Top 5 Essential PEI Books

Nothing reveals more about a place than its literature. Whether filled with fact or fiction, the words written about places like Prince Edward Island tell you more about the land, its people, its culture, and its values than any other means of research.

What would you recommend for visitors to Prince Edward Island?  If you had a new friend coming to visit the Island for the first time, and they wanted to read all about the Island before arriving, what would you suggest?

Certainly, the first suggestion would be about a certain red-haired girl that we all know about.  But what then?  Here are five books that we suggest would be a great place to start.  Agree or disagree, write a comment and let us know.  What would you add to the list?

It’s An Island Thing: Quips and Witticisms by David Weale

it's an island thingDavid Weale is one of the most prolific writers on PEI culture and history, and is also the editor of the very popular Red magazine.  His series of books capture the little things about Island life that make the people of Prince Edward Island a special breed, and sets them apart from everywhere else.  This book – It’s an Island Thing: Quips and Witticisms – invites the reader into a self-description of Prince Edward Island through its people.  Clever language, turns of phrase, double meanings, and witty humour are all prized aspects of Island conversation and storytelling.  This book captures some of the best lines heard around the Island, demonstrating how Islanders relate to each other.

Prince Edward Island: An Illustrated History

Prince Edward Island: An Illustrated History 1Understanding a place requires an understanding of its history, and how it arrived at where it is today.  From the Mi’kmaq pre-history through modern times, the separation of Prince Edward Island from the rest of the continent has shaped the Island’s geography and people.  A former teacher at the University of Prince Edward Island, Douglas Baldwin has captured the historic events that have shaped Prince Edward Island.  Through early Mi’kmaq settlement, European colonization, land ownership, Confederation Conference and debates, and through the opening of the Confederation Bridge, this book shows how the past of Prince Edward Island has shaped its present.

Right Place, Right Time: Sidney, Heather, Boomer, and Me

Right Place, Right Time: Sidney, Heather, Boomer, and Me 1Moving from the past to the present, it would be hard to find anyplace else in Canada that has as close a relationship with our national broadcaster than Prince Edward Island.  The faces on CBC’s nightly news program are Island celebrities.  As the main anchor, Bruce Rainnie has become a modern Island institution himself.  His nightly partnership with Kevin “Boomer” Gallant provides a cultural cornerstone for the Island that is rarely ever served by television.  Whether visiting friends or at community gatherings, don’t be surprised if you hear the question “did you see Bruce and Boomer last night?”  This collection of stories, although somewhat personal in nature, are the stories that Islanders share every day, gathered around television sets, and serve as the basis for tomorrow’s conversations.

I Am An Islander

I Am an Islander 1Patrick Ledwell has emerged in recent years as one of the top comic performers in Prince Edward Island.  Whether through his on-stage performances every summer in venues around the Island, or with his now-regular appearances on CBC radio, he introduces Island culture to the world through his dry and witty humour.  I Am An Islander, partially taken from his stand-up performances, lays out the pride, the insecurities, and the world-view of Prince Edward Islanders, all while delivering up laughs to the reader.

Shipwrecks and Seafaring Tales

Shipwrecks & Seafaring Tales of Prince Edward Island 1As a relatively small Island surrounded by the sea, it is not surprising that so much of the history and identity of PEI is taken up by water.  Up until the last few years when a fixed bridge to the mainland was finally built, shipping was the lifeline for the Island.  So, it’s not surprising that much of the Island’s lore is centered around its shipping and seafaring tales.  Julie V Watson, one of the Island’s prolific authors, has collected a number of these tales into her book on Shipwrecks and Seafaring Tales of Prince Edward Island.

Top 5 PEI Beaches

PEI_beachFor generations, Prince Edward Island has been the vacation destination of choice for many families. The rolling hills of green fields, cut through by red dirt roads, against a backdrop of blue water and sky is a visual delight.

But, of course, one of the main attractions for both visitors and locals alike are the beaches. Miles and miles of sandy beaches are easily accessible. Everything from out-of-the-way and nearly abandoned areas, to the popular and fully serviced and supervised beaches await.

