PEI is Canada’s only island province and you probably know it because of Anne of Green Gables, but there’s so much more to the province!
What else is Prince Edward Island known for?
Read on for some fun and interesting facts about PEI – in fact, there’s 55!
We visited PEI this summer for the second time and absolutely fell in love with the province. It’s a popular place for families to vacation in the summer and since we are based nearby now, we had to take a road trip to explore all this island province has to offer.
While researching and planning our trip (sometimes only the night before), I discovered so many fun and interesting facts about PEI.
And once we visited the island, and realized how useful some of these facts were – like how long it takes to drive from tip to tip – I figured we should share these fun facts about PEI with you.
Whether you’re planning a visit and looking to learn a bit about PEI before you go, or you’re just a bit of an information junkie and like to rhyme off facts to your friends, these fun facts about Prince Edward Island are sure to interest you.
Interesting Facts About Prince Edward Island
Facts about PEI and Its’ Name
- PEI is short for Prince Edward Island.
- The Mi’kmaq, the indigenous people who first called PEI home, called PEI “Epekwik“, meaning “resting on the waves”.
- The French settled the island before the British and called the island “Ile Saint-Jean” (St.John’s Island).
- You might also hear the island called Garden of the Gulf, which refers to the land and the pastoral scenery.
- Another popular nickname is “birthplace of Confederation”, which is the motto on the license plates in PEI.
- The people of PEI call themselves “Islanders”.
- PEI is named after the father of Queen Victoria, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
- Charlottetown is named after the wife of King George III, who was the father of Prince Edward
Geographical Facts about PEI
- PEI is the smallest province in Canada and the only island province.
- It’s one of three Maritime provinces in Canada, along with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
- PEI is also considered an Atlantic province, along with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
- The island is 224km (140 miles) long and in some spots, it’s only 6km wide!
- PEI is similar in size to Bali, Indonesia.
- It takes about 3 hours to drive the island from tip to tip, from East Point to North Cape (if you don’t make any stops, but believe me, you will want to!).
- No point in PEI is more than 16km from the coast.
- The population of PEI is only about 166, 000 (as of January 1, 2022).
Historical Facts about PEI
- PEI was discovered by French explorer, Jacques Cartier in 1534.
- The island was settled by the French and under French rule for the next 200 years.
- The British won control of the island in 1763 and renamed it Prince Edward Island.
- While it’s known as the birthplace of confederation, PEI did not join Canada until 6 years after Confederation!
Travel Facts about PEI
- Being an island province, there are no land borders.
- Entry to PEI is only possible by driving across the bridge or taking the ferry.
- The ferry operates to Nova Scotia (8 months of the year) and the Magdalene islands (in the summer).
- It’s free to enter PEI, you only have to pay to leave the island.
Interesting Facts about the Confederation Bridge
- PEI is connected to the mainland by the 12.9km Confederation Bridge.
- The Confederation Bridge opened in 1997.
- It’s the longest bridge in the world that goes over frozen water.
- Pedestrians and cyclists are not permitted to cross the bridge, but there is a shuttle service available.
- It takes 10 minutes to drive across the Confederation Bridge.
By the Numbers: Facts about PEI
- PEI has some of the best beaches in Canada and there are over 90 beaches on the island, from white sand and dunes on the north side to red sand and cliffs on the south side of the island.
- PEI has the highest concentration of lighthouses in North America. Of the 63 lighthouses, 9 are open to the public (seasonally).
- There are only two cities on the island: Summerside and the capital city, Charlottetown
- PEI is the largest potato produce in Canada, in fact 1/4 of all Canadian potatoes are grown in the province.
- There are 86,000 acres of potatoes on this small island.
- PEI is also known for its mussels, and with 39.6 million pounds of mussels each year, they account for 80% of Canada’s mussel production.
- There are more than 30 golf courses in PEI.
Anne of Green Gables Facts
- PEI is home to the famous Anne of Green Gables, a fictional character by local island author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.
- Each year, over 125,000 people visit Green Gables Heritage Place in Prince Edward Island National Park.
- Other popular Anne-inspired tourist attractions are the Green Gables Museum, built by the author’s aunt and uncle, Avonlea Village, with replica buildings as well as an Anne of Green Gables Store and Anne of Green Gables Chocolates. You’ll also see Green Gables in many other tourist attractions throughout the province, including Green Gable Alpacas, on the North Cape Coastal Drive.
- The Anne of Green Gables Musical first debuted in Charlottetown in 1965 and now holds a Guinness World Record as the longest running annual musical.
Famous PEI Facts
- Cows Creamery is known as Canada’s best ice cream and also rated the World’s Top Ten Places for Ice Cream by Tauck World Discover. There’s even a branch of Cows Creamery in Beijing!
- PEI is known for producing potatoes, but they also have the Canadian Potato Museum in O’Leary and the world’s largest potato statue in front of the museum. It makes for a good photo!
- While Canadian folk legend Stompin’ Tom wasn’t born in PEI, he did call PEI home and there is now a Stompin’ Tom Center in Skinner’s Pond where you can find daily live music and performances.
- PEI is know as Canada’s Oyster coast and is home to the famous Malpeque oyster. Did you know that the flavour of oysters depends on the water quality, minerals and salinity and each of the bays and coves on PEI will produce distinct tastes, which is why you’ll find different brands of oysters available to purchase.
Other Interesting and Fun Facts about PEI
- Billboards are banned on the side of highways in PEI.
- Myriad View Artisan Distillery produces Canada’s only legal moonshine (it has an alcohol content of 75%!!).
- The Official bird of PEI is the Blue Jay.
- And the official animal is the Red Fox.
- PEI has two bottle villages: Hannah’s Bottle Villages on the Points East Coastal Drive and the Bottle Villages of Wellington on the North Cape Drive.
- Greenwich Beach, in Prince Edward Island National Park, has a floating boardwalk that crosses over water, so you can say you’ve walked on water!
- Basin Head Beach is famous for its singing sands, where the sand makes a squeaking noise due to the high silica content
- The famous red soil of PEI gets its colour from a high iron content, which turns red when its exposed to oxygen.
- PEI is well known for the beautiful lupins that colour the island in June. These are actually not native to PEI though and are considered weeds, but they are still pretty!
- There are no other fuel sources for electricity; 99% of power generation is from wind farms.
- The Confederation Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail, which is the longest multi-use trail in the world. Once the railway line that ran across PEI, the Confederation Trail is now 470 km (292 miles) of cycling and biking trails across the province. It’s fairly flat and perfect for cycling, hiking or cross country skiing in the winter.
I hope you enjoyed these fun and interesting facts about PEI. This island province is a great place to visit with stunning beaches, unique landscapes and friendly people. Be sure to add it to your list of places to visit in Canada!