Tyne Valley Oyster Festival
If you can manage to be in Tyne Valley in early August, when the village overflows with visitors for the Oyster Festival, you can have fun at one of PEI's most authentic, old-time summer events. There are horse pulls, a strong man contest, fiddling competitions, step dancing, and an oyster shucking race.
This festival is very popular. Many tourists attend and are warmly welcomed, but it is still largely an Island affair, and that makes all the difference.
In 1819 a man named James Yeo arrived in the Tyne Valley area from England, flat broke. He went to work for a local businessman, then opened a store selling liquor and other goods, and eventually became a shipbuilder. Before he died in 1863, Yeo had become the richest, most influential individual in Island history. During his lifetime be built over 350 wooden sailing ships and created a business empire of shipyards, warehouses, and wharves on PEI and in England. Yeo's son James Jr. built a magnificent home which has been restored and opened to the public. Some of the Yeo family's 20,000 acres of land, including the house, is now in Green Park Provincial Park.
The Yeo family made their fortune in the Golden Age of Island shipbuilding, roughly 1850 to 1875, when the size of PEI's industry was second only to that of Great Britain. In Green Park, besides visiting the Yeo House, you can tour a museum that focuses on the history of shipbuilding on the Island.
The Bideford Parsonage Museum on this corner is absolutely worth a visit. The building was constructed in 1878 for a local accountant, Thomal H. Pope, but it became the parsonage of the local Methodist Church and then, years later, the United Church.
The Parsonage was home for one year to Lucy Maude Montgomery. In 1894-95, when she was only 19 years old, the famous author took her first teaching job in the Bideford School. You can visit her sunny bedroom, see some of her family photos, clothing, and other memorabilia, and look out the window, enjoying the same view that she did while composing poems and writing in her journal.
The house has been lovingly restored by the West Country Historical Society. Besides Lucy Maude Montgomery's perfectly-preserved bedroom, it contains exhibits on shipbuilding and on the many parsons who lived here and their roles in the community.
Detour to the P.E.I. Shellfish Museum
Route 166 turns to the left at the Parsonage, but you may want to detour straight ahead, following the sign to the Tourist Information Centre in the P.E.I. Shellfish Museum. This small museum focuses on the Island's oyster industry. There are informative displays and aquariums with many varieties of shellfish, including lobster. We particularly enjoyed an exhibit showing how oysters are cultivated. Staff answered all our questions and shared their first-hand experiences in the arduous work of aquaculture.
From the Shellfish Museum, backtrack as far as the Bideford Parsonage Museum and turn right, following the sign to Ellerslie. This detour adds about 1.3 kilometres to the distances that follow.
Lennox Island is the home of a community of Mi'Kmaq people, the original inhabitants of this land. On Lennox Island you can visit the Mi'Kmaq Cultural Centre, a community museum with exhibits on many aspects of native people's life. Next to the cultural centre is an Ecotourism Complex beautifully situated on the shore of Malpeque Bay.
To reach Lennox Island, continue straight at kilometre 15.4 instead of turning left. A flat road parallels the shore of Malpeque Bay and in 4.8 kilometres crosses a causeway and bridge to the island. The road on which you are riding is now called Sweetgrass Trail. About 2 kilometres farther you will arrive at the town centre. The Band Council Administration and Recreation Complex are on the left.
Continue to a T intersection and turn right. In only a hundred metres or so, you will reach the Mi'kmaq Cultural Centre and the Ecotourism Centre and Hostel. After your visit, backtrack to the causeway, cross the bridge and continue straight on Route 163. About 4.5 kilometres after the bridge, watch for Paugh Road on the left, and in another 100 metres turn right on Southwest Road. You are now back at kilometre 15.4.
This detour adds about 13.4 kilometres to subsequent distances.