Prince Edward Island

North America > Canada > Prince Edward Island

Exploring the Past in Prince Edward Island

Archaeology and History Sites in Prince Edward Island

Beaconsfield Historic House

One of the finest 19th century buildings on Prince Edward Island, Beaconsfield in Charlottesville was the creation of the architect W. C. Harris. Completed in 1877, it was initially the home of James and Edith Peake, who lived there for a few years before ownership passed to Henry Cundall in 1883. After Cundall’s death in 1916 the house became a residence for young ladies and later for student nurses.

Farmers’ Bank of Rustico

The Farmers’ Bank of Rustico represents part of the oldest Acadian settlement on Prince Edward Island. Established in the latter half of the 18th century, the settlement stands along the idyllic shores of Rustico Bay. The Farmers’ Bank was built here in the 1860s and served as a precursor to the credit union movement that later spread across North America. Since 1959 the Canadian government have recognised the structure as a National Historic Site.

Government House

Government House in Charlottetown is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island. Built in 1834, it reflects the Georgian architectural style and was designed by the architect Isaac Smith. The mansion is also used as the official residence of the British monarch when they are visiting the area. Since 1971, the government have classified it as a National Historic Site. Guided tours are offered during the summer months.

Green Gables

Located in Cavendish, Green Gables is known as the setting of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables. The farmhouse was established from the 1830s onward, becoming home to the MacNeill family, who were cousins of Montgomery’s. The success of the novel led to the site becoming a popular tourist attraction, around which the Prince Edward Island National Park was subsequently established. Since 1985, the house has been a National Historic Site.

St Dunstan’s Basilica

St Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown is the centre of the local Roman Catholic diocese. First built in 1896, the church burned down in 1913, after which it was rebuilt. Designed by the architect J. M. Hunter, the new structure was created in a Gothic Revival architectural style. Since 1990, the government have classified the building as a National Historic Site. It remains an active space for Roman Catholic worship.

Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace

Located in the village of Clifton, this historic building marks the 1874 birthplace of one of Canada’s most famous writers, Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. Montgomery continued to live at the house until her 1911 marriage. As well as being decorated with period furnishings, the house also contains replicas of Montgomery’s wedding dress and other material associated with her life and career as a writer.

Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst

The Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst area is a National Historic Site at Rocky Point. Between 1720 and 1770 it served as the seat of government for Prince Edward Island, initially under the French, when it was called Port-la-Joye, and later under the French, when it became Fort Amherst. The additional name used for site, “Skmaqn,” derives from the indigenous Mi’kmaq language and means “the waiting place.” A visitor’s centre opened in 1973.

Prince Edward Battery

The Prince Edward Battery can be found in Charlottetown’s Victoria Park. A series of cannons are located here, facing towards the sea, from where they once helped defend settlements on the island from naval attack. Nice views of the surrounding landscape are offered from the area of the battery. Although there is comparatively little visible heritage here, the Price Edward Battery can be taken in as part of a pleasant coastal walk.

Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead

The Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell marks the 1864 birthplace of the eponymous physician and author. A farmhouse built in 1856, it stands amid a farm that the Macphail family had purchased in 1863. It remained in the family until 1961, when it was donated to the government, allowing for its reuse as a heritage attraction. The house is now furnished in an authentically 19th century fashion. Special events take place throughout the year.

West Point Lighthouse

Built in 1875, the West Point Lighthouse is the tallest of its kind on Prince Edward Island. Today it stands as a distinctive marker in the local landscape with its striking black and white stripe design. The lighthouse itself now operates as an inn, allowing people the opportunity to spend the night here. The adjacent museum features displays devoted to the history of the structure and the lives of the lighthouse keepers.

Museums in Prince Edward Island

Acadian Museum of Prince Edward Island

The Acadians are one of the Francophone communities living in eastern Canada and are descended in large part from early French settlers. Today, there are various museums devoted to the heritage of the Acadian people in various parts of the country, with that on Prince Edward Island being found at Miscouche. It is one of the seven sites that are part of the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation.

Basin Head Fisheries Museum

Run by the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation, and Basin Head Fisheries Museum in Souris focuses its attentions on the historic fishing industry that once played an important role in the economy of Prince Edward Island. The museum preserves an old cannery, enabling visitors to gain more of an insight into this part of the province’s past. Other features at the attraction include a children’s play area and a museum gift shop.

Elmira Railway Museum

The Elmira Railway Museum is one of various heritage attractions run by the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation. The museum occupies an old railway station that was once the end of the line for the province’s railway. Now it is devoted to the history of this railroad, recreating a station masters’ office and a ladies’ waiting room and displaying a range of maps, photographs, and other objects. A miniature railway tours the local area.

Green Park Shipbuilding Museum and Yeo House

Located in Tyne Valley, the Green Park Shipbuilding Museum and Yeo House focuses attention on ship construction, once an important part of the local economy on Prince Edward Island. The Yeo House is a 19th century home once habited by James Yeo Junior, a successful shipbuilder, and now has been restored to its original Victorian appearance. There are also attractive grounds and a historic school building preserved at this heritage attraction.

Keir Memorial Museum

The Keir Memorial Museum in Kensington is run by the Malpeque Historical Society. Displays include a range of antique and historic material, largely from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, testifying to the lifestyles of Prince Edward Island’s residents during this period. The museum occupies the Keir Memorial Presbyterian Church, a quaint timber structure built in the 1920s and which was used as a place of worship until the 1980s.

Lennox Island Mi’kmaq Cultural Centre

The Lennox Island Mi’kmaq Cultural Centre launched in 2000 to help preserve and showcase the cultural heritage of the indigenous Mi’kmaq people living on this island along Canada’s eastern coast. Displays cover the history of the Mi’kmaq, from their ancestors in the distant past through to their experiences of subjugation and cultural suppression under successive Canadian governments. A range of different events take place throughout the year.

Orwell Corner Historic Village

Launched in the 1970s, the Orwell Corner Historic Village in Orwell is an open-air museum that seeks to create the environment of a Prince Edward Island rural community as it existed in the late 19th century. A range of historic buildings have been moved here for their long-term preservation, including a blacksmith’s store, a schoolhouse, and a village hall. Many of these structures contain authentic antique furnishings, while livestock enhance the visitor experience.

Prince Edward Island Potato Museum

A celebration of the humble potato, the Prince Edward Island Potato Museum in O’Leary stands within an area where potato growing has long been a major part of the local economy and a mainstay of its agricultural production. The museum showcases a broad range of farming tools and implements used in the growing and harvesting of potatoes. Historic structures at the site include a chapel, barn, and schoolhouse. The museum also boasts the world’s largest sculpture of a potato.

Prince Edward Island Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Launching in the late 1960s, the Prince Edward Island Sports Hall of Fame and Museum can be found in Summerside. The museum has had various homes over the course of its life, including Summerside High School, Summerside Town Hall, the Eptek Centre, and the Wyatt Centre, although since 2014 has occupied rooms in Credit Union Place. The museum inducts prominent athletes and sportspeople into its hall of fame.

Prince Edward Island Regimental Museum

The Prince Edward Island Regimental Museum in Charlottetown explores the history of the eponymous armed group, which was established in 1875. The small museum boasts over 2000 artefacts in its collection, covering the entire history of the regiment, although a particular focus of the material is on the Second World War. Among the displays are a range of uniforms, photographs, and armoured vehicles. Entry is free.

Archaeology Travel | Prince Edward Island | 1