There was a time, back around the turn of the century, that Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island, had taken on a life of its own, one distinctly different from the way it is today.
Settlement was in full swing here, and the area was heralded both provincially and abroad as a paradise to be found. An actor’s colony, filled with some of the finest stock which the American theatre scene could produce, had taken root here, and for all intents and purposes it was a paradise (3).
It was, and remains, a place of beauty; of locale of allure that proved all the more attractive for the mystery which maintained a firm grasp in the minds of locals and tourists alike, namely, that Bay Fortune was “made famous as the receptacle and hiding place of Captain Kidd’s stolen hoards” (1)
These legends have persisted for time immemorial, but they gained popularity as they were rediscovered by those of the actor’s colony who summered here.
For example, in the Prince Edward Island Magazine, dated December 1901, Charles Kent, one member of the colony, provides a detailed introduction to the subject, although he too expresses his incredulity surrounding the claims of Captain Kidd and his buried treasure (1).
However, despite this apparent disbelief, the legend lives on, and can be traced through the pages of history in such a way so as to lead even the most doubting to at least question the possibility.
And while it may seem to be an outlandish assertion, such claims are not entirely out of character for the Fortune area, which has a long history of relations with the dark and unexplained.
Forerunners abound in the area; a wounded man made his death-bed will to be buried upon the cape (which he was), ghosts are known to haunt its dark woods, and even Charles Coghlan’s floating coffin found its way to Bay Fortune’s shores (3). In fact, this very site gained notoriety for Patrick Pearce’s infamous murder of Edward Abel, the namesake of the Cape itself (3).
With that being said, it is no surprise that the persistent claim of buried treasure lingers to this day, and thus, we turn our attention backwards in time, in order to explore the mysterious history of Bay Fortune.
Who was Captain Kidd?
Captain Kidd was perhaps one of the most infamous pirates of his time, and to this day his name is still synonymous with piracy on the high seas. Born in Scotland in 1645, his family emigrated to the United States when he was only a young man (4).
There, amid rising tensions between England and France, Captain Kidd found employment working for the British government as a privateer – hired by European royals to protect British shipping interests at sea in the Caribbean, and furthermore to thwart French naval expansionism and trade.
This line of work had in the past proven to be a lucrative industry, as it was well known that privateers were to gain the profits of any rival ship which was confiscated.
His career as a privateer proved to be successful, and in 1696 he was commissioned to travel to the West Indies aboard the ship the Adventure Galley, under the funding of English Lord Bellomont, to attack French ships and pirate vessels there (4).
Kidd’s endeavours in the West Indies were less than noteworthy, and amid illness and unrest aboard the Adventure Galley, Kidd quickly determined that a successful bounty would needed be if he were to avoid mutiny aboard his ship.
It was then, as it seems, that Fate intervened, for as his ship rounded the tip of India, it encountered the Quedagh Merchant, a 500-ton Armenian ship carrying gold, silk, spices, and other riches, owned, in part, by the Indian Grand Moghul.
The ship was poorly defended, and such an opportunity was to come only once in a lifetime (4). Decisively Captain Kidd ordered his men to assail the vessel, and in no time it was under Kidd’s control.
Word of the capture of the Quedagh Merchant hurriedly reached England, as the ship had been under the direction of the East India Company. Condemnation came swiftly, and Captain Kidd was soon sought by English officials, wanted for the act of piracy.
This was of little consequence to Captain Kidd, who now patrolled the Indian and Atlantic oceans aboard the regal Merchant. The powerful ship yielded him greater fortunes as he made his way back to the Caribbean and up the eastern seaboard of North America. Alas, during a stop-over in Boston harbor, Captain Kidd was captured and shipped back to England.
Once in Europe, Kidd’s trial was swift and merciless. Captain Kidd found no friend in Lord Bellomont, who would have had his own dealings in privateers scrutinized had he come to Kidd’s aid.
As such, little defence was mounted, and Captain Kidd was found guilty of piracy and hanged on 23 May 1701. Moreover, to serve as a warning to other pirates, his body was hung in a cage over the river Thames, and left to rot for all to see (4).
But what of his treasure? It seems that to this day history has neglected to account for the whereabouts of Captain Kidd’s treasure, and perhaps for good reason; as legend has it, Captain Kidd had anticipated such events, and had arranged to have all of the treasure buried before he was captured.
Such a treasure would be vast: not only would it contain the aforementioned wealth of the Quedagh Merchant, but also the riches of any of the smaller vessels which he had assailed in his journey westward from India.
