It would be easy to have the impression that the book Anne of Green Gables put Prince Edward Island on the map. When this book came out in 1908, it was a best seller. Its author Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up here and her vivid memories of the place combined with a great imagination, brought to life a character beloved by people the world over. Some read it in translation and it is part of the school curriculum in parts of Asia. Asian tourists arrive here looking for Anne and are crushed to learn that she was a fictional character. When we first crossed the bridge here yesterday, we saw a photo studio where you could dress up in clothing from the Anne era and get your photo taken. The Chinese tourists were loving it!
You can hardly blame the locals for capitalizing on their most famous non resident. They have taken and old farm house and barn and refurbished them, painstakingly decorating them to fit the descriptions in the book. It is the strangest national park we have ever been in. You could even take a hike in the woods behind it, reliving the Anne experience. At every tourist stop you can buy anything you can imagine with Anne's likeness on it in some way. Last time we were here, we avoided the Anne stuff entirely, but today the national park/home were part of today's tour.
We enjoyed the stop in the real national park along the beach much more. The soil here is red with iron oxide and it contrasts dramatically with the blue skies and blue water. The eroded cliffs by the beach were picturesque.
We also went to a lobster fishing demonstration. Here they still use the classic wooden traps with knotted string inside. In Maine the traps usually are metal and plastic and more durable. The traps are baited and thrown in the water with a colorful buoy attached so you know where to come back and pull them out. In Maine the buoys were meticulously marked with lines, paints and patterns. Here it seems much more informal. Not as many people are involved and all the families who do this work have been here doing so for hundreds of years. The season started late this year because the sea was frozen well into May, but once things got going, the catch was record setting. Fishing ended last week. These days everyone is careful not to overdo and end up without anything to catch as happened in the cod industry. They also farm mussels and oysters and cut holes in the ice to pull them out as needed.
Our final stop was at the College of Piping. About 70% of the locals are of Scotch or Irish descent and it was decided to open a school to pass along this part of the culture along with the drumming and dancing. A wealthy couple was so impressed with the end result that they give scholarships to any local children who want to learn one of these Celtic skills until they are 18. Nearly everyone gives it a try and some get hooked and travel the world putting on shows and competing internationally. Anne would approve.