*The Parishes of Île Saint-Jean (parish defined as an administrative district having its own church and a priest or pastor)
This itinerary again suggests using the capital City of Charlottetown as its base. However, depending on the location of your overnight accommodations, distances and driving times will result in modifications to the following suggested immersive itinerary experiences.
The Parishes of Île Saint-Jean itinerary bears some content similarities to the French Regime itinerary recommended above. The experience however, is much more specifically focused on a singular theme : the important role of the Catholic Church in French settlers’ day-to-day lives.
The colonization of Île Saint-Jean took place at a time when Catholicism was the state religion in France. The Catholic Church therefore had considerable political power. In establishing a colony, the government ensured that the Church had a strong presence.
In the early years of the Île Saint-Jean colony, a church was erected in Port-la-Joye and another in Havre-Saint-Pierre, creating the first two parishes encompassing all the island’s inhabitants, whether French, Acadian or Mi’kmaq. With the arrival of large numbers of refugees from Acadie from 1748 onwards, new parishes were founded with a resident priest at Malpèque, Pointe-Prime and Rivière du Nord-Est. Given the scattered nature of the villages included in each parish, the parishes covered large territories.
The establishment of these parishes with their own church and parish priest was very important. The parish priest was indispensable for administering the main sacraments prescribed by the Catholic Church, that is, baptism, confession, communion, marriage and the sacrament of death. He also celebrated the mass that brought parishioners together, especially on Sundays. The parish priest was also one of the main community leaders, sometimes acting as notary and justice of the peace.
Today, travel from parish to parish is easy of course. Set out your own five Parishes itinerary by mixing and matching the following sites, enjoying the landscapes and seascapes as you go, combined with encounters with quality craft shops and Island culinary experiences.
Port-la-Joye : “capitol” of the colony, fort, village of Port-la-Joye, Haché-Gallant family (40 km west of Charlottetown).
Havre Saint-Pierre (St. Peters Bay area) Mainly settlers/fishermen from France. Origin of the name Saint-Pierre/St. Peters. Most heavily populated region during French Regime. Few descendants on the Island today (53 km east of Charlottetown).
Belair (Scotchfort) : Acadian-Scothfort cemetery, Martin family settled in area in 1720, prosperous Acadians from Acadie (Allain, Bujeau, Gauthier) settle there around 1720. Marie Allain, first business woman in PEI (23 km east of Charlottetown).
Pointe-Prim & Pinette (Eldon): Example of the many communities settled by refugees from Acadie (1749-1758) (37 km east of Charlottetown).
Malpec (Port Hill): 1st Acadian settlement in western half of the Island (1728), Arsenault family and others. Community that escaped deportation, many descendants on the Island (92 km west of Charlottetown).