Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink the area is known for. Today, we travel to Prince Edward Island (PEI), where we will discuss ALL things Anne of Green Gables… and some other neat stuff:
Motto: “The small protected by the great” – So, who has who’s back?
Food: PEI, nicknamed Spud Island, is famous for their potatoes. One dish that takes advantage of the crop is FWTW (Fries with the Works). The poutine-like meal is comprised of fries with gravy, ground beef and canned peas. To “top up” your FWTW, means to add an item such as cheese curds, mushrooms or pulled pork. The dish is believed to have originated at Pat’s Take Out in Unionvale.
Drink: Anne of Green Gables Raspberry Cordial is a real-life drink based off beverages fictional character Anne Shirley preferred. It is exclusive to PEI, but can be shipped to other parts of Canada. Unfortunately, for those outside the country’s borders, the raspberry-flavoured soda is unavailable. PEI is also known for Wild Blueberry Vodka and the PEI Brewing Co. deserves mention for their slogan “Work hard. Dream big. Have a Beer.”
Site to See: The PEI National Park, established in 1937, includes Cavendish Beach, the Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site estate and Green Gables Heritage Place farm, among other notable sites. PEI is the only Canadian province or territory to have a single national park and it has been designated a Canadian Important Bird Area, home to the endangered piping plover.
Street: Confederation Bridge, completed in 1997 at a cost of $1.3 billion, connects PEI to New Brunswick. The 12.9 km curved toll bridge takes 12 minutes to cross, if going the 80 km/h speed limit. It costs $50.25 for regular vehicles to cross the bridge, which is charged only when leaving PEI. The bridge is awaiting federal government approval to be renamed Epekwitk Crossing.
TV Show: The Anne of Green Gables stories have spawned numerous TV series, including Anne of Green Gables (1972 miniseries), Road to Avonlea (1990-1996 series), Emily of New Moon (1998-2000 series), Anne with an E (2017-2019 series). There’s even been two animated TV series based off the source material, one aired in North America and the other developed in Japan, where the character is now very popular.
Movie: As with TV series, there has also been a number of films based off the Anne of Green Gables works. The earliest was a silent film released in 1919. Versions in 1934 and 1956 followed. The most recognized releases were TV miniseries from 1985 and 1987, while two follow-ups, titled The Continuing Story and A New Beginning, were released in 2000 and 2008, respectively.
Book/Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables franchise, was born in Clifton. Over her life, she published a total of 20 novels, 530 short stories, 500 poems and 30 essays. Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 36 languages, resulting in 50 millions copies being sold around the world. This makes the book one of the best-selling of all-time.
Fictional Character: Anne Shirley is an 11-year-old orphaned girl, who is brought to Green Gables by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The Cuthbert’s had originally wanted to adopt a boy, in order to have him help with their farm, but a mix-up resulted in Anne getting to start a new life with her new family. The many sequels in the Anne franchise allows fans to follow her from childhood to being a mother and later grandmother.
Fictional City: Avonlea is the setting of the Anne of Green Gables story and its many spinoffs. The place was inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s childhood experiences in places such as Cavendish, New Glasgow, New London, Hunter River, and Park Corner. Other fictional communities which neighbour Avonlea include Carmody, White Sands, Grafton, Bright River, Newbridge, and Spencervale.
Actor/Actress: Martha MacIsaac was born in Charlottetown, making her perfect for the role of Emily Byrd Starr in Emily of New Moon. This was her acting debut, before appearing in a number of movies, including Superbad, The Last House on the Left, Dead Before Dawn and Battle of the Sexes. She also starred in the TV series 1600 Penn, as the U.S. president’s oldest daughter, Becca Gilchrist.
Song: Among folk musician Dick Nolan’s more than 300 recorded songs was the tune Prince Edward Island Is Heaven to Me. Although from Newfoundland, Nolan states his love of the province and wanting to visit. Another popular ode to the island is Bud the Spud by Stompin’ Tom Connors, who was raised on PEI. The track is about a truck driver and his load of PEI potatoes. The song was turned into a children’s book in 1994.
Band/Musician: Tara MacLean was born in Charlottetown. Her most recognized songs include Evidence and If I Fall, which was included on the soundtrack for the 1999 black comedy movie Teaching Mrs. Tingle, starring Helen Mirren and Katie Holmes. Aside from her solo work, MacLean was also a member of the all-female band Shaye, which released two albums, before the group split up.
People: Jonathan Torrens, born in Charlottetown, has enjoyed a lengthy career as a TV personality. He has hosted shows aimed at teenagers such as Street Cents and Jonovision, along with playing the character of J-Roc in Trailer Park Boys. Currently, Torrens has a recurring role in the Letterkenny spinoff series Shoresy, while also co-hosting the Taggart and Torrens Podcast with Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart.
