We simply don't have the time in just one week to follow all three of PEI's recommended
coastal drives -- North Cape, Central Coastal, and Points East.
We decided to concentrate our day drives and bike rides to the north
central area of the island between Malpeque to the west and St. Peters to the east.
The north central part of Prince Edward Island is a microcosm of what
you'll find all over the island:
- beautiful seacoasts, bays, coves, lakes, and rivers;
- scenic national and provincial parks;
- numerous lighthouses;
- quaint towns and fishing villages from the 1700s and 1800s;
- succulent seafood and other culinary delights in shops and restaurants;
- lots of rolling green farmland with potatoes, corn, beans, and
other crops, horses, Holstein cows, and sheep;
- interesting historical and cultural museums;
- very friendly people;
- and shops/studios where you can buy high-quality arts and crafts.
French River, one of many charming little fishing
villages along the north coast of PEI
This entry focuses on two of our day trips to the area north and west from
our campground in Harrington, which is a few miles NW of Charlottetown. Our goal
was to find more of what makes PEI so memorable to visitors -- and why
residents love it so much.
Here's a map from WorldAtlas.com that shows the general CCW loop we
made the first trip, on Friday. I marked our campground location with a
That day we went through the small towns of Brackley Beach, Rustico,
Rusticoville, North Rustico, Rustico Harbour (do you see a trend here??),
Cavendish, Stanley Bridge, New London, Springbrook, French River, Park
Corner, Seaview, Bayview, Profitts Point, Malpeque, Fredericton, Hunter
River, New Glasgow, and back to Harrington.
I might have missed the names of a few towns . . .
Sounds like a long drive, but the loop and a few side trips on little
country roads totaled only about 75 miles. It's amazing how much we saw
in such a short distance. We also did some walking but exercise wasn't
the main goal that day; sight-seeing was.
Lighthouse above New London Bay
near the town of French River
We retraced the first part of the route to Rustico Harbour on Monday (Labor Day)
on our way to and from the Cavendish unit of PEI National Park to ride our
bikes on a different segment of the Gulf Shore Way coastal trail. I'll feature
photos from our bike ride in a later entry but include a couple photos
here from the
place where we ate at Rustico Harbour that day.
The photos show how cloudy it was on Friday morning and on Monday.
However, we didn't
get into any rain either day while we were driving around. The
temperatures were low enough (50s-60s F.) that we were able to take the
dogs with us both days.
THE RUSTICO VILLAGES
Rustico, Rusticoville, North Rustico, Rustico Harbour . . .
Those are the ones we drove through. There is also an Anglo Rustico
nearby that we didn't see. To make matters more complicated, Rustico is
also known as South Rustico. I think.
Down our rolling route to one of
many stream/bay crossings; (South) Rustico is ahead.
European settlers in the Maritimes sometimes did the same thing that
European settlers in several places in New England did when naming
neighboring towns almost identically. The Amana Colonies in Iowa are like that, too. It's
charming, but a bit confusing at times for locals and visitors.
North Rustico has a nice boardwalk with interpretive signs along its
waterfront, called the Rustico Promenade:
Rustico Harbour is shown in the
distance, about a mile south of North Rustico.
Above and below: North Rustico's
harbor, not to be confused with Rustico Harbour down the road . . .
This helpful sign along the boardwalk explains some of
the local history to visitors:
Just down the road is Rustico Harbour.
There are several attractive houses overlooking the water along the
harbor, a few businesses, and a lighthouse:
We didn't realize until later that one of the best
restaurants on the North Shore is also located in Rustico Harbour,
the Blue Mussel Cafe. It's in the same building as PEI Seafood.
We detoured a little out of our way on Monday to find
the restaurant when we were on our way to the Cavendish unit of PEI
National Park to ride our bikes. We didn't see the little "Blue Mussel
Cafe" sign on the unassuming gray building and had to ask another
nearby business where it was.
It was definitely worth the hunt.
The Blue Mussel Cafe serves fresh local seafood and
doesn't deep fry anything.
