Beachcombing in Prince Edward Island, Canada
By Anita St. Denis
Photos by Anne Marie and Dean Johnson
Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province. It is a great summer vacation spot with cultural events, a variety of leisure activities, including golfing and fishing, and the best seafood you’ve ever tasted. The island is only 139 miles long but has over 688 miles of coastline. There are approximately 90 beaches on the island which are all accessible to the public. The miles of sandy beaches are some of the best in the world. Hidden in the cliffs, bays, and harbor beaches of this island is naturally sculpted sea glass that has been smoothed by the currents, tides, rocks and sand.
The small town of Souris on the east end of the province has become well known for its sea glass. At the entrance to the town, the newly developed Souris Beach Gateway Park has a playground, boardwalk, shops, and a beautiful beach where many sea glass treasures can be found. In the 18th century shipbuilding was the main industry of the area. The bay was a bustling harbor which sheltered sailing vessels from storms. The disposal of garbage into the bay was common, from the vessels and from the town. From this disposal, the beach has been returning well-worn pieces of sea glass.
To discover the history and seascape views of the Harbor and Town of Souris, a visit to the lighthouse which was built in 1880 is well worth your time. A panoramic view of Colville Bay can be seen from the top level of the lighthouse. The lighthouse also houses a large sea glass interpretative display about the history and formation of sea glass. After touring Souris’ Historic Lighthouse, visit the gift shop Souris by the Sea Treasures, which showcases over 50 artisans’ work with a wide array of gift and souvenir items including sea glass. Souris will be hosting the 10th annual Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival this summer on July 28th and 29th with Glassing Magazine’s own Richard LaMotte as a scheduled guest speaker.
As you walk along beaches near Cavendish, Charlottetown, and Souris and you are in your quiet place, think of times gone by. Who held the sea glass you find? Was it a child, a captain of a ship, or a famous rum runner? Enjoy the walks on the beach and the pleasure you get when you come across these beautiful gems!
Places to Visit
Charlottetown is the capital city of Prince Edward Island. One of the most significant political events in Canadian history, the Canadian Conference, was held there in 1864 to discuss the idea of Canadian union. This led to Canada officially becoming a nation in 1867. Charlottetown is a thriving hub of all things cultural, coastal, and culinary. Whether you’re looking to relax on the gorgeous waterfront, or explore the vibrant streets, you will find an abundance of activities to keep you inspired in the capital city.
Green Gables, located in Cavendish in the Prince Edward Island National Park, is a popular tourist destination. In 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote the novel Anne of Green Gables. It has become famous around the world. Her writings have had an incredible impact on Prince Edward Island’s tourism industry because it completely captures the charm and serenity that makes the island such a magical place.
Basin Head, east of the town of Souris, is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Basin Head is a day-use park featuring a supervised white sandy beach with its famous " singing sands ‘. It is also home to the Basin Head Fisheries Museum which is dedicated to maintaining the history of fisheries.
Confederation Trail stretches from the west tip to the east tip of the island with communities adding spur connections to provide amenities to the trail. The Confederation Trail was developed on abandoned railway beds through villages, towns and along rivers. In the summer season, the Confederation Trail is used for walking, running, and cycling. Pick up a map of the trails when you visit the island.
Greenwich National Park is a place to explore. The scenery is spectacular with a truly unique landscape. There is the parabolic dunes system which is relatively rare in North America. The interpretive center has over 20 displays and is very informative. You will want to hike along the boardwalk and the sandy beaches of this park to experience all that it has to offer.
Places to Stay
Lighthouse and Beach Motel is a newly constructed place in a quiet setting. For travelers, this is an ideal location to explore the beaches of eastern Prince Edward Island for sea glass. From the motel, it is a five-minute walk down the hill to Sheep Pond Beach or a five-minute drive to Souris Beach.
Red Point Provincial Park with its beautiful beach and supervised swimming has a campground which is very popular with families. There are often special organized activities for children. This beach is approximately 10 minutes east of Souris.
And Don’t Miss
The Lobster Shack at Souris Beach is a perfect spot for a quick lunch. This shack has great fresh lobster rolls. It also has fresh lobster, oysters, and other seafood to take with you. Relax and enjoy the island scenery while enjoying your meal.
Learn more about the Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival ›This article appeared in the Glassing Magazine January/February 2018 issue.