English Settlement - 1700s to Confederation

In 1762, Samuel Holland arrived to do a survey of PEI. He divided the Island into 67 townships or lots, which were then awarded to British petitioners in a lottery. These petitioners were supposed to settle their lots with 100 Protestant, non-British persons within 10 years, but many failed to do so. Unpaid rent and broken agreements resulted in a land ownership problem that troubled the Island until after Confederation.

Notable Settlements

Tracadie Bay - 1770 to 1775

  • lots 36 and 36
  • owned by Captain John MacDonald of Glenalladale
  • settled by Roman Catholic Scottish Highlanders

Malpeque Bay - early 1770s

  • lots 18 and 20
  • settled by Protestant Scottish Lowlanders

New London - 1773

  • settled by Protestant Lowland Scots and English

Additional Settlements

  • Covehead was settled by Protestant families in 1775 - 1780
  • Rustico area was settled by French families
  • Belfast was settled by 800 Highland Scots in 1903. This was the largest single emigrant group.


People travelled up and down the Hillsborough River and along the north shore. The Island's first ferries operated across the mouths of the north shore bays and estuaries.

The first interior roads connected Charlottetown to Malpeque and St. Peters. Subsidiary roads were developed to connect the new settlements with these principal roadways. By 1850, the Island's basic road network was complete.

Island separation

In 1769, the Island, which had been administered from Nova Scotia, was granted separate government.

When the first organized British census took place in 1798, the population of PEI was 4,372. Steady net immigration continued for almost 100 years and, in 1891, the population reached 109,000. From then on, population declined steadily until reaching a low of about 88,000 in the 1930s. 

Published date: 
September 22, 2023