Charlottetown, PE, Canada

Prince Edward Island is only 2,170 square miles in size yet packed with delight, especially from May through October. This is your walking tour of the waterfront and downtown of Charlottetown, the capital city. Then, discover the beauty of the north shore in this Maritime Province along Canada’s east coast.

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1 Harbor View of Charlottetown, Canada

Welcome to Charlottetown, the capital of Canada’s smallest province: Prince Edward Island. This city of 36,000 people was founded in 1764 and named after the queen consort of George III. He was the king of the United Kingdom from 1760 until 1820. The “Birthplace of Confederation” is eager to show you their tranquil harbor and National Historic Sites. You are about to embark on a pleasant sightseeing experience.

1 Weymouth St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 8W1, Canada

2 Options for Exploring Charlottetown, Canada

This travel guide provides three options for exploring the sites in and near Charlottetown. If you arrive by cruise ship, there is plenty to do immediately after disembarking at Port Charlottetown. The scenic waterfront has a picturesque marina, promenades, shops and outdoor eateries. Next, walk along the main downtown streets, visit numerous heritage buildings and learn how Charlottetown was instrumental to the unification of Canada. Finally, make the short drive to the northern coast of Prince Edward Island.

1 Weymouth St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 8W1, Canada

3 Founders’ Food Hall & Market in Charlottetown, Canada

Charlottetown has been busy transforming its old industrial harbor into a welcoming environment for cruise ship passengers. An appealing addition in 2019 is Founders’ Food Hall & Market. This former railway maintenance building was converted into a food court. Local entrepreneurs offer everything from burgers, donuts, gourmet coffee and craft beer. Other vendors market their crafts. Also visit the Walk & Sea Visitor Centre for maps, recommendations and to arrange tours. At the door are taxi drivers and tour operators. They are delighted to guide you around their city and island.

6 Prince St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P5, Canada

4 Historic Event at Confederation Landing Park in Charlottetown, Canada

Confederation Landing Park is a six-acre greenspace created in 1995 near the cruise ship dock. The name recognizes what happened here that changed the course of Canada’s history. On September 1, 1864, several delegates arrived aboard the SS Queen Victoria to attend the Charlottetown Conference. By the end of the week, the Maritime Colonies plus the Province of Canada had defined the foundation for uniting. The Confederation was finalized in 1867 under the name of Canada.

2 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K6, Canada

5 Peake’s Wharf in Charlottetown, Canada

Peake’s Wharf is a haven for basking in the warm sunshine with a front row seat along the waterfront. Grab a bite to eat, sip a cold beer or lick a cone from local favorite Cows Ice Cream. Give your credit card some exercise at the boutique stores. Their merchandise ranges from fashion, souvenirs, pewter, jewelry and art.

1 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 0B1, Canada

6 Peake’s Wharf Boardwalk in Charlottetown, Canada

Charlottetown’s harbor is formed by the confluence of three rivers and two headlands before flowing into Northumberland Strait. As a result, the water is typically tranquil. The best way to appreciate the beauty while smelling the sea air is by strolling along the Peake’s Wharf Boardwalk.

1 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 0B1, Canada

7 PEI Convention Centre in Charlottetown, Canada

Prince Edward Island Convention Centre opened along the waterfront in 2013 with an impressive 50,000 square feet of space. Each of the 23 conference rooms are named after one of the delegates who attended the Charlottetown Conference in 1864. The meeting facilities are attached to and managed by the Delta Prince Edward hotel.

4 Queen St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4A2, Canada

8 Horse-drawn Carriage Ride in Charlottetown, Canada

Downtown Charlottetown is flat, compact, safe and attractive. The major sites are concentrated on a few streets plus at a park at the water’s edge. In short, this is a perfect city to explore on foot. Or, you can opt to have horses do the trotting. Sign up for your half hour sightseeing ride aboard a horse-drawn carriage at Founders’ Food Hall & Market. This fun outing is operated by Emerald Isle Carriage Tours.

Great George St & Water St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4J7, Canada

9 Old Customs House in Charlottetown, Canada

You walking tour of Charlottetown begins on Great George Street. These six blocks – stretching from Peake’s Quay on the waterfront to the Province House – has been designated as a Historic District of Canada. One of the first heritage structures you will encounter is the Old Customs House. Architect David Stirling created this Italianate-style brick building in 1868 as the headquarters for the Bank of Prince Edward Island. The “Old Bank” became insolvent in 1882 after internal fraud was discovered. Subsequent tenants were two other banks and government offices. The property served as the Customs House until the 1950s.

