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Prince Edward Island (PEI or P.E.I.; French: Île-du-Prince-Édouard, Scottish Gaelic: Eilean a' Phrionnsa) is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population (excluding the territories). The island has a few other names: "Garden of the Gulf" referring to the pastoral scenery and lush agricultural lands throughout the province; and "Birthplace of Confederation", referring to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, although PEI did not join the confederation itself until 1873 when it became the seventh Canadian province.


According to the 2009 estimates, Prince Edward Island has 141,000 residents. It is located in a rectangle defined roughly by 46°–47°N, and 62°–64°30′W and at 5,683.91 km2 (2,194.57 sq mi) in size, it is the 104th largest island in the world, and Canada's 23rd largest island. The island was named for Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820), the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria.



Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence west of Cape Breton Island, north of the Nova Scotia peninsula, and east of New Brunswick. Its southern shore bounds the Northumberland Strait. The island has two urban areas. The largest surrounds Charlottetown Harbour, situated centrally on the island's southern shore, and consists of the capital city Charlottetown, and suburban towns Cornwall and Stratford and a developing urban fringe. A much smaller urban area surrounds Summerside Harbour, situated on the southern shore 40 km (25 mi) west of Charlottetown Harbour, and consists primarily of the city of Summerside. As with all natural harbours on the island, Charlottetown and Summerside harbours are created by rias.




The island's landscape is pastoral. Rolling hills, woods, reddish white sand beaches, ocean coves and the famous red soil have given Prince Edward Island a reputation as a province of outstanding natural beauty. The provincial government has enacted laws that attempt to preserve the landscape through regulation, although the lack of consistent enforcement and absence of province-wide zoning and land-use planning recently resulted in aesthetically displeasing development.




The island's lush landscape has a strong bearing on its economy and culture. Author Lucy Maud Montgomery drew inspiration from the land during the late Victorian Era for the setting of her classic novel Anne of Green Gables. Today, many of the same qualities that Montgomery and others found in the island are enjoyed by tourists who visit year-round. They enjoy a variety of leisure activities, including beaches, various golf courses, eco-tourism adventures, touring the countryside, and enjoying cultural events in local communities around the island.


The smaller, rural communities as well as the towns and villages throughout the province proudly retain a slower-paced, old-world flavour, something factoring heavily into Prince Edward Island's popularity as a destination for relaxation. The economy of most rural communities on the island is based on small-scale agriculture, given the size of farm properties is small when compared with other areas in Canada. There is an increasing amount of industrial farming as older farm properties are consolidated and modernised.


The coastline consists of a combination of long beaches, dunes, red sandstone cliffs, salt water marshes and numerous bays and harbours. The beaches, dunes and sandstone cliffs consist of sedimentary rock and other material with a high iron concentration which oxidises upon exposure to the air. The geological properties of a white silica sand found at Basin Head are unique in the province; the sand grains cause a scrubbing noise as they rub against each other when walked on, aptly named the singing sands. Large dune fields on the north shore can be found on barrier islands at the entrances to various bays and harbours. The magnificent sand dunes at Greenwich are of particular significance. The shifting, parabolic dune system is home to a variety of birds and rare plants and is also a site of significant archeological interest.




Winters are moderately cold, with clashes of cold Arctic air and milder Atlantic air causing frequent temperature swings. From December to April, the island usually has many storms (which may produce rain as well as snow) and blizzards. Springtime temperatures typically remain cool until the sea ice has melted, usually in late April or early May. Summers are moderately warm, but rarely uncomfortable, with the daily maximum temperature only occasionally reaching as high as 30 °C (86 °F). Autumn is a rather pleasant season, as the moderating Gulf waters delay the onset of frost, although storm activity does increase over that of summer. There is ample precipitation throughout the year, although it is heaviest in the late autumn and early winter and mid spring.




Prince Edward Island was originally inhabited by the Mi'kmaq people. They named the Island Epekwitk, the pronunciation of which was changed to Abegweit by the Europeans, meaning "resting on the waves." The natives believed that the island was formed by the Great Spirit placing on the Blue Waters some dark red crescent-shaped clay.


