The Other Side of Prince Edward Island
Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavour arrived off the coast of Prince Edward Island this morning. It’s one Canadian province that I have always wanted to visit, yet one that has always alluded me. And – in keeping with Adventure Canada’s “off-the-beaten-path” mentality, we’re not docking in the capital, Charlottetown, like the big ships do. No. We’re pulling alongside in smaller Summerside instead.
Although Ocean Endeavour arrived pierside just before 0700 this morning, the act of docking would take another hour, as our Captain battled high winds gusting past 34 kilometres per hour. Compounding that problem is the narrow channel – indicated by a series of red and green buoys – that leads into the Summerside cruise terminal. Even at our modest length of 450 feet, we’re almost too big to make the turn to come alongside. Outside temperatures barely break the 10°C mark, and a light rain began to fall as we tied up.
Situated to the northwest of Charlottetown, Summerside sits on the south-western side of Prince Edward Island, or P.E.I for short. It’s not far from the Confederation Bridge that, when built in 1999, became the first link to the mainland in the island’s history. Today, it’s one of the longest bridges in the Western Hemisphere at 12.9 kilometres and the longest bridge in the world to traverse ice-covered salt water.
Prince Edward Island is also the smallest province in Canada. At best, it is 224 kilometres long and between six and 64 kilometres wide. That means that even if you got in your car and drove at a sedate 60 kilometres per hour, it would take less than four hours to cover the entire length of the Province.
The Island is also an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, on Atlantic Time. That means we had to ratchet our clocks ahead last night – something many people onboard Ocean Endeavour discovered yesterday afternoon when their iPhones prematurely switched over as we sailed towards P.E.I. It’s a good thing, too. Unlike other expedition cruise lines, Adventure Canada doesn’t leave a little placard on your bed during turndown advising you of the time change. Staff verbally tell you at the briefing, and you have to remember to do it.
Despite the lashing wind and rains, our welcome into Summerside was a warm one. It has been said that Islanders are some of the most welcoming in the country, but that could be applied to much of the Canadian Maritimes. Still, the local residents of Summerside, P.E.I were welcoming and gracious to us, from the port agents to the tour guides, bus drivers, and even the town Mayor.
Adventure Canada offered two complimentary tours today, and I chose to take part in the one that went to the famous homestead setting of author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel, Anne of Green Gables. Practically a Canadian institution, nearly every Canadian is familiar with this classic 1908 tale. My generation, in particular, knows P.E.I best for its role as the setting for the 1990 CBC mini-series, The Road to Avonlea, which is set in a very Anne of Green Gables timeframe.
My visit didn’t disappoint. Although the weather was, put bluntly, horrifying, visiting this cozy house near Cavendish, P.E.I was like stepping back in time.
I went ahea