A Trip to Dalvay-by-the-Sea, PEI

I’m not one to really celebrate dates.  My husband and I never celebrated the anniversary of our first date, we don’t really do anything for Valentine’s Day.  We’re low maintenance kind of people.

Our wedding anniversary seems different, though.  I think it’s important to celebrate this commitment and reaffirm it each year.  We normally do this by taking a trip together. Since getting married three years ago, we’ve been to Iceland and the Magdalen Islands for our first and second anniversaries. This year, we decided to stay closer to home but still wanted to commemorate the event. So, we ventured over the Confederation Bridge for a weekend of sun and surf at Dalvay-by-the-Sea in beautiful Prince Edward Island.

Dalvay-by-the-Sea is a National Historic Site situated within one of PEI’s National Parks, with 25 guest rooms at the Inn and eight, three bedroom cottages on the grounds.  The house was built in 1895 as a summer home for Alexander MacDonald, a wealthy businessman with the Standard Oil Company.  It was built in the Queen Anne Revival style, known for it’s whimsical and exuberant features, asymmetrical lines, many gables, bright colours and wraparound verandas.  Local materials were used extensively: Island sandstone boulders cover the entire lower part of the exterior and three massive indoor fireplaces are made from quarried blocks of the same stone.



Loved curling up by that fireplace!
Grand staircase
Library/sitting room

The effect is a truly stunning structure.  Many of the rooms are very small, and there are no televisions, but that just encourages you to spend more time in the common spaces, which are the true charm of the Inn.  Curling up with a drink by one of the three roaring fires quickly became my favourite activity.  Also, don’t miss out on trying a delicious meal in MacMillan Dining Room, courtesy of Chef Chris Colburn.

If you think the Inn looks familiar and you’re an Anne of Green Gables fan, you might remember it as the White Sands Hotel from the Road to Avonlea series and the Anne of Green Gables movies produced in the 1990’s.


One of the many carriages used by the MacDonald family

Staying at an Inn inside a National Park has some great advantages.  You’re super close to hiking trails, walking distances from beaches and there are even bicycle rentals right on site.  The Inn is also situated on a lake, and canoe and kayaks are available to take out for a spin.

As we were driving into Dalvay Friday night, the sun was setting just behind the sand dunes in the most gorgeous shades of pinks and oranges I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of it, we were tired and just wanted to get out of the car.  You will have to take my word for it, it was stunning!  We checked in just in time to get settled and have a couple night caps by the fire in the main lobby.

Saturday morning we got up early, had a delicious breakfast at the Inn and headed out to hike Robinson’s Island, in the park.  The trail is an easy 5 km loop taking you through forest and along the shoreline, with a few beach access points along the way.  As we walked through the sun-filtered woods and explored the deserted beaches, I understood how these landscapes could inspire Lucy Maud Montgomery to pen her famous series.

Pretty light
Washed ashore
Footsteps in the sand

The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only — a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels” – L M Montgomery, from Anne’s House of Dreams.

A camper by the dunes
Hanging with my homies

After our hike we made our way over to the PEI Preserve Company to buy some of the best preserves you can get anywhere.  Seriously, check out the Peach Salsa and Strawberry & Grand Marnier jam.  So good.

We had a lovely dinner at The Dunes Studio Gallery and Cafe, which is a really unique spot close to Brackley Beach. Not only do they serve great food, but you get to eat it surrounded by an incredibly eclectic collection of locally made arts and crafts.  There are so many interesting things to look at, you might find yourself spending hours strolling through the seemingly never-ending compound and gardens.

Very unique fish bowls
Wood carvings on the grounds
The Iron Throne, but with monkeys?

Back to the Inn for one more drink by the fire and a moonlight stroll along the beach pretty much brought us to the end of our Dalvay stay.  It’s a charming place and feels a little like going back in time.  The season is coming to a close for them very soon but if you can, you should definitely check this place out next season when they reopen!

Goodnight, Dalvay!

A Quick Visit to P.E.I.

I’ve missed you so, PEI!  It’s not that I don’t love you just as much as NS and NB, really, it’s not. I adore your rolling green hills and laid back island vibe.  And I chose you to spend my honeymoon with just 2 years ago.  It’s just a little bit harder for me to come up with legitimate excuses to come and visit you, that’s all.  But I’m here now for a short visit so I’m hitting up all my favourite spots in and around Charlottetown before we make our way to the Magdalen Islands.

I’m beginning to realize I have a big thing for islands.  Most of the time when I am looking for a place to go on vacation, I end up choosing an island: from chilly, surreal Iceland to tropical Caribbean paradises, I’m drawn to them all.  My husband has already asked what island we’ll be visiting next September.  I would love to visit Sable Island and their wild horse population.  Is there anyone out there that can make that happen?

The thing that all islands seem to have that larger land masses lack is a specific feeling; an easy way of life.  You feel different when you’re there.  You’re on this island, disconnected from any other land mass, away from it all.  It forces you to stop, take a breath and look around you.  PEI has this feeling.  Plus it’s just really pretty.  The depth of the greens, reds and blues hits you almost immediately upon crossing the expansive Confederation Bridge.  Lucy Maud Montgomery said that PEI was made up of shades of ruby, emerald and sapphire and that certainly is true.

Coming to Charlottetown always feels a little bit like a homecoming for me. I lived here for a year in the early 2000’s.  While I was here I worked at the historic Rodd Charlottetown Hotel and witnessed first hand the cycle of life the island goes through over the course of a year: from quiet springs to busy summers and falls to some of the harshest winters I can recall.  No matter the season, however, PEI is always worth the visit.

Here are a few photos of our quick trip through PEI:

Confederation Bridge on a cloudy day
Beautiful view from our room. I loved that window seat.
Love the modern feel at Delta Prince Edward
First stop was Receiver Coffee on Victoria Row
Followed closely by dinner and drinks at The Gahan House
Love this art installation downtown
Confederation Centre of the Arts
Breakfast at lovely Leonhard’s Cafe