In 1534, Jacques Cartier was the first European to see the island. As part of the French colony of Acadia, the island was called "Île Saint-Jean". Roughly one thousand Acadians lived on the island, many of whom had fled to the island from mainland Nova Scotia during the British-ordered expulsion in 1755, reaching a population of 5,000. However, many more were forcibly deported in the Ile Saint-Jean Campaign (1758) when British soldiers—under the command of Colonel Andrew Rollo -- were ordered by General Jeffery Amherst to capture the island. After leaving "Île Saint-Jean", three hundred and sixty Acadians died when the transport ship Duke William (364 died), which sank along with the Violet (280 died) and Ruby (213 died) in 1758, en route from Île St.-Jean to France.


Great Britain obtained the island from France under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 which settled the Seven Years' War, calling the colony St. John's Island (also the Island of St. John's).


The first British governor of St. John's Island, Walter Patterson, was appointed in 1769. Assuming office in 1770, he had a controversial career during which the initial attempts to populate and develop the island under a feudal system were slowed by land title disputes and factional conflict. In an attempt to attract settlers from Ireland, in one of his first acts (1770) Patterson led the island's colonial assembly to rename the island "New Ireland," but the British Government promptly vetoed this as exceeding the authority vested in the colonial government; only the Privy Council in London could change the name of a colony.


Charlottetown was raided in 1775 by a pair of American-employed privateers during the American Revolutionary War. During and after the American Revolutionary War from 1776–1783, the colony's efforts to attract exiled Loyalist refugees from the rebellious American colonies met with some success. Walter Patterson's brother, John Patterson, one of the original grantees of land on the island, was a temporarily exiled Loyalist and led efforts to persuade others to come.


The 1787 dismissal of Governor Patterson and his recall to London in 1789 dampened his brother's efforts, leading John to focus on his interests in the United States (one of John's sons, Commodore Daniel Patterson, became a noted United States Navy hero, and John's grandsons, Rear Admiral Thomas H. Patterson and Lt. Carlile Pollock Patterson USN, achieved success).


Edmund Fanning, also a Loyalist exiled by the Revolution, took over as the second governor, serving until about 1806. His tenure was more successful than Walter Patterson's.


On November 29, 1798, during Fanning's administration, Great Britain granted approval to change the colony's name from St. John's Island to Prince Edward Island to distinguish it from similar names in the Atlantic, such as the cities of Saint John and St. John's. The colony's new name honoured the fourth son of King George III, Prince Edward Augustus, the Duke of Kent (1767–1820), who was in charge of British military forces on the continent as Commander-in-Chief, North America and was headquartered in Halifax. Prince Edward was also the father of Queen Victoria.


During the 19th century, the colony of Prince Edward Island began to attract "adventurous Victorian families looking for elegance on the sea. Prince Edward Island became a fashionable retreat in the nineteenth century for British nobility".


The island is known in Scottish Gaelic as Eilean a' Phrionnsa (lit. "the Island of the Prince", the local form of the longer 'Eilean a' Phrionnsa Iomhair/Eideard') or Eilean Eòin for some Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia though not on PEI (lit. "John's Island" in reference to the island's former name of St. John's Island: the English translation of Île Saint Jean); in Míkmaq as Abegweit or Epikwetk roughly translated "land cradled in the waves".




In September 1864, Prince Edward Island hosted the Charlottetown Conference, which was the first meeting in the process leading to the Articles of Confederation and the creation of Canada in 1867. Prince Edward Island did not find the terms of union favourable and balked at joining in 1867, choosing to remain a colony of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In the late 1860s, the colony examined various options, including the possibility of becoming a discrete dominion unto itself, as well as entertaining delegations from the United States, who were interested in Prince Edward Island joining the United States of America.[citation needed]


In 1871, the colony began construction of a railway and, frustrated by Great Britain's Colonial Office, began negotiations with the United States.[citation needed] In 1873, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, anxious to thwart American expansionism and facing the distraction of the Pacific Scandal, negotiated for Prince Edward Island to join Canada. The Federal Government of Canada assumed the colony's extensive railway debts and agreed to finance a buy-out of the last of the colony's absentee landlords to free the island of leasehold tenure and from any new migrants entering the island. Prince Edward Island entered Confederation on 1 July 1873.