40 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K6, Canada

10 Bishop Angus MacEachern Statue in Charlottetown, Canada

Father Angus MacEachern immigrated from Scotland to Charlottetown in 1790 when St. John’s Island was part of the Diocese of Quebec. By the end of his life 45 years later, he had established the Diocese of Charlottetown, become the first bishop, constructed 18 Catholic churches and started St. Andrews College. This life-size sculpture of Bishop MacEachern was created by Hubert Quade in 2012. The tribute stands in front of the former residence of the bishops, an imposing 19th century Italianate structure next to the cathedral. In 2007, Bishop’s Palace became part of St. Dunstan’s University and renamed SDU Place.

45 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K1, Canada

11 St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral in Charlottetown, Canada

The twin spires of St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral rise 200 feet. They are a focal point for downtown. This is the fourth Catholic church to occupy this site on Great George Street. The first was erected in 1816 and became a cathedral in 1829 when the Diocese of Charlottetown was formed. It was replaced by another wooden building in 1843. In the late 19th century, architect François-Xavier Berlinguet created a grand High Victorian Gothic Revival design. The new stone cathedral was consecrated in 1907 then heavily damaged by fire six years later. Great effort was made to reconstruct the façade according to the original drawings. St. Dunstan’s Cathedral was elevated to a basilica in 1929 and designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990.

65 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K1, Canada

12 Nave of St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral in Charlottetown, Canada

After the tragic fire of St. Dunstan’s Cathedral in 1913, the diocese decided to create a more elaborate interior. The plans of architect J. M. Hunter were inspired by New York City’s iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The English Gothic style of the nave is handsome. Especially attractive is the ribbed vaulted ceiling supported by Gothic arches. The combination directs your eye toward the rose window crowning the 37 foot high altar. Encircling the sanctuary are 23 statues of saints and angels.

65 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K1, Canada

13 Fathers of Confederation Sculptures in Charlottetown, Canada

The path to Canada’s unification began in Charlottetown in 1864. The process ended with the ratification of the British North American Act in 1867 by the British House of Lords, House of Commons and Queen Victoria. 36 colonial delegates were involved to varying degrees at conferences in Charlottetown, Quebec and London. They are called the Fathers of Confederation. This pair of sculptures by Nathan Scott honors two of them. Strangely, they had the same name: John Hamilton Gray. The one wearing a top hat was the Conservative Premier of Prince Edward Island. He was also chairman of the Charlottetown Conference. The other was a delegate from New Brunswick. The bronze ensemble was erected in 2014 to help celebrate the 150th year of the Charlottetown Conference. The tribute is located across Great George Street from the St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral.

62 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K1, Canada

14 Inns on Great George in Charlottetown, Canada

Facing St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral are mid-19th century rowhouses painted in a rainbow of pastel colors. Each has a plaque displaying the name of the original resident. For example, the ochre Perkins House was constructed in 1843 for a shoemaker named Hugh Perkins. Although they appear to be separate units, they are part of The Great George Hotel. In 1990, a pair of developers purchased 15 buildings on the block. Then, they restored them so the facades reflected their heritage style yet the interiors were rebuilt to accommodate guest suites. The highly-rated boutique hotel opened in 1996.

58 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K3, Canada

15 Honorable George Coles Building in Charlottetown, Canada

The Law Courts Building was designed by architect Thomas Alley and opened in 1876. For a century, the Italianate style brick building housed the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. After a devastating fire in 1976, the interior was gutted, restored and accommodated various providence government offices. It was also renamed in honor of George Coles. He was the first Premier of Prince Edward Island from 1851 until 1859 and again in 1867 to 1869. The Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island temporarily met here while the Province House was closed for renovation.

175 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1J1, Canada

16 St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall in Charlottetown, Canada

The British acquired St. John’s Island (name of Prince Edward Island before 1799) from the French in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. For the next six years, the island was governed as part of Nova Scotia. When it became a separate colony in 1769, money was allocated to build an Anglican church. Yet the first rector was not appointed until 1777. Three churches were constructed and demolished before the current St. Paul’s Anglican Church was finished in 1896. This church hall was added in 1906. The Gothic Revival design by architect Charles Chappell features an Island sandstone façade.

