Prince Edward Island
22 sq km/5,440 acres
Prince Edward Island National Park spans a spectacular stretch of land encompassing sand dunes, salt marshes, remnants of an Acadian forest, coastal headlands, beaches, and sandstone cliffs. This is the land that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and prompted an oil tycoon to build an elegant Victorian home. Both Green Gables and Dalvay-by-the Sea are national treasures and showcased within the park.
Approximately 285 million years ago, a mountain chain existed in this region. Over time, its rivers deposited gravel, silt, and sand into a low-lying basin forming sandstone bedrock. As the glaciers retreated, Prince Edward Island gradually took shape.
Situated on the central north shore of Prince Edward Island, the park faces the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where sunsets are storybook perfect. Although one of the smallest parks in Canada, it’s a popular destination, with famous beaches and outstanding coastal landscapes. The other attraction is the lure of Lucy Maud Montgomery through her beloved 1908 novel, Anne of Green Gables
The park’s ecosystems support a variety of animal species and 400 different species of plants. Although there are no deer or moose on the island, coyotes, red foxes, raccoons, beavers, mink, and weasels are common. With more than 300 species of birds, including the endangered piping plover, the park plays a significant role in shorebird migration in spring and fall.
In 1998, the park expanded to include 4 sq km (990 acres) on the Greenwich Peninsula where rare, U-shaped dunes known as parabolic dunes are located. This is also the region where archaeological digs revealed that Paleo-Indians lived here 10,000 years ago. Evidence indicates that Mi’kmaq, French, Acadian, Scottish, Irish, and English were also early settlers here.
The park is bordered by a number of traditional farming and fishing communities, which adds to the cul- tural fabric of the island and enhances the visitor’s experience.
Excerpted from National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of Canada by National Geographic. Copyright © 2011 by National Geographic. Excerpted by permission of National Geographic, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.