This treasure would necessarily need to be hidden in a remote area, far from the prying eyes of other pirates, and moreso, from the government agencies which sought to thwart him.
It is with these facts in mind that we then turn our attention to Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island, for here in Fortune do we discover a long and colourful connection to Captain Kidd’s treasure, as rumor has it that his treasure is buried here.
This is, of course, a sensational claim; however, it is not made without any evidence. In fact, one need only look as far as the name of the area itself as an indication of the treasure which may be buried there.
The etymology of the Fortune area is thought to refer to the ship La Fortune, an English schooner weighing 40 tons which was brought to the area in 1754 by Le Sieur Laborde (5). This, however, is contradicted somewhat by Rayburn in Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island, as he indicates that "de la Rocque (seen below) shows Riviere a la Fortune in 1752", two years prior to this schooner. Given this, it is posited that the name may possibly mean "river of riches" (5).
And as if this weren’t enough to lead one’s mind towards the connection with Captain Kidd, Reginald Carrington Short, one of the famous members of C. P. Flockton’s acting company who summered in Bay Fortune and whose autobiography details the subject matter extensively, suggests a direct connection between Captain Kidd and the naming of Bay Fortune, writing that “a strong belief persisted among the natives [Islanders] that somewhere on the Cape…Captain Kidd, had buried his treasure. This fact may have been responsible for the name Fortune Bay on which the Cape itself was situated.” (2).
Given the inconsistency in naming as indicated above, perhaps there is some validity to Short’s claim.
In Search of Gold
Short goes further, citing various local peoples who indicate to him that numerous attempts have been made to unearth the treasure (2). Kent too informs us that still it is visited by mystics and those with divining rods, all of them prompted by dreams to dig for Kidd’s gold, and that at the time of his writing there remained “Many holes proving how firm is the belief that the treasure is buried here”(1).
Countless attempts have been made to claim the treasure, with one of the most infamous incidents relating to the ‘Boys from Boston’, which transpired around the turn of the century.
As Short explains, one of the old locals, a Mr. Abimelech “Bim” Burke, was confronted by two men from Boston who had travelled all that way in search of the treasure (2). These men asked Bim if he knew of Abel’s Cape, and, when he answered in the affirmative, asked if he would help to guide them there. They offered him a bit of money and some ‘Boston ‘shine’, and Bim agreed to lead them. He informed them, however, that “it ain’t no use diggin’ for treasure ‘ceptin at midnight; anyone’ll tell ya that” (2)
And so the night went on, and the shine went down, as the men waited until midnight. They had a map, procured somehow in Boston, and as it was a terribly dark night they brought with them a lantern. So as the midnight hour neared, the unlikely trio headed towards the cape, but even the lamplight was little match for the persistent darkness, and as it was they were several hours before they landed upon the precise spot to dig.
The search continued for some time, to no avail, until suddenly the clouds parted and the moon shone bright, as if guided by some unseen force. Bim then recounts that in the moonlight they suddenly saw the appearance of a regal ship (2).
From the ship was seen to disembark a small rowboat, and as Bim and the others looked on, they spied inside the boat “the worst looking lot you ever seen… handkerchiefs over their heads, belts full o’ knives and pistols.”
There was no doubt among the treasure-hunters that before them was the apparition of Captain Kidd himself. As Bim tells it, they were back to his place “like the devil hisself was after us. Mebbe he was. Seems like I smelled brimstone” (2)
As for the boys from Boston, they were out the door at the crack of crow and caught the train from Bear River, bound for a return trip to Boston. They left in such a hurry, Bim notes, that they left their prospecting tools behind (2).
Given the above, it is no surprise that the stories best remembered about the treasure are those with a comical conclusion, for another one is often told of the search for the treasure, wherein the 1920s a young man from Souris ventured out to try his luck in finding it (6).
However, some local boys caught wind of this development and before he could arrive they quickly buried a metal bucket full of stones in the area. That night, again by moonlight, the young man and his friends prowled for the treasure, and were focused upon digging when one of their shovels struck something metallic, shattering the silent night (6).
Excitedly they pulled forth from the ground the source of the sound, only to discover that they had been fooled, and that their treasure was nothing but a bucket of rocks. Nothing else came of their expedition, save for the laughs of the boys who eagerly retold the story in the days to come (6).
