Charlottetown, PEI: The Heart of Canada's Maritime Magic

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Experience the timeless charm of Charlottetown, PEI, where rich history, stunning coastal views, and mouthwatering seafood create a magical escape into the Maritimes.

Are you longing to explore the English countryside, but prefer to stick a little closer to home? Look no further than Charlottetown, PEI. With its storybook towns and rich history, PEI perfectly captures the quintessential charm of the English countryside, and it's right here in Canada's backyard.

"Charlottetown, PEI, is known for its colourful storefronts, Victorian houses, architectural churches, and its rich and diverse history as the birthplace of Canada."

Jamie Kelly, owner of Walk the Walk PEI Tours, offers visitors a chance to see the city highlights from the ground.

"What they see mostly are the historical buildings of Charlottetown. Charlottetown is considered the birthplace of Canada because, in 1864, there were politicians from the three maritime provinces ... and they decided to form the nation of Canada. So we get to see the building that they had the meeting in, which is the Province House, and we'll go see the local churches," explained Kelly.

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Prince Edward Island is one of eastern Canada's maritime provinces, marked by red-sand beaches, lighthouses, and fertile farmland | Getty Images

When visiting PEI, many experiences come to mind: indulging in fresh seafood, listening to fiddle music, and, of course, seeing the island's rural countryside, reminiscent of England.

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"I had a couple here, and when they got here they couldn't believe it, it was like England, they said - but it's the Maritime charm. And a lot of people are saying hi as you go by and are welcoming you to the island. They learn a lot about the culture that's in the Maritimes in general," explained Kelly.

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Charlottetown, the capital, is home to Victorian government buildings | Getty Images

No visit to PEI would be complete without checking out a historic lighthouse. There are currently 63 lighthouses across the province, and at the Island's Lighthouse Museum, you get stunning 360-degree views of the crystal coast and a tale or two, showcasing PEI’s rich history.

"This Lighthouse Museum and gift shop was built in 1876 as a home for the lightkeepers and their families," said Gloria Shaw, manager of the Wood Islands Lighthouse Museum.

The Wood Islands Lighthouse, built in 1876, features a 54-foot-square tower attached to a two-story, six-bedroom home. Visitors can enjoy touring PEI's interactive museum with 11 themed rooms, including a room for lighthouse enthusiasts, a Northumberland Ferries room, including old Captain uniforms and an array of artifacts, and you can hear tales in the original rum-runners’ parlour, to name a few.


The lighthouses of Prince Edward Island are some of the island's most beloved landmarks

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Climbing to the tower top rewards you with stunning 360-degree views of PEI's coastal scenery, and a gift shop offers local artisan crafts, so you can take a slice of PEI home with you.

"All the young people of today don't know their history if it's not kept. So if this lighthouse wasn't here for families to come into and tour and see and learn about the past, it would be just gone, and no one would know what it was like back in the day when things were difficult but yet so much more simple," explained Shaw.

PEI may be the smallest province in Canada, but it packs a big punch when it comes to delicious seafood. The New Glasgow and District Junior Farmers Organization served the first lobster dinner on Prince Edward Island as a fundraiser. Due to popular demand, the lobster supper became a weekly event in 1963, evolving from a fundraiser into a successful business owned by twelve founding members by 1972.

In 1979, it officially transitioned into a family-run restaurant. The restaurant achieved milestones, such as serving 1,470 people in a single day and being featured on the Food Network's "You Gotta Eat Here" in 2011.


The lobster supper became a weekly event back in 1963

"We are celebrating our 66th consecutive season serving lobster dinners to Islanders and visitors alike… We are surrounded by some of the cleanest waters in the world, so we're able and very blessed to have access to fresh seafood on a daily basis," said Mike Forrest, Kitchen Manager and Executive Chef at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.

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UGC - PEI lobster roll

For more than 150 years, Prince Edward Island lobster fishermen have been waking up early, setting their traps, and hauling in the most delicious lobsters

Celebrating its 66th anniversary in 2024, it remains a beloved tradition for Islanders and visitors alike, marking it as one of the oldest family-run restaurants in PEI.

"My wife's mother's here, my other daughters here, Carol's daughter's here—so when we say it is a family business, it truly is. (Visitors) bring their friends; they bring their families, and they feel the same way we feel when we see them come through the doors, like they're coming home. We're vibrant, we're exciting, and PEI in general is just a place where you feel at home, even if it's your first day here," said Forrest.

Charlottetown and the wider PEI area offer a unique blend of history, culture, and picturesque scenery. Whether you're exploring historic sites, enjoying stunning coastal views, or savouring fresh seafood, you'll find that this charming part of Canada has a lot to offer. So why not plan a visit and experience it for yourself? You’re sure to feel at home wherever you are in picture-perfect PEI.

(Header image courtesy: Getty Images/dbvirago)