Charlottetown, PEI, Canada: Population = 34,562 (metro area = 64,487), elevation = 0 to 161 feet, average January low temp = 10.2, Average July high temp = 73.9, average rainy days = 130.8, annual snowfall = 114.3”, annual rainfall = 34.9”
From Quebec City, we motor East toward the coast. Our route takes us along the St. Lawrence River, toward the Gaspe Peninsula. The northernmost of the Appalachian Mountains rise above rolling farmland. By the time we stop in Sainte-Luce for the night, the river is too wide to see across.
The next leg of our journey runs South through pine and birch forests, through frequent highway construction, to Miramichi, then on to Charlottetown. To get to Charlottetown, we take the Confederation Bridge across the Northumberland Strait. This is the longest bridge in the world that crosses water that freezes in the winter. That is something I would rather not see happen.
After a cluster of tourist traps at the end of the bridge, the highway winds across countryside that looks, to me, like the photos you see of the English countryside. When a farm has been working the same land for centuries, each field has very distinct borders and the area looks like a patchwork quilt.
Charlottetown is a harbor city. It is located where three rivers converge, just before they flow out to the ocean through a narrow gap between two peninsulas. The waterfront is lined with piers where everything from fishing boats to sail boats to exotic yachts are tied up. The ocean is part of everyone here and it permeates the culture.
Within a fisherman’s cast from the piers are the inevitable seafood restaurants. Who has the best lobster rolls? Too soon to tell, need more research. Everybody has chowder too. Not some pasty New England clam chowder, this is the real stuff with all kinds of fish and shellfish amongst the potatoes.
There are a lot of old stone buildings in Charlottetown. St. Paul’s Anglican church was built in 1896, but looks a lot older, probably due to the salty sea air. The interesting thing about this building is that the ceiling is built exactly like a sailing ship. At St. Dunstan’s Basilica we found more of the nautical in the anchors in the ceiling. Maybe sailing the North Atlantic gives a person good reason to pray.
Marylu grew up reading “Anne of Green Gables”, so we had to go see the house. This is the beautifully restored house that was the inspiration for the one in the story. There is also a museum with lots of information about the author and her life.
The drive back from Cavendish (a.k.a. Avonlea) took us through the north shore beaches. Red sandstone cliffs rise and crumble into the sea. A little further on, the cliffs turn into sand dunes, wild and lumpy and dotted with sturdy grasses. We got a brief look at the dunes before the sky opened up and let go with a massive downpour.
Lots of things to do in Charlottetown. Definitely tour the Cows factory. Amazing ice cream, great cheese, and funny cow artwork. Tour the Beaconsfield house, formerly the home of a wealthy shipbuilder. Check out the Regimental Museum for some military history. Rent a cottage on the beach and watch the waves roll in.
Next up: Halifax