101 Prince St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4R5, Canada

17 The Mack in Charlottetown, Canada

The Capitol Theatre opened in 1935. The single-screen movie house operated for three decades before closing in 1965. After the property was purchased by the city, it was given a new name: The Mack. The Confederation Centre of the Arts manages the special event venue. Occasional performances are also staged for small audiences of less than 200 people.

128 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K6, Canada

18 Province House National Historic Site in Charlottetown, Canada

The First General Assembly of the Island of Saint John occurred in 1773. Five years later, it was renamed the General Assembly of Prince Edward Island. Since 1847, the legislators have presided in this Neoclassical structure designed by Isaac Smith. Initially called the Colonial Building, the name changed to the Province House after Prince Edward Island joined the Canadian Confederation in 1873. This building is where the historic Charlottetown Conference was held in 1864. During the six-day meeting, the delegates made the first major step toward the unification of Canada (approved by Queen Victoria in 1867). The success of the event is why Charlottetown claims to be the “Birthplace of Confederation.” Renovation of the Province House began in 2015.

165 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1J1, Canada

19 Veterans Memorial in Charlottetown, Canada

These three bronze sculptures of Canadian soldiers advancing toward battle were created by artist G.W. Hill. The Veterans Memorial was erected in front of the Province House in 1925. The Canadian Forces originally intended to honor the fallen and all who served during World War I. Subsequently, inscriptions were added to recognize the heroes from World War II, the Korean War and battles in Afghanistan.

165 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1J1, Canada

20 Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Canada

Adjacent to Province House is the Confederation Centre of the Arts. This block-long complex contains an 1,100 seat theater, a public library and the art museum shown here. The Confederation Centre Art Gallery has a collection of over 17,000 pieces by Canadian artists. They also sponsor about 20 special exhibitions a year. Queen Elizabeth II opened CCAG in 1964 on the centennial of the Charlottetown Conference.

145 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1J1, Canada

21 Victoria Row in Charlottetown, Canada

South of the Confederation Centre of the Arts is Richmond Street. It is better known as Victoria Row. The moniker stems from the Victorian Period (late 19th century) brick facades lining the one-block avenue between Great George and Queen Streets. Tourists are attracted to the boutique shops and quaint restaurants. Victoria Row is especially busy when the cobblestone street is closed to traffic (May through October), the cafes are serving outdoors and live music brightens the ambiance.

156 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1H9, Canada

22 Anne of Green Gables Store in Victoria Row in Charlottetown, Canada

In 1908, novelist Lucy Maud Montgomery created 11 year old orphan Anne Shirley and placed her in a fictious town on Prince Edward Island. Since then, Anne of Green Gables has become closely associated with Charlottetown. Fans can visit this store on Victoria Row. Also attend the musical during the Charlottetown Festival (May to October). Since the production began in 1965, Anne of Green Gables: The Musical has become the longest running in Canada. For a special treat, drive to Cavendish and tour the Green Gables House (shown later in this travel guide).

110 Queen St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4B1, Canada

23 Charlottetown City Hall in Charlottetown, Canada

The corner tower of Charlottetown City Hall will be the first feature to grab your attention. Then, you will appreciate the other aspects of the Romanesque Revival design. The municipal building opened in 1888 and was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada nearly a century later. City Hall still offices the mayor and ten councilors.

199 Queen St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4B7, Canada

24 Rodd Charlottetown in Charlottetown, Canada

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, railroad companies in Canada competed in building grand hotels. The Canadian National Railway constructed nine hotels in as many provinces from 1911 though 1958. One of them was the Hotel Charlottetown in 1931. The property was honored to host Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip in 1973. After an extensive renovation, it reopened as the Rodd Charlottetown hotel.

75 Kent St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K4, Canada

25 St. James Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown, Canada

The first Presbyterians arrived on St. John’s Island (now Prince Edward Island) in 1770. Over 60 years would pass before they had their own place to worship. Both the first and second Kirk of St. James were constructed with wood. Architect David Sterling drafted the Gothic Revival design of the existing St. James Presbyterian Church. The project was finished in 1878. The multi-hued façade is sandstone from Nova Scotia. The faceted tower reaches a height of 130 feet.

35 Fitzroy St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1R2, Canada

26 Rochford Square in Charlottetown, Canada

Charlottetown was established in 1764 and made the capital of St. John’s Island the following year. The founding fathers insisted on a logical layout of their colonial town. Thomas Wright was hired as a surveyor to design a grid pattern for the streets. One of the four parks he recommended in 1771 was Rochford Square. In 1884, over 100 trees were planted to beautify the area. Today, Rochford Square is one of the best public spaces in Charlottetown. On the other side of the park is the Prince Edward Island Government complex. Unfortunately, they do not have the architectural flare of many other provincial buildings across Canada.

