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Abegweit. Minegoo. Ile-Saint-Jean. St. John’s Island. Spud Island. The Cradle of Confederation. The Million Acre Farm. The Garden of the Gulf. The Home of Anne. The fairest land ’tis possible to see... Prince Edward Island.

For such a small place—Prince Edward Island measures only 224 kilometres from tip to tip—it has a lot of names! Perhaps it is fitting, though... In rural areas, nicknames are often assigned in order to distinguish between, say, the seven “John MacDonalds” or the five “Mary Gallants” in the community. More than simple “names of convenience,” these nicknames are a sign of community belonging, affectionately referring to family lineage, quirks, foibles, or unusual physical characteristics.

It seems appropriate, then, that the Island have as many names as reflect the love we feel—Islanders and visitors alike—for our Island home.

Prince Edward Island was first inhabited by the Mi’kmaq, who referred to the island as Abegweit, meaning “cradled in the waves.” The Mi’kmaq of the maritime region camped and fished here in summer and there are indications of a few permanent settlements. As early as 1534, Jacques Cartier visited the Island and took possession of it in the name of the King of France. But almost 200 years passed before the first Acadian and French settlers colonized the Island. The French occupation lasted 38 years until 1758, when the Island fell into British hands.

In 1799, the now British colony was given the name Prince Edward Island. During the course of the next century, Loyalists and Scottish and Irish settlers sought refuge on the Island. Thanks to their industriousness and the natural bounty of the land, these new Islanders quickly brought prosperity to the colony. During this period, the lumber trade, shipbuilding, agriculture, and fishing were the mainstays of the colony’s economy. Toward the end of the century, in 1864, Prince Edward Island hosted the first of three conferences that led to the creation of an independent Canada. Holding out for favourable terms of union with the new federation, Prince Edward Island waited until 1873 to become a Canadian province.

Today, most of our shipyards have been replaced by hangars and labs devoted to aeronautics and information technology. But Prince Edward Island still boasts rich soil, bountiful waters, and beautiful landscapes that support a thriving economy based on agriculture, tourism, and fishing.

In other words, we have it all in Prince Edward Island—the knowledge and infrastructure for the new millennium weaving its way through a patchwork quilt of farms nestled among gently rolling hills and fringed with small fishing communities, white sandy beaches and red sandstone cliffs.

Where is this island paradise, you ask?

Finding Prince Edward Island

PEI map

Prince Edward Island is located in Eastern Canada, in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Northumberland Strait separates the Island from mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The province is accessible by air with thirteen daily return flights arriving from Halifax International Airport. When travelling by land, residents and visitors can cross the Strait by ferry or by bridge. The Northumberland Ferries service travels between Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island and Caribou, Nova Scotia between May and December. The Confederation Bridge links Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick. The bridge accommodates traffic 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you cannot visit our province in person, try the next best thing... experience the “Island Way of Life,” mirrored through the eyes of Kensington, the “Heart of Prince Edward Island.”

Experiencing “The Island Way of Life”

As you make your way through the winding paths of this site by following the tool bar along the side, you will have the chance to meet Island heroes who have represented our province and our country and achieved fame in the arts, sports, military history, and medicine. And you will meet Islanders whose daily commitment to their communities demonstrates heroism of a different sort. Further along the road, you will come across our commercial centre enabling you to see how business and industry have grown to support our evolving way of life. As you continue, you will encounter the many forms of transportation that have enabled the Island to build and maintain communication between our communities and with the rest of the world. And all along the way, the Island’s diverse cultural and natural heritage will remind you of the unique beauty of “The Island Way of Life.”

Prince Edward Island Emblems

A Prince Edward Island Song

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This digital collection was produced under contract to the SchoolNet Digital Collections program, Industry Canada.