Prince Edward Island is the smallest of three Maritime Provinces in Canada, separated from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia by the Northumberland Strait. Mi’kmaq peoples and their ancestors inhabited the Island until 1534, when Jacques Cartier arrived and claimed it as part of Acadia in the French North-American colonies. Throughout the 18th century, its inhabitants were directly affected by the war between Britain and France; they were constantly under threat, and many were deported.
Britain officially took it over by treaty in 1763, naming it St. John’s Island, and there was a large influx of Scottish immigrants. In 1798, its name was changed to Prince Edward Island to honour Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent. Prince Edward Island hesitated to join Confederation in 1867 because of the unfavourable terms presented and, instead, courted options for its future. In an effort to stop American colonial expansion, Canada agreed to better terms, and Prince Edward Island became the country’s seventh province in 1873.
Did you know?
- Prince Edward Island is home to Anne of Green Gables, a famous red-haired Canadian literary character created by Prince Edward Islander and author Lucy Maud Montgomery.
- Agriculture has been the backbone of Prince Edward Island’s economy since colonial times and the province is known for its successful potato crop, producing a third of Canada’s supply.
- Prince Edward Island is seen as the “Birthplace of Confederation,” as it hosted the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, the first in the journey to Canadian Confederation.