Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt and his wife Sheree (who you might know from The Great Australian Doorstep TV show) run fully escorted motorhome convoy tours in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Alaska. Here, Spida takes us to Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Whether you approach Prince Edward Island by land, sea, or air, you’ll feel a strange excitement begin to stir as you wonder. I found myself saying, ‘I wonder what it will be like?’. I had no idea what to expect at the beginning, but by the end of my visit I knew that my heart rate would slow, my smiles would last longer and I often forgot where I’d left my shoes.
Prince Edward Island is one of those places you will never want to leave. It has a gentle nature, rolling hills, a gorgeous coastline and super friendly locals.
Prince Edward Island, or PEI as the locals call it, is located off the eastern coast of Canada. You’ll find it nestled between the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Gulf of St Lawrence and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Québec.
When I visited in 2014, PEI was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, the event that led to the creation of the country. More than 150 festivals, events and programs form a year-long, island-wide celebration to commemorate this landmark event and I just had to be a part of it.
I made my way to the traditional blueberry stomp at the Rossignol Estate Winery, located on the main driving route around the Island. It was my first time stomping, so they only thing I knew to expect was a big mess! There was a stage set up with four large barrels full of blueberries ready to be stomped. Everyone got 5 minutes to stomp their hearts out! It was great to see people from all over Canada came to participate in the event. There was also live music, great homemade food, sand sculpting, artists and of course wine!
Next stop along this great road way is the Buffaloland Provincial Park. This is a day use park with free entry, where you can drive your RV right up to the bison. Nothing beats being able to sightsee from your RV seat.
World famous author Lucy Maud Montgomery drew inspiration from this very area during the late Victorian era and it became the setting for her classic novel Anne of Green Gables (1908). On our second day we visited Green Gables Farm.
If you’re unfamiliar with Montgomery’s tale, it is considered a classic children’s novel recounting the adventure of 11-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan who was mistakenly sent to the Cuthbert family. She writes about Anne’s adventures within the fictional town of Avonlea on PEI.
Prince Edward Island has a number of Anne-related attractions, including the Green Gables Heritage Place.Hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world come here every year to see the site that inspired the setting of Montgomery’s books.
The Green Gables house looks much like all the other 19th century farm houses, many of which are still private dwellings here on PEI. However, when Lucy Montgomery used it as the setting of Anne of Green Gables it changed the course of history for this simple homestead. You can walk at your leisure around this amazing farm, grab yourself the storybook and picture life as it was for Anne. You are welcome to stroll through the barn, down Lovers Lane, the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails as described in the book. Lucy Montgomery is buried in Cavendish, just near the farm, in the town cemetery.
Our next stop was the Car Life Museum. Opened in 1966 by Newton MacKay, the museum is a must for all car enthusiasts.
MacKay started collecting cars in the late 1950s, restoring a 1925 Model T Ford, then with a 1930 Model AA natural negotiator. He saw the rolling history of PEI he wished to preserved and went after it.
Whether it’s a 1925 Mclaughlin Buick Hearse, or the world’s first reaper built in 1831, its all here in the Car Life Museum. After two years of negotiation he finally acquired a 1920 McLaughlin Buick Touring Car. He restored it and took it to the first Halifax Auto show in 1964, where it won ‘Best in Class’, ‘Best Paint’, and ‘Best of Show’. MacKay returned to the island ready to fullfill his dream of opening an antique car museum.
There were eight cars on display when he first opened the doors and the collection expanded until his sudden passing in 1979 at age50. His sons continued his mission and now the collection is five times larger and growing every year. His wife Doris continues to operate the 10,000 square-foot museum with their sons and grandchildren today.
The smaller, rural communities, the towns and villages throughout the province, retain a slower-paced, old-world flavour. Prince Edward Island has become popular as a tourist destination for relaxation and exploration. The coast of Prince Edward Island around Cavendish has amazing temperatures. It can get to a beautiful 30C in summer and in winter down to -30C! It receives more than 300mm of snow each year. The ocean around PEI is full of enormous icebergs during winter and surfers and fisherman during summer.
Prince Edward Island is rich with culture and heritage, offering plenty to see and explore. The super friendly hospitality from the locals is outstanding. It is home to an enormous amount of unique old churches, all open for you to enjoy, and you shouldn’t go past a seafood dinner if you are visiting! PEI’s seafood and fishing industry is massive, hauling in more than $200 million worth of seafood every year.
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