Prince Edward Island, a province of the Dominion of Canada, comprising the island of Prince Edward, lying in the gulf of St. Lawrence, between lat. 45° 58' and 47° 7' N., and Ion. 62° and 64° 27' W., separated from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the southwest by Northumberland strait, which varies in width from 9 to 30 m. The length from N. W. to S. E. is 105 m.; the breadth varies from not more than 2 m. to about 40 m.; area, 2,173 sq. m. It is divided into three counties: Prince in the northwest, Queen's in the centre, and King's in the east. Charlottetown in Queen's co. (pop. in 1871, 8,807) is the capital, chief commercial point, and only city. There are three towns: Summerside (pop. 1,918) and Princetown (417) in Prince co., and Georgetown (1,056) in King's co. The population of the province in 1797 was 4,500; in 1827, 23,266; in 1833, 32,292; in 1841, 47,034; in 1848,62,599; in 1855, 71,496; in 1861, 80,857; in 1871, 94,021 (47,121 males and 46,900 females), including 323 Micmac Indians. Of the white population in 1871, 80,271 were natives of the province, 3,246 of other parts of British America, 4,128 of Scotland, 3,712 of Ireland, 1,957 of England, and 384 of other countries.
There were 25,952 children between 5 and 16 years of age, 12,790 males from 21 to 45, 14,841 families, 64 blind persons, 70 deaf and dumb, and 188 insane. The natives of the province are chiefly descendants of the French Acadians who remained after the cession of the island to Great Britain; of settlers from the highlands of Scotland, introduced subsequently to 1770 by the proprietors of townships; and of American loyalists to whom lands were granted at the close of the revolutionary war. - The surface is generally flat, but rises here and there to a moderate height, without being anywhere too broken for agriculture. The coasts are bold, and are lined with red cliffs varying from 20 to 100 ft. in height, and deeply indented by bays, with numerous projecting headlands. The principal bays are Egmont, Halifax or Bedeque, and Hillsborough on the S. W. coast, Cardigan at the E. extremity of the island, Bedford opposite Hillsborough, and Eichmond opposite Halifax. Bedford and Hillsborough, and Eichmond and Halifax bays, being separated from each other merely by narrow isthmuses, divide the island into three peninsulas.
The chief headlands are North point at the N. E., West point at the N. W., East point at the E., and Cape Bear at the S. E. extremity; Cape Aylesbury, at the S. E. entrance of Eichmond bay; Cape Kildare, directly S. of North point; Cape Egmont, between Egmont and Halifax bays; Rice point, at the N. W. and Prim point at the S. E. entrance of Hillsborough-bay. The prevailing geological formation is trias or new red sandstone. This is supposed to be underlaid throughout by carboniferous rocks, but the depth of the coal seams is probably too great for profitable working. Brown earthy limestones occur, and there are considerable deposits of peat suitable for fuel. No valuable minerals have been discovered. The soil, watered by numerous springs and streams, is remarkably fertile. It consists for the most part of a thin layer of decayed vegetable matter over a light bright red loam about a foot deep, below which is a stiff clay generally resting upon sandstone. With the exception of a few bogs and swamps, the whole island is cultivable. Fires, lumbering, and cultivation have made large inroads upon the original forest, which covered the entire island, but a considerable portion still remains.
The principal trees are beech, birch, maple, poplar, spruce, fir, hemlock, larch, cedar, mountain ash, and wild cherry. The climate is salubrious, and is milder than that of the adjacent continent. The air is almost entirely free from fogs, which are prevalent along the shores of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. The winters are long and cold; the summers are warm, but not oppressive. The mean temperature of the year 1870 at Charlottetown was 38-64°; of the warmest month (August), 63-42°; of the coldest month (February), 13.74°; maximum temperature, 83°; minimum, - 21°; number of days on which rain or snow fell, 120; number of days of strong wind, 38; number of thunder storms, 8. The total precipitation of rain and melted snow during the year ending Aug. 31, 1873, was 41.38 inches. - Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people, but the cultivation is not of the most approved kind. The climate and soil are well suited to the production of the smaller grains, root crops, and hay, and for dairy purposes. The summer is not warm enough for Indian corn.
The chief productions according to the census of 1871 were 269,392 bushels of wheat, 75,109 of buckwheat, 176,441 of barley, 3,120,-576 of oats, 2,411 of Indian corn, 11,864 of grass seed, 3,375,726 of potatoes, 395,358 of turnips, 5,992 of other root crops, 68,349 tons of hay, 27,282 lbs. of flax, 981,939 of butter, and 155,524 of cheese; value of apples and other fruit raised, £3,141. There were 25,329 horses, 62,984 neat cattle, 147,364 sheep, and 52,514 hogs. The manufactures, which are limited and chiefly for home consumption, embrace coarse cloth ("homespun") worn generally by the inhabitants, brick, lime, grist mill, saw mill, and tannery products. Ship building is carried on to some extent. The adjacent waters, particularly on the N. E. coast, abound in fish, but the fisheries are mainly prosecuted by vessels from the United States. The value of fish taken by inhabitants of the island during the year ending June 30, 1874, was $288,863, chiefly mackerel, cod, lobsters, salmon, and herring.
The value of goods entered for consumption from foreign countries during the same period was $1,913,696, of which $1,454,-200 was from Great Britain and $394,803 from the United States. The chief articles of import are cottons, woollens, hardware, and other manufactured goods, tea, sugar, spirits, and flour. The value of exports to foreign countries during the same period was $722,-129, viz.: agricultural products, chiefly oats, $419,426; products of the fisheries, $135,234; animals and their produce, chiefly eggs, $97,-125; forest products, $51,118; miscellaneous articles, $19,226. The exports were distributed as follows: to Great Britain, $396,486; to the United States, $193,571; to Newfoundland, $84,299; to the British West Indies, $29,587; to St. Pierre, $9,063. The number of entrances was 172, tonnage 51,478; clearances 176, tonnage 49,101; built during .the year, 67 vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of 15,024. The number of vessels belonging in the province at the close of 1873 was 280, with an aggregate tonnage of 38,918. A railroad, commenced by the colonial government and completed by the Dominion, traverses the entire length of the island, connecting Charlotte-town with Tignish on the northwest and Georgetown and Souris on the southeast.
The length of the W. division, from Charlotte-town to Tignish, is 117 m.; of the E. division, from Charlottetown to Georgetown, 46 m.; of the branch from Mount Stewart (22 m. from Charlottetown) on the E. division to Souris, 38 m.; total, 201 m. The island is connected with the mainland by telegraphic cable. During the season of navigation a tri-weekly line of steamers runs from Charlottetown to Pictou, Nova Scotia, and to Shediac, New Brunswick, and weekly lines connect with Quebec and with Halifax and Boston. Navigation closes about the middle or end of December, and does not reopen until the end of April or the beginning of May. Ice forms in the harbor of Georgetown about a month later and breaks up about a month earlier than these dates. In winter mails and passengers are conveyed across the strait in ice boats, from Cape Traverse to Cape Tormentin, N. B., but the passage is attended with difficulty and danger. There are five banks (three at Charlottetown, one at Summerside, and one at Rustico), which in 1874 had an aggregate capital of $359,753 34, an outstanding circulation of $568,917 87, and resources to the amount of $1,814,671 90. The deposits in government savings banks, other than post-office savings banks, on May 31,1874, amounted to $320,750 38. - The executive power of the province is vested in a lieutenant governor (appointed by the governor general of the Dominion in council), assisted by an executive council of nine members (president of the council, provincial secretary, attorney general, and six without office), who are appointed by himself and responsible to the legislature.
The legislature consists of a legislative council of 13 members and a house of assembly of 30 members. There is a small property qualification for members of assembly, but none for coun-cilmen. The right of suffrage is conferred upon all male British subjects 21 years old and upward, a property qualification being required of electors of councilmen and a smaller one of electors of assemblymen. Voting is viva voce. The principal judicial officers are a chief justice, an assistant judge and master of the rolls, and an assistant judge and vice chancellor, appointed by the governor general during good behavior. The supreme court is held by the three judges in cases of appeal, or by one of them in jury trials in the different counties; the court of chancery is held by the master of the rolls or vice chancellor. There is a probate court, with jurisdiction throughout the island, held by a single judge. The court of divorce consists of the lieutenant governor and members of the executive council. There are also inferior courts. The province is represented in the Dominion parliament by four senators and six members of the house of commons.
