With the last string of rainy days I’ve found myself daydreaming of my past summer trips, more specifically my time in Prince Edward Island, which had all the ingredients a good vacation consists of: childhood nostalgia, insanely delicious ice cream, the beach and moonshine.
Any girl who had a worthwhile childhood knows of Anne of Green Gables. You read the books or watched the movies and immediately related to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s precocious red headed main character, Anne Shirley. It was because of those movies that my sister and I became obsessed with Anne and the stories following the characters of Green Gables. The books are set in Prince Edward Island, Canada where the author spent most of her life. “Anne” tourism is a major draw there and you could plan your trip to go back into time, emersing yourself into L.M. Montgomery’s novels, but, there is so much more to that little Canadian island than the two little auburn braids that you fell in love with as a child.
Last summer I drove up on what I call my “Cape Tour”, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and back. Once I made the 1,000 mile journey to Nova Scotia a ferry ride to PEI seemed like the perfect addition to the itinerary. I have a tendency to have what I like to call “snowball trips”. This particular road trip started out being just a drive to Rhode Island for a friend’s wedding and soon morphed into a two month adventure into the Canadian wilderness. My thought process is always, well if I’m already in ‘x’, I should just go over and check out ‘y’, which leads to small trips turning into month long excursions, you get the idea. I think it drives my mother crazy because I’m always changing my plans, but in the end some of my favorite parts of my trips have been the last minute add ons and unexpected explorations.
I’m sorry I can’t resist a good pun, Mooooove over Ben & Jerry, you have some serious competition. COWS Creamery is by far some of the best ice cream I’ve ever sampled and also has one of the most fun marketing campaigns. For an unbiased review I decided to hit up Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont on my way home and I hate to be unpatriotic, but the Canadian company won these taste buds over.
You can take a tour of the factory in Charlottetown then try some of their 30 plus flavors. Don’t forget to take a lap through their gift shop, the t-shirts used to be for employees but became so popular they started selling them at the request of customers. Check out COWS website for their tour information and for their most recent shirt designs.
I treated myself to dessert before lunch then I headed next door to Boom Burger for a great fresh, local cheeseburger topped with COWS Creamery Cheddar cheese and a side famous fresh cut fries from local PEI potatoes.
My Inner Nerd
I took the afternoon one day to tour Green Gables Heritage Place, the source of inspiration for the Anne of Green Gables book series. As a writer it was interesting to hear about the life of Lucy M. Montgomery and how influential this female author was in the early 1900’s. It is a treat to see the location that served as Montgomery’s muse and was the inspiration for such creativity and phenomenal story telling.
The Consummate Beach Bum
I can’t keep myself from a beach, it’s just not possible, and since Prince Edward Island is just that, an island, there is plenty of spots to find a relaxing space in the sand. I spent one sunny day at Brackley Beach but any visitor should take the time to drive around the island and explore the varying types of beaches PEI has to offer, the rocky coast lines, white or red sandy shores are to be found on every corner.
The Myriad View: Distillery and history of Canadian Moonshine
Canada, like the US was no stranger to the temperance movement and there at one time was a period of prohibition. Because many Canadian provinces legalized alcohol consumption before the states, illegal alcohol production and transportation is part of the history and culture of certain areas in Canada and PEI was the last province to ease on their liquor laws so they have perfected the art of a good ‘shine’.
Ken, one of the founders of The Myriad View Distillery, was kind enough to take me on a private tour where I got to see the distillery process, their land, it’s history, and the best part, taste the final product.
The property, which overlooks the Northumberland Strait was an area once used by bootleggers and the craft of making moonshine continues there today, this time legally.
The shine is fermented with cane sugar and molasses and distilled in a large copper still giving it a warm, intense taste with a note of caramel. Moonshine is the continuing tradition, but the artisan distillery also makes vodka, gin and rum. Their Strait Lightening Shine packs a punch and it’s 75% alcohol so unfortunately these strong, smooth spirits can’t be shipped off the island so you have to go there yourself and try it!
PEI is small but packed with activities. The people are friendly, the scenery is beautiful and the island is as entertaining as it is relaxing making it a perfect summer spot and the more the rain falls here in Philadelphia the more I’m longing to get back.