Hillsborough River: Tranquility Base
How Islanders see themselves
Geography has always shaped the life of Prince Edward Island. The Mi’kmaq
called it, Abegweit, which means ‘cradled on the waves.’
After a prosperous start supplying wood and sailing ships to the British Empire, islanders
were largely disconnected from the Industrial Age.
Once the ‘Age of Sail’ was over, technological advances that fueled the industrial age of
the 19th and 20th centuries could not take root on the island. Iron-hulled steamships spelled
the end of the wooden shipbuilding industry. The island lacked water and coal resources and
was cut off from North America’s booming network of railways. The economy expanded westward,
and Prince Edward Island was not in its path.
Now, that very exclusion from economic growth has become Prince Edward Island's most important
asset. With its landscape free of industrial scars, and much of its Victorian architecture
still intact, the island enjoys an economy based on farming and tourism.
The physical separation of the province from mainland Canada has ended with the opening
of a causeway linking it to New Brunswick. Some islanders hope the road link will lead to
faster economic growth. Others are concerned that the causeway will weaken their island identity.
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