French settlement in the 1700s

Prince Edward Island was discovered by Jacques Cartier in 1534, but was not settled permanently until the 1700s. 

The first settlements were around the Charlottetown Harbour (Port La Joie), up the Hillsborough River and in St. Peters. Settlers were discouraged from living along the North Shore due to sand dunes blocking of the entrances of coves and estuaries. These blockages are still an issue for fisherman in the North Shore.

The first continuous French settlement began in Port La Joie in 1720, and was followed by a settlement in the fishing port of St. Peters. The Island population during this time ranged from 300 to 450 residents.

Because PEI was covered by a dense blanket of forest, the majority of agriculture was localized along the Hillsborough River. There were also a few farms around Savage Harbour, Tracadie, and Malpeque. 

During the 1740s and 1750s, most settlements didn't extend more than one farm deep from the shoreline, which meant there was little need for roads. Residents mostly travelled by canoe.

In 1758, the British rounded up French settlers in PEI and deported them. By the time the Island was formally awarded to Britain in 1763, there were only about 300 Acadians remaining.

Published date: 
March 22, 2023