Prince Edward Island: A Maritime Must-See
The plane banks over the Northumberland Strait, and the first view of Prince Edward Island (PEI) ) is of red clay cliffs, gently sloping to the sea, and patchworks of color.
This is Canada's smallest province. In the spring and summer it’s as green as Ireland, and as golden as Vermont on a crisp autumn day.
In another month, it’ll be a perfect time to visit what many call "the gentle island."
Charlottetown, the capital, is as laid back as it gets, with incorrigibly friendly people.
Some shops are charming; some ordinary.
A handful of stately hotels lines the tree-shaded streets, along with red brick B&B’s.
Several small outdoor café’s punctuate the space with colorful umbrellas.
The town is a rich venue for performing and visual arts, including of course, the venerable, never-ending story of Anne of Green Gables. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s feisty red-headed heroine is a national treasure, and she stares out at visitors everywhere.
There are even Anne of Green Gables potato chips.
Interestingly, the Japanese love her, and many Japanese brides don an Anne red wig to get married at the Green Gables House. Apparently the book is one way Japanese school kids learn English, so she's probably imprinted on their consciousness.
Head east, along the shore route. The winding roads are empty. There are no billboards, no used car lots, no fast food joints, no going-out-of-business sales or grocery stores.
Nothing, except sad-faced cows, green rolling fields and the vivid lupines standing like multicolored sentinels. One of my favorite towns at the top of the north coast is North Rustico, a former Acadian stronghold.
Longfellow set part of his Evangeline here, a long tale about the expulsion of the Acadians by the British. Ethnic cleansing. .The Acadians fled their homes and land, headed south to New Orleans, where they became known as Cajuns. Today, there are few Acadian Stella Maris flags, just superb lobster and the sound of the sea.
Myth has it, the Miqkmaq indian’s chief god, Glooskap, saved his most vivid colors for this gentle island, generously painting it as only a caring god could.
As a side note, PEI Mussels are one of the word's small wonders. Watch for our great recipe on Shucking 'em and Eating 'em: