Steeped in history,
charm and incredible scenery, Prince Edward Island is more than just a routine port call. PEI, as the island is affectionately nicknamed, is Canada’s smallest province, and while PEI beckons tourists from all over the world for its rolling hills, pristine beaches, rugged coastline and scrumptious fresh seafood, the island’s preeminent fame lies in its literary history.
When Lucy Maud Montgomery published Anne of Green Gables in 1908, her heartwarming story of a little red-haired orphan named Anne Shirley became an instant bestseller. Prince Edward Island was catapulted into world fame. Curious readers wondered: Did such an idyllic place as described by L. M. Montgomery actually exist? It did and still does, as millions of tourists have discovered.
Prince Edward Island lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, nestled in the curve of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to the island’s south. Charlottetown, the capital, is the most-visited city on the small island. From the Historic Charlottetown Seaport and its modern cruise terminal, it’s a short walk to the quaint downtown area, filled with souvenir shops, seafood diners and craft pubs.
Though the impact of Anne of Green Gables on PEI began in the early 20th century, the island’s history dates back to 1763 and the Treaty of Paris, following the British defeat of the French on what was then St. John’s Island.
In 1765, Charlottetown was declared the capital of the new province and nearly 100 years later, in April 1855, officially became a city. Thirty years later, electricity illuminated the island and growth as a tourist destination began.
Next to the seaport, visitors can stroll brick paths through tree-lined Confederation Park to the cobblestone streets that lead to the historic area. Victorian brick homes from the 19th century and flat-front wooden houses line the streets that lead away from port.
The historic district of Victoria Row stretches along Richmond Street, between Great George and Queen Street. Quaint artisan shops, restaurants with locally sourced seafood and craft pubs attract both locals and tourists. Shops offer colorful hand-knit woolens and flannels, from scarves and mittens to pashmina wraps and stocking caps.