- Prince Edward Island - a valued tourist destination
- Tour of the island by taxi
- Charlottetown is waiting
On a Friday morning at around 9:00am, the Celebrity Summit docks in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, Canada. From the upper decks of our ship we look down on the city founded in 1765, two marinas with pleasure boats and the wide bay.
Prince Edward Island - a valued tourist destination
The city with around 87.000 inhabitants (Greater Charlottetown estimated July 2022) is the gateway to Canada's smallest province. More than 5.660 people live on 170.000 square kilometers. They mostly inhabit communities and small towns. The main industry is tourism, followed by agriculture and fishing.
Air Canada offers direct flights from Halifax, Montreal and Toronto to Charlottetown year-round. There are flights to Ottawa during peak summer periods. Even New York's JFK Airport has seasonal flights to Prince Edward Island, which is abbreviated to "PEI" for convenience. Motorists cross the Northumberland Strait at its narrowest point by means of a gigantic, almost 13 km long two-lane bridge, and in the summer and autumn months cruise companies show the astonished passengers on their ships the beautiful, varied landscape of the "Rolling Hills".
PEI's Rolling Hills
We would like to see the rolling hills, the gently rolling hilly landscape with the extensive agricultural areas, the small forests and the many water areas. Celebrity Cruises' route planning for PEI envisages a stay of almost nine hours. This is enough time for a detailed island tour and a subsequent city tour of Charlottetown. As always, we prefer an individual tour to an organized excursion.
Tour of the island by taxi
We share a taxi with an American couple. Initially, the undertaking is a bit bumpy: a dispatcher distributes the guests to the waiting taxis. The hourly rate is 60 Canadian dollars. However, we and our Americans only want to pay a maximum of 200 dollars for the four-hour tour. - In short, the New York eloquence of our companion beats the provincial persistence of our driver, Wilbert. In the following hours we have in him not only an excellent driver but also a good guide. It takes us to those key destinations that curious cruise tourists also get to see on their organized bus tours.
Charlottetown - Wilbert's Taxi
Visiting the Green Gables Shore
Our journey begins in front of the Charlottetown Cruise Terminal and takes us first across the country to the north of the island to North Rustico on Rustico Bay. This area has been dubbed "Green Gables Shore" by tourism managers.
The land is gently undulating. Agricultural land, individual farmsteads and small settlements predominate. Hardly a car drives on the streets. In between we see bodies of water and detached, handsome residential buildings on spacious lots. Apparently there was no need to be stingy with land when purchasing the building land. Somewhere a sign points to the house of the "Pineaus". Someone else has vintage tractors and harvesting equipment on display on their property. We come to realize that all seems right with the world in this tranquil corner of Canada. To make matters worse, the sun is shining and the temperatures are pleasant.
In the north of the island are long sand barrier islands forming spit coasts. North Rustico has a small harbour, dunes, sandy beaches, a gift shop quaintly named Seagulls Nest, a small beacon and... and... This region is home to the lobster fishermen.
The Green Gables Shore derives its name from a successful children's book by author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Who in Scandinavia or in German-speaking countries does not know the stories about "Pippi Longstocking"? Anne of Green Gables is the Canadian equivalent of these stories. The story describes the life of the orphan girl Anne, who grows up in the landscape of the green gables. Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site is located in Cavendish near the intersection of Route 13 and Route 6. A visitor center has been set up for those guests who would like to see the house with the green gables. The author's small house is only a few kilometers away. It is a point of honor that Wilbert also shows us this cute little house.
Borden-Carleton - our next destination
There are about 30 kilometers as the crow flies between Cavendish and our next destination. The destination is Borden-Carleton, a hamlet on the south coast of the island. The roads lead us again through the already familiar hilly landscape, which we cannot get enough of.
PEI - Catholic Church at Summerfield
The Confederation Bridge, completed in 1997, stands at the narrowest point in the former Borden-Carlton ferry port. It elegantly spans the Northumberland Strait between PEI and the neighboring province of New Brunswick. At 12.880 meters long, it is the longest bridge in Canada. The towering structure is considered an engineering masterpiece; after all, in extreme cases it has to withstand severe ice drift. In the late evening our ship will pass this huge bridge structure. At Bayfield, the bridge meets the Canadian mainland in the province of New Brunswick.
Before the bridge was built, drivers had to confide in a ferry. The old ferry house is still below the bridge. A visitor center with a café, toilet facilities and souvenir shop was built near the ferry house.
The next destination – Victoria-By-the-Sea
Our driver Wilbert is now setting course for Victoria-By-the-Sea in his Dodge. The small, beautifully situated town also has a historic port. Victoria has made a name for itself as an artists' colony. A few souvenir shops and a lighthouse standing on a hill complete the ensemble.
