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Prince Edward Island, Canada
1st March 2004

Today it was time to try out this driving on the right hand side of the road so I was heading for Summerside and the College of Piping.

It was a beautiful sunny day and I had broken my sunglasses so first call was into WalMart to get a new pair and after that successful jaunt it was off to Summerside...

Just to let you see how sunny it was on the way

And so I arrived and an impressive building it is too

They also have an excellent cultural room with lots of informative displays

An old set of bagpipes that were played at Culloden. You might just be able to read the article on the show case.

You can see by the displays that the College of Piping is gettng praise and awards from all over the world.  Of course there is more to the college than just piping. They have lessons for Scottish Country Dancing, the island Step Dancing and lots more. They also run a series of  evenings of song and dance and during the summer a large celtic festival. So they are really busy all the year around.  The friendly man on reception took time to show me around, sorry I didn't get his name, but he's certainly an asset to the college and he saw that I was given a publicity pack and a video for which many thanks.

Learn more about the College of Piping and view a movie about it

I then popped in to see Fred at the Wyatt Heritage Buildings to see how he was getting on organising some trips around the island and he's got it all in hand and looks like next week will see us starting our adventures.

I took a couple of pictures while I was there...

That's Fred on the left and researchers working on the right

When I got outside I noticed two lads practicing ice hockey.

And these are two pictures from outside Fred's office

Then it was heading out of Summerside on the road to Cavendish. I had to stop for gas on my way and the owner was a MacLennan!

Not much beach to see at Cavendish as it was all covered in snow but thought I'd take a few pictrures so you can appreciate what it's like in the Winter.

The frozen sea was rather impressive... as far as the eye could see

There were a whole ton of rental cottages around this area.  In fact I confess to not knowing where the village is amongst all those cottages but the house you can just see above right looked like a genuine home.  Some farms in the area as well.  Given that this area has a very strong Scottish connection I was a bit disappointed not to identify it on my drive around.

And then it was time to head back and of course my camera decided that the batteries were exhausted so that was it for today :-)

I'm told that tourism is all but dead during the winter and that May - September are really the main tourism months and when the island is at its best.  1st May is when they can fish for lobsters and other sea food and everyone says that the lobsters from PEI are the best. 

Given that 38% of the Islanders are of Scots descent I can't help feeling that more could be done on PEI to promote historical and cultural tourism on their long off-season. I'm told that prices are much cheaper out of season and many Scots-Americans may well enjoy coming up out of season to explore some of their heritage as the Islanders have of course spread all over Canada and the United States.  I also can't help feeling that Scots would be interested in coming over especially due the current exchange rate.

I've said before that there are many similarites to Scotland and I can't help feeling that both countries are missing a trick on the genealogy / heritage side of things. I'm also conscious that when I did a pole a couple of years ago some 40% of our respondants didn't know where Prince Edward Island was. There just has to be more scope in this area to get more tourists to visit and also more out of season. Certainly right now out of the major centres it's quite hard to find a place to eat.  In Scotland you have the exact same problem... we close on 1st October and mainly open again in April.

The reason for going to Cavendish was my purchasing the book from which I put up a couple of chapters. I really wanted to try and give an impression of what this area looked like so when you read the chapters you'd have an idea of what the settlers went through.  I failed to achieve my goal but perhaps I'll do better when I go with Fred to Anne of Green Gables which is in this area.

As I travel around I've thought of what I would like to see outside each town or village.  It's a place to park your car where there is a large poster showing you a wee map of the area and pointing out anything of interest to the traveller. If you take that wee Beach sign above I can't help thinking that one of those outside a town could give you any historic places to see, genealogy resources, holiday features, etc.  It might even be possible for a few local businesses to sponsor it.  In fact just such a poster was available down in the Scottish Borders that I took a photo of.  It's also something that camera toting tourists might like to snap to remind them of what they did on their holidays :-)

Neil Fraser noted my comments on the number of folk of Scots descent in PEI and he kindly sent in the following information:-

Canadians of Scottish Origin 2001 Census of Canada

Canadian total population                                                29,639,035
Canadians of Scottish origin                                              4,157,210     (14% of total pop.)

Canadians of Scottish origin by Province/Territory


Total Population

Scottish Origin

% of all Scots in Canada % of Scots in the Province
Ontario 11,682,680 1,843,115 44% 16%
British Columbia 3,868,875 748,905 18% 19%
Alberta 2,941,150 586,575 14% 20%
Nova Scotia 897,570 263,060 6% 29%
Manitoba 1,103,700 195,575 5% 18%
Saskatchewan 963,155 172,305 4% 18%
Quebec 7,125,580 156,145 4% 2%
New Brunswick 719,715 127,630 3% 18%
P.E.I. 133,385 50,700 1% 38%
Nfld/Labrador 508,075 30,295 .07% .05%
NWT 37,105 5,190 .001% 14%
Yukon 25,525 6,245 .002% .025%
Nunavut 26,665 1,475 .0004% .06%


Note 1: Figures are based on an extrapolation of responses to a detailed version of the 2001 Canadian Census from a special version of the 2001 Census forms, distributed at random to Canadian respondents.

Note 2:  For the first time Canadians were offered the option of choosing “Canadian” or “Quebecois” for an ethnic origin.  Some 11,682,680 chose “Canadian” and 98,670 chose “Quebecois”.  I strongly suspect that many of them have at least some Scottish ancestry, so the number of Canadians with a Scottish ethnic origin may well be much higher. 

Note 3:  Unlike the 2000 U.S. Census, the 2001 Canadian Census did not include a category for “Scots-Irish”, only Irish or Scottish, so Canadians with some Scottish ancestry may well be even higher. 

Prepared by: W. Neil Fraser, Chairman, Clan Fraser Society of Canada – Feb. 2004.

It is interesting to note that Scotland's total population is just 5,000,000 and of course not all of them are Scots so it might just be possible that Canada has more people of Scots descent than Scotland has itself :-)  Before I left Scotland they were estimating that by 2040 Scotland's population would be down to 4,400,000.

While driving to and around Cavendish I noted a lot of plots for sale.  Not sure if this is due to people leaving the island or hard pressed farmers selling some of their land.  I'm told it's quite inexpensive to build your own home here but while a house can go up within 8 weeks it is possible to get serious delays as I'm told Farmer's barns have the first priority here :-)

While I managed to find my way around ok I did get somewhat lost when I got back to Charlottetown but luckily while I was driving around I spotted a familiar intersection and found my way back ok. I must do some exploration of the captial Charlottetown soon and get a street map so I don't get lost.

I'm starting to get the hang of driving on the left side of the car but it still seems a bit strange. I'm also taking things a wee bit easy as the signs are a bit different here.  For example when you are on the highway you get a flashing yellow light before you get to the traffic lights to warn you that they are about to change to red.  The other thing to watch for is the fact you can turn right on a red light most of the time although there are exceptions which you need to watch out for.  You also need to watch for the left turn indicator on the traffic lights as with the sun in your eyes it's not that easy to see. 

Yesterday I was going to move the car so that the driveway could be cleared of snow only to find that the battery was flat.  Seeing as I'd only picked the car up a couple of days ago it was a bit disconcerting.  You wonder if there is a fault and the battery isn't charging.  Chris's neighbour Roy was kind enough to bring down a battery so we could jump start it and then he got me to drive around to his garage and put it on charge for a few hours.  Most kind of him.  I did in fact phone the hire car company only to find they shut on Sunday so whatever you do don't break down on a Sunday.  I did wonder if the name had something to do with it... Rent a Wreck".  However, as you can see from todays report, all went well so fingers crossed it was a one off.

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