Jim and I shared a huge bowl of blue mussels steamed in wine
and garlic. We were served about 30 mussels in their pretty shells, which
are blue inside, for only $11 CA. I wish I'd taken a picture of them.
They were delicious and we felt like the cost was very reasonable.
We also each had a roll and a big bowl of seafood
chowder with more mussels, lobster, salmon, haddock, and chunks of PEI
potatoes and carrots.
Yum! We can heartily recommend this place to seafood
Cooper stands to greet the next
Greeting us at the door (above) when we first arrived at
Blue Mussel was Cooper, an elderly black Lab. He was tethered to his
outdoor house but close enough to the entrance to the restaurant for
visitors to pet him. We did, of course. We're dog people and, more
specifically, Lab people.
Jim took Cody, our own elderly black Lab, over to greet
Cooper but we left Casey-pup in the car; she would have been too
rough for Cooper, who has more gray hairs than 11-year-old Cody does.
CAVENDISH, GROUND ZERO FOR ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
We continued up and down the rolling hills on Rt. 6 above
more water and past more farms on our way to the town of Cavendish.
Cavendish is known worldwide for its connection to the popular
children's book series, Anne of Green Gables.
The original book
was written over a century ago. This area of PEI is even called "Green
Gables Shores" in promotional publications to lure
more visitors. Devotees of the books, film, and TV miniseries come here
to visit the sites mentioned in the books and to pay tribute to their
favorite red-haired heroine and her creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery.
I can't remember if I ever read any of the Green Gables novels
as a child. I read a lot, so I probably did. Anne
wasn't the reason we came here so all we did in the area on
Friday was to go to the nice visitor center in town.
I admired some beautiful locally-thrown and painted pottery, lovely
framed photos, and jewelry made of sea glass found on the shores of PEI
but when you're full-timing in an RV, you can't just bring home stuff
like this. I did, however, purchase a black t-shirt with what I consider
to be one of the best designs I've ever seen on a shirt:
In retrospect, I wish I'd gotten a second shirt of the same design in dark blue,
too. I love that shirt. It's my only physical memento from PEI.
(That, and one of the blue mussel shells from lunch on Monday.)
THE FRENCH RIVER AREA
We drove an arc around the south part of New London Bay, part of the Gulf
of St. Lawernce, from Cavendish to French River on Rts. 6 and 20.
One of the river mouths we crossed had noticeably different colors of
water. To the left of the arrow in the photo below, the water was more
reddish brown. To the right of the arrow, it was blue:
I don't know if the tide was coming in or going out, but that's
We crossed more water before reaching the town of French River. I
don't know what the name of the river is in the next photo but it's a
typical scene on this winding, rolling stretch of road:
Part way to French River we saw the bright blue building housing
Prince Edward Aqua Farms, a seafood business, and pulled over to check
We're glad we stopped. We bought a pound of scallops and
a pound (about 10) of quahogs AKA small-neck clams for a good price:
Remember, all these prices are Canadian. With a favorable exchange
rate this summer, our cost was always less.
Soon we came to a pull-off with interpretive signs on a high point
overlooking a beautiful valley and the picturesque fishing village of
I took a series of photos from left to right but didn't "stitch" them
together into a panorama because it would be too wide to show any detail
here. Just visually "read" the next three pictures as left to right and stitch them
together in your mind:
Note the farm fields in the
valley and on the hill above town.
No wonder photographers and
painters love this view!
Looking out to the mouth of
the river at New London Bay
One comment on an interpretive sign at the overlook
says, "Among the area's most unique features is the contrasting yet
complimentary combination of water view and farmland within a single
vista." We saw that many times on our loop near the North Shore on
I showed a close-up of the village from this overlook
near the top of this page. The village is quite interesting up close, too.
FRENCH RIVER & BEYOND
A little past French River we took a detour on a little country road
in search of two lighthouses on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
We found the lighthouse I showed near the top of this entry, as well
as a big farm where we stopped to buy some new potatoes and green beans:
The sign on the shed said to come on in to choose the bags of veggies
self-serve style. The prices were listed for each sack; payment
was on the honor system. We chose a 10# bag of freshly-dug new potatoes and 2#
of bright green beans and left a little more $$$ than requested, just because.
