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Prince Edward Island is a relatively small place that looms large in the public imagination. Perhaps best known as the setting of the beloved children’s series, Anne of Green Gables, it’s a place of intense beauty even today. As one of Canada’s three maritime provinces, it’s also the much the tiniest province in Canada. And yet despite this island’s relatively minor size, it draws in many tourists happy to be part of a place that has so much pull in places as diverse as the United Kingdom and Japan. If you are thinking of relocating here or planning a visit, there are a few things you’ll want to know before you go. Proper planning can help you make the most of your time here. It can also help you see all you want before you head back to the mainland. While you can put on a red wig and follow along with Anne, you can also discover a place where life flows at pleasing pace and makes sense. It’s a place for a short stay or somewhere you can put down roots and make your own.
The island known today as P.E.I. to the rest of the world was inhabited by the Mi’kmaq First Nations for many centuries. Members of the tribe spoke to the waters that surround it when they dubbed the island Epekwitk or cradled on the waves. Members of that tribe continue to inhabit the island in two locations in the present day. They are not the only people who have traveled here. European Jacques Cartier was the first person from that part of the world to spot it in 1543. He claimed it and the rest of the Maritimes for France as part of a land they called Arcadia. The native tribe ignored them but continued to engage in trade.
Over the next three centuries, fighting for ownership would be a major issue when it came to this corner of the world. Hostilities between the French and the British would culminate in peace when it became a British colony. By 1873, residents made the choice to become part of the Confederation of Canada and have remained so ever since.
One of the most striking features of the island is the island’s incredibly fertile soil. Ancient mountains formed the basis for the island’s modern geography. As water flowed down the mountains, it created sand, gravel and silt that would fill up parts of the bay. This became the foundation for the island and provided the rough material to create it. As these materials began to pile up, they formed what became known as bedrock. The bedrock was buried under layers of ice for many centuries. Several thousand of years ago, the glacial debris they left behind formed what became the modern day outlines of the present island. The land gradually rose up after the sea left. Today, there are lots of varied features well worth a visit.
It’s a beautiful gem in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The island lies to the north of Nova Scotia and to the west of the island of Cape Breton. The south part lies along the Northumberland Strait. The largest urban area is that of Charlottetown. Much of it is composed of rolling hills, white sand beaches with a hint of red, coves for boats and a soil that is famously red and fertile. Many smaller communities dot the landscape. This is where many people head when they want to relax in a country setting.
Over time, only a handful of industries have come to dominate this island community. Agriculture has long assumed a role here. It still does today. There are over half a million acres under cultivation here. The two most common crops are soy and potatoes. Most of the farms are run by single families as they have been for several generations.
Another industry that employs many people here is fishing. The rich offshore fisheries have been attracting people for a long time. Many types of shellfish form the basis of the majority of what is brought to market here. Popular items include lobster, clams and mussels. They are often eaten locally or, like a significant percentage of the potatoes grown on the island, shipped to other parts of Canada and the United States. About seventy percent of the total area of the island is under agricultural cultivation while a significant percent of the shoreline is used for gathering shellfish.
Perhaps the single most important industry on the island is that of tourism. Lucy Maude Montgomery was born here in 1874. Even as a young child, she felt the itch to write. Her feelings would culminate in a series of novels known as the Anne of Green Gables. The stories were largely set in her own time. They follow the doings of Anne, a young orphan girl sent to be an islander at a farm with two single siblings. Anne is noteworthy for several things including her red hair and her love of writing. The character became famous almost the second Montgomery published her first story. Since that time, there have been many adaptions of her books including plays and a television miniseries. Fans flock here each summer to see the musical play based on the book and other Anne related sites.
Prince Edward Island Cities and Regional Municipalities Includes Charlottetown and Summerside.