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Prince Edward Island map 1765
Prince Edward Island (PEI or P.E.I.; , Scottish Gaelic: Eilean a' Phrionnsa) is a Canadianmarker province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population (excluding the territories). The island has a few other names: "Garden of the Gulf" referring to the pastoral scenery and lush agricultural lands throughout the province; and "Birthplace of Confederation", referring to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864.

According to the 2009 estimates, Prince Edward Island has 122,000 residents. It is located in a rectangle defined roughly by 46°47°N, and 62°–64°30′W and at in size, it is the 104th largest island in the world, and Canada's 23rd largest island.The island was named for Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820), the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria.


Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrencemarker west of Cape Breton Islandmarker, north of the Nova Scotia peninsulamarker, and east of New Brunswickmarker. Its southern shore bounds the Northumberland Straitmarker. The island has two urban areas. The largest surrounds Charlottetown Harbour, situated centrally on the island's southern shore, and consists of the capital city Charlottetownmarker, and suburban towns Cornwallmarker and Stratfordmarker and a developing urban fringe. A much smaller urban area surrounds Summerside Harbour, situated on the southern shore west of Charlottetown Harbour, and consists primarily of the city of Summersidemarker. As with all natural harbours on the island, Charlottetown and Summerside harbours are created by rias.

The island's landscape is pastoral: rolling hills, woods, reddish white sand beaches, ocean coves and the famous red soil have given Prince Edward Island a reputation as a province of outstanding natural beauty. The provincial government has enacted laws that attempt to preserve the landscape through regulation, although the lack of consistent enforcement and absence of province-wide zoning and land-use planning has resulted in some aesthetically displeasing development in recent years.

The island's lush landscape has had a strong bearing on its economy and its culture. Author Lucy Maud Montgomery drew inspiration from the land during the late Victorian Era for the setting of her classic novel Anne of Green Gables. Today, many of the same qualities that Montgomery and others found in the island are enjoyed by tourists who visit during all seasons. They enjoy a variety of leisure activities, including beaches, various golf courses, eco-tourism adventures, and simply touring the countryside and enjoying cultural events in local communities around the island.
Rolling hills characterise a significant portion of the island's landscape.

The smaller rural communities as well as the towns and villages throughout the province proudly retain a slower-paced, old-world flavour, something that factors heavily into Prince Edward Island's popularity as a destination for relaxation. The economy of most rural communities on the island is based on small-scale agriculture, given that the size of farm properties is small when compared with other areas in Canada. There is an increasing amount of industrial farming as older farm properties are consolidated and modernised.
The coast of Prince Edward Island around Cavendish

The coastline consists of a combination of long beaches, dunes, red sandstone cliffs, salt water marshes and numerous bays and harbours. The beaches, dunes and sandstone cliffs consist of sedimentary rock and other material with a high iron concentration which oxidises upon exposure to the air. The geological properties of a white silica sand found at Basin Headmarker are unique in the province; the sand grains cause a scrubbing noise as they rub against each other when walked on, aptly named the singing sands. Large dune fields on the north shore can be found on barrier islands at the entrances to various bays and harbours. The magnificent sand dunes at Greenwichmarker are of particular significance. The shifting, parabolic dune system is home to a variety of birds and rare plants and is also a site of significant archeological interest.


Winters are moderately cold, with clashes of cold Arctic air and milder Atlantic air causing frequent temperature swings. From December to April, P.E.I. typically has many storms (which may produce rain as well as snow) and blizzards. Springtime temperatures typically remain cool until the sea ice has melted, usually in late April or early May. Summers are moderately warm, but rarely uncomfortable, with the daily maximum temperature only occasionally reaching as high as . Autumn is a rather pleasant season, as the moderating Gulf waters delay the onset of frost, although storm activity does increase over that of summer. There is ample precipitation throughout the year, although it is heaviest in the late autumn and early winter and mid spring.


