Canada’s tiniest province has more than its fair share of cultural, performing and creative arts. From musicals and theatres, to galleries and artisan studios, it’s hard to know where to start. Never fear, we’ve got you covered.
Follow the Arts and Heritage Trail to customise your own arty itinerary and watch out for the interactive ‘quilt boards’ along the way. This signage, designed to reflect Prince Edward Island’s quilting history, contain barcodes that you can scan into your smartphone to connect instantly to the Arts and Heritage Trail website. These clever ‘quilts’ will give you instant information on historical landmarks in whichever cultural location you’re visiting. It couldn’t be easier!
Here’s just a few of the highlights along this remarkable trail.
North Cape Coastal Drive
If you arrive into PEI via the Confederation Bridge, you’ll find yourself on the North Cape Coastal Drive, an ideal starting point. Along the way, expect to discover the amazing odyssey of Island Acadians from 1720 to present day at the Acadian Museum, witness live highland dancing at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, and learn about the significance of the humble potato to the economy of the Island at the Canadian Potato Museum.
Visit in July to immerse yourself in the Summerside Lobster Carnival, a celebration of lobster, harness racing and live entertainment. Feast on succulent lobster harvested from Island waters through a sustainable fishery, an important feature of Island culture and economy, and check out some of the best Standardbred harness racing in North America.
Insider’s tip: Make a stop at Abram’s Village Handcraft Co-op for beautiful handmade quilts and embroidery, or visit Galerie La Palette to check out the beautiful works of local artists, including original paintings, photography and sculptures.
Central Coastal Drive
Fans of Anne of Green Gables will want to make the pilgrimage to the region that inspired the creation of the feisty red-head and was home to her creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Drive along Green Gables Shore, past the pristine beaches of northern central PEI, complete with picturesque fishing villages.
The Anne of Green Gables Museum is a must-stop for Anne devotees. Completely dedicated to the life and works of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the museum houses historical artefacts and several items that belonged to the author.
Green Gables Heritage Place, in Cavendish, steps it up a notch. Walk through the Victorian rooms that inspired the setting of Montgomery’s novel. Explore the ‘haunted woods’ and ‘Balsam Hollow’ described in the book and take a stroll through the barn, granary and woodshed, restored to the period of the 1800s.
Even if you’re not an Anne tragic, the Central Coastal Drive is well worth exploring. Stop in at Design by Nancy in Springbrook for contemporary silvery jewellery, or Cabin Fever Carving at Brackley Beach, where you can witness Trudy at work in her studio, carving jewellery and ornaments from locally sourced beef bone and naturally shed antlers.
When it comes to experiencing the arts culture on Prince Edward Island, there’s nothing quite like getting your hands dirty. Jump into a sculpting workshop at Meadowbrook Arts, Crafts & Creations in Crapaud, or master the art of watercolours at Purcell Gallery & Studio at Clyde River, both found along the Red Sands Shore.
For a truly authentic Island immersion and a dose of pure east coast musical magic, check out the Richard Wood Trio ‘World Class Kitchen Party’ at Stanley Bridge. We’re talking fiddle jigs and reels, singing and dancing.
The capital city of PEI buzzes with a vibrant heritage district, abundant with museums, galleries, craftspeople, theatre, music and nightlife.
Begin at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market Co-op, where you’ll get to know the friendly locals and the talented artists behind the amazing jewellery, soaps, weaving, metal work, basketry and pottery on sale.
Next, take a walking tour of the Confederation Centre, Canada’s memorial to the founding of the country, and stroll through the city’s historic district escorted by the Fathers and Ladies of Confederation (aka interpretive guides in historic costumes). While you’re there, check out some of Charlottetown’s most beautiful Provincial Heritage Places, recognised and named for their historical importance. From The Great George Hotel, an award-winning, historic boutique hotel, to Beaconsfield Historic House, one of Charlottetown’s most elegant homes dating back to 1877, it’s clear that this diminutive Island takes cultural preservation seriously.
When night falls, head into Charlottetown’s Confederation Centre of the Arts and grab your tickets to Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, the longest running musical in the world. This must-see show has been running for 55 successive seasons and is set to continue well into the future.
Points East Coastal Drive
The eastern end of the Island is a stunning hamlet of lighthouses and beaches, with a thriving arts, crafts and traditional music scene.
Make a stop at Artisans on Main in Montague, an eclectic gallery featuring artworks and fine crafts produced by 40 Island artists – everything from paintings and photography, to hooked rugs and quilts.
For something a little left of centre, dig through the junk drawers and admire the weird and wonderful creations at The Birdmouse Quirkshop, a little gallery featuring the salvaged wood artwork of Lenny Gallant.
Explore Canada’s Confederation Lighthouse and take home a souvenir from the craft shop, filled with prints, knitted pieces, pottery and original paintings created by talented local artists.
Pay a visit to Canada’s only flock of registered Corriedale sheep at Fleece and Harmony in Belfast, and see the wool mill in action. You can purchase your own yarn right at the farm gate and you’ll fall in love with the gorgeous accessories; everything from handmade wooden buttons, yarn bowls and pompoms.