The Search Continues
Stories such as the ones above abound in the collective memory and folklore of the local people, and to this day the evidence of these digs, the pitted pockmarks and potholes of explorers from days-gone-by, continue to dot the landscape of the cape (6).
A worn and well beaten trail winds its way from Fortune Back Beach up into the cape, indicative of the persistent memory of Captain Kidd’s treasure. Whatever the truth, whether it be pirate’s gold or merely fool’s gold, Bay Fortune continues to offer the allure of something more than meets the eye, and it is certain to continue to do so, for many years to come.
As Kent notes, while many still search for the treasure, “they are always unsuccessful, and are usually scared away by the ghosts of Kidd and his crew,” something he too fell victim of in years gone by (1).
He writes that “for weeks I have searched and delved in the sand, but all to no purpose save the amusement of the Islanders,” a sentiment all too common in the search for Kidd’s gold (1). And so, he concludes, that despite the endless onslaught of “moonlight diggings” which the passage of time has brought forth unto the area, none of them shall ever succeed, for “Kidd’s spirit knows how to protect it” (1)
But as to the treasure itself, Kent is more than confident: “that it is buried here is now an undisputed fact” (1).
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1. Kent, Charles. Ed. Irwin, Archibald. "Kidd's Treasure" The Prince Edward Island Magazine. 1901. Print.
2. Short, Reginald Carrington. Ed. Hornby, Jim. "The C.P. Flockton Comedy Company" The Island Magazine. 1982. Print.
3. Townshend, Adele. "Drama at Abel's Cape" The Island Magazine. 1979. Print.
4. William Kidd, Pirate. Biography. Biography.com. 22 February 2017.
5. Sourispedia. "Fortune, Prince Edward Island." 22 February 2017.
6. Eastern Kings. "Captain Kidd's Treasure" Island Narratives Program. 22 February 2017.
Note: This is part two of our ongoing series documenting some of the ships which were wrecked during the November Gale of 1906. For our first post, click here.
A Worldly Crew
Just as was the case with the Turret Bell, the Sovinto was a cargo ship which had seen service over its lifetime delivering goods to all corners of the globe.
Unlike the Turret Bell, however, the Sovinto was a four-masted barque, renowned as a sailing ship. It had been built by Barclay, Curle & Co, Ltd., of Whiteinch, Glasgow, and was owned by a Finnish owner at the time of the wreck.
It measured 61m in length, and weighed 1600 ton. It was commanded by a Captain E.K. Wiglund, and boasted a Scandanavian crew of twenty-one men.
These men were natives of Norway, Sweden and Russia, and only the Captain alone was able to speak English.
The Sovinto had sailed out of Campbellton, New Brunswick on the morning of Sunday, 4 November 1906 carrying a load of a million and a half feet of lumber, and was headed for Australia.
The November Gale
Readers familiar with the November Gale of 1906 will recall that this storm was one unprecedented in previous maritime history. It was a storm that could not have been predicted, for The Guardian of 5 November 1906 wrote that "even weather vanes were deceived. The barometer gave no warning; the weather possibilities conveyed no hint of more storms..."
Despite this, the November Gale raged on for almost two weeks, and dumped eight inches of rain upon the area.
Even as the Sovinto set sail there was no indication of foul weather ahead of them, the skies being fair in Campbellton, and it was not until Sunday evening that they encountered heavy seas and strong north winds.
These winds developed without warning and with haste, and by the time the Captain and crew realized that they had sailed into the tempest, it was too late for them to resist it.
Gale force winds ravaged the helpless vessel, and as the winds increased, the jib and foretopmasts were torn to pieces; the upper topsail was blown away, and the starboard anchor broke loose.
Adding to their difficulties, their cargo had shifted to the starboard side, causing a great pitch to the deck. Without delay the Captain ordered each man a life buoy for his own safety.
By Monday morning Captain Wiglund had shifted the course to south-west in hopes of riding the storm down wind. They maintained this position until about 3PM, by which time the crew had finally gotten the anchor up and had cleared much of the deck load. They then turned the ship onto a starboard tack to avoid the Magdalen Islands (les Iles de la Madeleines).
Panic at Priest Pond
On the evening of Tuesday, November 6th, the lookout reported waves breaking on the leeward side, indicating shallow water. The man on the sounding line reported only seven fathoms (approximately 13m).
The Captain then gave the orders to drop both anchors, but the order came too late as the ship ran heavily aground on the rocky bottom of Carews Reef off Priest Pond before the starboard anchor could be dropped. The ship was lodged about 180m from shore.
