Cultural delights Charlottetown has to offer range from professional musicals at the theatre of the Confederation Centre, to local dinner theatre and improvised performances. 35 km west of Charlottetown you will find the picturesque fishing village of Victoria-by-the-Sea. The tree-lined streets and waterfront offer an array of craft shops, galleries and cafés. Chocolate enthusiasts will enjoy the chocolate factory. Don’t miss the cooked lobster that can be purchased on the wharf.
The central north shore region of PEI, also referred to as Anne’s Land is an area of many activities for the entire family. Just 24 km north of Charlottetown visitors will find miles of white sand beaches in Prince Edward Island National Park. The park features delicate dunes that are explained in extensive interpretive programs and of course Green Gables. Thousands of visitors from around the world come each year to see the house that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write about the orphan Anne in 1908. The site showcases the time and lifestyle of rural Prince Edward Island in the early 1900s. Coming to Anne’s Land is much like traveling in time. Even today visitors can enjoy the picturesque landscape described in Montgomery’s novel, including rolling farm fields, red cliffs and charming villages. Don’t miss the Blue Heron Drive – one of the most travelled roads of PEI – and the L M Montgomery Land Trust that protects some of the pastoral vistas so typical of Prince Edward Island. If you are looking for something to take home, the Anne’s Land offers a variety of craft shops featuring pottery, sweaters, quilts and woodworking – all Island-made.
The beautiful Hills & Harbours region in the southeast corner of the Island is mostly rural, featuring quiet sandy beaches, lighthouses, fishing ports and tiny white churches. Montague is the largest community, offering a scenic waterfront. Enjoy shopping and lunch or dinner overlooking Montague River. Book a seal-watching tour to see PEI’s largest seal colony. While touring the region you will notice the lively strains of the fiddle in many community concerts, as many residents are descendents of the Selkirk settlers from Scotland. Panmure Island Provincial Park is a great place to enjoy an afternoon at the beach.
The eastern most tip of the Island is called Bay & Dunes and offers an abundance of natural features, including beaches, trails, fishing ports and an amazing landscape. The Cardigan Water Science Centre is a great place for the entire family to explore trout, salmon and other fish. Souris is one of the larger towns in the province and the commercial centre of eastern region. The town is an important fishing and processing port and also the terminus for the ferry, which departs for the Magdalen Islands of Quebec. Red Point Provincial Park offers a sandy beach and a campground. Basin Head is known for the province’s best beaches with miles of pure white sand. It is also home to the Basin Head Fisheries Museum that showcases the history of PEI’s fishing industry. Golfers will be delighted by golf courses ranging for top to family fun.
Prince Edward Island in Figures
Prince Edward Island has a population of 135,294 people (Census 2001).
PEI is 224 km (140 mi) long and 6 to 64 km (4 to 40 mi) wide.
Prince Edward Island covers an area of 5,660 sq km (2,184 sq mi).
No place on the Island is more than 16 km (10 mi) from the sea.
The highest elevation of PEI is with 152 m above sea level (466 feet) located at Springton.
Charlottetown is the capital of PEI and the smallest capital of Canada.
Overseas visitors arrive by air via Halifax, NS and Toronto, ON.
The Charlottetown Airport, located only minutes from the heart of Charlottetown is a small airport with connections to major Canadian cities and service to some US destinations. It is located north of the city west off Highway 2, about 6 km from the centre.
For more information call (902) 566-7997
PEI can be reached by car either via the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick or by Northumberland Ferries from Nova Scotia. In both cases, fees are paid only when leaving the Island.
The world-renowned Confederation Bridge connects New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. The 12.9 km bridge connects Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island and Cape Jourimain, New-Brunswick and is the longest bridge over ice covered waters in the world. It takes approx. 10 minutes to cross. For more information about the bridge call 1-888-437-6565.
Northumberland Ferries sail from Wood Islands, PEI, and Caribou, NS, nine times daily in peak season. The journey takes about 75 minutes. It's a very busy route during peak season. For more information on the ferry call 902-566-3838.
Halifax to Charlottetown 227 km (147 mi)
Montreal to Charlottetown 1199 km (749 mi)
Ottawa to Charlottetown 1389 km (868 mi)
Toronto to Charlottetown 1738 km (1086 mi)
If you require emergency services, dial 911 anywhere in Prince Edward Island. Hospitals are located in Alberton, O'Leary, Tyne Valley, Summerside, Charlottetown, Montague and Souris. Medical clinics can be found in many locations across the Island.
Due to the warm ocean currents, PEI enjoys a milder climate than most of Canada. Spring is comfortable with temperatures ranging from 8 to 22 degrees C (46 to 71 degrees F). Summers on the Island are hot, but rarely humid. Temperatures usually are in the 20s (70s) and can go as high as 32 degrees C (90 degrees F). The sea gets warm enough for swimming. Fall usually is clear and bright with temperatures averaging from 8 to 22 degrees C (46 to 71 degrees F). Winters are crisp and clean with temperatures ranging from -3 to -11 degrees C (26 to 11 degrees F).
