Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province in both area and population. The island lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, separated from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by the Northumberland Strait. This Maritime province is 224 kilometres long and has a width that ranges from 6 to 64 kilometres and has a total area 5,660 square kilometres.
Prince Edward Island was originally called “Abegweit” by the Micmac Indians, who lived there for over 2,000 years before the arrival of the Europeans. It was discovered by Jacques Cartier in 1534, who described it as “the most beautiful stretch of land imaginable,” though it was a long time before Prince Edward Island was settled. The French established a permanent colony in 1719. The British later took control of the island and renamed it in honour of Prince Edward of England. Prince Edward Island is known as the “cradle of Confederation” since it hosted the 1864 Charlottetown Conference that set Canadian Confederation in motion. The island, surprisingly, did not join the Dominion of Canada until 1873.
PEI has a total population of 150,000 of which 76,000 live in & around the capital city of Charlottetown. Over the peak summer tourist season, though, the Island is host to more than 1.2 million visitors.
Today, agriculture, tourism and fishing are the major industries in Prince Edward Island. Its rich, red, sandy soil is ideal for growing potatoes, which are the most important farm product. Most of the industrial activity has to do with food processing.
The island’s 800 kilometres of beaches attract many visitors for relaxation and water sports, including bluefin tuna fishing. The bright colour combinations, with red soil, blue sea and sky, and green crops make it a photographer’s delight. Anne of Green Gables, the lead character of the stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery, made into a television series syndicated around the world, also draws lots of tourists.
The waters off Prince Edward Island provide a bounty of lobster and 30 other fish and seafood specie, notably cultivated mussels, herring, bluefin tuna and the renowned Malpeque oysters.