As a result of having hosted the inaugural meeting of Confederation, the Charlottetown Conference, Prince Edward Island presents itself as the "Birthplace of Confederation" with several buildings, a ferry vessel, and the Confederation Bridge. The most prominent building in the province with this name is the Confederation Centre of the Arts, presented as a gift to Prince Edward Islanders by the 10 provincial governments and the Federal Government upon the centenary of the Charlottetown Conference, where it stands in Charlottetown as a national monument to the "Fathers of Confederation".[citation needed]




According to the 2001 Canadian Census, the largest ethnic group consists of people of Scottish descent (38.0%), followed by English (28.7%), Irish (27.9%), French (21.3%), German (4.0%), and Dutch (3.1%) descent. In recent times the island has received an influx of immigrants from Asia and Africa. Almost half of respondents identified their ethnicity as "Canadian."


* among provinces.





The 2006 Canadian census showed a population of 135,851. Of the 133,570 singular responses to the census question concerning 'mother tongue' the most commonly reported languages were:


In addition, there were also 105 responses of both English and a 'non-official language'; 25 of both French and a 'non-official language'; 495 of both English and French; 10 of English, French, and a 'non-official language'; and about 1,640 people who either did not respond to the question, or reported multiple non-official languages, or else gave another unenumerated response. (Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses.)


The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census were the Roman Catholic Church with 63,240 (47%); the United Church of Canada with 26,570 (20%); no religion with 8,705 (6.5%); the Presbyterian Church with 7,885 (6%) and the Anglican Church of Canada with 6,525 (5%).




The provincial economy is dominated by the seasonal industries of agriculture, tourism, and the fishery. The province is limited in terms of heavy industry and manufacturing. Although commercial deposits of minerals have not been found, exploration for natural gas beneath the eastern end of the province has resulted in the discovery of an undisclosed quantity of gas.


Agriculture remains the dominant industry in the provincial economy, as it has since colonial times. During the 20th century, potatoes replaced mixed farming as the leading cash crop, accounting for one-third of provincial farm income. The province currently accounts for a third of Canada's total potato production, producing approximately 1.3 billion kilograms annually. Comparatively, the state of Idaho produces approximately 6.2 billion kilograms annually, with a population approximately 9.5 times greater. The province is a major producer of seed potatoes, exporting to more than twenty countries around the world.




The island's economy has grown significantly over the last decade in key areas of innovation. Aerospace, Bioscience, ICT and Renewable energy have been a focus for growth and diversification. Aerospace alone now accounts for over 25% of the provinces international exports and is the island's fourth largest industry at $355 million in annual sales.


As a legacy of the island's colonial history, the provincial government enforces extremely strict rules for non-resident land ownership. Residents and corporations are limited to maximum holdings of 400 and 1,200 hectares respectively. There are also restrictions on non-resident ownership of shorelines.


Many of the province's coastal communities rely upon shellfish harvesting, particularly lobster fishing as well as oyster fishing and mussel farming.


The provincial government provides consumer protection in the form of regulation for certain items, ranging from apartment rent increases to petroleum products including gas, diesel, propane and heating oil. These are regulated through the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC). IRAC is authorised to limit the number of companies who are permitted to sell petroleum products.


The sale of carbonated beverages such as beer and soft drinks in non-refillable containers, such as aluminum cans or plastic bottles, was banned in 1976 as an environmental measure in response to public concerns over litter. Beer and soft drink companies opted to use refillable glass bottles for their products which were redeemable at stores and bottle depots. The introduction of recycling programs for cans and plastic bottles in neighbouring provinces in recent years (also using a redemption system) has seen the provincial government introduce legislation to reverse this ban with the restriction lifted on May 3, 2008.


Prince Edward Island has Canada's highest provincial retail sales tax rate, currently (2008) established at 10%. The tax is applied to almost all goods and services except some clothing, food and home heating fuel. The tax is also applied to the Federal Goods and Services Tax.


At present, approximately fifteen percent of electricity consumed on the island is generated from renewable energy (largely wind turbines); the provincial government has set renewable energy targets as high as 30-50% for electricity consumed by 2015. Until wind generation, the province relied entirely on electricity imports on a submarine cable from New Brunswick. A thermal oil-fired generating station in Charlottetown is also available.


Persons employed on Prince Edward Island earn a minimum wage of $9.00/hour as of October 1, 2010.




Prince Edward Island's transportation network has traditionally revolved around its seaports of Charlottetown, Summerside, Borden, Georgetown, and Souris —linked to its railway system, and the two main airports, Charlottetown and Summerside, for communication with mainland North America. The railway system was abandoned by CN in 1989 in favour of an agreement with the federal government to improve major highways.


