As the clichéd saying goes, all good things must come to an end. July 3, was our last day on Prince Edward Island. Though our visit was brief, it was enough to make us fall in love with this island province. After all that peace, serenity, beautiful scenery and warm friendly people, Melissa and I were not looking forward to returning back to Toronto.
After a quick breakfast in Cavendish, we drove to North Rustico, a quaint and colourful fishing town. We took a few photos and then got back on the road. We had quite a few kilometers to cover before arriving in Charlottetown by the end of the day.
Parts of the island are known for vast sand dunes and some of the best are found in Prince Edward Island Provincial Park. We did not have time to spend a day there, so we settled for some photos taken on the shorelines near Dalvay By The Sea.
We enjoyed a leisurely drive and did not make too many stops as I wanted to arrive at the East Point Lighthouse before mid-afternoon. After covering a good distance, we needed a break and spent some time in Souris, a small beach town with a vibe similar to Port Dover in Ontario. There you will see sandy shores, beach themed shops, ice cream vendors and snack huts. The ocean goes out into a shallow bay which is warm enough for swimming.
It was time to get back on road and head north to the East Point Lighthouse in Elmira. This historic structure is known as Canada’s Confederation lighthouse since it was the last lighthouse constructed before the island joined Canada in 1873. The Souris Area Industrial Commission operated the lighthouse until 2002. These days it is operated by the Friends of Elmira. The original buildings now serve as gift shop, restaurant and museum.
The Fog Alarm building was constructed in 1885. It was a one story structure with a T-shaped plan. Foghorns sprouted from the hipped roof of the “leg” of the T. The foghorns were diaphones invented in Canada which produced a loud “blast” followed by a “grunt”. It used compressed air generated by a steam, gas, or oil engine housed in the same building. The foghorn operated on 30lbs of compressed air per blast. The original fog horns are on static display in front of the souvenir shop.
For a fee, visitors can ascend to the top of the lighthouse. The final rung of stairs is a bit tricky as it leads through a small passage and my photographer’s back pack got snagged on one of the support beams. Good thing I was grabbing the rails or I would have landed flat on my ass. At the very top you are treated to a panoramic view of the ocean, seals and numerous sea birds. I took a few photos, climbed back down and spend some time relaxing on the shoreline.
I was amazed at the number of seagulls and loons on the distant horizon. Every minute a gull would pluck a fish out of the water. One unfortunate rock is coated with their droppings. To view more pleasant shorelines, you just need to look a bit to the left.
Sadly, our time to explore the shorelines of PEI was at an end, we had to make our way to Charlottetown and get ready to drive back to airport in Moncton, NB the following day. We arrived in Charlottetown around 5:30 PM and their version of rush hour traffic is nothing compared to Toronto. Granted there was a bit of traffic and after a few days practically having the roads to ourselves, it seemed a bit unusual to have several cars behind us and wait at intersections.
Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island and is located on the southern coast of the province. Known as the birthplace of Confederation, the city hosted the Charlottetown Conference of 1864, spurring Canada’s birth. It is a small and rather compacted city with a permanent population of just over 36,000. Many its buildings are of colonial era design and a number of modern constructions cut swatches across older parts of the city. I have little use for modern architecture and am glad to see many old aesthetically pleasing buildings in the city. There is a good selection of decent restaurants and various cultural events throughout the year. Granted Charlottetown is no Toronto, Paris or New York, however, it offers a lot and without the high cost, congestion, stress and vices of larger metropolises. For me, it’s just the right size.
We booked a room at the Colonial Inn Bed and Breakfast located right in the heart of the city and everything we planned to see was within walking distance. I am glad we chose this place, the hostess was warm and friendly, the decor is right out of the late 19th century and breakfast was fantastic. What impressed me most was the ambience and sheer number of antiques, quirky artefacts and old artwork. One feels as though Sherlock Holmes, or any other English literary figure from the mid to late 19th century, would be right at home here. I cannot recommend this place enough and any time Melissa and I visit Charlottetown, we will reserve a room.
As this was our last night in PEI, it would be sin not to dine on local seafood. Our hostess recommended the Lobster on the Wharf restaurant, about a 35 minute walk from the Colonial Inn. We had been walking around the city for a while and were getting rather hungry. The restaurant was busy, but not crowded and we choose a table outside overlooking the wharf. We ordered some fresh PEI oysters on the half shell and they were excellent. Melissa chose the lobster mac and cheese, which she enjoyed immensely. I ordered breaded mackerel filet with a side of seasonal vegetables.
A co-worker suggested that we visit Bellevue Cove, which is a 15 minute drive south of Charlottetown. The cove is known for high tides which pull back to reveal a long sandy shore. At sundown it is a popular place for walking and clam fishing. I was hoping to make a time lapse video of the receding tide, but chose not to do so. The tide was already out quite far and I needed to wade knee deep in water in order to set up my tripod and camera, not only was I not dressed for it, the shore was swarming with mosquitos. In just a few minutes, I counted dozens of bites. It was time to move on and find another place to catch the sunset.
We found a spot in Southport overlooking the water and I set up a camera to film the sunset and another to take photos. It was a cloudy sky which makes for great sunsets. I made a time lapse video of the setting sun which I will release in a new post. The day was over, we went back to the Colonial Inn to sip a bit of whisky and chat with other guests. Melissa and fell in love with Prince Edward Island and we are looking forward to being there again.