PEI potatoes are renowned for their unique flavor derived from the
particular soil on the island. We can testify that they are good.
That evening we had a delicious dinner of stir-fried scallops,
steamed clams, new potatoes, and green beans -- all locally
caught/grown and as fresh as can be. It was as satisfying as that
lobster dinner we prepared at Whale Cove. We had lots of potatoes and
green beans left for subsequent meals.
On the way to Malpeque we passed more gorgeous farm-and-sea vistas
like this one:
Love the rolling green field with hay bales and the
white-capped waves of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the background! I
think it'd be fun to be a farmer on land with a view like that.
That visitor in Nova Scotia who complained that all the
potato fields on PEI make it look just like Ohio? I have no idea where
he was traveling on the island, but it sure wasn't along the North
Shore! This is gorgeous terrain and not at all monotonous, as he
portrayed the island. I hope he didn't discourage anyone he talked with
from visiting PEI.
In our quest off the main road to find another couple lighthouses we
discovered the large Twin Shores Camping Area, full of RVs, quite
close to the Gulf at Proffitts Point:
It looked like there were a couple hundred campers on both sides of
the road, all within a short walk of the water. There's a beautiful aerial
photo of the campground on the
homepage of the campground website. It looks
like a very nice place to stay for a few days or all season.
We didn't stop in the town of Malpeque, the farthest west we got on our loop
route on Friday. Malpeque Bay is famous worldwide for its oysters, which
are considered the gold standard by which all other oysters are judged.
One of my nieces loves Malpeques. When we told her we were going to PEI
she said we had to buy some. She orders them and has them sent
to her home in the States.
Since we had already purchased scallops and clams
from another seafood shop, we didn't get any Malpeque oysters. I'll mention more
about oyster and mussel cultivation on PEI in the next entry.
GLASGOW GLEN FARM
By the time we got around the loop on Friday to New Glasgow, which is
a little southwest of Rustico, we were about starved for some lunch.
looked for an appealing, reasonably-priced seafood restaurant after leaving
Cavendish but didn't find one that suited us. Even if we'd known about
the Blue Mussel Cafe that day, it was too early to eat lunch when we were
at Rustico Harbour in the morning.
Luckily we easily found
Glasgow Glen Farm, which has an appealing ad in the
large PEI visitors' guide we relied on while we were on the island. I
knew about where to look for the place. It is in an attractive new wood-shake
building overlooking scenic farm land:
This is another place we can highly recommend for any of several reasons:
- They bake a variety of delicious bread products.
- They produce 15 flavors of gouda cheese and you can see the
equipment where the cheese is made (or the process itself, if you're
there at the right time).
- They make awesome pizzas and sandwiches.
- Prices are very reasonable.
This makes a great lunch stop or place to just pick up some cheese
and bread. We did both.
We ordered a delicious "Abe" pizza with gouda and bacon on it. The
cost was only $10 CA for a 12-inch pizza loaded with toppings, one of
the better deals we've found in the Maritimes.
Loaves of bread are just $4 CA each,
cheese or bacon-pesto sandwiches $6-8 each, and
12-inch veggie pizzas $9. They're
less than that for us, with the current favorable exchange rate.
After we ordered the pizza we watched it being assembled and put into
the brick oven. I like places where you can see the cleanliness and
attention to detail.
Then we wandered around the store to see the
cheese-processing section while the pizza was baking:
Little rounds of gouda cheese
mellow out in a refrigerated room.
We saw the equipment where the cheese is processed but none was being
made while we were there. Before we left we bought two types of gouda to
take home with us.
By then it was sunny and getting too warm to leave Cody and Casey in the
truck for very long so we went outside to scarf down our pizza and let the
dogs lie down in the grass. We had nice views of the surrounding countryside.
After a 15- or 20-minute drive through more beautiful terrain we arrived
back at our campground in Harrington, where we just relaxed the rest of the day.
Next entry: more great scenery NE of Charlottetown
and a bike ride along St. Peters Bay on the Trans-Canada Trail
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil