Atlantic Canada: PEI

14390883_10155163583314989_3462003092249729522_nPrince Edward Island may be Canada’s smallest province but it has a special place in my heart.  I love the rolling farmland, the red soil, and the beautiful beaches (they say when you are on PEI, you are never more than 25 miles from the ocean), but more than that, I feel a special closeness because my ancestors were among the first British inhabitants in the late 1750’s. I guess it’s not surprising that I was so excited to be able to visit some of the places where they had lived 250 years ago.

Like the rest of North America, PEI had been inhabited by aboriginal people for thousands of years, in this case the Mi’kmaq, before the white man came and messed up their lives. The French were the first to arrive  in the 1600’s and they named the island Île Saint-Jean. Their descendents were called Acadians and many of them were Métis (the children of French settlers and aboriginal wives).  During the Acadian expulsion (see my previous post of more information), many Acadians from other parts of the Maritimes came to PEI as refugees.  But once the British captured the island, most Acadians refused to show allegiance to Britain and were eventually exiled as well.  The British called the new colony “St John’s Island” in 1769 and then finally renamed it Prince Edward Island in 1798.

After the expulsion, the British were anxious to settle the land and so they brought in ex-British soldiers and other settlers to farm there with their families.  Two of my 5G grandparents were among the original British settlers.  Henry Goldrup, who I wrote about in my previous post about Nova Scotia, had met and married a young French Canadian woman, Jane, in Quebec City after the end of the Seven Years War in 1759.  They lived in Quebec City and had two children, John and Charlotte, until they moved to PEI in 1768.  Sadly, Henry drowned as they were unloading the ship in the Crapaud Harbour, and so his wife soon married Captain William Warren,  and they settled in Tryon, PEI.  Together they had many more children in addition to Jane’s two youngsters.

Around the same time, John and Elizabeth Lord, and their three young children – John Jr, Nancy, and Fanny – arrived from England, and settled in Tryon as well.  John Lord and Capt William Warren were two members of the first Legislative Assembly of PEI in 1773, almost 100 years before Canada became a country.  John Lord was a Justice of the Peace and William Warren was a very successful boat builder and both men played important roles in the building of early PEI.

In 1787, their children, John Lord Jr and Charlotte Goldrup, were married and they were my 4G Grandparents. Are you totally confused yet? Well that’s it for the history lesson, here’s a bit more about our actual trip. 🙂

Sept 20-25 – North Rustico, PEI

There are two ways to get to PEI by car – one is to take the Confederation Bridge and the other is to take the ferry.  We decided to arrive by ferry and leave by the bridge so we could experience both. It’s free to go to PEI but you have to pay to leave and the bridge is a little cheaper than the ferry.

Erik and I found an off-season house rental in the picturesque seaside village of North Rustico.  We chose it because of its proximity to all parts of the island. In the summer, this is a busy town, full of families renting cottages by the sea, but in fall, it is quiet and almost deserted, and the prices are much lower. We loved it and it was perfect for our needs.

Sept 20 – Today we caught the 11:30 ferry to PEI. We drove around the east coast area, stopping in Souris for lunch.  Later we stopped at the Inn at Bay Fortune and wandered around the grounds. It is an inn and restaurant owned by Chef Michael Smith of foodtv and cookbook fame and his wife, Chastity. It’s a true Farm to Table concept with 8 acres of organic gardens, a huge herb garden, and even three happy pigs. Every night they have a “feast” where they feed you a four hour multi-course meal “community style” on long tables. It’s quite expensive but supposed to be well worth it. It’s too bad we are staying too far away to be able to stay for dinner.

We continued on our way and arrived in North Rustico (which is on the east central side of the island) and found the cottage we would be staying at for the next 5 nights. It had 2 bedrooms, a full kitchen, a big yard and a nice sundeck. We picked up some groceries and wine/beer then checked out the little village, all within walking distance.

We were a little worried at first about the rental because the place was new on the market and had no reviews but it really did look nice online and the price was great ($75/night and no tax) so we decided to risk it. We also agreed to stay without booking through VRBO so it would save money on both sides. It turned it great though and the house was even better than we had imagined.

We were walking distance to the harbour, restaurants, and stores and only 1 km from the Rustico beach. Our plan was to do day trips to Charlottetown and North Island and spend some time just doing nothing for awhile.

The weather today was overcast with some showers but the air was warm (20ish) and almost humid. The sun was supposed to be out for the next two days. It was finally time to relax with a beer after a long day of driving!

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Sept 21 – Today was a pretty emotional day for me. We went to the villages of Tryon and Crapaud to visit the graves and homesites of my PEI ancestors. Neither of these tiny communities would be a destination point for the average tourist, but because I’ve been researching my family tree for 30 years, I have always wanted to come to PEI to see some of these places. So today I will bore you with info and pictures about my family. 🙂

First we drove about a half hour to visit the Tryon People’s Cemetery. We saw the original gravestone of my 4G grandparents, John Jr and Charlotte Lord. We also saw the family memorial stone in memory of John Jr’s parents (my 5G grandparents), John and Elizabeth Lord, who both died some time before 1800. If there ever was a stone, it was long gone. I helped to pay for that memorial stone back in 2003 but I’d only seen photos until now.

We wandered around the tiny community of Tryon, really only just a few far houses, but the museum was closed so we decided to return in a few days.

Next we drove 5 minutes up the road to the village of Crapaud where another of my ancestors had lived. George and Ann Nicholson arrived in Crapaud in 1817 and settled on 100 acres. They built a home on the property which was replaced with a larger home in 1886. The house is still standing today and was only sold from the Nicholson family about 5 years ago.
We knew roughly where the house was, so I went into a the general store and asked the owner if he knew of any Nicholsons. It turned out he was a descendent of my Nichsolon 4G grandparents and a distant cousin.

We chatted for awhile and then another fellow was hanging out at the store at the time, offered to show us where the old house was and he took us over to meet the last owner, who now lived across the street. The owner’s name was George as well and he was about 85-90 years old. I chatted with him for awhile and he told me what he knew about the old house as well as the rest of the property. He has the original deed to the farm which was written on a piece of leather back in 1818. I would have loved to have seen it but he didn’t offer and I didn’t want to push it.

After we left cousin George, we stopped in to see our ancestors, George and Ann Nicholson’s, gravestone. Their daughter Ann married Joseph Lord, John Lord Jr’s son. Joseph and Ann eventually moved to the London, Ontario area in the 1850’s and farmed there until they died. Their daughter was my GG Grandma, Charlotte Lord. There are so many family names are repeated over the generations that it gets quite tricky to keep track sometimes.

After visiting Crapaud, we drove to PEI’s capital city, Charottetown, and had some lunch. I really wanted to see the plaque that commemorates the 13 members of the first legislative assembly in 1773. It’s on a desk in the PEI legislative building and I’d seen photos of it. Unfortunately the Province House building is being restored and is closed for three years so I couldn’t see the desk. They had a mock up of the assembly but the desk was in storage.

Luckily, I was later able to find the plaque in town, on 73 Queen Street, that shows where the meeting for the first assembly was held at the Crossed Keys Tavern in 1773. There’s a blog post here with more information.

About one hundred years after my ancestors arrived in PEI, Charlottetown was the birthplace of Canada, in 1867.  There are a number of museums and historic sites related to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 where delegates from four British colonies – the provinces of New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, and Canada (now Ontario and Quebec) –  met to hash out the details of a union that would eventually become the confederation of Canada three years later. Interestingly enough, PEI itself didn’t join the confederation until 1873.

We walked down to the waterfront and found an old house that belonged to the brother of my 3G Grandfather, Joseph Lord. His name was William Warren Lord and he was a well respected and influential politician and businessman in Charlottetown in the 1800’s. He is buried in Tryon too and you can read about him on the Canada’s Who’s Who biography site.

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Sept 22 – Today was a lazy, warm, sunny day. We slept in and then hung out at home for awhile before heading to the beach to take pictures of waves and seagulls and collect shells and sea glass.

After lunch we drove about 10 minutes down the road to Cavendish where we visited the Anne of Green Gables site which was the setting for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books.
Maud was raised by her grandparents after her mother died when she was two. Her grandfather’s cousin lived in the house down the road (following the Haunted Wood Trail) where Maud spent a lot of time playing with cousins when she was young. This house has been restored with period furniture to represent the late 1800’s when Maud was there.
We took lots of pictures and took a wander down the famed Lover’s Lane. We also watched a couple of really interesting videos about Montgomery’s life in PEI.

In the evening, we drove to New Glasgow (also 10 min away) and had a famous PEI lobster supper. It started with fresh mussels and clam chowder. Fresh rolls were on the table as well. Then we had a green salad with potato salad and cole slaw on the side. Then came split lobster with lots of melted butter. We finished with a piece of pie (cherry for Erik and lemon meringue for me). What a feast!  The 1lb lobster feast was $34.95 plus tax. It included everything I mentioned plus pop or coffee, although alcohol is extra.

We waddled back to the car and relaxed for the rest of the evening. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t need to eat again for a couple of days.

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Sept 23 – It was a heavily overcast and rainy day today so we slept in and had a late breakfast then drove to Tryon again so I could meet the man who runs the museum. We chatted for about half an hour and I took pictures of maps and stuff but unfortunately didn’t learn anything new about the family. I think I may have known more about the Lords than he did. 🙂

Then we drove to Summerside in the pouring rain where we stopped for coffee and nice bowl of soup at Samuel’s Coffee House. Afterwards, we picked up groceries and headed back home (about 90 minutes to driving in total today). I made chicken cacciatore for dinner and we watched the last two episodes of Suits which I had on my laptop. It felt kind of like we were living here. 

Sept 24 – The weather was mixed sun and cloud today and getting cooler (about 10-12C). The trees are finally starting to change colour.

Today we drove around the north west section of the island. First we stopped at West Point and saw the famous black and white lighthouse although, unfortunately, it was closed for the season (many things in PEI are closed after Labour Day).

We then drove to the far north tip of the island where the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean meet. There is a rock reef that runs out from the tip and it’s the longest rock reef in North America.  There we visited the North Cape Wind Energy Institute, which is a big wind farm with an interpretive centre – it was all pretty interesting, and had beautiful ocean views and excellent beachcombing to boot.

We took our time driving back down the coastal roads that wound in and out of all the little bays and inlets, until we finally made it home around 5pm.

Along the way, I finally saw a fox on the side of the road after watching for them in the UK. He was so cute!

In the evening we went out for dinner at the Blue Mussel Cafe which was about 2k from our house. We both had excellent halibut and enjoyed chatting with the owners and their son who works the bar in PEI all summer and the heads back to an island in the Honduras where he runs a little bar in the winter.

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I brought home lots of treasures from the seashore

Sept 25 – Today was a day off to relax before we hit the road and started traveling again. We have loved living in our little house for 6 days and visiting the various parts of PEI.

We went down to the marina and took some pictures while it was still partly sunny. It’s been pretty windy here all week and I think that might be a deal breaker if we ever thought about living here. Other than that, it is a beautiful, peaceful place.

We ate up our leftover food and had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch, and made spaghetti for supper. We shouldn’t have much to take with us tomorrow.

There are so many more things to see and do in PEI.  Many people only stay a few days but I could easily be there for a week or more.  Here are a few more ideas.

Here is a link to a zoomable map of the places we travelled on PEI.  The blue marker shows where we stayed and the red markers show the dates of places we visited on our day trips.

Next Up – New Brunswick!

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2 thoughts on “Atlantic Canada: PEI

  1. Anne Jean

    Enjoyed looking at this. I am a PE Islander and .have a very challenging family tree as well Both famililies mother and fathers are MacDonalds from Morell and Bristol PEI😊😊
    I was home in 2013 recovering from back surgery and had a wonderful 3 months just wandering the Island by myself mostly but as you know when your on the Island your never alone for long😊 Someone always stops and chats with you😊
    Best summer I ever had😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Atlantic Canada: Quebec and Ottawa – Kelownagurl's Adventures

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