The charming city of Charlottetown, population ~ 35,000 people, is about
as centrally located as you can get on Prince Edward Island. It's by far
the largest urban area on the island -- but small enough for
visitors to find their way around quite easily with a good map.
chose our campground because of its proximity to both Charlottetown and
the North Shore, about a 10-minute drive from each. That way we could
easily enjoy not only the coastal scenery, small fishing villages, and
nearby cycling-hiking trails, but also all the history, culture,
architecture, harbor, attractions, restaurants, and other amenities of the city.
Side view of Province House,
where the Charlottetown Conference was held in 1864
The photos and information in this entry are from three visits we
made to Charlottetown.
As noted above, we inadvertently arrived during an important time in
the city's history. That's great, because we had even more of an
opportunity to learn about the Charlottetown Conference and participate
in some of the 150 special activities, festivals, and other events
commemorating the anniversary.
Here are some of the things we observed and enjoyed:
CHARLOTTETOWN HARBOR & CONFEDERATION LANDING
Like Halifax, Nova Scotia, old town Charlottetown, PEI lies on a peninsula
surrounded on three sides by water. Here it's the Hillsborough River and Bay, part of
Northumberland Strait. The city faces mainland Nova Scotia on the south side
of PEI. The Atlantic coast (more specifically, the Gulf of St. Lawrence)
is a short drive north of the city.
Here's a map showing the relationship of PEI to Nova Scotia and New
PEI is white and Charlottetown is marked with
a red star.
Charlottetown has less than one-tenth the population as Halifax. Its
harbor isn't as grand but it is still scenic and has lots of water views
from the older parts of town that were settled first.
On Thursday we went down to the harbor area and enjoyed walking around.
Our first stop was the large visitor center in Founders' Hall, which
was built to commemorate Canada's birthplace. There are multimedia
displays and exhibits in the "Time Travel Tunnel" that depicts Canada's
evolution as a country:
Above and below: The large
"2014" in front of Founders' Hall is just one example
of the emphasis this year on the
Confederacy's 150th anniversary. Note the kids below.
You can tour the harbor on land
and sea in an amphibious "Harbor Hippo" (above)
or just ride the "HippopotaBus"
on land if you prefer.
Part of the large "Celebration Zone" is shown in the background of the
photo above. Daily concerts, cultural exhibits, local foods, kids'
activities, and other events are scheduled there all summer long as part of
the 150th anniversary celebration.
STATELY TALL SHIPS
We like tall ships like the one we admired in Halifax Harbor a couple
weeks ago. We totally lucked out here because seven smaller tall ships
are in port to celebrate the 150th anniversary. Visitors could board
some of them:
View of all seven tall ships from
Front of the "Fair Jeanne" tall
ship from Ottawa, and some of the small boats in the harbor;
note the three tall spires of St.
Dunstan's Basilica in the background (more about it later).
Above and below: Look
closely -- that's two tall ships, not one. The smaller
one is the "St. Lawrence II"
and the larger one is the "Fair Jeanne."
Some of the other tall ships we
After looking at the tall ships we ate lunch on a nearby pier at
Steamers, a little floating restaurant with outdoor seating:
Advertising for Steamers
It was fun but we had better seafood at other restaurants
and seafood shops in the Maritimes.
MORE WATERFRONT VIEWS: VICTORIA PARK
Also on Thursday we drove to nearby Victoria Park, which lies along the tip of the
There is a pedestrian boardwalk about a mile along the waterfront with
benches and nice landscaping. It's a great place to relax and enjoy the
views across Hillsborough Bay and toward the city:
That day the tide was high. We went back on Sunday morning when the tall ships
were scheduled to leave for Summerside, another town
on the island a little west of Charlottetown. We wanted to see them sail
out of the harbor and into the larger part of Hillsborough Bay.
We arrived early enough to walk the dogs along the boardwalk again, at a
lower tide this time:
Cairns along the boardwalk
That day could best be described as overcast and blustery along the
waterfront, too uncomfortable for us to sit on one of the benches to
watch the tall ships go out of the harbor.
We parked with some other vehicles at an overlook in the park and
waited inside the truck for the ships. And waited. And waited. We finally heard on the
radio that because of the wind, the ships weren't going to leave until
about 6 PM. We considered going back to see them but didn't.
In addition to the nice boardwalk along the waterfront in Victoria Park,
the remains of Prince Edward Battery are in this strategic location at
the end of the peninsula.
Interpretive panels describe the various French and British
fortifications that were here between 1720 and 1866:
An interesting historical side note:
On Thursday as we
left Victoria Park we passed the nearby Government House, where the
Lt. Governor lives, and noted a group of 25-30
well-dressed people standing outside in a group.
Turns out, it was a meeting of the provincial and territorial premiers
-- like our governors in the States. We saw reports about it on
TV that night. It was another ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary
of the Confederation.
PROVINCE HOUSE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
With all this talk about the 150th anniversary of the Confederation we
figured we better see where the Charlottetown Conference was actually held,
Today Province House is both a national historic site and the current
seat of PEI's provincial legislature:
The stately Greek Revival building was completed in 1847.
The building and anniversary are also commemorated on
this year's vehicle tags:
Province House is flanked by two other impressive buildings from different eras. I
think this handsome structure is a government building of some sort, too:
On the other side of Province House is the much newer,
modernistic Confederation Center of the Arts.
This cultural hub houses art galleries, exhibits, several theaters for
plays and musical productions, a public library, an
outdoor amphitheater, and other features:
Jim and Casey walk through a terraced plaza
around the museum.
ANOTHER CHARLOTTETOWN LANDMARK
The views from the harbor back to the city were as interesting
as the ones across the water. Note the three tall copper spires of
St. Dunstan's Basilica in the next photo::
I didn't get a very good photo of the church up close. Here are two more
that show a bit more detail. The triple spires are a Charlottetown landmark:
Some old houses between the
harbor and the church
on Great George St. in the historic district
You can tour the church, which is built in the form of a Gothic cross.
A popular spot for visitors and residents in the historic district
is the collection of handsome old red brick buildings
called Victoria Row. They house an eclectic variety of quaint shops and restaurants
along a narrow pedestrian-only street located across from
Province House and the museum:
On those brightly-colored picnic tables shown above are painted board games
like checkers and chess, designed to encourage folks to stop and
relax. The playing pieces are in little plastic bags.
I think what surprised me the most was that the playing pieces were
still there. Where would that happen in the United States??
Here are a couple more scenes of a restaurant with patio seating:
This cafe might have been a better choice for lunch than Steamers.
CHARLOTTETOWN FARMERS' MARKET
Speaking of food . . .
Every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer farmers and
artists bring their goods to this popular farmers' market on the east side of town.
Some of the booths were inside, some outside on
the sunny Saturday we stopped by:
Although this market isn't nearly as large as the one in
Halifax we still enjoyed the wide variety of fresh
vegetables and fruits, seafood, meat and poultry, baked goods, wines, and ethnic cuisine. I regretted not getting some locally-produced wine on
our first trip to the market so we returned in the afternoon after a day trip and
I got a bottle. It was good!
The market also offers a variety of artwork and skilled
crafts for sale, such as pottery, woodwork, and woven and knitted
creations made of wool from the artist's own sheep or alpaca:
Most of the residents of PEI are descendents of the original
settlers from Scotland, Ireland, England, and France, regions in Europe known for their
farmers and skilled craftsmen and women.
You can find all sorts of beautiful
artwork and crafts everywhere around Prince Edward Island.
Next entry: day-tripping around the north central
part of the island (Rustico Harbor, French River, Malpeque, Cavendish, etc.)
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil