Historic Charlottetown, capital of Prince Edward Island and its largest city, is known as the Birthplace of Confederation. Located on the shore of Northumberland Strait, on the south side of the island province, Charlottetown lies about 55 km east of Confederation Bridge—which connects to Canada’s mainland.
The Confederation story serves as Charlottetown’s main historical attraction. Founders’ Hall and Canada’s Birthplace Pavilion on Prince Street grace the waterfront where Confederation delegates arrived by ship in 1864. This museum complex offers a treasure trove of artifacts marking the city’s place in Canada's history. Charlottetown’s Visitor Information Centre is also here, so tourists can buy theatre and tour tickets, rent bicycles or pick up souvenirs. Four blocks inland, on Richmond Street, is Province House National Historic Site. The Conference on Confederation took place in this building that has housed the Provincial Legislature since 1847.
Additional Charlottetown attractions recall the beloved Anne of Green Gables series of novels written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, which debuted in 1908. While Anne’s literary home was across the island at Cavendish, her story infuses the culture and character of the province’s largest city. The headliner at Charlottetown Festival, an annual theatre event running from June through September, is “Anne of Green Gables—The Musical.”
The festival is presented at Confederation Centre of the Arts. Concerts, plays and entertainment continue at the Richmond Street landmark throughout the year. In addition to a main stage, outdoor amphitheatre and several studio venues, the centre boasts a gallery with an extensive collection of works by Canadian artists. A library and restaurant also share the site. Outdoors, in summertime, costumed members of the Confederation Players theatrical troupe lead walking tours and stage historical re-enactments.
Restaurant menus in Charlottetown offer potatoes grown in the Island’s “rich, red mud,” made famous by Stompin’ Tom Connors’ ballad “Bud the Spud.” And nothing tastes quite like a lobster pulled from the warm waters of the Northumberland Strait. Most Charlottetown restaurateurs pass out bibs and let you tackle the crustacean whole, doused in clarified butter. On the street or by the shore, you can enjoy an island-style lobster roll with succulent chunks of lobster slathered in mayonnaise piled high on a bun.
How about a cast iron pot of steamed Island mussels, or a cold platter of freshly shucked oysters? While local seafood stars in most restaurants, Charlottetown visitors will also find contemporary Canadian cuisine, English-style pubs and a variety of ethnic eateries throughout the city. For dessert, hit Queen Street or Peakes Quay parlors for scoops of “Cow’s” ice cream—the popular brand makes its corporate headquarters in Charlottetown.
In this city, known for its role in national confederation, foodies and souvenir hunters converge 3 km from Province House at Charlottetown Farmers' Market, on Belvedere Avenue. Artists and craftspeople share space with purveyors of bakery treats and local produce, meats and cheeses straight from the farm. The market is open year-round on Saturdays, and on Wednesdays from July through early October.