Culture

Hail Prince Edward Island

Zeitgeisters,
I haven’t written about Prince Edward Island for nearly nine months now, long time readers know that I am fascinated by this Canadian Province known to the world as the setting of Anne of Green Gables. It’s not actually the book that peaks my interest as much as the idea of living somewhere that is really unknown to most people except in one unusual, specific way.

So, I randomly sent an email to a number of folks who live on PEI and asked them what was the best thing about living there. I got about a one quarter response rate (which I think is good) and was about to collate the responses, but these were lost due either to computer error or operator error or the effects of El Nino.

Then, a few days ago, I found the responses neatly stored away in an unexpected place on my hard drive. It’s a true Christmas miracle!

My thanks to all who responded. I appreciate greatly your taking the time to answer an Australian blog written by a semi-fictional character.

So here they are – better late than never

Mr Trivia

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Hello there Mr. Trivia!

Nice to get an interesting email. We own Eternal Dragon
Tattoo in Charlottetown. Are you a tattoo fan? Your question is a little hard to answer because it is tough to pick one “best thing” about living in Prince Edward Island. My husband says “the white sand beaches that look like Mexico”. One thing that is great about the beaches is that you never have far to go to find one! You can drive across the whole island tip to tip in about 6 hours. Most of the year anywhere you drive you will see picture perfect postcard views of rolling fields of red soil, beautiful beaches, fishing villages etc. I guess you just wanted a simple answer and I am getting carried
away so I will say that being near the ocean is my favorite thing about PEI. If you ever get a chance to visit….you should. I am sure you will love it here.

Cheers,

Evelyn and Mike Young

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Mr. Trivia,

Perhaps you are fascinated with PEI because your family are former
Islanders. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s many young Island men left for Austrailia. In my own family history, a branch of the Hume family moved to Austrailia in the mid 1800’s. Anyway, what is the best thing about living on PEI you ask. To me it is the ability to never be more than 15 minutes from a beach, or beautiful bucolic setting; on the other hand if you are craving big city life for a weekend you can catch a direct flight to Toronto, Montreal or Boston.

Cheers! Hope you make it here sometime.

Richelle Hume-MacDonald

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Hi Mr Trivia,

Checked out your blogs – some interesting and funny things there! If you go to my blog you will find a category labelled “Life on PEI”. There you will find 6 posts that probably sum up how I feel about living on PEI.

Incidentally, I play trombone in Anne of Green Gables-The Musical, which has been running every summer for over 40 years at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown PEI – but then, you probably knew that already!

Cheers,
Dale Sorensen

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Good morning (evening) Mr Trivia,

Thank you for your email. As a former blogger and traveler, I can appreciate your interest.

It’s not an easy question you ask! Particularly as we are still in the grasp of winter (the green grass that only yesterday became visible to us, is again being hidden by another spring snowfall as we speak).

But I digress… PEI is a fantastic place. We have the most incredible
beaches anywhere. Perhaps you have discovered this fact already, but it’s one of my favourites: PEI is entirely made of sandstone. We have no natural rock on the island. Our soil is naturally full of iron, leaving us dramatic red coast lines and beaches. It also permits the growth of the best potatoes you’ll ever eat!

If you’re a shellfish lover, that’s another reason to live here on its own!
Our lobster & blue mussels are world famous – unfortunately I don’t have a taste for either…

To me the best part of PEI is the sense of community that still exists. It’s very rare that you go anywhere without running into someone you know. Charities are important. If a family is in need (due to illness, tragedy, house fire, etc) a “Benefit” night is always held by the community to raise money for them, no questions asked.

The funereal homes are some of the most social places in town! Everyone goes to the ‘wake’ to show respect to the family, and enough food is brought to feed an army for a month.

But PEI is far from perfection. There is a lot of old-school mentality and fear of the unknown. Wages are significantly lower than western provinces, causing a brain drain of young talent. Small businesses are losing out to box stores. Volunteer organizations are dying off as members age.

We have made some important strides though. We are home to the College of Piping & Celtic Arts – the best of its kind in North America. The Culinary Institute of Canada is also here, producing the best chefs in the country. Community Theatre is strong and professional theatre is growing. When our Canadian Forces Base closed almost 20 years ago, we are on of the few Canadian communities to have thrived in the aftermath. The base is now home to a booming aerospace market.

So… after all that, did I answer your question? PEI is a unique place; a strange paradox of old & new; one giant oxymoron. As a 26 year-old female who has spent recent years living & travelling abroad, I’ve come to love the Island for all the same reasons I need to seek regular escape from it. Its routine familiarity can easily become mundane; its community stifling.

Apologies for my rambling – it’s been awhile since I have used my own blogs as an outlet…

Best of luck in your PEI quest. Please let me know if I can be of any
further assistance.

Kind regards,

Rebecca Rogers

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Hi Mr Trivia,

We’ve been having a busy week here trying to keep the Cadre from being taken over by an independent society intent on cutting our staff in half and making us a monthly arts and entertainment magazine.

Well, we won, and the paper is going to be stronger than ever because of it.

As far as what I love about the island…the summer here is phenomenal, absolutely gorgeous. There’s nothing like setting up a tent on the beach and being woken up by the sunrise to the sound of waves crashing just 15 feet away.

I also find the people here to be pretty amazing…you’ve got a population that’s almost 70% over the age of 60, and it causes our younger population to be extremely well-rounded and dynamic. A lot of weird people, but hearts of gold.

Let me know if you’d like anything else from us, pictures, that sort of thing. Nice to know someone’s interested in our little rock!

Cheers,

Rob Walker
Editor in Chief
The Cadre Newspaper
University of Prince Edwar
d Island

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