Since it’s such a chore to write about Canada, let’s ease back into this by writing about the insignificant Prince Edward Island.
It’s a small island of nearly 158,000 people. The population has increased by nearly 2% recently, thanks to international immigrants; among native-born citizens the number leaving for other provinces is double those arriving.
P.E.I’s biggest claims to fame: potatoes, the fictional book character Anne of Green Gables and calling itself the “Birthplace of Confederation” (which is a bit like Frankenstein bragging about his creation).
The Mik’maq natives were the original inhabitants for thousands of years. At some point the French landed and made a settlement, then were more or less booted out by the British who anglicized the island to “Saint John”. The bulk of immigration came from Britain with an influx of Loyalists after the American revolution. The island was controlled by Nova Scotia, changed its name to Prince Edward, began running its own affairs and eventually joined the Confederation in 1873.
Now, islanders did not want to join Confederation but were eventually forced to because of a crippling railway debt. Attempts to bribe them were made by offering to pay off the island’s debts; still they declined a few times. Eventually when on the brink of an economic collapse, they relented.
The Mik’maq First Nations claim they never technically gave away their land or rights to it. There’s a tricky history where they signed treaties which “contained no monetary or land provisions” but did guarantee land use rights and the end to various disputes. (There was also that time Governor Cornwallis punished them by offering money for their capture and scalping.)
The capital city is Charlottetown – population just under 40,000. The backbone of its economy is farming, followed by fishery, tourism and some tech companies. It’s the lead province in producing potatoes, which employs 12% of the island’s workforce. Glamorous stuff.
According to a report: 23% of Charlottetown children were living in poverty, and about 17% on the island as a whole. House prices have jumped over 38% in the past 3 years. The average house price in Charlottetown is $277,000. Yes, in a province with under 200,000 people and a city under 40,000! The rental vacancy is 0.2%
Prince Edward Island is an insignificant place even by Canadian standards – quite the feat. It’s a cute little place to wander for a day or two while eating ice cream or nibble on some potatoes in a field. Crime is low because barely anyone lives there and more citizens leave it than arrive.
There’s no point in going there: housing in the only “big” city is unaffordable, rental vacancy is almost nil, and there’s little employment if you aren’t a farmer or getting a job transfer from a local company. Housing and rental prices are going up due to limited supply, population growth is driven by new immigrants, and there are very limited resources for homelessness, poverty and social issues.
The bulk of the people there were born on the island, will die there, and everyone else in Canada will continue forgetting the place even exists. Fun stuff.