oh canada: p.e.i. showing some mussels

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Prince Edward Island, Canada is the smallest province in the great white north.  What it lacks in size, it makes up in character, history and abundance of amazing seafood.

That’s right, the home of P.E.I. mussels.  Sweet, tender, they’re a great little representative for this region of Canada.  The whole island is very charming and idyllic, with farms and vast greenery.  It is the very picture of rustic, pastoral tranquility with a sea salt mist.

put a little mussel into it

Charlottetown, the capital of this province, seems like a sleepy little hamlet upon arrival, but exploring the area reveals a rich landscape of rolling farmlands and miles of beaches and coasts.

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Originally settled by the Mikmaq native population, P.E.I. became a melting pot of Irish, French and Scottish settlers after the potato famine drove these peoples towards new lives.  Potatoes are their bumper crop, supplying about 25% of Canada’s potatoes and also supplying to Wendy’s chains.  The more you know, amiright?

Also, it was the site of the Charlottetown Confederation in 1864, meetings which started the creation of the nation of Canada as we know it.   A commonwealth of England, there is much inspiration from GB roots, most easily seen in its buildings and structures.

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The port of Charlottetown features a terminal with plentiful crafts and souvenirs and picture opportunities with a retired Mountie.  Clearly Canadian.

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It’s just yards away from the newest attraction in town, the Founder’s food hall that is the hipster market of your dreams.  Donuts, vegan food, ethnic food, about a dozen stalls to fill up that stomach.  There are lot so souvenir shops around the wharf as well.

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It’s an easily managed downtown by foot, depending on the weather.  The Great George Hotel is a historic boutique hotel that is so British, you’ll think you hopped across the pond by accident.

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It’s an easily managed downtown by foot, depending on the weather.  The Great George Hotel is a historic boutique hotel that is so British, you’ll think you hopped across the pond by accident.  It sit across from St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral, an imposing Gothic revival structure with two spires that can be seen pretty much anywhere in town.

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Victoria Row is a quaint little pedestrian street with boutiques, bistros and picnic tables.  It faces the Confederation Centre of Arts which has had the longest running play in North America, Anne of Green Gables.

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You will see a lot of Ms. Anne around these parts, as she was dreamt up by hometown bard, Lucy Maud “L.M.” Montgomery.  The Anne of Green Gables National Historic Site (that’s right) in Cavendish actually led to the founding of the P.E.I. National Park.  You go, girl.

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If you’re not familiar with one of the most popular children’s novels of all time (transcribed in 36 languages, taught in schools around the world), Anne was an orphan who was inadvertently adopted by two older siblings who were looking to adopt a boy to help on their farm.  Think of the hijinks that ensued!  A spirited redhead, she ushered the way for the other popular orphans who have followed: Pippi Longstocking, Orphan Annie, Pollyanna, even Harry Potter.  Literature loves a good orphan story.

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L.M. Montgomery stayed at this farm as a young girl and based the location of the books on it (the painted green gables on the house) and its surrounding lush woods.  A short tour through the house has Victorian replicas in each room, even “Anne’s room,” which is somewhat creepy.  Remember, Anne was not a real person — though she starts to become a little bit real when you’re immersed in “her” world.

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As stated earlier, this landmark inspired the creation of the Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada due to its high tourist attraction capability.  Apparently Anne is VERY popular in Japan, required reading in their schools, so they get a ton of visitors every year from the far east.  There is even an anime based on her.  The national park itself has stretches of beautiful shore that feature its famed red sandstone (high Fe content).

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A tour around the island will show you its other famous export: seafood.  P.E.I. mussels, probably the most popular in North America are farmed in the waters of this island.  They grow in what can only be described as stocking-like netting off of buoys scattered throughout the abundant lakes and bays on the island.

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Something about the water makes them extremely succulent and plump.  They are amazing with a little white white and garlic.

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There aren’t a ton of restaurants around town that serve these guys (apparently not as popular with the locals), but Cork & Cast, a small bistro on the water near the port is a charming mom & pop restaurant that has a tasty lobster roll and steamed mussels.  Because life is too short, it’s Prince Edward Island, have the seafood.

 

 

 

 

 

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