As the ship ran aground, one sailor, named Gerwick, was tossed into the sea and was cast adrift. As is detailed in the Historical Sketch of Eastern Kings, by some miracle he was able to reach the shore in the inky darkness, in the face of the abundance of hazardous wreckage which presented itself in the roiling waters.
Despite the late hour he scrambled up the cliff side and raced to the only light in sight, the still burning lantern in a distant window. This, it would turn out, was the home of a Mr. Joe Rose.
Gerwick pounded fiercely upon the door of the home, but when Mr. Rose came to the door he could not understand who this man was or from whence he had come, for he spoke no English.
It was only through sheer repetition of the word “barque”, which is an English loan-word for a type of ship, that he was finally able to convey the tragedy of the wreck.
A Desperate Dawn
When the ship struck the reef, it was lodged broadside and perpendicular from the shore, making it impossible to launch the lifeboats. Large waves were washing over the deck and the rigging was coming loose.
Captain Wiglund called for the crew to be assembled in the starboard cabin, which was still dry and above water. Seventeen men were assembled, leaving four missing; one being Gerwick.
The other three, one of them named Kumlander, were trapped on the bow of the ship and unable to reach the cabin. The storm continued to rage, and sometime during the night the ship broke in two, spilling the entire cargo of lumber into the waves.
By daylight on Wednesday the shore had been littered with lumber and debris from the wreck, and the wind and waves were so powerful that they sprayed up and over the cliffsides of the shore.
A group of onlookers and rescuers had gathered on the shore, and despite the spray and mist, the men on shore were able to see the men still remaining on the wreck, clinging to the deck.
A sailor washed ashore that morning still wearing his life buoy. He was badly mangled by the lumber being tossed about in the waves, but still alive.
Shortly after, the men still remaining on the wreck attempted to launch the life boat, only to have it fill with water within minutes. Seven men drowned as a result; one was only twenty feet from shore when he was swept under, and another was thrown against a flat rock and then pulled under before help could reach him.
Seven made it to shore, despite being badly injured. Two others were washed back onto the wreck. One other was swept onto the bow of the ship, left to join his three comrades who had been trapped there since Tuesday night.
By Thursday morning, November 9th, only three men remained on the ship; the two souls who had been washed back onto the wreck after the failed life boat attempt, and the twenty-two year old named Kumlander, the lone man who remained clinging to the bow. His three companions had been swept overboard during the night.
News of the wreck had spread overnight, and the Stanley, a steamer from Souris had been given order to come to the rescue. Daylight found a large crowd of spectators and reporters from as far away as Charlottetown, all of whom braced themselves against the howling wind and surf to watch the spectacle unfolding before them.
A crowd had formed on the shore as well, consisting of local fisherman and those who had been pulled from previous wrecks (The Olga and The Orpheus) earlier in the week. These men knew the sea well, yet were powerless to help in the surging waters.
All hopeful eyes looked eastward for the arrival of the Stanley, but due to treacherous currents and winds, she never arrived.
A Heroic Effort
It was then that two young fisherman, Duncan Campbell and Austin Grady, both of East Baltic, noticed that the hull of the ship had shifted sideways somewhat, enough to break the force of the waves, if only slightly.
Choosing to capitalize on this opportunity, they decided to attempt a rescue using a dory. They launched the small boat into the water, and from the outset struggled to keep the bow headed into the water.
Eventually they were able to reach the hull despite an easterly current. The two men clinging to the hull were rescued, and repeated attempts were made to save Kumlander by throwing him ropes.
Numerous attempts failed, and the risk was too great to leave the small shelter of the hull. To Kumlander's certain despair, they were forced to head back to shore, leaving him as the last remaining man on the wreck.
By Thursday evening, Kumlander had been without rest, food or water for over forty eight hours. He was desperate now, and rather than spend another night clinging to the bow, he took hold of a nearby plank and jumped into the churning sea.
He was caught in the current and tossed around the hull before being swept off in a large wave towards the rocky shore. Those on the shore chased after him with ropes, and he was luckily able to catch one. He was briefly dashed across the rocks as his rescuers pulled him ashore, but finally the ordeal was over.
Of the twenty-one men aboard the ship, twelve lost their lives. Those who survived were taken to local homes to recover, although some later died of tuberculosis. Their burials were paid for by Lloyd's of London, who were the insurers of the vessel. Eight of the bodies were buried in the graveyard at St. Columba parish.
