Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown

Prince Edward Island (PEI or P.E.I.; French: Île-du-Prince-Édouard, pronounced: [il dy pʁɛ̃s‿edwaʁ], Quebec French pronunciation: [ɪl d͡zy pʁẽs‿edwɑːʁ], Mi'kmaq: Epekwitk, Scottish Gaelic: Eilean a' Phrionnsa) is a Canadian province consisting of the island itself, as well as other islands. It is one of the three Maritime provinces and is the smallest province in both land area and population. According to the 2011 census, the province of Prince Edward Island has 140,204 residents. It is located about 200 km north of Halifax, Nova Scotia and 600 km east of Quebec City. It consists of the main island and 231 minor islands. Altogether, the entire province has a land area of 5,685.73 km2 (2,195.27 sq mi).

The main island is 5,620 km2 (2,170 sq mi) in size, which is slightly larger than the U.S. state of Delaware, is the 104th-largest island in the world, and is Canada's 23rd-largest island.

Etymology

Edward Scriven engraving of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathern (1834) after W. Beechey's portrait. Presented by Professor Thomas H.B. Symons to Mr. Charles MacKay, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, in the presence of Ms. Catherine Hennessey on Friday, October 11th, 2013. A plaque under the engraving reads "Donated by Tidridge Family in honour of Catherine Hennessey CM". The engraving remains on permanent display at Province House.

The island is named for Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820), the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria. Prince Edward has been called "Father of the Canadian Crown."

Geography

Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, west of Cape Breton Island, north of the Nova Scotia peninsula, and east of New Brunswick. Its southern shore bounds the Northumberland Strait. The island has two urban areas. The largest surrounds Charlottetown Harbour, situated centrally on the island's southern shore, and consists of the capital city Charlottetown, and suburban towns Cornwall and Stratford and a developing urban fringe. A much smaller urban area surrounds Summerside Harbour, situated on the southern shore 40 km (25 mi) west of Charlottetown Harbour, and consists primarily of the city of Summerside. As with all natural harbours on the island, Charlottetown and Summerside harbours are created by rias.

The island's landscape is pastoral. Rolling hills, woods, reddish white sand beaches, ocean coves and the famous red soil have given Prince Edward Island a reputation as a province of outstanding natural beauty. The provincial government has enacted laws to preserve the landscape through regulation, although there is a lack of consistent enforcement, and an absence of province-wide zoning and land-use planning. Under the Planning Act of the province, municipalities have the option to assume responsibility for land-use planning through the development and adoption of official plans and land use bylaws. Thirty-one municipalities have taken responsibility for planning. In areas where municipalities have not assumed responsibility for planning, the Province remains responsible for development control.

The island's lush landscape has a strong bearing on its economy and culture. The author Lucy Maud Montgomery drew inspiration from the land during the late Victorian Era for the setting of her classic novel Anne of Green Gables (1908). Today, many of the same qualities that Montgomery and others found in the island are enjoyed by tourists who visit year-round. They enjoy a variety of leisure activities, including beaches, various golf courses, eco-tourism adventures, touring the countryside, and enjoying cultural events in local communities around the island.

The smaller, rural communities as well as the towns and villages throughout the province, retain a slower-paced, old-world flavour. Prince Edward Island has become popular as a tourist destination for relaxation. The economy of most rural communities on the island is based on small-scale agriculture. Industrial farming has increased as businesses buy and consolidate older farm properties.

The coastline has a combination of long beaches, dunes, red sandstone cliffs, salt water marshes, and numerous bays and harbours. The beaches, dunes and sandstone cliffs consist of sedimentary rock and other material with a high iron concentration, which oxidises upon exposure to the air. The geological properties of a white silica sand found at Basin Head are unique in the province; the sand grains cause a scrubbing noise as they rub against each other when walked on, and have been called the "singing sands".

Large dune fields on the north shore can be found on barrier islands at the entrances to various bays and harbours. The magnificent sand dunes at Greenwich are of particular significance. The shifting, parabolic dune system is home to a variety of birds and rare plants; it is also a site of significant archeological interest.

Despite Prince Edward Island's small size and reputation as a largely rural province, it is the most developed and densely populated province in Canada, owing to the lack of vast amounts of undeveloped and sparsely populated wilderness of the other provinces.

Climate

During July and August, the average daytime high in PEI is 23 degrees Celsius (73º Fahrenheit), however, the temperature can sometimes exceed 30 degrees (86 Fahrenheit) during these months. In the winter months of January and February, the average daytime high is -3.3 degrees Celsius (26 F). The Island receives an average yearly rainfall of 855 mm and an average yearly snowfall of 285 cm.

