Prince Edward Island | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is Canada's smallest province, making up just 0.1 per cent of Canada’s total land area. It is situated in the Gulf of St Lawrence and separated from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by the Northumberland Strait.

Seaside view of Prince Edward Island
  1. October 18, 1748

    Government and Politics 

    Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle

    The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the War of the Austrian Succession. PEI, Cape Breton Island and Louisbourg were returned to France.

  2. August 08, 1759

    Government and Politics 

    Andrew Rollo Captures Île Saint-Jean

    Brigadier-General Andrew Rollo, the 5th Lord Rollo, captured Île Saint-Jean (now Prince Edward Island) from the French at the height of the Seven Years'' War. Roughly 3,500 Acadians were swiftly repatriated to France whilst Rollo constructed Fort Amherst in honour of, and on orders from, General Jeffrey Amherst.

  3. June 28, 1769

    Cavendish Beach

    Government and Politics 

    Government for PEI

    A separate government was established for St John Island, which was not named Prince Edward Island until 1799.

  4. September 11, 1784

    Government and Politics 

    St John I Rejoins Nova Scotia

    Saint John Island (PEI) was reunited with Nova Scotia, though it retained a separate local government.

  5. June 03, 1799

    Cavendish Beach

    Government and Politics 

    PEI Named

    The name of Island of Saint John was formally changed to Prince Edward Island.

  6. September 20, 1810


    Birth of George Coles

    Businessman and politician George Coles was born in Prince Edward Island. Coles was a prominent PEI businessman who specialized in many sectors, including brewing and distilling. A Father of Confederation, Coles supported union initially, but changed his mind because he believed that the terms of union extended to PEI did not address its needs.

  7. June 14, 1811


    Birth of John Hamilton Gray

    John Hamilton Gray was born in Charlottetown, PEI. Gray supported Confederation as premier of Prince Edward Island and host of the Charlottetown Conference in 1864. The majority of Islanders were against union, and this lack of public support (and his wife’s ill health) led to Gray’s resignation from office in 1864.

  8. August 13, 1814


    McKitrick of PEI Killed

    Sergeant Joseph McKitrick of Prince Edward Island was killed in action with the Glengarry Light Infantry at Fort Erie, Upper Canada. He is believed to be the only Islander killed in the war.

  9. November 13, 1822


    Birth of Thomas Heath Haviland

    Thomas Heath Haviland, a Father of Confederation, was born in Charlottetown, PE. A long-time politician from a prominent Island family, Haviland had an impact on Prince Edward Island’s social and political spheres. He supported Confederation even when many Islanders did not. Fear of American annexation and railroad debt eventually swayed the public to Haviland’s position, and Prince Edward Island joined Confederation in 1873.

  10. January 01, 1836

    Government and Politics 

    Prince Edward Island Disenfranchises Women

    The Prince Edward Island Legislature excluded women from the franchise. For a time, there were regions in British North America where some women could vote; however, just as in Prince Edward Island, statutes were passed to disqualify women in places such as the Province of Canada and Nova Scotia.

  11. January 12, 1842

    Communication and Transportation 

    First Edition of The Islander

    The first edition of the PEI newspaper The Islander was published.

  12. April 25, 1851

    Government and Politics 

    PEI Gets Responsible Government

    PEI obtained responsible government, with George Coles as premier.

  13. June 20, 1854

    Government and Politics 

    Stanislas Poirier (Perry) elected to the PEI Assembly

    Stanislas-François Poirier (Perry) became the first Acadian elected to the House of Assembly of Prince Edward Island. Twenty years later, in 1874, he became the first Acadian Member of Parliament.

  14. April 17, 1855

    Early Charlottetown

    Government and Politics 

    Charlottetown Incorporated

    Charlottetown, PEI, was incorporated as a city.

  15. May 19, 1864


    Tenant League

    The Tenant League, a militant agrarian movement, was formed in Charlottetown, PEI. It advocated the sale of lands by estate owners to the farmers in actual occupation.

  16. September 01, 1864

    Government and Politics 

    Charlottetown Conference

    The Charlottetown Conference was held in Charlottetown, PEI. At the conference Maritime union was virtually dropped, and the delegates agreed to meet a new conference in Québec to discuss a Canadian scheme for a union of all the colonies.

  17. December 10, 1867


    Death of Edward Whelan

    Journalist and politician Edward Whelan died in Charlottetown, PEI. Whelan was a reformer, using his newspaper as a platform for his views on property issues and unification. A Father of Confederation, Whelan served as an Island delegate to the Québec Conference. He was Prince Edward Island’s only pro-Confederation Liberal.

  18. July 28, 1870


    Birth of Aubin-Edmond Arsenault

    Premier of PEI Aubin-Edmond Arsenault was born at Egmont Bay, PEI. Arsenault was the first Acadian premier of any Canadian province.

  19. June 26, 1873

    Red Soil, PEI

    Government and Politics 

    PEI Admitted into Canada

    An imperial order-in-council admitted PEI into Canada, effective 1 July.

  20. July 01, 1873

    Prince Edward Island Coat of Arms

    Government and Politics 

    Prince Edward Island Joins Confederation

    Prince Edward Island entered Confederation as Canada's seventh province.

  21. November 30, 1874

    Lucy Maud Montgomery

    Sports and Culture 

    Birth of Lucy Maud Montgomery

    Writer Lucy Maud Montgomery, whose first novel, Anne of Green Gables, was an instant best seller, was born at Clifton, PEI.