As the storm subsided and the tide receded, children played upon the wreck, and rounds of cheese floated ashore. Debris from the wreck was used by locals to build and furnish their homes, and some of these home still remain today.
Both Austin Grady and Duncan Campbell received a sum of money from the Patriot, and were later presented with the Carnegie Medal of Bravery for their extraordinary heroism.
Today, over 100 years later, the wreck is still visible at low tide, and remnants of the wreckage can still be found. The memory of the Wreck of the Sovinto continues to live on in local folklore, and the wrecksite itself has become a popular spot for Island divers.
To discover more about the Island's hidden history, from shipwrecks and rum-runners, wishing wells and ghost stories, visit the Red Rock Adventure Company home page, and learn about all the touring opportunities which we offer.
This project is made possible through a partnership with the Red Rock Adventure Company and theSourispedia Project.
Click here to read about The Wreck of the Sovinto with complete intext citations.
Townshend, Adele. "The Wreck of the SOVINTO" The Island Magazine 1978: 36-39. Print.
Watson, Julie V. Shipwrecks and Seafaring Tales of Prince Edward Island. Hounslow Press: Toronto, 1994.
Wrecksite. "SV Sovinto (+1906)" The 'Wrecksite. Oct 1 2012. Web. Feb 8 2013.
Note: This is part one of our on-going series about the shipwrecks of Northeastern Prince Edward Island. The first three in our series will focus on those ships wrecked during the November Gale of 1906.
The November Gale of 1906 is well remembered by those who still live alongside the northeastern coast of Prince Edward Island. It was this gale that was responsible for the infamous wrecks of the Turret Bell, The Sovinto, and The Olga, among others. Within a twenty-mile span, from Priest Pond to Cable Head, four ships alone were wrecked in the storm.
It was a storm that could not have been predicted, for The Guardian of 5 November 1906 wrote that "even weather vanes were deceived. The barometer gave no warning; the weather possibilities conveyed no hint of more storms..." Despite this, the November Gale raged on for almost two weeks, and dumped eight inches of rain upon the area. It is in these conditions that we turn to the story of our first wreck.
The Wreck of the Turret Bell.
Built in 1894, it was of the “whaleback design” which had evolved out of necessity of shipping on the Great Lakes during the 1890s. Bulky and off-putting, these whaleback steamers were renowned for their unconventional design.
However, it was to be the case that this very design would be the thing to put the wreck of the Turret Bell on the map.
An Unexpected Occurence.
The Turret Bell’s story began on an unremarkable day in the late autumn of 1906. Her Captain, a Mr. Murcassen, was guiding her down the St. Lawrence river, en-route for Cape Breton to retrieve a load of coal.
But as she entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Turret Bell sailed straight into one of the worst storms in Island history.
High winds quickly developed as the ship sailed along, and it was in little time that the Turret Bell was blown far off her course. Visibility was low, and navigation nearly impossible.
The Captain did his best to keep his ship on course, but the storm had other plans for her on that fateful day, and before Captain Murcassen knew it, the Turret Bell had been wrecked upon a rocky ledge, her bow pointing landward, 150m offshore at Cable Head, near St. Peter’s Bay.
There were 22 souls on board.
Their only salvation was that the broad bulk of her whaleback hull was enough to keep her upright in the shallow water, despite the whipping winds and raging seas. It was early Friday morning, 2 November 1906.
Islanders Discover the Wreck.
News of the wreck spread across the Island as that day’s edition of the Daily Examiner ran the headline: "ASHORE AT CABLE HEAD. BIG LINER TURRET BELL ON ROCKS. DOUBTFUL IF SHE WILL BE ABLE TO GET OFF."
The account continued, describing the severity of the wreck:
“The steamer is firmly wedged upon a bottom of rock and is resting on an even keel. She is lying about 150 yards out from the shore and does not appear to be pounding.
A very heavy sea is still running and, although there seems to be no danger of the steamer breaking up, yet the distance to which she has been driven in to the shore makes it look doubtful if she can be floated again.
Owing to the heavy sea on, no communication has yet been made with the steamer from the shore and it has been impossible to launch a boat.... A large number of men went from Souris to Cable Head this morning but were unable to render assistance owing to the severity of the weather...”
A Rescue Attempted.
Efforts were put underway to send a tug-boat to rescue the doomed steamer, but it quickly became apparent that to do so would be impossible, and that the Turret Bell could not be tugged out, as it was “lying well within the sandbar.”