Until 1997, the province was linked by two passenger-vehicle ferry services to the mainland: one, provided by Marine Atlantic, operated year-round between Borden and Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick; the other, provided by Northumberland Ferries Limited, operates seasonally between Wood Islands and Caribou, Nova Scotia. A third ferry service provided by CTMA operates seasonally between Souris and Cap-aux-Meules, Quebec, in the Magdalen Islands.


On June 1, 1997, the Confederation Bridge opened, connecting Borden-Carleton to Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick. The longest bridge over ice covered waters in the world, it replaced the Marine Atlantic ferry service. Since then, the Confederation Bridge's assured transportation link to the mainland has altered the province's tourism and agricultural and fisheries export economies.


The province has very strict laws regarding use of road-side signs. Billboards and the use of portable signs are banned. There are standard direction information signs on roads in the province for various businesses and attractions in the immediate area. Some municipalities' by-laws also restrict the types of permanent signs that may be installed on private property.




Prince Edward Island has a high level of political representation, with four Members of Parliament, four Senators, 27 Members of the Legislative Assembly and two cities, seven towns and sixty incorporated rural communities yielding over five hundred municipal councilors and mayors. This gives a total of 566 elected officials for a population (as of 2006) of 135,851.


PEI-basemap.png



Prince Edward Island is home to one university, the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), located in the city of Charlottetown. The university was created by the Island legislature to replace Prince of Wales College and St. Dunstan's University. UPEI is also home to the Atlantic Veterinary College, which offers the region's only veterinary medicine program.


Holland College is the provincial community college, with campuses across the province, including specialised facilities such as the Atlantic Police Academy, Marine Training Centre, and the Culinary Institute of Canada.


Prince Edward Island's public school system has two English language school districts, Eastern and Western, as well as a Francophone district, the Commission scolaire de langue française. The English language districts have a total of 10 secondary schools and 54 intermediate and elementary schools while the Francophone district has 6 schools covering all grades.


Prince Edward Island, along with most rural regions in North America, is experiencing an accelerated rate of youth emigration. The provincial government has projected that public school enrollment will decline by 40% during the 2010s.




The province has seven hospitals:


The Hillsborough Hospital in Charlottetown is the province's only psychiatric hospital.


In recent decades, the province has shown statistically significant and abnormally high rates of diagnosed rare cancers. Health officials, ecologists and environmental activists point to the use of pesticides for industrial potato farming as a primary contaminant.


Prince Edward Island is the only province in Canada that does not provide abortion services through its hospitals. The Government of Prince Edward Island will fund abortions for women who travel to another province. However, most hospitals in neighbouring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will not perform abortions on women who are not residents of those provinces. Women desiring an abortion in Prince Edward Island must have a Prince Edward Island physician assess the situation as being medically necessary and if they qualify, travel to the nearest hospital in Ontario or Quebec. Otherwise, women from Prince Edward Island may travel to the nearest private user-pay abortion clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick where they must pay for the procedure using their own funds.




The island's cultural traditions of art, music and creative writing are supported through the public education system. There is an annual arts festival, the Charlottetown Festival, hosted at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.


Lucy Maud Montgomery, who was born in Clifton (now New London) in 1874, wrote some 20 novels and numerous collections and anthologies. Her first Anne book Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908. The musical play Anne of Green Gables has run every year at the Charlottetown festival for more than four decades. The sequel, Anne & Gilbert, premiered in the Playhouse in Victoria in 2005. The fictional location of Green Gables, the house featured in Montgomery's Anne books, is in Cavendish, on the north shore of PEI.


Elmer Blaney Harris founded an artists colony at Fortune Bridge and set his famous play Johnny Belinda on the island.


Prince Edward Island's documented music history begins in the 19th century with religious music, some written by local pump and block maker, and organ-importer, Watson Duchemin. Several big bands including the Sons of Temperance Band and the Charlottetown Brass Band, were active. Today, Acadian, Celtic and rock music prevail, with exponents including Gene MacLellan, his daughter Catherine MacLellan, Lennie Gallant and Two Hours Traffic. The celebrated singer-songwriter Stompin' Tom Connors spent his formative years in Skinners Pond. Robert Harris was a well-known artist.


A 4/4 March for bagpipes was composed in honour of Prince Edward Island.



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