By Kirsten A. Conover, writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
MOST people who visit Prince Edward Island are already familiar with its famous fictional resident, "Anne of Green Gables." For here in Cavendish, Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote the much-loved novel about the red-haired, freckle-faced heroine. No trip to P.E.I. is complete without a visit to the Green Gables house, the setting of the book published in 1908 and translated into 16 languages.
Though Anne is not nearly as prevalent here as, say, Elvis is in Memphis, she does show up quite a bit - in gift stores, on stage, and in advertisements. As a Fodor's guidebook explains, "After potatoes and lobsters, Anne is the island's most important product."
Like Montgomery, visitors to this island will delight in its natural beauty, where rolling hills and green fields meet the ocean at red-clay cliffs. The Indians named it Abegweit - "land cradled on the waves."
For a friend and me, mid-July proved the perfect time to visit P.E.I., as we escaped humid 90-degree weather in Boston. Our dilly-dally drive took about 14 hours. We wended our way through Maine and New Brunswick (the landscape was covered with beautiful wild lupines), camped overnight in Shediac, Canada's lobster capital, and took an early-morning ferry from Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, to Borden, P.E.I. Once on the island, we drove straight north, following the suggestion of a bookstore owner we had talked to in Maine.
Since we had only two days on P.E.I., we concentrated on the north-central part of the island affectionately known as the "Land of Anne." We set up camp in Cavendish National Park - on the north shore at the Gulf of Lawrence. The park has sheltered kitchens, laundry facilities, full bathrooms, and telephones. Our campsite was 100 yards from giant sand dunes and a lovely stretch of beach. Our fellow campers were mostly families, French- and English-speaking.
In addition to Green Gables, P.E.I. boasts many attractions, some quirky (a house made of bottles and "Canada's Only Potato Museum"), some adventurous (whale watching, sea kayaking, and amusement parks), and many quaint (old shops, fishing villages, lighthouses, and art galleries).
Still, the main attraction is the island's natural beauty. Anyone who has enjoyed Cape Cod or coastal Maine would see similarities here, though Prince Edward Island is much less built-up and a bit more primitive. The tourist board is fond of pointing out that, because of the Gulf Stream, P.E.I.'s waters are warmer than any in the Atlantic north of the Carolinas. But don't expect bath water. …