A recent to PEI was a bit of an unexpected surprise. Our initial goal was to visit friends in Cape Breton and attend the Celtic Colours Music Festival which features a variety of Celtic musicians jamming, step-dancing, fiddling and connecting to their roots while we played witness to their magic. This was itself a fabulous experience, but with a few extra days to spare, we all decided that we wanted to check to PEI and see what the island known for tourism had to offer.
I had been to PEI very briefly 5 years ago with our two youngest kids and we had a lovely time lobster fishing, shopping down by the harbour and driving over rolling hills throughout the island but we put a lot of mileage on our car in the 24 hours that we were there. This time, we wanted to take it slow and really experience the culture of this Canadian jewel and show our friends what PEI was all about!
We arrived via ferryboat and spent the next 3 days trying to explore. I say trying because throughout the island, no matter where we went, PEI was closed. Perhaps this was to be expected in mid October but I thought the harbour would still be a quaint backdrop for some photos. Unfortunately, the lobster boats must have been stowed away for the winter season. There were no boats to speak of, the little harbour shops were boarded up and the only visitors besides us were the pigeons that stood sentinel on abandoned wooden posts jutting out of the Atlantic.
Later, taking one of the routes that PEI Tourism offers as “the scenic coastal drives”we headed out in search of lighthouses and the red sand beaches that PEI is known for. Soon we came upon a “heritage road.”
These scenic paths are located all over the island; the roads of yesteryear where one could imagine horses and buggies taking families to barn dances or where tractors could plod along at a leisurely pace. Indeed, they are still usable roads but they are not wide enough to support 2 lane traffic. Stopping the car and walking was lovely as the paths are covered in coloured fall foliage, and the birds chirp sweetly from the forest grove.
Back on the trail we searched out lighthouses, many of which are no longer functional but stand on the red cliffs overlooking the sea.
As we made our way around the island and stopped in the many villages along the highway, we were told by many locals that most restaurants and tourism hot -spots were closed for the season. Thankfully, gas stations and the odd diner still offered us a way to stay fuelled as we explored the red sand beaches.
There’s something about an abandoned beach that speaks to me. I simply MUST sit and observe the waves crashing, and walk along the surf leaving my footprints, my stamp of existence on the world if only for a moment before the tide carries them away.
Carrying on the lonely and quiet highway, we passed many churches with their steeples peeking out and standing guard over the village. A visit to 2 of the National Parks meant that we didn’t have to pay. After all, we are out of season and the parks were “closed.” However, this just meant that getting a park pass wasn’t necessary and so we headed out on foot, down the trails that lead us to grasses and wetlands and apple trees…
The Confederation Trail is essentially the old railway system that ran throughout PEI and tourists and locals can enjoy the scenery by hiking and biking along the railway.We arrived at the trail head that boasted a museum, coffee shop, playpark and information booth but you guessed it…all closed for the season.
Lastly, what journey to PEI is complete without a visit to Green Gables? Amazingly, we lucked out as it was the last weekend before closing for the season! With the fall foliage so very lovely, it was an absolute treat to walk along Lover’s Lane, and explore the barn and the house that served as Inspiration for Lucy Maud Montgomery.
As we made our way off the island and over to New Brunswick we stopped to marvel at the architectural beauty of the Confederation Bridge. After a very scenic exploration of our smallest province, I was certainly thankful that the bridge was not closed for the season!