Up to this point, it had remained impossible for any communications to be made from the shore to the men trapped onboard the ship.
The storm had worsened that night, and a high tidal surge had washed her further inward toward the shore, leaving her about 20m offshore.
Despite the ship's proximity to land, strong winds and currents prevented any means of escape for those trapped on board, and although they were closer than ever to safety, the hope of a rescue still evaded them.
Questions soon arose as to the safety and conditions of the men, and as to whether they had adequate food stores.
To remedy this, Captain Murcassen cleverly established communications with those on shore by sending dispatches in a bottle.
This one way communication system was not ideal, but it was enough to serve the purpose. He advised those on land that the crew were dry and comfortable, and that they had sufficient provisions on board.
Those on board remained there for the weekend, and by Monday morning, as the weather grew calmer, it was possible to bridge the 20m span with a cable.
Through the use of this cable the Captain came ashore that morning, and later that evening his wife, who it was revealed had been a passenger on the ship, came ashore as well.
The crew remained on the ship until the next morning.
Salvaging a Colossus.
With all those who had wrecked upon the Turret Bell present and accounted for, the skeleton of the doomed steamer became a phenomenal tourist attraction for those in the surrounding area of Eastern Kings County.
As Townshend remarks, “People came on foot and on horseback, by horse and carriage, and (a very few) by car.”
This curiosity, the sense of inquisitiveness which is at the heart of every Islander, too gave way to create an enduring part of this story, as it was from these numerous visits that the Turret Bell Road, a road which remains in use to this day, became developed as it is.
Initially, curious onlookers travelled north on the Greenwich Road towards the dunes area on the seaward side of the St. Peters peninsula, and then made their way across the beach. This route to access the site proved to be tedious and ineffectual.
Later, when efforts to re-float the ship got underway, “a new road was cut through the woods on the Sutherland farm, at right angles to the Greenwich Road, to provide a more direct route to the site of the wreck.”
This clay road, which was intended only for those working on the reclamation of the ship, became a popular shortcut for those wishing to see the wreck, and hence its legacy remains even today.
Even with the facilitation of the Turret Bell road, the salvaging of the Turret Bell proved to be difficult business. The sheer size and weight of the vessel, coupled with its proximity to shore, offered a foreboding challenge to those who sought to right it.
Furthermore, salvage machinery was, at the time, in short supply, and the window of favorable weather in which to conduct such operations was deceptively short.
After two long years a crew had managed only to dislodge her from her holdings, and to float her 700 feet from shore.
This was seen as good news, but Winter was upon them, and so the Turret Bell was pumped full of water to anchor her in place, and a man was assigned to live onboard her over the winter.
Recovery efforts resumed in the spring time, and by the summer of 1909 she was prepared to be hauled to Charlottetown by a tugger, and to the surprise of everyone she was able to assist in her own propulsion, as her steamers still remained operational after all that time.
Amazingly, after three years (and three winters) at Cable Head, the Turret Bell was in sound and sturdy condition after her time at Cable Head, aside from being outwardly rusted.
On 13 August 1909, the Turret Bell, again under tow, left Charlottetown for Quebec. She was due for repairs, but after maintenance and restoration would was to be put back at sea, a successful end to a memorable wreckage.
To discover more about the Island's hidden history, from shipwrecks and rum-runners, wishing wells and ghost stories, visit the Red Rock Adventure Company home page, and learn about all the touring opportunities which we offer.
This project is made possible through a partnership with the Red Rock Adventure Company and the Sourispedia Project.
1. Townshend, Adele. "Survivor: The Wreck and Salvage of the Turret Bell." The Island Magazine.
2. St. Peter's Bay Community Community. stpetersbaycommunity.com
Every summer, tourists from around the world descend upon Prince Edward Island in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and to enjoy a slice of country living.
However, it seems that each year many of them seem to make the same mistake:
They spend their time on vacation the same way they spend their time at home: rushed, stressed, and dissatisfied.
Why is that?
It seems to me that people simply forget to slow down. They forget that they’re on Island time now, and that things just happen at a different pace here.
So how can people get out of that busy, stressful rut?
It’s simple. Grab a bicycle.
There’s no better way to relax and unwind than on a bicycle, and Prince Edward Island is the ideal place to do it.
And so, in that spirit, we’ve created for you a list of the Top 5 Reasons to Explore PEI by Bicycle, which are certain to inspire.