The balance in the provincial treasury on Jan. 1,1874, was $267,-301 94; receipts during the following year, $406,347 81, including $268,644 27 subsidy from the Dominion government and $40,000 proceeds of debentures; total, $673,649 75. The expenditures during the year amounted to $443,915 94; balance in treasury on Dec. 31, 1874, $229,733 81. The principal charitable institution supported by the government is the lunatic asylum near Charlottetown, opened in 1848. The number of inmates during the year ending Jan. 31, 1874, was 68 (41 males and 27 females); remaining on that date, 58 (37 males and 21 females). The expenditure on account of the asylum for the 11 months ending Jan. 1, 1874, was $4,542. During the same period $4,409 14 was expended for the almshouse near Charlottetown and $2,663 56 for outside relief for the poor. The public schools are under the general control of a board of education of 11 members, appointed by the lieutenant governor in council. Subordinate to the board are a visitor for each county and a board of trustees for each district. The expense of tuition is defrayed by the province.
The following table contains the school statistics for 1874:
Number of schools open..
Number of pupils registered
Average daily attendance...
Adding Queen's co. to the summer term of the other two, the average daily attendance for the whole island is 9,244, and the number of pupils registered 16,236. The number in school some portion of the year is somewhat larger, as many attend only one term. The whole number of teachers employed during the year was 358. The number of school districts is 403. There are several schools among the Acadians in Prince and Queen's counties conducted in French. The instruction in most of the schools is elementary, but there are 18 classed as grammar schools. In only a part of these, however, are classics and the higher English branches taught. Prince of Wales college at Charlottetown, with two professors, is supported by the province, and at the same place are the provincial normal and model schools. The former in 1874 had two instructors and 67 pupils (34 males and 33 females), and the latter one teacher and 129 pupils (46 males and 83 females). The amount expended by the province for educational purposes during the 11 months ending Jan. 1, 1874, was $59,194 83. The principal institutions of learning not supported by the province are St. Dunstan's college (Roman Catholic) and the Wesleyan Methodist academy at Charlotte-town. The latter, opened in 1871, admits both sexes, and in 1875 had 10 instructors and 250 pupils (50 in the academic department, 50 in the intermediate, 110 in the primary, and 40 in the infant class). The principal library is the legislative at Charlottetown. A semi-weekly and eight weekly newspapers are published, two of the weeklies being issued at Summer-side, the other papers at Charlottetown. In 1871 there were 187 churches, and the number of adherents of the different religious denominations was as follows: Roman Catholics, 40,-765; Presbyterians, 29,579, of whom 10,976 belonged to the church of Scotland; Methodists, 8,361; Episcopalians, 7,220; Baptists, 4,371; Bible Christians, 2,709; other denominations, 1,016. - The island belonged to France till 1763, when it was ceded to Great Britain. In 1663, with the Magdalen islands, it was granted to Capt. Doublet, a naval officer, for the purpose of establishing a fishery, but no permanent settlement was made.
A few persons settled on the S. coast in the beginning of the 18th century, and after the cession of Acadia (Nova Scotia) to Great Britain in 1713 families began to arrive from there. In 1752 the population was 1,354, and this number was increased by the arrival of expatriated Acadians to 4,100 in 1763, when most of them abandoned the island. It was placed by the British under the government of Nova Scotia, and was divided into 67 townships, which were distributed among about 100 army and navy officers and others having claims upon the government, upon certain conditions of settlement and the payment of certain quit rents. In 1768 the inhabitants petitioned for a separate government, and in 1770 the first governor arrived, though only five proprietors and not more than 150 families were then resident. The first assembly, consisting of 18 members elected for seven years, met in 1773. In 1803 the earl of Selkirk brought out nearly 800 high-landers from Scotland. Responsible government was introduced in 1851, and in 1873 the province joined the Dominion of Canada. The original name, St. John's island (Fr. Isle St. Jean), was changed by an act of the legislature, taking effect in 1800, in honor of Prince Edward, duke of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria. The system of land tenure, arising from the original grant of the island, has caused much discontent, most of the proprietors being absentees and the greater part of the inhabitants only leaseholders.
Since 1854 the government has adopted the policy of purchasing of the proprietors in block and selling in smaller parcels to the tenants, who are thus enabled to obtain the freehold. At the beginning of 1872 about one third of the island had been purchased, and the greater part of this resold.