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Prince Edward Island

british french settlers canada

Prince Edward Island, one of Canada's maritime provinces, and the smallest of all Canada's provinces both in area and population.

Land and climate

Prince Edward Island is about 10 mi/16 km from the mainland, separated from it by the Northumberland Strait. The maximum length is about 145 mi/233 km and its greatest width about 55 mi/89 km. The shoreline is deeply serrated with tidal inlets. The surface of the island is gently rolling, with some small hills in the center and southeast. Because of its agricultural resources, it is sometimes called the “Garden of the Gulf and “The Million Acre Farm.” The island's climate is variable but generally milder than that of the mainland. The capital is Charlottetown.


Some 80% of the population are descendants of British and Scots settlers, about 15% are descendants of Acadian French settlers, and the balance are Micmac Indians living on reservations.


Prince Edward Island's economy is based upon farming, fishing, tourism, and light industry. Tobacco, strawberry, and blueberry crops are exported. Potatoes are an important crop and about half of the crop is processed, mainly into frozen French fries. Processing of lumber is important to the island as is lobster fishing. There is also manufacturing of fisheries' products.


Prince Edward Island was originally inhabited by nomadic Micmacs, Native Americans of the Algonquian tribe. Jacques Cartier landed in 1534, becoming the first European to explore the islandfor France, and named it Île Saint-Jean. Some 2,000 Acadians, French settlers expelled from Nova Scotia by the British, settled on the island between 1749 and 1755. With the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the island became British, most of the French settlers were expelled, and its name was changed to St. John's Island. Originally annexed by the British to Nova Scotia, St. John's Island became a separate colony in 1709. In 1799, the British changed the name of the island to Prince Edward Island in honor of the Duke of Kent. In 1851, the island won control of its local affairs. After some hesitation, Prince Edward Island decided to join the Dominion of Canada and on July 1, 1873, became the seventh province.

See also: Canada.

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