Charlottetown PEI

One of the places I’ll be revisiting this summer on PEARL SEAS is Charlottetown,

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, or “PEI” as locals know it, is a prime slice of this smallest province of Canada. The island is part of the Maritime provinces or the Canadian Maritimes, a region of Eastern Canada consisting of three provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The island IS a province of Canada,  the smallest province both in size and population.  PEI is  2,185 sq miles or  5,660  sq km with a population of only 156,000. By way of contrast, Quebec, the largest province by area has an area of  1,7 MILLION sq km or about 656,000 sq miles and Ontario , the largest province by population has a population of  13.4 million.

Originally part of Arcadia, the island was renamed, after the expulsion of the Arcadians in 1755, in honor of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and the father of Queen Victoria.

The political climate in the US after the Revolutionary War was considerable more divided and hostile than today. Loyalist to the King were being rounded up and chased out of their homes by the new “freedom loving” patriots. Many of these Loyalists fled across the border to British controlled territories, like the Maritimes, where they were given land.

Today the island’s economy is dominated by two key income producers. The island grows 25% of Canada’s potato crop, most of which ends up as potato fries or chips and tourism. The island is charming with a touristy downtown of quaint shops in 18th Century buildings, high bluffs overlooking the sea, and fishing villages dedicated to the crustacean of the sea that dominates New England life, the North Atlantic lobster.

Ironically what dominates touristic interest in Charlottetown and PEI is a fictional character developed in the books of a previously unknown writer of sorts, Lucy Maud Montgomery better known as just “LM” Montgomery. Tourism centers on Montgomery’s fictional character and most tourists act as if the character actually was a real person. The books along with straw hats and red pig tails are in every gift shop. There are the houses, remember now this was a fictional character, the path where Anne walked when she was depressed, and it goes on and on ad nauseam. We run some of the movies over and over on the cabin TV on board the ship.

I really don’t get it. My grown daughters, who “lived” Anne of Green Gables, so they tell me, as kids, now patiently explain, “It’s a girl thing.” They continue, “Think Harry Potter, but just for girls.” So I do. And when I think “Harry Potter” is when for me it really gets interesting!

We have two single women with abundant imaginations. Both are frustrated, want-to-be writers …

It’s as if JK Rowling ripped a page right out of LM Montgomery’s playbook.  We follow an orphaned child, living with a family who really doesn’t want them, struggling with identity, growing up through adolescence.  Both have a little magic of one kind or another, cutesieness or wizardry, thrown  in.  Meanwhile the author sets publication records, becomes rich, keeps the franchise going with additional stories … interesting!