In our view, here are five of the Island’s best beach areas.

1.  Greenwich Beach. As part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, Greenwich beach has all the facilities to make a great day out at the beach. Change huts and showers are on-site, while the lifeguards make sure everyone stays safe. This beach is just one little part of one of the longest, uninterrupted stretches of sandy beach on the Island. If the area right next to the services is a little too busy for you, just walk a few minutes and you can easily find your own little plot. But, what makes Greenwich extra special is not just the beach, but the surrounding area. A visit to the interpretive centre really highlights the importance of this piece of land at the entrance to St Peters Bay, and the thousands of years of human interactions with the land. The series of trails, all easily accessible, make for a great afternoon activity. And don’t forget the sand dunes! The parabolic dunes in this area have some unique properties, rarely found anywhere else on earth. The trails through the woods lead to a long boardwalk over a pond and give you a great view. Or, you can wander down from the beach itself along the shore to meet up with the far end of the trails.

2.  Cavendish Beach. Long a favourite on the Island, this is the area most people think of when they think of visiting Prince Edward Island. During the busy tourism season, get there early to pick out a prime spot, because this beach is a very popular destination, with a full range of facilities. The nearby town of Cavendish is the tourism centre of Prince Edward Island, with it multitude of shops and attractions, the annual Cavendish Beach Music Festival, and the home of Anne of Green Gables. But the beach is ground zero for most stays in Cavendish. Also a part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, this beach stretches for miles with plenty of access points. Wander down the beach to see the picturesque red cliffs meeting the sea and sand.

3.  Cedar Dunes. Often referred to as the West Point Beach, this provincial park is at most western point of PEI, and provides a campground supervised beach area, nature trail and children’s activities. Also within this park is the iconic West Point Lighthouse, which has now been converted into an Inn (and is said to be haunted by Willie, the first keeper of the lighthouse).

4.  Brackley Beach. Again a part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, Brackley Beach is probably the second most popular beach area on the Island after Cavendish. Miles of white sandy beach and full services welcome thousands of visitors each year. Although not quite as busy as Cavendish, it’s still a good idea to get there early and claim your spot before the afternoon rush on a nice day. After a day at the beach, take in a movie at Prince Edward Island’s only drive-in theatre.

5.  Basin Head. This jewel has just been voted as Canada’s number one beach destination by travel website It’s not to be missed on your visit. Home of the singing sands and the PEI fisheries museum, Basin Head has plenty of facilities, as well as a line of small shops just at the end of the beach. Despite all the signs warning against it, you’ll find many people diving into the water off the little bridge passing over the run linking the fishing harbour to the sea. Take a little trip to nearby East Point Lighthouse and the Elmira Railway Musuem. The nearby town of Souris has all the services you will need, as well as a great sea glass display in their lighthouse.

Almost Ready For Another Season

Photo of interior of The Turret BellThe weather is warmer, the grass is green, the flowers are coming out.

And, we’re almost ready to open for the season.

Our retail outlet will be opening at St Peters Landing on June 14.

Right now, we’re looking for good quality, recent used books.  If anyone has any that they want to sell to us, drop by once we open our doors.

We’re looking forward to seeing you for another great season at St Peters Landing.

Booze and Prohibition on PEI

Booze by J Clinton MorrisonJ Clinton Morrison has published a number of books on PEI history.  His latest book, Booze: A Social Account of Prohibition on Prince Edward Island, 1878-1948 is being released on May 31, 2013.

This book chronicles the early abuse of alcohol on Prince Edward Island, brings the reader through the temperance movement and the Canada Temperance Act, the follows through the PEI Prohibition Act, and the rise of bootlegging and rumrunning on PEI as a direct result of prohibition.

BOOZE: A Social Account of Prohibition on Prince Edward Island, 1878-1948 will be launched at Eptek Art and Culture Centre, Summerside, Sunday, 2 June 2013, 2-4 p.m. Everyone Welcome.