PEI - en route between Victoria and Cornwall
Return to Charlottetown
After approximately four hours, the trip ends back at the Charlottetown Cruise Terminal. Before that we see the outskirts of the middle city and the extensive facilities of the University of Prince Edward Island. The drive through the city center strengthens our desire for a city tour. But before that, let's cool off aboard the Celebrity Summit.
Charlottetown is waiting
Charlottetown's center is structured strictly geometrically. The grid layout of the streets makes it much easier to find your way around. We start our tour through the historic center of the city at the "Historic Charlottetown Waterfront". We resist the tempting offers to visit the "Prince Edward Island Brewing Co." or to have the lobster dinner in the "Steamers Fresh Seafood Floating Restaurant". Even the buoyant “Harbour Hippo” omnibus cannot lure us.
Founders Hall - worth seeing
Ahead of us is Founders Hall on Prince Street. In the spacious hall, modern audiovisual techniques give us insights into Canadian history. After all, Charlottetown is a historic place. In 1864, the representatives of the previously British provinces met here to decide on the establishment of the Canadian Confederation.
St Dunstan's Basilica Cathedral
Our next destination is Great George Street. The most important building on this street is St. Dunstan's Basilica, the Roman Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Charlottetown. It was built in the style of French churches between 1897 and 1907. Hardly had it been completed than after a fire in 1913, it had to be rebuilt based on the original plans. The bright, airy cathedral has an impressive altar, a powerful organ and beautiful, contemporary stained glass windows.
A reminder of the Charlottetown Conference
Opposite the cathedral we see a bronze sculpture commemorating the Charlottetown Conference. It shows the two delegates of the same name, John Hamilton Gray, life-size, engaged in a lively discussion. One Gray was PEI's Conservative Premier, the other Gray was one of five envoys from New Brunswick, Canada.
Remembering the Charlottetown Conference
Representative public buildings
From the cathedral, the view extends across to Province House, the seat of Parliament for the province of Prince Edward Island. The provincial legislature has met there since 1847. In 1864, delegates from the Charlottetown Conference met in the historic building. The building has been given national heritage status. In 150, to commemorate the 2014th anniversary of the conference, the year 1864 was erected in man-sized numbers in front of the side wall of Province House.
Next to the Province House is the Honorable George Coles Building. The brick building housed the provincial Supreme Court for many years. Offices and archives have been located there since the 1970s. Both buildings are surrounded by a spacious green area.
Monument between Province House and Hon. George Coles Building
The Province House complex also includes the Confederation Center of the Arts. The arts center is being hailed as a Canadian community effort. The Canadian federal authorities and all provinces of the country contributed a total of $5,6 million in budget funds for the construction of the one-block building. Several theater halls, an art gallery, a public library, a restaurant and a shop fill the building.
A bluefin tuna sculpture made from spoons
Richmond Street, which runs beneath the buildings, is interrupted for a short distance between Queen Street and Great George Street by Victoria Row, an attractive pedestrianized area lined with bars, shops and restaurants. At the crossroads, address: 97 Queen Street, stands a life-size sculpture of a bluefin tuna made mostly of stainless steel spoons. The art in the public space is evidence of the region's fishing tradition that has lasted for centuries.
Sculpture of a bluefin tuna
One important destination, Victoria Park, remains to be visited. The magnificent residence of “Lt. Governors". It can be reached from Queen Street via Crafton Street and Rochford Street. Turn left at Kent Street. From the intersection it is only a few steps to the Beaconsfield Historic House. It offered its former occupants an unobstructed view over Charlottetown's natural harbor. The building is a fine example of Victorian architecture. The building was originally the seat of a wealthy merchant family. The house is now designed as an event location all year round and is open to visitors. A gift shop offers books about the island, magazines, pottery, prints and jewelry.
the lt The Governor's Residence is the official residence of the British Crown Trustee. The members of the English royal family who drop by the island from time to time are offered the befitting accommodation in the magnificent white building.
Lt. Governor's Residence
If you follow Kent Street towards the center, you cannot miss the massive building of City Hall. In 1888 the town hall was built in the "Romanesque Revival Style". It has been a National Historic Site of Canada since 1984. The building represents the prosperity of the city of Charlottetown at that time. A magnificently restored historic fire engine adorns the front of the town hall. In the past, the town hall also housed the police station and the fire brigade headquarters.
Historic fire engine in front of City Hall
We don't go over to City Hall, but decide to go back through West Street. We follow a boardwalk that takes us back to the Delta Hotel on the harbor front. Behind the hotel, the shops and restaurants of Peake's Wharf Merchants Zone await those who want to spend more. The path leads past the small marina to the green area of Confederation Landing.
Unfortunately, the area was being renovated during our visit. A second marina follows and then we enter the Charlottetown Cruise Terminal, which is towered over by our ship.
We find Charlottetown on PEI to be very pleasant. We will remember the city very well. Both the tour of a large part of the island and the city tour are highly recommended for any visitor during a full day stay.
Update May 2023