Reason #1: The Island's Incredible Scenery
Anyone even remotely familiar with Prince Edward Island already knows that it is an incredibly gorgeous place, however, its beauty shines even brighter when you explore the Island by bicycle.
As Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables wrote about PEI, “you never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields or along the winding red roads of Prince Edward Island in a summer twilight.”
And while that held true even in Montgomery’s day, it remains just as relevant today.
My favorite memories of Prince Edward Island all revolve around the scenic beauty of the great outdoors, whether it be climbing on the rocks in Sheep Pond, watching the sun rise at East Point, or exploring an old wood road in the Glen.
All of these things seem so simple, and in fact it is their simplicity that makes them so wonderful; yet they all would have been missed had I not chosen to explore by bicycle. Moving under pedal power gives you the chance see that which would otherwise have been missed in the car, and allows you to truly experience what the Island has to offer.
Reason #2: The Island's Slow Pace.
There are plenty of times in life when things moving too slowly can be a problem. I think of traffic jams, slow internet, or even the mail!
But during your vacation on Prince Edward Island, you should always remember that a snail’s pace is something to be sought after.
When riding a bike on PEI, you permit yourself the time to enjoy things at a leisurely pace.
Look around you – Islander’s naturally take it slowly.
We didn’t even lift prohibition until 1948, and canned pop is still a radical new idea here! It only makes sense that a leisurely ride on a bicycle is ideal for Island life.
All of those people who speed down the main road, who race to catch the bridge or boat, are missing out on an entire dimension of their vacation.
The mantra on the Island is "don’t speed up here; slow down".
A bicycle is a beautiful way to do just that, and to enjoy the Island the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
Reason #3: The Confederation Trail
No discussion of cycling on PEI would be complete without a shout out to the magnificent Confederation Trail.
Built after the removal of the Island train system in the late 1980s, the Confederation Trail is Prince Edward Island’s contribution to the Trans Canada Trail system. It spans the entire length of the Island, and offer hundreds of kilometers of groomed, crushed gravel trails.
Best of all, the trail is entirely flat with almost no changes in elevation whatsoever, thanks to its train track heritage.
The Confederation Trail offers a safe, accessible, and scenic way to get around the Island, and includes stop at many (if not all!) of the Island’s towns and villages.
An experience not to be missed, the Confederation Trail is a must-do for any cyclist on Prince Edward Island.
Reason #4: The Opportunity to Explore
Some experiences simply cannot be replicated. I think back to my many runs and rides in Rollo Bay in the early morning, waiting and watching as the sun comes up over the horizon.
The calm surf rolled inwards at my side, and the cool sand still held shadows of the previous dew. Seals and gulls made their presence known, and at the right hour even the eagles could be spotted in their nests.
For anyone who rides a bicycle, you already know the feeling that I am trying to describe as I type these words. It is that feeling of discovery, of experience, that you can never find on the side of the highway or through a rear-view mirror.
It is a feeling of self-satisfaction, of self-knowing, that comes from those early morning rides through a breaking dawn.
The Island is rife with opportunities like these, but they exist only for those willing to seek them out, and a bicycle is that key component that permits such a pursuit.
Reason #5: The Island's "Hidden Treasures".
On that note, I’ve chosen to conclude this article by emphasizing the multitude of “hidden treasures” that the Island offers, that are only available by bicycle, or by straying from the beaten path.
Some of them are somewhat obvious, such as the famous “Roaring Springs” at Harmony Junction, or the waterfall on the Hermitage Road.
But others, innumerable and marvelous, are still waiting to be discovered. Those vista views, those setting suns, those wild waves; all of those snapshot moments in time that exist only for an instant before they disappear. They exist not on the roadways or in the city centres, but in the hedgerows, hay fields, and at the high tides.
It is a bicycle, and the adventurous spirit that so often accompanies it, that will lead you to their discovery, and I am certain that you’ll never once regret leaving the car parked where it is.
To learn more about cycling opportunities on Prince Edward Island, to explore a large variety of different routes and experiences, or to book a guided tour of any of the places pictured or described, visit our home page and discover why Red Rock Adventure Company is the Island's leader in guided bicycle tours.
People who are planning on visiting Prince Edward Island this summer already know this:
There’s no other place in the world quite like it.
But the most frequently asked question when tourists get here is "what is there to do on PEI?" In fact, we continue to hear that people are looking for adventures on PEI, but just don't know where to find them.
Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve collected a list of the top 5 recommended things to do in Prince Edward Island that will get you away from the crowds and off the beaten path.
From seal watching to beach combing, these things showcase the spectacular beauty that PEI is famous for, and are certain to be the highlight of your trip. From biking to hiking, we've got you covered.
#1: Sunbathing Seals at Rollo Bay.
Prince Edward Island is famous for its wildlife, and there is nothing more spectacular in the summer time than to witness a playful harbor seal.
And while there are many places around the Island to spot one of these creatures, the best kept secret on where to do so is without a doubt in Rollo Bay.
The warm waters of Rollo Bay are a paradise for people and seals, and when the water recedes at low tide it leaves a sprawling sand flat in its wake. It's here, out on these sand bars, that the seals are known to sleep, basking in the warmth of the summer sun.
They aren’t always the easiest to find, and changing tides and weather can hamper their discovery, but to stumble upon them is worth the challenge. If you do find these seals, be careful not to get to near, and you should never wake them up!
To access Rollo Bay beach, head down Route 330 and follow the first dirt road to the water.
#2: The Hermitage Waterfall.
When you think of Prince Edward Island, you probably don’t think of waterfalls. Right?
That’s because most people believe that there aren’t any waterfalls on PEI.
They would be wrong.
There is a waterfall on PEI, and its one of the Island’s best kept secrets. Formed by a chance combination of elevation and water pressure, the Hermitage waterfall is like no other.
Springing forth from a pool high above the river its waters careen downwards over centuries worth of mossed over rocks, tumbling ceaselessly into the Naufrage river below. A sight that must be seen to be appreciated, it is no wonder that the locals hold this place in such high regard.
In order to find this waterfall, you must head north on Route 308, until you come to the Hermitage Road. From there, you must find the river and follow it south. The trail is sparse and unmarked, but perseverance is certain to pay off when you spot this beauty!
#3: The Canopy in "The Glen".
While Prince Edward Island is famous for its beaches, it has a longstanding connection to its forests as well.
Many of the Island’s celebrated red dirt roads still wind their way deep into the wooded heartland of the Island interior, and in fact a number of these roads are designated on PEI as Scenic Heritage Roads.
And while each of these roads boasts something unique to offer, there is none quite like the New Harmony Heritage road.
Located in the north-east corner of the Island, the New Harmony Heritage road surges northward, connecting the Northumberland Strait with the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
And although just the beauty to be seen on the road itself is something noteworthy, it is truly remarkable for its nearly two-kilometre long enclosed canopy, consisting entirely of maple and birch boughs. To drive down this road is to step in the past, and it is one the last remaining remnants of “days gone by”.
To find the New Harmony Heritage road, head north of Souris on Route 305, veer immediately onto Route 335, and take your first left onto Route 303. From there simply follow 303 into the woods.
#4: Naufrage Harbour.
There is perhaps nothing more uniquely Island than the tiny fishing villages which have sprung up across the province.
Despite advances in technology that have elsewhere disrupted the fishing industry, it seems that little has changed in these quaint little villages. Dozens of them are still active to this day, but most remarkable is the harbor at Naufrage.
Named “naufrage” after the French word for shipwreck, it was here that shipwrecked sailors washed ashore and came to settle. From its very beginning Naufrage has shared a special connection to the sea, and this connection continues to be seen to this day.
Despite its size, more than a hundred fisherman sail from this harbor every day, and it still boasts a proud and active light house, one that continues to guide sailors home from their labours at sea.
To find Naufrage, head North from St. Peter's Bay along Route 16.
#5: Greenwich National Park.
When it comes to Prince Edward Island, the first thing that springs to mind is the beach. Warm water, waves crashing, and gulls overhead.
The Island has come to be known for its colorful sunsets and sprawling sandy shores, and if this is what you seek, you need look no further than Greenwich National Park.
Unlike the other parts of the Prince Edward Island National Park, Greenwich is in a world of its own, isolated from the rest of the Island on its own peninsula.
Here the crowds are thinner, the beaches calmer, and the scenery just that much more beautiful.
Greenwich boasts all of the favoured amenities of any other National park, but here you are free to enjoy all that it is offer in relative solitude, making the experience truly your own.
To find Greenwich, follow Route 313 from St. Peter's Bay.
The Red Rock Adventure Company is your number one destination for adventure tours on PEI. To learn more about any of these places, or to discover a multitude of other adventure opportunities, please visit our tours page. Follow this link to visit our reservations page and book a tour for yourself today.