Prince Edward Island was originally inhabited by the Mi'kmaq people. They named the Island "Epekwitk", the pronunciation of which was changed to "Abegweit" by the Europeans, meaning Land Cradled on the Waves. They believed that the island was formed by the Great Spirit placing on the Blue Waters some dark red crescent-shaped clay.

Jacques Cartier discovered the island in 1534. As part of the French colony of Acadia, the island was called "Île Saint-Jean". Roughly one thousand Acadians lived on the island. However, many fled to the island from mainland Nova Scotia during the British-ordered expulsion in 1755. Many more were forcibly deported in 1758 when British soldiers-- under the command of Colonel Andrew Rollo -- were ordered by General Jeffery Amherst to capture the island.

Great Britainmarker obtained the island from Francemarker under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 which settled the Seven Years' War, calling the colony St. John's Island (also the Island of St. John's).

The first British governor of St. John's Island, Walter Patterson, was appointed in 1769. Assuming office in 1770, he had a controversial career during which the initial attempts to populate and develop the island under a feudal system were slowed by land title disputes and factional conflict. In an attempt to attract settlers from Ireland, in one of his first acts (1770) Patterson led the island's colonial assembly to rename the island "New Ireland," but the British Government promptly vetoed this as exceeding the authority vested in the colonial government; only the Privy Council in London could change the name of a colony.

Charlottetown was raided in 1775 by a pair of American-employed privateers during the American Revolutionary War. During and after the American Revolutionary War from 1776–1783, the colony's efforts to attract exiled Loyalist refugees from the rebellious American colonies met with some success. Walter Patterson's brother, John Patterson, one of the original grantees of land on the island, was a temporarily-exiled Loyalist and led efforts to persuade others to come.

The 1787 dismissal of Governor Patterson and his recall to London in 1789 dampened his brother's efforts, leading John to focus on his interests in the United States (one of John's sons, Commodore Daniel Patterson, became a noted United States Navy hero, and John's grandsons, Rear Admiral Thomas H. Patterson and Lt. Carlile Pollock Patterson USN, achieved success).

Edmund Fanning, also a Loyalist exiled by the Revolution, took over as the second governor, serving until about 1806. His tenure was more successful than Walter Patterson's.

On November 29, 1798, during Fanning's administration, Great Britain granted approval to change the colony's name from St. John's Island to Prince Edward Island to distinguish it from similar names in the Atlantic, such as the cities of Saint Johnmarker and St. John'smarker. The colony's new name honoured the fourth son of King George III, Prince Edward Augustus, the Duke of Kent (1767–1820), who was in charge of all British military forces on the continent as Commander-in-Chief, North America and was headquartered in Halifaxmarker. Prince Edward was also the father of Queen Victoria.

During the 19th century, the colony of Prince Edward Island began to attract "adventurous Victorian families looking for elegance on the sea. Prince Edward Island became a fashionable retreat in the nineteenth century for British nobility".

The island is known in Scottish Gaelic as Eilean a' Phrionnsa (lit. "the Island of the Prince", the local form of the longer 'Eilean a' Phrionnsa Iomhair/Eideard') or Eilean Eòin for some Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia though not on PEI (lit. "John's Island" in reference to the island's former name of St. John's Island: the English translation of Île Saint Jean); in Míkmaq as Abegweit or Epikwetk roughly translated "land cradled in the waves".

Joining Canada

In September 1864, Prince Edward Island hosted the Charlottetown Conference, which was the first meeting in the process leading to the Articles of Confederation and the creation of Canada in 1867. Prince Edward Island did not find the terms of union favourable and balked at joining in 1867, choosing to remain a colony of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmarker. In the late 1860s, the colony examined various options, including the possibility of becoming a discrete dominion unto itself, as well as entertaining delegations from the United Statesmarker, who were interested in Prince Edward Island joining the United States of America.

In 1871, the colony began construction of a railway and, frustrated by Great Britain's Colonial Office, began negotiations with the United States.

