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By Ilona Kauremszky
| May 31, 2019
From sandy red shores, to lobster-filled seas, to earthy red potato fields, to the signature hair of Anne of Green Gables—a world-famous fictional resident—Prince Edward Island is home to many shades of rouge. And let’s not forget the island’s red wine vineyards.
PEI is about a three-hour drive from tip to tip, so road trippers can easily explore the entire range of radiant reds coloring the island during a visit. Read on to discover all the rosy-infused must-see’s and must-do’s packed into Canada’s smallest province.
Bright red lobster
Lobster is one of the biggest food exports from “Canada’s Food Island,” and for good reason. “The waters around Prince Edward Island are more shallow and less rocky than the Atlantic seaboard, which lets the sun permeate closer to the [seabed] and creates a saltier flavor in our lobsters,” says Steven Larkin, owner of Lobster on the Wharf Restaurant & MacKinnon’s Lobster Pound in Charlottetown. Repeat customers clamor inside this family-owned restaurant and seafood market for ocean-to-table eats. There are three indoor dining rooms and three patio decks overlooking the water, providing pinch-me moments along with the lobster chow-down.
A winner of the Shellfish Excellence Award in 2017, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow is another must-dine destination for lobster lovers. They don’t do things small at this fabled restaurant. The 500-seat dining hall is an all-you-can-eat, family-style affair. Picture checkered tablecloths topped with bowls of tomato basil soup, warm rolls, seafood chowder, steamed mussels galore, and a hefty lobster served with heaping salads.
Don a red and white lobster-branded bib and tackle the bright red crustacean, freshly caught from the cold waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. “We have many tour groups from the Boston and New England area who tell us that our lobster are the best that they have ever tasted, even better than Maine lobster,” laughs Carl Nicholson, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers co-owner and general manager since 1989. The foodie feast culminates in homemade desserts, including the restaurant’s famous “mile high” lemon meringue pie.
Fiery red hair
The feisty, redheaded Anne Shirley, better known as Anne of Green Gables, is another global favorite. The fictitious little girl, immortalized by author Lucy Maud Montgomery in the classic novel by the same name, has a worldwide fan base and an array of experiences in Prince Edward Island themed after her.
Cavendish, a charming town centrally located on PEI’s north shore, inspired the setting of “Anne of Green Gables.” Today, the red pig-tailed orphan, who enjoyed potato sack races and Sunday afternoon picnics, comes to life at Green Gables Heritage Place, a National Historic Site in Cavendish. In this storybook setting, walk down the pathways of Lover’s Lane and the shady Haunted Wood Trail. Then proceed to gaze inside the Green Gables farmstead, bedecked as if Anne were returning any minute. Guided tours of the historic home showcase the author’s inspiration.
In the province’s capital, Charlottetown, theater-goers cue up for a musical aptly titled, “Anne of Green Gables: The Musical™” at the Homburg Theatre. The musical, which debuted in 1965, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest annual musical theater production.
After the show, enjoy some ice cream as Anne would have done at the illustrious COWS downtown. Bonus points for ordering a fruity flavor like strawberry sorbet.
Burnt red shore and spuds galore
In the western part of the island, spud lovers hightail it to O’Leary for photo-ops of an enviable roadside attraction: a supersized potato statue. PEI is the largest potato-producing province in Canada and, if this monument is any indication, proud of it. Though the area is small, it has world-class growing conditions for the crop thanks to its soil’s high iron-oxide content. This compound also provides the coloring for PEI’s ruddy red farmlands, burnt red shorelines, and jagged red cliffs.
The tiny town of less than 900 residents blossoms 13 times its size in summer, as visitors plow inside the quirky Canadian Potato Museum, a community fixture. Visitors can take a self-guided museum tour of bygone days or participate in farm tours for a firsthand glimpse of potato farming. “Our local farmers volunteer their time and love to tell visitors about the one thing they love the most: farming,” says museum manager Donna Rowley.
Order yummy potato-infused snacks, like home-cut fries, chili cheese fries, or cheese curd poutine at the museum’s potato kitchen before setting out to discover the next red revelation.
Rich red wines
If bold reds of the sipping variety are more to your liking, a handful of family-owned wineries across the island are open for tours and tastings to quench your thirst. The island’s terroir makes grape growing ideal in the ever expanding wine industry, according to one local vintner. “I believe that PEI is the next big wine discovery…because of the unique red soil here,” says Jaime Matos, owner of Matos Winery & Distillery in St. Catherines.
Located in the Red Sands Shore region on the island’s south shore, Matos Winery & Distillery is a 50-acre boutique vineyard with a peaceful view of the West River. Its clean, crisp Gamay Noir, a notable bestseller, is created from vines imported from France’s Beaujolais region.
Further east along the iconic Points East Coastal Drive, sea breezes off Northumberland Strait skim the grape trellises at Rossignol Estate Winery in Little Sands. There, winemaker John Rossignol concocts a variety of fruit wines, as well as robust red wines, in a vineyard flanked by red sandstone carvings created by his artist wife, Dagny. Rossignol, who started the island’s first winery back in 1995, agrees other big reds are everywhere in the area.
From Rossignol’s vineyard and art gallery, continue east, passing miles of red sandstone cliffs and red potato fields on the way to Red Point Provincial Park. There, camp seaside and and run your toes through the beach’s famous “singing sand,” fine grains of sand that make a kind of whistling sound when rubbed together. Breathe in the salty ocean air, and feel the warmth of PEI’s vibrant reds all around you.
Sponsored by Prince Edward Island
Straight out of a storybook, experience Green Gables
One of the most beloved characters in literature—that's Anne, with an E—called this Canadian province home. Now, the story comes to life with local landmarks and performances, all devoted to her.
Culture comes alive on Prince Edward Island
Museums showcase PEI’s unique cultural history.