North Cape Coastal Drive
College of Piping
Picturesque fishing and farming communities, Summerside's historic architecture, secluded beaches, non-stop festivals and events... these are just some of the highlights awaiting visitors touring Prince Edward Island's North Cape Coastal Drive. Add to this unspoiled natural wonders, fresh seafood and an area rich in Acadian culture and you have a first-rate tour of the Island's northwest region.
To find out more and to download the North Cape Coastal Drive Touring Guide, visit the official website or view the North Cape Coastal Drive: Explore Western Prince Edward Island online.
You'll find each of the communities below along the North Cape Coastal Drive. To learn what you can expect to see during your tour, simply click on the name.
Why not begin your tour of the North Cape Coastal Drive with a history lesson. A walking tour of Summerside's tree-lined streets past stately heritage homes will reveal much about this community. Look for the excellent walking tour guidebook published by the City of Summerside. In the downtown area, significant events in the town's past have been portrayed in dramatic fashion in large murals and visitors can learn more about the boat building and fishing heritage at the boatshed at Spinnakers' Landing on the Summerside Waterfront.
Shipyard Market, newly opened on the site of an historic shipbuilding facility adjacent to Green's Shore Beach, overlooks Summerside Harbour, Indian Head Lighthouse and Holman's Island. Here you can browse the shops, enjoy a promenade on the boardwalk or just relax and enjoy the view from the spacious deck and open-air seating.
The Confederation Trail, once the railway route across PEI and now a groomed walking and biking trail stretching right across the province, passes through the centre of Summerside and on through the heart of the region. Pick up a bicycle or take a stroll on this level, easy-to-negotiate trail. Plan to begin at the pavilion that marks the birthplace of the TransCanada Trail, just in the centre of the city.
The Celtic heritage of the Island is alive and well and waiting to be experienced at the College of Piping, also in Summerside. Throughout the summer, the College has a busy schedule of ceilidhs and concerts, including free mini-concerts each afternoon.
For a taste of one of the Island's other founding cultures, drive a few minutes to the west to La Région Évangéline. Here, Prince Edward Island's vibrant Acadian culture thrives. A visit to The Acadian Museum in Miscouche will set the scene, followed by a tour around this French-speaking area. Some suggested stops include the unique Bottle Houses in Cap-Egmont and the historical Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel Church. Visitors will delight in crafts from Le Centre d' Artisanat in Abram-Village, the Quilt Economuseum and, of course, many samplings of traditional Acadian food.
La Région Évangéline is synonymous with lively rhythms, especially during several festivals held through the summer. Next to the festival grounds, you can take in a lobster dinner or Acadian-style buffet at the Centre Expo-Festival in Abram-Village.
A bit further along the coast, you will find the West Point Lighthouse Inn, whose deck looks out over the white sand beaches of Cedar Dunes Provincial Park. A community initiative converted the historic lighthouse into an inn and restaurant and as you climb to the top, you will learn much about the life of early days lighthouse keepers.
As you tour along the coast watch for the traditional gathering of the Irish Moss. Especially after a windstorm, Islanders of the area may be seen gathering the Moss, often with horse-drawn carts. The story of the Moss is told at the Interpretive Centre in Miminegash, where they also serve the intriguing, but yummy, Seaweed Pie.
Turbines at North Cape
North Cape brings together the results of the forces of nature with some of man's most innovative projects. Offshore lies the longest natural rock reef in North America. Onshore, the Wind Energy Institute of Canada features advanced windmill technology at work creating electricity for Islanders and information for wind energy development - learn all about it at the Wind Energy Interpretive Centre. Enjoy the view from the restaurant overlooking the meeting of the tides of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait and leave time for a walk along the Black Marsh Nature Trail.
The citizens of Tignish celebrate their heritage at the Tignish Cultural Centre, where visitors can learn about the early Irish and Acadian settlers. Visitors can also follow a walking trail to an observation deck overlooking Tignish harbour - a prime spot for birdwatching. Visit the St. Simon and St. Jude Church, where a magnificent pipe organ is still used.
Now that you have arrived at the far north and west reaches of the Island, (be sure to pick up your ribbon or your certificate at the North Cape Interpretive Centre if you are taking part in our Tour the Island program) continue your tour from Tignish and North Cape by following the shore road to Alberton and Northport. In Alberton the Museum & Genealogy Centre houses a display chronicling the Island's fox farming industry glory days in the early 1900s while historic murals and folk art Canada Geese adorn the town's streets. A new development at nearby Northport includes shops, an interpretive centre and a seaside restaurant featuring fresh seafood and a view of the active fishing port. All the rooms at the four-star Northport Pier Inn look out over the harbour, where majestic blue herons may be seen gracing the sandy shoreline.
At MacAusland's Woolen Mills near Bloomfield, Island wool is turned into fine yarn and blankets, on sale at their Old Mill Craft Company shop. And at Mill River, a full-service tourist destination offers championship golf, a resort, camping at the Provincial Park and fun for the family at the Mill River Fun Park.
The community of O'Leary is in the heart of one of the Island's most productive potato farming regions, and here they pay tribute to our most important crop at the Potato Museum. City-dwellers may think it amusing to find a whole museum devoted to a humble vegetable, but displays of machinery, pictures and videos explain the central role that the potato has played in the province's agricultural history.
The North Cape Coastal Drive is home to the largest native population on Prince Edward Island. Discover the history and culture of the Mi'kmaq at the Community Museum on Lennox Island describing Mi'kmaq spirituality and local culture. There's also an ecotourism centre with a nearby walking tour and a restaurant featuring traditional Mi'kmaq dishes.
A visit to Green Park Shipbuilding Museum and Yeo House will provide a more in-depth look at PEI's shipbuilding history. A tour through immaculately restored Yeo House reveals a wonderful vision of the lifestyle of these "shipbarons" of the 1800s. And in nearby Bideford, a museum recounts the time L.M. Montgomery spent there during 1894-95 and the role of the parsonage in the community, as well as the era of shipbuilding.
Save time for a visit to the charming village of Tyne Valley where you might just find live music at the local pub, or you can sit down for a pre-arranged dinner prepared with produce from the organic market garden at the Doctor's Inn.
In fundamental ways, this area of Prince Edward Island remains unchanged. Many of the farmers and fishers are following family trades which go back nearly two centuries. Visitors touring this region will see farm tractors in red plowed fields, lobster boats unloading their traps at the wharf and oyster fishers working their tongs in the rivers.
INSIDER TIPS for the North Cape Coastal Drive
- Go deep sea fishing while in Northport and the Tignish area.
- At Island Traditions Store in Richmond you can buy ash splint basket weaving.
- Explore the West Point lighthouse and stroll the beach to Cedar Dunes.
- Buy moccasins from the gift shop on Lennox Island.
- Visit the very unique Bottle Houses in Cap-Egmont.
View and search for activities in the North Cape Coastal Drive Region.
NORTH CAPE COASTAL DRIVE DISTANCES
- Borden-Carleton to Summerside, 28 km (17 miles), 20 minutes
- Summerside to Cap-Egmont, 28 km (17 miles), 20 minutes
- Cap-Egmont to West Point, 63 km (38 miles), 45 minutes
- West Point to North Cape, 76 km (45 miles), 50 minutes
- North Cape to Lennox Island, 79 km (47 miles), 55 minutes
- Lennox Island to Summerside, 46 km (28 miles), 37 minutes