THE ENGLISH IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
A view of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island,
painted in 1843.
The first English colonists arrived from London in 1774, establishing New
London (Lot 21) at Malpeque Bay, but besetting problems meant that they failed
to attract many followers.
The timber trade, established by 1817, attracted a large group from Yorkshire
who founded Little York (Lot 34) near Charlottetown – a name that proclaimed
their English origins.
Another large group followed during the early 1830s – this time from Norfolk
and Suffolk. Some 540 emigrants sailed from Great Yarmouth, East Anglia's
principal port, between 1829 and 1834, some being assisted financially by their
parishes to emigrate.
However, the largest group by far originated from Devon and Cornwall. They
began arriving from 1825, founding their many communities, first on the west
side of the island in Prince County and later in the middle part of the island
in Queens County. A factor in their choice of the island was its lucrative
shipbuilding and timber trade which was being financed and developed by Devon
and Cornwall businessmen.
Portrait of James Yeo Sr. (1788-1868).
He originated from North Cornwall,
becoming the Island's principal shipbuilder.
When Sydney Smith visited Prince Edward Island in 1850 he found it to be a
place of “pure English society,” reflecting the relatively large English
concentrations in and near Charlottetown.
For further details see Planters,
Paupers and Pioneers, Lucille's book
about Atlantic Canada.