Kent St & Pownal St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K4, Canada

27 Beaconsfield Historic House in Charlottetown, Canada

This grand residence was designed by William Harris for James Peake Jr., a prominent ship builder. It was one of the most elaborate houses in Charlottetown when finished in 1877. For years, the home was a social epicenter for the city’s elite. The namesake was Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield. He was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1874 until 1880. The Cundall siblings lived here until the last one died in 1916. Then, it housed female students and nurses until given to the province. On July 3, 1973, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Beaconsfield Historic House as a museum. The rooms contain Victorian Era furnishings to give visitors a peak at the lives of the wealthy during the late 19th century.

2 Kent St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1M6, Canada

28 Victoria Park Boardwalk in Charlottetown, Canada

Beaconsfield Historic House marks the start of the Victoria Park Boardwalk. This .75 mile promenade along the waterfront is delightful. Your stroll also traces the outer edge of Victoria Park. The former Government House Farm was converted into this 40 acre park in 1873. Encircling the forested sections are an outdoor pool, baseball fields, tennis courts, skateboard area and a playground. The name of the boardwalk and park honors Queen Victoria. Her 63 year reign of the United Kingdom was from 1837 until 1901.

Victoria Park Roadway & Terry Fox Dr, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1M6, Canada

29 Government House at Victoria Park in Charlottetown, Canada

In 1789, 100 acres facing the harbor were designated by Lieutenant Governor Edmund Fanning to be the future residence and farm for the governor of St. John’s Island (Prince Edward Island since 1799). The land was called Fanning’s Bank. His vision was not realized until the Government House was finished in 1834. The Palladian Georgian style, wooden building sits on ten acres adjacent to Victoria Park. It is the residence of the province’s lieutenant governor. Technically, the Government House is owned by the United Kingdom monarch. Therefore, it provides accommodations for the royal family during their visits to Prince Edward Island.

1 Terry Fox Dr, Charlottetown, PE C1A 8T6, Canada

30 Prince Edward Battery at Victoria Park in Charlottetown, Canada

In 1805, the British created a battery on Governor’s Point in anticipation of defending Charlottetown from growing American hostilities. Fire power on the site continued growing until the War of 1812 was concluded. In 1865, the 9-pounder cannons (background) began facing the harbor. The following year, three 32-pounder smooth bore guns on wooden carriages were added. In 1905, Prince Edward Battery at Victoria Park was abandoned. History buffs will enjoy reading the informative plaques about military historic sites on Prince Edward Island from 1776 through 2005.

45 Victoria Park Roadway, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1M6, Canada

31 Victorian Era Homes in Charlottetown, Canada

Time to return to Port Charlottetown. Rather than backtrack the way you came to Victoria Park, follow West Street, Haviland Street and then Water Street. This route is part of the Heritage Walk. Along the way you will see many beautiful Victorian Era homes. An example is this lovely Queen Anne Revival mansion on the corners of West and Grafton Streets. The elaborate residence was constructed in 1897 for James Eden. The tavern owner lived here until 1923. Then it was purchased by George DeBlois before he was lieutenant governor from 1933 until 1939. The restored property is now a bed & breakfast named The Eden Hall Inn.

12 West St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 3S4, Canada

32 Red Shores Racetrack in Charlottetown, Canada

The third and final phase of your adventure requires a car, taxi or tour. You are going to drive through central Prince Edward Island to the north shore. Along the way, you will discover plenty of places to interest and entertain you. The first is Red Shores Racetrack & Casino. Summerside Raceway opened in 1886, qualifying as the oldest track in Canada. Crowds pack the grandstand to watch exciting harness racing. The casino offers over 200 slot machines plus poker and blackjack tables.

58 Kensington Rd, Charlottetown, PE C1A 9S8, Canada

33 Golf Courses in Charlottetown, Canada

Winters are long on Prince Edward Island. When spring finally arrives in early May, many locals are eager to begin golfing. There are seventeen courses to choose from across the island. They range from inexpensive 9 hole courses to expensive green fees for 18 holes. These gentlemen are playing at Belvedere Golf Club. Founded in 1902, this is the grandfather of golf courses on the island. The 150 acre, 18 hole course is located a few miles north of central Charlottetown.