In 1873, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, anxious to thwart American expansionism and facing the distraction of the Pacific Scandal, negotiated for Prince Edward Island to join Canada. The Federal Government of Canada assumed the colony's extensive railway debts and agreed to finance a buy-out of the last of the colony's absentee landlords to free the island of leasehold tenure and from any new migrants entering the island. Prince Edward Island entered Confederation on 1 July 1873.
Confederation Bridge, PEI and NB

As a result of having hosted the inaugural meeting of Confederation, the Charlottetown Conference, Prince Edward Island presents itself as the "Birthplace of Confederation" with several buildings, a ferry vessel, and the Confederation Bridgemarker using the term "confederation" in many ways. The most prominent building in the province with this name is the Confederation Centre of the Artsmarker, presented as a gift to Prince Edward Islanders by the 10 provincial governments and the Federal Government upon the centenary of the Charlottetown Conference, where it stands in Charlottetown as a national monument to the "Fathers of Confederation".{{Citation needed|date=June 2009}


According to the 2001 Canadian Census, the largest ethnic group consists of people of Scottish descent (38.0%), followed by English (28.7%), Irish (27.9%), French (21.3%), German (4.0%), and Dutch (3.1%) descent. Almost half of all respondents also identified their ethnicity as "Canadian."

Population of Prince Edward Island since 1851
Year Population Mean annual 5-year 10-year Rank*
  Percentage change
1851 62,678 5 1861 80,857 2.6 29.0 1871 94,021 1.5 16.3 1881 108,891 1.5 15.8 1891 109,078 0.017 0.2 6 1901 103,259 −0.55 −5.3 7 1911 93,728 −0.96 −9.2 9 1921 88,615 −0.56 −5.4 1931 88,038 −0.065 −0.7 1941 95,047 0.77 8.0 1951 98,429 0.35 3.6 10 1956 99,285 0.17 0.9 1961 104,629 1.1 5.4 6.3 1966 108,535 0.74 3.7 9.3 1971 111,635 0.56 2.9 6.7 1976 118,225 1.2 5.9 8.9 1981 122,506 0.7 3.6 9.7 1986 126,640 0.67 3.4 7.1 1991 129,765 0.49 2.5 5.9 1996 134,557 0.73 3.7 6.3 2001 135,294 0.11 0.5 4.2 2006 135,851 NA 0.4 NA

Source: Statistics Canada


The 2006 Canadian census showed a population of 135,851. Of the 133,570 singular responses to the census question concerning 'mother tongue' the most commonly reported languages were:
1. English 125,260 93.8%
2. French 5,345 4.0%
3. Dutch 865 0.6%
4. German 275 0.2%
5. Spanish 220 0.2%
6. Chinese 190 0.1%
7. Arabic 150 0.1%
8. Hungarian 120 0.1%
9. Mi'kmaq 90 0.1%
10. Japanese 80 0.1%
11. Polish 70 0.1%
12. Korean 65 ~
In addition, there were also 105 responses of both English and a 'non-official language'; 25 of both French and a 'non-official language'; 495 of both English and French; 10 of English, French, and a 'non-official language'; and about 1,640 people who either did not respond to the question, or reported multiple non-official languages, or else gave some other unenumerated response. (Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses.)


The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census were the Roman Catholic Church with 63,240 (47 %); the United Church of Canada with 26,570 (20 %); the Presbyterian Church with 7,885 (6 %) and the Anglican Church of Canada with 6,525 (5 %).


Fisheries form one of the major industries of Prince Edward Island.
The provincial economy is dominated by the seasonal industries of agriculture, tourism, and the fishery. The province is limited in terms of heavy industry and manufacturing. Although commercial deposits of minerals have not been found, exploration for natural gas beneath the eastern end of the province has resulted in the discovery of an undisclosed quantity of gas.

