The Confederation Bridge–all eight miles of it–links New Brunswick and the Canadian mainland with Prince Edward Island. Here, on this small isle where approximately 135 thousand people live, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, along with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, were formed as the Dominion of Canada in 1867.
The sand and earth here are rich warm red clay color, accentuated by the lush green grass which rolls out like a fertile carpet to every body of water that cradles the island shores. Other than a pastoral drive through the tidy Amish country years ago, I have never seen such pride of ownership of houses large or small anywhere in all of my travels.
The economy is fed from the sea and the land. Mussels, oysters, lobsters, scallops and fresh fish can be found at the end of every dock and harbor. Corn, wheat, and new potatoes are the primary foods grown here although we saw cauliflower and wine grapes planted in orderly rows.
The Malpeque Harbor, home of the Malpeque Oyster, which won Best in Show at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. The land serves up a variety of vegetables but the new potato is Queen of Prince Edward Island.
How one tends to one’s property, be it an apartment, cottage, or farm says a great deal about the person. It’s safe to say that the residents of PEI appreciate order and precision.
The Victoria Lighthouse on the Argyle Shore of PEI.
Winters in PEI are frigid. Last year, over 400 cm of snow fell. The wood stove and wood stack are an architectural feature of most homes here.
I imagine no one who lives here suffers from island fever.
Beaches are vacant, hugged by a warm shoulder of sand dunes and cooled by balmy gulf winds and refreshing waters.
A reddish beach on the Northwestern shore.
A stroll down the beach by Crowbush Cove with only the seabirds as our companions could not have been more perfect.
Some lucky lobster will not be caught in this trap, washed up from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
You may remember my literary gaffe in mislabeling the novel Anne of Green Gables.
Thanks to my friend Richard, I didn’t try to find the House of the Green Gables here on PEI!
Instead, we followed a line of tourists, many of them Japanese, in our search for the house described in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel.
According to the literature, every room in this reconstruction is exactly how LM Montgomery described it.
While there, we just so happened to meet Anne Shirley, the orphan who, in 1908, came to live with a middle-aged brother and sister, Mathew and Marilla Cuthbert. They had hoped to adopt a boy to help with the farm work but instead found themselves keeping company with one of literature’s most beloved characters.
I asked Anne why so many Japanese tourists made the pilgrimage to Cavendish to tour the house and visit New London, the birthplace of LM Montgomery.
She did not know that answer. All she could bubble about was the Haunted Forest and Lover’s Lane. Her bubbling intensified to gushing, so much so that I headed to the gift shop to buy my own copy of Anne of Green Gables.
Hanako Muriako’s 1952 translation of the novel into Japanese shortly after the horrors of WWII became a hit with Japanese girls and young adult women, perhaps looking for an idyllic salve to heal the wounds of displacement and depression. These girls and women told their daughters and so on and so on, so the next generation of Japanese tourist is still coming to see the red-haired girl and house with green gables. If you are interested in more of the story of this translation, you can find it on the internet.
We said “So long” to Anne and headed out in search of one of my favorite images–hay coils.
Prince Edward Island’s hay coils were like dollops of wheat candy to the eye.
We leave this pristine prince of an island tomorrow and head for the French Canadian coast of New Brunswick.
photo by Hizzoner, 2015.