We hadn’t originally planned to visit Prince Edward Island on this trip. A call from some RV friends we’d met in Florida in 2011 changed our plans. They were work camping as hosts in Maine and wanted to visit P.E.I. before returning home to Pennsylvania. Would we like to meet up? What are plans for if not to change? Prince Edward Island was named for, can you guess, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820), the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria.
We picked a park close to the Confederation Bridge, Linkletter Provincial Park, for our stay. Many of the P.E.I. parks offer full hook-ups. The Confederation Bridge is the longest bridge in the world crossing ice covered waters. It opened in 1997 and cost one billion dollars to construct. When you cross the 8 mile Confederation Bridge in a car the concrete barriers block much of the view. When you come over in a truck or RV you’re above the barrier and get a great view. There’s no charge to cross over from New Brunswick but going back with an RV be prepared for a hefty toll (almost $50 Canadian). While the park itself was very nice, if you were coming for the beach it isn’t the place we’d recommend. The beach is strewn heavily with seaweed and at high tide almost disappears. As a base for sightseeing it worked just fine. Most visitors to P.E.I. come for the miles of red, sandy beaches. Unfortunately, we arrived the same time as a tropical storm worked its way up the coast. It was very rainy and windy the majority of the week.
Our friends had gotten tickets for a new play debuting this summer, Evangeline, a musical based on the Longfellow poem. It was playing at the Confederation Center in Charlottestown, capital of P.E.I. Other shows that play annually in Charlottestown are Anne of Green Gables and Ann and Gilbert based on the book, Anne of Green Gables. Evangeline was terrific! It was Broadway quality for the cast, scenery, choreography and music. If it is playing when you visit, consider this a must see. We wouldn’t be surprised if this show tours other cities in the US and Canada. We didn’t have time to sightsee in Charlottestown but would love to return. Hey, give us credit, we haven’t said when we come back for quite a while!
For a touristy but interesting spot to see go to The Bottle Houses. Long before recycling was in vogue, Edouard Arsenault, fisherman and carpenter of western P.E.I., transformed over 25,000 bottles into small buildings on his property in the Acadian town of Cap-Egmont. His inspiration was a postcard from the bottle castle in Vancouver, British Columbia. Unfortunately, this attraction no longer exists. Between 1980-1984 he built six structures. The structures deteriorated after their creator’s death. Not wanting them to disappear, his grandson lovingly restored them. The attraction is still owned and operated by his descendants.
Another unexpectedly interesting place was the Potato Museum. PEI is flat and sandy and grows a lot of potatoes. So here’s the answer to our Roadside Trivia #6. The two places which were first to put slogans on license plates: P.E.I. and Idaho. What did they have in common, potatoes, of course! While one side of the museum is about potato farming, the other side depicts life on P.E.I. between 1880s and 1950s. Here, you’ll find everything from old suitcases to an iron lung. Of course, today potato farming and processing is done by large corporations and you’ll see huge processing plants as you travel the island. However, it hasn’t lost it’s rural charm.
At least on the west side of the island, where we did most of our sightseeing, there are several Acadian communities. During the summer farm stands are plentiful and in the Fall new potato stands with honor system boxes take their place. If you like old churches or cemeteries you’ll find driving backroads enjoyable. We didn’t get to Cavendish NP or the east side of the island. Another trip? Well, if you insist.
When you come to P.E.I. a must is going to one of the lobster suppers. Some are sponsored by local churches so just look for signs along the roadway. Others are commercial enterprises. It really doesn’t matter. The meal is all you can eat save the lobster. That you order by the size you want. We had 1 and 1/2 pounders which was more than enough!
With this we end the posts about our glorious summer in the Canadian Maritimes.