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Prince Edward Island
Throughout history, people have dreamed about a special place, remote from the day-to-day business world.
Sometimes, they have thought of this place as an enchanted world where the weather is always good, and food is always easy to get.
Sometimes, it has been a hidden valley in the mountains, or an island far out at sea.
When the Europeans arrived in the South Pacific, they thought that they had found it.
Islands such as Tahiti seemed about as perfect as possible.
Nowadays, our cities grow larger and larger, and people have to work harder and harder to succeed.
Many people would like to escape to a quieter, slower, more peaceful, more attractive environment.
When summer holidays come, many people travel to Prince Edward Island in Eastern Canada.
It has a mild summer climate, and hardly ever gets too hot or dry.
The fields, trees, and crops stay green all summer.
In fact, P.E.I. is famous for the many shades of green on the island.
Its soil and dirt roads are red because of iron oxide in the soil.
And visitors are never far away from the blue waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
In late June and early July, the roadsides are covered with large purple flowers called lupins.
The vivid colours of P.E.I. help make the province a photographer’s paradise.
Prince Edward Island is almost 100 miles long and about 20 miles wide.
It is small enough that a tourist can see much of the Island in a couple of days.
But there are enough interesting things to see and do that most people like to stay longer.
One of the chief traditional occupations is fishing.
At one time, fishing was an important source of food and income for many islanders.
Now the fisheries are in decline; boat owners find it more profitable to take tourists out to fish than to fish themselves.
Lobsters and shellfish are still important to the Island, which is famous for its “lobster suppers.”
Tourists can visit many picturesque little fishing villages all around the coastline.
Farming is also important. P.E.I. is famous for its potatoes, which are exported all over the world.
Dairy farming is also common, and local ice cream is popular with tourists.
Apple orchards, grain fields, hay fields, and vegetable gardening are also widely found.
During the era of sailing ships, a lot of shipbuilding took place on the Island.
But as steel hulls replaced wooden hulls, shipbuilding moved to regions where steel was being produced.
The full impact of the industrial revolution has never hit P.E.I. Farming, fishing and tourism have remained the chief industries.
There are no large cities on the Island.
So, if young people want to go to the big city, they have to leave P.E.I.
The majority of Island people prefer to live in small towns and villages, just as their ancestors did.
Since there wasn’t much industry on the Island, many people did not have a lot of money.
As a result, they “made do” with their old houses, old furniture, and old ways of doing things.
This is why visitors to P.E.I. sometimes feel like they are going back in time.
Things on the Island seem like they are still the way things were in our parents’ or grandparents’ day.
Most of the people who live on the Island are descended from British immigrants in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.
The majority of these were from Scotland, and the Scottish heritage remains strong.
There are also some Micmac Indians and some French Canadians, or Acadians.
The Island has generally avoided social and political strife, and this contributes to the peaceful atmosphere.
Islanders welcome people “from away” as tourists.
However, some say that to be a true Islander, you have to be born on the Island.
Nonetheless, some tourists have fallen in love with P.E.I. and have gone there to live.
A couple of years ago, a bridge was built to connect the Island with the mainland. Many opposed this “fixed link,” saying that it would destroy the special P.E.I. atmosphere.
It remains to be seen whether the Island will change, now that tourists can drive directly on to the rich, red soil.
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