Animal: The Red Fox is the unofficial provincial animal of PEI. The population of these creatures has grown so large, it’s not uncommon to have encounters with them, even in highly-populated areas. Fox farming and fur selling was big business on PEI, dating back to 1890 and up to 2006. While the Red Fox has been embraced in PEI, the same cannot be said for Australia, where the animal has made the World’s 100 Most Invasive Species list.
Invention: A genius creation coming from PEI is the Forktula, a clip-on accessory that allows eaters to turn their fork into a makeshift spatula. This helps diners scoop up every last bit of a meal, rather than lick their plate clean. Inventors Josh Lindsay and Oliver Sauve began selling the product in 2017 for $1 each. The duo appeared on the reality show Dragon’s Den in 2019, increasingly demand for the device.
Crime: Shirley Duguay was 32 when she went missing in October 1994, her vehicle found abandoned on Highway 169. The mother of five’s body was later found in a shallow grave. Her estranged partner, Douglas Beamish, was arrested for the crime and convicted of second-degree murder, based on white cat hairs, which matched his pet named Snowball. This was the first time non-human DNA was used in a trial in the world.
Sports Team: The Charlottetown Islanders are the biggest game in town, playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The team has played in Charlottetown since 2003, originally named the Rocket, before becoming the Islanders in 2013. The highest level of hockey to be played on the island was when the PEI Senators were the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. The Senators operated from 1993 to 1996.
Athlete: Brad Richards is the highest scoring NHL player from PEI, recording 932 points over his career (2000-2016). Richards won the Stanley Cup twice, making sure to bring it back to his hometown of Murray Harbour each time for his day with the trophy. Richards also hosts the annual Brad Richards PEI Celebrity Golf Classic, raising money for the Children’s Wish Foundation (PEI Chapter) and Autism Society of PEI.
Famous Home: Green Gables Heritage Place is a 19th century farm, used as inspiration for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables book series. The site was originally presented as a historic home, but with the growing success of the Anne franchise, it was converted to resemble how it was described in Montgomery’s works. Today, visitors can tour Anne’s Room and the nearby Lovers’ Lane trail.
Urban Legend: Dating all the way back to 1786, folks have seen a ghost ship in the Northumberland Strait, with its masts on fire. One particular tale from 1900 says a group of sailors in Charlottetown Harbour went to rescue the crew on board the ship, only for it to disappear as they approached. The phantom ship has been immortalized on a Canada Post stamp, released in 2014 as part of a Canadian ghost stories series.
Museum: The Canadian Potato Museum can be found in O’Leary. The museum claims to have the world’s largest collection of potato exhibits and also features a Potato Hall of Fame. Other artifacts include farming equipment used in the potato industry. A restaurant, the PEI Potato Country Kitchen, is also on site, serving up a variety of baked potatoes, poutine/fries dishes and desserts.
Firsts: The group known as the PEI Famous Five earned this moniker in 1993 for being the first time in Canada that the top five most powerful legislative positions were all held by women. The quintet was comprised of Premier Catherine Callbeck, Lieutenant Governor Marion Reid, Leader of the Official Opposition Pat Mella, Speaker Nancy Guptill, and Deputy Speaker Elizabeth Hubley.
Company: Cows Ice Cream is headquartered in Charlottetown. It was founded in Cavendish in 1983 and now has 15 locations across Canada, serving up 38 varieties of ice cream, including Gooey Mooey and Wowie Cowie. Cows has been named “Canada’s best ice cream” by a Reader’s Digest poll and ranked first on tour company Tauck World Discovery’s ‘World’s Top Ten Places for Ice Cream’ list.
Events: The Charlottetown Conference in 1864 eventually led to Canadian Confederation on July 1, 1867. This unified the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Province of Canada (which was split into what is today known as Ontario and Quebec). Despite PEI not taking part in Confederation until 1873, the province likes using nicknames such as ‘Birthplace of Canada’, ‘Birthplace of Confederation’ and ‘Cradle of Confederation’.
Miscellaneous: Canada’s smallest library – and one of the tiniest in the world – can be found in Cardigan. The book lender, run by John MacDonald and his daughter, Alexandra, measures 3.5 by 3.5 meters and is stocked with 1,800 books. A lifetime membership will set you back a whopping $5 and returns are based on the honour system. MacDonald has even tried to get the library recognized by Guinness World Records.
Prince Edward Island: The Eddy
- 1.5 oz Vodka or Gin
- 0.5 oz Grand Marnier
- Splash of Cranberry Juice
- Garnish with a Lime Slice
Mrs. Sip and I had a fun, albeit brief visit to PEI for a friend’s wedding in 2016. We also popped over to the island for lunch with Ma and Pa Sip in 2009, as part of hitting four provinces in one day. Hopefully we can get back there with the Sipplings in the future.