Agriculture remains the dominant industry in the provincial economy, as it has since colonial times. During the twentieth century, potatoes replaced mixed farming as the leading cash crop, accounting for one-third of provincial farm income. The province currently accounts for a third of Canada's total potato production, producing approximately 1.3 billion kilograms annually. Comparatively, the state of Idahomarker produces approximately 6.2 billion kilograms annually, with a population approximately 9.5 times greater. The province is a major producer of seed potatoes, exporting to more than twenty countries around the world.

As a legacy of the island's colonial history, the provincial government enforces extremely strict rules for non-resident land ownership. Residents and corporations are limited to maximum holdings of 400 and 1,200 hectares respectively. There are also restrictions on non-resident ownership of shorelines.

Many of the province's coastal communities rely upon shellfish harvesting, particularly lobster fishing as well as oyster fishing and mussel farming.

The provincial government provides consumer protection in the form of regulation for certain items, ranging from apartment rent increases to petroleum products including gas, diesel, propane and heating oil. These are all regulated through the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC). IRAC is authorised to limit the number of companies who are permitted to sell petroleum products.

The sale of carbonated beverages such as beer and soft drinks in non-refillable containers, such as aluminum cans or plastic bottles, was banned in 1976 as an environmental measure in response to public concerns over litter. Beer and soft drink companies opted to use refillable glass bottles for their products which were redeemable at stores and bottle depots. The introduction of recycling programs for cans and plastic bottles in neighbouring provinces in recent years (also using a redemption system) has seen the provincial government introduce legislation to reverse this ban with the restriction lifted on May 3, 2008.

Prince Edward Island has Canada's highest provincial retail sales tax rate, currently (2008) established at 10%. The tax is applied to almost all goods and services except some clothing, food and home heating fuel. The tax is also applied to the Federal Goods and Services Tax.

At present, approximately fifteen percent of all electricity consumed on the island is generated from renewable energy (largely wind turbines); the provincial government has set renewable energy targets as high as 30-50% for electricity consumed by 2015. Until wind generation, the province relied entirely on electricity imports on a submarine cable from New Brunswick. A thermal oil-fired generating station in Charlottetown is also available.

Persons employed on Prince Edward Island earn a minimum wage of $8.00/hour as of October 1, 2008.


Prince Edward Island's transportation network has traditionally revolved around its seaports of Charlottetown, Summerside, Borden, Georgetownmarker, and Souris — all linked to its railway system, and airports (Charlottetown and Summerside) for communication with mainland North America. The railway system was abandoned by CN in 1989 in favour of an agreement with the federal government to improve major highways. Until 1997, the province was linked by two passenger-vehicle ferry services to the mainland: one, provided by Marine Atlantic, operated year-round between Bordenmarker and Cape Tormentine, New Brunswickmarker; the other, provided by Northumberland Ferries Limited, operates seasonally between Wood Islandsmarker and Caribou, Nova Scotiamarker. A third ferry service provided by CTMA operates seasonally between Sourismarker and Cap-aux-Meules, Quebecmarker, in the Magdalen Islandsmarker.

On June 1, 1997, the Confederation Bridgemarker opened, connecting Borden-Carleton to Cape Tormentinemarker, New Brunswick. The longest bridge over ice covered waters in the world, it replaced the Marine Atlantic ferry service. Since then, the Confederation Bridge's assured transportation link to the mainland has altered the province's tourism and agricultural and fisheries export economies.

The province has very strict laws regarding use of road-side signs. Billboard and the use of portable signs are banned. There are standard direction information signs on all roads in the province for various businesses and attractions in the immediate area. Some municipalities' by-laws also restrict the types of permanent signs that may be installed on private property.


Province House, PEI
Prince Edward Island has a high level of political representation, with four Members of Parliament, four Senators, 27 Members of the Legislative Assembly and two cities, seven towns and sixty incorporated rural communities yielding over five hundred municipal councilors and mayors. This gives a total of 566 elected officials for a population (as of 2006) of 135,851.