Winters are moderately cold, with clashes of cold Arctic air and milder Atlantic air causing frequent temperature swings. From December to April, the island usually has many storms (which may produce rain as well as snow) and blizzards. Springtime temperatures typically remain cool until the sea ice has melted, usually in late April or early May. Summers are moderately warm, but rarely uncomfortable, with the daily maximum temperature only occasionally reaching as high as 30 °C (86 °F). Autumn is a pleasant season, as the moderating Gulf waters delay the onset of frost, although storm activity increases compared to the summer. There is ample precipitation throughout the year, although it is heaviest in the late autumn, early winter and mid spring.

History

Before the influx of Europeans, the Mi'kmaq people inhabited Prince Edward Island. They named the Island Epekwitk, meaning "resting on the waves"; Europeans represented the pronunciation as Abegweit. The natives believed that the island was formed by the Great Spirit placing on the Blue Waters some dark red crescent-shaped clay.

Demography

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, the largest ethnic group consists of people of Scottish descent (39.2%), followed by English (31.1%), Irish (30.4%), French (21.1%), German (5.2%), and Dutch (3.1%) descent. Prince Edward Island is mostly a white community and there are few visible minorities. Chinese people are the largest visible minority group of Prince Edward Island, comprising 1.3% of the province's population. Almost half of respondents identified their ethnicity as "Canadian." Most readers will not know that Prince Edward Island is by a strong margin the most Celtic and specifically the most Scottish province in Canada (often thought to be Nova Scotia) and perhaps the most Scottish place (ethnically) in the world, outside of Scotland. 38% of islanders claim Scottish ancestry, but this is an underestimate and it is thought that almost 50% of islanders have Scottish roots. When combined with Irish and Welsh, almost 80% of islanders are of some Celtic stock, albeit most families have resided in PEI for at least two centuries. Few places outside Europe can claim such a homogenous Celtic ethnic background.

Language

The 2006 Canadian census showed a population of 135,851. Of the 133,570 singular responses to the census question concerning mother tongue, the most commonly reported languages were as follows:

Religion

Traditionally the population has been evenly divided between Catholic and Protestant affiliations. The 2001 census indicated number of adherents for the Roman Catholic Church with 63,240 (47%) and various Protestant churches with 57,805 (43%). This included the United Church of Canada with 26,570 (20%); the Presbyterian Church with 7,885 (6%) and the Anglican Church of Canada with 6,525 (5%); those with no religion were among the lowest of the provinces with 8,705 (6.5%). If one considers that the founders of the United Church of Canada were largely Presbyterians in Prince Edward Island, the Island has one of the highest percentages of Presbyterians in the Province. Also, while not noted here, the Island has one of the largest number of Free Church of Scotland buildings in Canada, though attendance at many of these churches is very low today.

Economy

The provincial economy is dominated by the seasonal industries of agriculture, tourism, and the fishery. The province is limited in terms of heavy industry and manufacturing, though the McCain's food conglomerate runs expansion operations from PEI. Although commercial deposits of minerals have not been found, exploration for natural gas beneath the eastern end of the province has resulted in the discovery of an undisclosed quantity of gas.

Agriculture remains the dominant industry in the provincial economy, as it has since colonial times. During the 20th century, potatoes replaced mixed farming as the leading cash crop, accounting for one-third of provincial farm income. The province currently accounts for a third of Canada's total potato production, producing approximately 1.3 billion kilograms annually. Comparatively, the state of Idaho produces approximately 6.2 billion kilograms annually, with a population approximately 9.5 times greater. The province is a major producer of seed potatoes, exporting to more than twenty countries around the world.

An estimated total of 70% of the land is cultivated and 25% of all potatoes grown in Canada originate from P.E.I. The processing of frozen fried potatoes, green vegetables, and berries is a leading business activity. The island's economy has grown significantly over the last decade in key areas of innovation. Aerospace, Bioscience, ICT and Renewable energy have been a focus for growth and diversification. Aerospace alone now accounts for over 25% of the province's international exports and is the island's fourth largest industry at $355 million in annual sales.

As a legacy of the island's colonial history, the provincial government enforces extremely strict rules for non-resident land ownership. Residents and corporations are limited to maximum holdings of 400 and 1,200 hectares respectively. There are also restrictions on non-resident ownership of shorelines.

Many of the province's coastal communities rely upon shellfish harvesting, particularly lobster fishing as well as oyster fishing and mussel farming.

The provincial government provides consumer protection in the form of regulation for certain items, ranging from apartment rent increases to petroleum products including gas, diesel, propane and heating oil. These are regulated through the Prince Edward Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC). IRAC is authorised to limit the number of companies who are permitted to sell petroleum products.