Means of payment
Besides the most common credit cards (Visa, Master Card and American Express) you might consider carrying some Traveler's Cheques in small denominations. Those are generally accepted like cash and have the advantage of being insured.
However you should always carry some cash, especially if you intend to push forward to more rural areas. Here cash is the only thing that counts, as most of the small shops do not have the equipment to accept credit cards. You should not bring German Marks in order to pay your bills.
All prices are generally subject to applicable taxes, which might be uncommon for European travelers. Taxes are added when you pay. Usually you have to pay 17 per cent taxes (10 per cent PST - Provincial Sales Tax and 7% GST - Goods & Services Tax).
Waiters in a restaurant generally require a tip, which is added to the bill's total as this is sometimes the only pay they receive. It is up to you, how much you leave, but 10-15 per cent is fairly common. Usually you leave the tip on the table as you go. Tip is also given to cabbies, hairdressers, barbers, hotel attendants and bellhops.
We recommend saving all receipts, as tourists who have their place of residence outside of Canada might be eligible for tax refund. However, this only applies for amounts over CAN $50,00 per receipt (except accommodation receipt where no minimum amount applies) and a minimum of CAN $200,00 in total. Not eligible for tax refund are bills paid for gas or transportation. In any case it might be worthwhile to save receipts for accommodations or larger purchases that are exported. The application for tax refund can be found at the website address shown below. You can file your application up to six months after you have left the country and has to be in writing. A refund cheque will than be mailed to your home address. If you came by plane you are required to send your bording pass with your application. Receipts for goods have to be validated by Canada Customs as you leave Canada.
For further information visit
Visitor Tax Refund.
Prince Edward Island National Park
Location: 24 km north of Charlottetown and extends 40 km from Cavendish to Dalvay
This is one of Canada’s smallest national parks, offering 40 km of some of the finest salt-water beaches in Canada. A blend of sand dunes, red sandstone cliffs and heritage abound has made this park a popular one. Green Gables House, known internationally through L.M. Montgomery's classic novel, Anne of Green Gables, is also located in the park.
For more information call (902) 672-6350
Prince Edward Island features a complete network of Provincial Parks with a total of more than 25 parks. The park system protects spectacular beaches, beautiful natural scenery, and miles of nature trails. Enjoy PEI’s Provincial Parks for all kinds of outdoor recreation, interpretive programs and family fun.
Cedar Dunes Provincial Park
Location: On Route 14, 24 km south of O'Leary.
The park is located at the southeast tip of Prince County, along the scenic Lady Slipper Drive and is famous for its wonderful beaches. The park is for the entire family as supervised swimming and children’s activities are provided. There is a lighthouse and restaurant.
For more information call (902) 859-8785
Panmure Island Provincial Park
Location: On Route 347, north of Gaspereaux.
The park offers one of the most popular white sand beaches on Prince Edward Island, complete with supervised swimming areas. To complete the picture, sand dunes provide a quiet atmosphere for your and your family. An annual Pow Wow takes place at Panmure Island featuring drum-bands, native crafts and a healing sweat tent.
For more information call (902) 838-0668
Red Point Provincial Park
Location: On Route 16, 13 km east of Souris.
Red Point is a small park with a wonderful sand beach and supervised swimming. Organized activities for kids and special events make it an ideal family destination. The campground offers some pleasant shaded tent sites.
For more information call (902) 357-3075
Ardgowan National Historic Site
Location: 5 minutes from downtown Charlottetown.
Ardgowan, once the home of William Henry Pope, one of Prince Edward Island’s Fathers of Confederation, is an example of a picturesque cottage from the Victorian era. The building itself is not open to visitors. Visitors can view outdoor exhibits and stroll around the Victorian garden as it appeared in the mid 19th century.
For more information call (902) 566-7050
Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst Historic Site
Location: At Rocky Point, a 20-minute drive from Charlottetown.
Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site commemorates the first permanent settlement on Prince Edward Island that has been established by French and Acadians in 1720. The exhibits in the Visitor Centre showcase archaeological artifacts that have been found here. The grounds provide an excellent view of the countryside and the Charlottetown Harbour.
For more information call (902) 566-7050
Long before the Europeans were to arrive, aboriginal people inhabited the area. They arrived about 10,000 years ago. At this time the land was not even separated from the mainland. These aboriginal people gathered and hunted their food supplies by travelling throughout the region. The sea level rose about 5,000 years ago, making it an island. The Mi’kmaq arrived about 2000 years ago.
In 1534, French Jacques Cartier was the first European traveling the island. It was not before 200 years later that the first settlers were to come to the area. Settlement first concentrated around Charlottetown Harbour. Some French settlers, mainly expelled Acadians from Nova Scotia, came to the area in the late 1750s. The population approached 5,000. In 1763, the island became British and was renamed the Island of Saint John. In 1769, the island became self-governing and changed the island’s name in honour of one of the sons of King Edward III. In 1873, the island joined Confederation.