  22. August 21, 1875


    Death of George Coles

    Politician George Coles died in Charlottetown, PEI. Known as a feisty character, Coles is said to have dueled with fellow Father of Confederation Edward Palmer, and was convicted of assault. While in the provincial government, he spent a month in custody, refusing to withdraw a statement made in the Assembly.

  23. October 07, 1879


    Death of William Henry Pope

    William Henry Pope, a Father of Confederation, died in St. Eleanors, PE. A lawyer and land agent, Pope articled with Father of Confederation Edward Palmer. Pope advocated for union in and out of public office. His push for a railroad inadvertently led to Prince Edward Island’s joining Canada over bankruptcy woes.

  24. July 25, 1883

    Communication and Transportation  Sports and Culture 

    The Marco Polo Runs Aground

    The famously fast clipper Marco Polo, which had been launched 32 years earlier from Saint John, NB, ran aground on the coast of Prince Edward Island. Local residents rescued the crew. Among the spectators was a young Lucy Maud Montgomery, who would publish her first newspaper article, “The Wreck of the Marco Polo,” eight years later.

  25. November 03, 1889


    Death of Edward Palmer

    Edward Palmer, a Father of Confederation, died in Charlottetown, PE. Palmer made a name for himself in Island politics as a Conservative, disapproving of reform attempts in government and land holding. He was strongly anti-Confederation. Palmer accepted Confederation in 1873 as Prince Edward Island faced imminent financial collapse over railway construction debts.

  26. December 20, 1892


    Birth of Percy Corbett

    International law scholar Percy Corbett, who was widely recognized as perhaps Canada's greatest international law scholar, was born at Tyne Valley, PEI.

  27. January 21, 1905


    Birth of George Craig Laurence

    Nuclear physicist George Craig Laurence was born at Charlottetown, PEI.

  28. March 21, 1912


    Death of Andrew Archibald Macdonald

    Andrew Archibald Macdonald, a Father of Confederation, died in Ottawa. Macdonald followed his father and uncle into politics, where he was often embroiled in such controversial issues as land reform, separate schools and railway construction. Though not wholly supportive, Macdonald moved to accept the terms of Confederation in 1873. He was appointed lieutenant-governor of Prince Edward Island in 1884 and Senator in 1891.

  29. August 29, 1919

    Communication and Transportation 

    PEI Allows Cars

    Prince Edward Island finally decided to allow cars onto all the province’s roads after dismissing them as a “fad” and restricting them for several years.

  30. May 03, 1922

    Government and Politics 

    PEI Women Get Vote

    Prince Edward Island women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

  31. March 30, 1923

    Sports and Culture 

    Birth of Milton Acorn

    Milton Acorn, whose poems paid unceasing tribute to workers' suffering and humble crafts, was born at Charlottetown.

  32. January 01, 1937

    Brackley Beach, PEI

    Resources and Environment 

    Prince Edward Island National Park Established

    Prince Edward Island National Park was established. A narrow strip of coastline stretching over 40 km along the north shore of PEI, the park is a fragile seascape of red sandstone cliffs and sweeping beaches, backed by shifting sand dunes held together by the roots of slender grasses.

  33. January 01, 1949

    Indigenous Peoples 

    First Nations Win Right to Vote Provincially

    Except in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Status Indians had been barred from voting provincially. Beginning with British Columbia in 1949 and ending with Quebec in 1969, First Nations peoples gradually win the right to vote in provincial elections without losing status or treaty rights.  

  34. August 14, 1961

    Government and Politics 

    Premiers Meet

    The second conference of provincial premiers was held at Charlottetown, PEI.

  35. January 01, 1963

    Indigenous Peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Prince Edward Island

    Status Indians in Prince Edward Island were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  36. May 11, 1970

    Government and Politics 

    First Woman Elected to the PEI Legislature

    Jean Canfield became the first woman elected to the Prince Edward Island legislature.

  37. May 02, 1986

    Government and Politics 

    Joe Ghiz Sworn In

    Joe Ghiz was sworn in as premier of Prince Edward Island.

  38. March 29, 1993

    Callbeck, Catherine

    Government and Politics 

    First Woman Elected Premier of a Province

    Catherine Callbeck was the first woman to be elected premier when she won the election in Prince Edward Island.

  39. August 06, 1996

    Callbeck, Catherine

    Government and Politics 

    Callbeck Resigns

    Catherine Callbeck, the first woman elected head of a provincial government, resigned as premier of PEI.

  40. October 10, 1996

    Government and Politics 

    Milligan Becomes Premier of PEI

    Keith Milligan, a former silver fox fur farmer, was sworn in as premier of PEI following the resignation of Catherine Callbeck. He had been chosen leader on 5 October.

  41. November 18, 1996

    Government and Politics 

    Conservatives Win PEI

    The Conservative Party was elected in PEI. Patrick Binns, a former bean farmer, became premier.

  42. February 23, 2015

    Government and Politics 

    MacLauchlan Becomes Premier

    Liberal candidate Wade MacLauchlan was sworn in as the 32nd premier of Prince Edward Island, taking over the province's leadership following the resignation of Robert Ghiz. MacLauchlan, who has held professorships in law and written a biography of PEI premier Alex B. Campbell, was president of the University of Prince Edward Island from 1999 to 2011.