The sale of carbonated beverages such as beer and soft drinks in non-refillable containers, such as aluminum cans or plastic bottles, was banned in 1976 as an environmental measure in response to public concerns over litter. Beer and soft drink companies opted to use refillable glass bottles for their products which were redeemable at stores and bottle depots. The introduction of recycling programs for cans and plastic bottles in neighbouring provinces in recent years (also using a redemption system) has seen the provincial government introduce legislation to reverse this ban with the restriction lifted on May 3, 2008.

Prince Edward Island has Canada's highest provincial retail sales tax rate, currently (2008) established at 10%. The tax is applied to almost all goods and services except some clothing, food and home heating fuel. The tax is also applied to the Federal Goods and Services Tax.

At present, approximately fifteen percent of electricity consumed on the island is generated from renewable energy (largely wind turbines); the provincial government has set renewable energy targets as high as 30-50% for electricity consumed by 2015. Until wind generation, the province relied entirely on electricity imports on a submarine cable from New Brunswick. A thermal oil-fired generating station in Charlottetown is also available.

The average family income on Prince Edward Island is $62,110/year, and the minimum wage of $9.60/hour as of October 1, 2011.

Government and politics

The provincial government is responsible for such areas as health and social services, education, economic development, labour legislation and civil law. These matters of government are carried out in the provincial capital, Charlottetown.

Prince Edward Island is governed by a parliamentary government within the construct of constitutional monarchy; the monarchy in Prince Edward Island is the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, who also serves as head of state of 15 other Commonwealth countries, each of Canada's nine other provinces, and the Canadian federal realm, and resides predominantly in the United Kingdom. As such, the Queen's representative, the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island (presently Harry Frank Lewis), carries out most of the royal duties in Prince Edward Island.

Each of the 27 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) is elected by simple plurality in an electoral district. General elections are called by the lieutenant governor on the first Monday in October four years after the previous election, or may be called, on the advice of the premier, should the government lose a confidence vote in the legislature. Traditionally, politics in the province have been dominated by both the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party.

The Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI is the tribal council and provincial territorial organization in the province that represents both the Lennox Island and Abegweit First Nations.

Municipalities

On June 1, 1997, the Confederation Bridge opened, connecting Borden-Carleton to Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick. The longest bridge over ice covered waters in the world, it replaced the Marine Atlantic ferry service. Since then, the Confederation Bridge's assured transportation link to the mainland has altered the province's tourism and agricultural and fisheries export economies.

Education

Prince Edward Island is home to one university, the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), located in the city of Charlottetown. The university was created by the Island legislature to replace Prince of Wales College and St. Dunstan's University. UPEI is also home to the Atlantic Veterinary College, which offers the region's only veterinary medicine program.

Prince Edward Island is also home to Maritime Christian College, the only Bible college in the Maritimes. It is also home to Immanuel Christian School, a private Christian School in Charlottetown.

Holland College is the provincial community college, with campuses across the province, including specialised facilities such as the Atlantic Police Academy, Marine Training Centre, and the Culinary Institute of Canada.

Healthcare

The province has a single health administrative region (or district health authority) called Health PEI. Health PEI receives funding for its operations and is regulated by the Department of Health and Wellness.

Prince Edward Island offers programs and services in areas such as acute care, primary care, home care, palliative care, public health, chronic disease prevention, and mental health and addictions, to name a few. The provincial government has opened several family health centres in recent years in various rural and urban communities. A provincial cancer treatment centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital provides support to those dealing with various types of cancer-related illnesses. A family medicine residency program was established in 2009 with the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine as a means to encourage new physicians to work in Prince Edward Island.

Long-term-care services are also available with several programs in place to support seniors wishing to remain independent in their communities. Many medications for seniors are subsidized through a provincial pharmaceutical plan, however, Prince Edward Island remains one of the only provinces lacking a catastrophic drug coverage program for its residents.Ground ambulance service in Prince Edward Island is provided under contract by Island EMS. Air ambulance service is provided under contract by LifeFlight.

Sports

-Water sports are very popular on Prince Edward Island during the summer, perhaps because the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait are warmer than the Atlantic Ocean off the shores of nearby New England.
-In 1991, Prince Edward Island hosted the Canada Winter Games.
-In 2009, Prince Edward Island hosted the Canada Summer Games.
-Charlottetown Islanders play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
-In 2008 and 2009, Prince Edward Island hosted the Tour de PEI, a province wide cycling race consisting of women from around the world.
-The most common sports participated in on the island are hockey, curling, golf, horse racing, baseball, soccer, rugby, football, broomball and basketball.

Source: Wikipedia