1 Greensview Dr, Charlottetown, PE C1A 6C3, Canada

34 Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site in York, Canada

Alexander McDonald was the former president of Standard Oil of Kentucky. In 1895, he and his wife became enamored with Prince Edward Island. He purchased 200 acres near the northern shoreline and built this elegant, Queen Anne Revival summer estate. He named it and the adjoining lake Dalvay after his boyhood town in Scotland. The home was subsequently owned by a bishop, a rum runner and Lieutenant Governor George DeBlois. Since 1938, Dalvay-by-the-Sea has operated as a prestigious hotel. In 2011, Prince William and his wife Catherine stayed here.

16 Cottage Crescent, York, PE C0A 1P0, Canada

35 Covehead Harbour Lighthouse in York, Canada

You are now in Prince Edward Island National Park. The park stretches for 37 miles along the north coast. This scenic area is easy to explore by driving along Gulf Shore Parkway East. PEI National Park maintains magnificent beaches, miles of hiking trails, campgrounds and historic sites. There are also attractions appealing to summertime locals and tourists. This is the Covehead Harbour Lighthouse. The origin dates back to 1879 when two masts were fitted with lights at the mouth of the harbor. The current version of the 26.9 foot high light was built in 1975.

1530 Gulf Shore Pkwy E, York, PE C0A 1P0, Canada

36 Wooden Ramp to Brackley Beach in Brackley Beach, Canada

There are seven beaches in Prince Edward Island National Park. They all face the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The shoreline is defined by windswept dunes and red sandstone mounds. Most are easily accessible from Gulf Shore Parkway East by wooden boardwalks. This is Brackley Beach, one of the most popular. The wide and long stretch of sand is magical, a perfect place to become mesmerized by the rolling waves. Amenities include washrooms, a canteen and lifeguards. There is also ample parking to accommodate even late risers. Active souls will enjoy biking, walking or running along the 7.75 mile Gulf Shore Way. Another favorite spot to idle away a summer day is Cavendish Beach.

Brackley Beach, Gulf Shore Pkwy E, Lot 33, PE C0A 1X0, Canada

37 Garden at Dunes Studio Gallery in Brackley Beach, Canada

There are several reasons to visit the Dunes Studio Gallery & Café. Among them are the boutiques featuring fashion, jewelry and pottery from 50 local artisans. The most compelling reason is the incredible garden in back. This is a dream experience for aspiring horticulturalists. Hundreds of blooming perennials, shrubs and trees encircle small ponds with floating lilies. The tranquil scene is accented with intriguing Asian statues. Walking paths allow you to casually stroll while savoring different angles of the manicured landscape with Brackley Bay in the background.

3622 Brackley Point Road, Route #15, Brackley Beach, PE C1E 2P2, Canada

38 Fishing Village of North Rustico, Canada

North Rustico has not grown much since being established in 1790. The village only has 600 residents but swells with tourists during the summer. The roots of “The Crick” is fishing. About 40 small boats harbor here. Their primary catch is lobster. There are two seasons on PEI: May through June and August until October. This is no small enterprise. A lobster license and boat often exceed $1 million. If you can afford to get in, the business can be lucrative when prices are high. A good fisherman can harvest 1,000 to 1,600 pounds of lobster per week.

56 Harbourview Dr, North Rustico, PE C0A 1X0, Canada

39 Green Gables House in Cavendish, Canada

A short 23 miles from downtown Charlottetown is one of the most popular attractions on Prince Edward Island: Green Gables Heritage Place. This 2.5 acre former homestead of the MacNeill family was often visited by Lucy Maud Montgomery when she was a young girl. The farm was the setting for her 1908 novel “Anne of Green Gables.” The 19th century property in Cavendish became a national park in the 1930s and declared a National Historic Site in 1985. If your fascination continues when back in Charlottetown, then visit the Anne of Green Gables Store or attend the musical, Canada’s longest running theatrical production since 1965.

8619 Cavendish Rd, Cavendish, PE C0A 1M0, Canada

40 Sandspit Amusement Park in Cavendish, Canada

Sandspit Amusement Park is one of several family-oriented, seasonal attractions along the north shore of Prince Edward Island. The park offers rides like a Ferris wheel and rollercoaster plus mini golf, go karts and arcade games. Similar options to consider while in Cavendish include Shining Waters Family Fun Park and Cavendish Beach Adventure Zone.

8986 Cavendish Rd, Cavendish, PE C0A 1N0, Canada