Ten largest municipalities by population
Municipality 2001 1996 Charlottetownmarker 32,245a 32,531 Summersidemarker 14,654b 15,525 Stratfordmarker 7,083 2,180 Montaguemarker 1,945 1,995 Lot 1markerc 1,900 1,936 Lot 65marker 1,829 1,595 Lot 19marker 1,775 1,759 Lot 2markerd 1,720 1,766
a Agglomerated population: 58,358.

b Agglomerated population: 16,200.

c Tignish and surrounding area.

d St. Louis/Elmsdale area.


Prince Edward Island is home to one university, the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), located in Charlottetownmarker. The university was created by the Island legislature to replace Prince of Wales College and St. Dunstan's University. UPEI is also home to the Atlantic Veterinary College, which offers the region's only veterinary medicine program.

Holland Collegemarker is the provincial community college, with campuses across the province, including specialised facilities such as the Atlantic Police Academy, Marine Training Centre, and the Culinary Institute of Canada.

Prince Edward Island's public school system has two Anglophone school districts, Eastern and Western, as well as a Francophone district, the Commission scolaire de langue française. The Anglophone districts have a total of 10 secondary schools and 54 intermediate and elementary schools while the Francophone district has 6 schools covering all grades.

Prince Edward Island, along with most rural regions in North America, is experiencing an accelerated rate of youth emigration. The provincial government has projected that public school enrollment will decline by 40% during the 2010s.

Health care

The province has seven hospitals: The Hillsborough Hospital in Charlottetown is the province's only psychiatric hospital.

In recent decades, the province has shown statistically significant and abnormally high rates of diagnosed rare cancers. Health officials, ecologists and environmental activists point to the use of pesticides for industrial potato farming as a primary contaminant.


The island's cultural traditions of art, music and creative writing are all supported through the public education system. There is an annual arts festival, the Charlottetown Festival, hosted at the Confederation Centre of the Artsmarker.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, who was born in Clifton (now New London) in 1874, wrote some 20 novels. Her first Anne book was published in 1908. The musical play Anne of Green Gables has run every year at the Charlottetown festival for more than four decades. The sequel, Anne & Gilbert, premiered in the Playhouse in Victoriamarker in 2005.

Elmer Blaney Harris founded an artists colony at Fortune Bridgemarker and set his famous play Johnny Belinda on the island.

Prince Edward Island's documented music history begins in the 19th century with religious music, some written by local pump and block maker, and organ-importer, Watson Duchemin. Several big bands including the Sons of Temperance Band and the Charlottetown Brass Band, were active. Today, Acadian, Celtic and rock music prevail, with exponents including Gene MacLellan, Lennie Gallant and Two Hours Traffic. The celebrated singer-songwriter Stompin' Tom Connors spent his formative years in Skinners Pondmarker. Robert Harris was a well-known artist.



Image:Newglasgowpano2.jpg|Panorama of the banks of the River Clyde in New GlasgowmarkerImage:prince edward island sandstone arch.jpg|Sandstone archImage:prince edward island zz.jpgFile:panmure island lighthouse.JPG|Lighthouse on Panmure Island

See also


  1. Info:PEI Quick Facts, 2008-07-14. Retrieved on 2009-03-18.
  2. Brendan O'Grady, Exiles and Islanders: The Irish Settlers of Prince Edward Island, p. 15)
  3. PEI history Government of Canada
  4. PEI population trend (Statistics Canada).
  5. Population urban and rural, by province and territory (Statistics Canada, 2005).
  6. Detailed Mother Tongue (186), Knowledge of Official Languages (5), Age Groups (17A) and Sex (3) (2006 Census)
  7. Religions in Canada
  8. PEI Potato , potato production figures.
  9. Idaho Potator Production
  10. Lobster Fishing (PEIonline)
  11. Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (PEI Government).
  12. The Confederation Bridge (official website).


  • Also under
  • A very broad look at the historical geography of P.E.I.

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