25 Years on PEI

Twenty-five years ago today I started work at the PEI Crafts Council, just up the street from where I sit right now.

And thus began our new life on Prince Edward Island.

Catherine followed a month later, once she’d extricated herself from her myriad projects in Ontario, and we took up residence in a tiny two-room apartment at 50 Great George Street, around the corner from where we live now.

I was 27 years old, wet behind the ears, and quite unprepared for the adventures that lay ahead. As I wrote last week to a new friend:

It was certainly a cliff-jump for us, a young couple in our late 20s moving to a place where we had almost never been, with no family or friends. Plan #1 was to stay for the 18 months of my job contract. But then Catherine found studio space, and I made another job, and we bought a house, and we had Oliver and 25 years passed.

For a good amount of that time I had itchy feet, and would conjure up plans to move us to Paris (etc.). But then, one day, I woke up and felt connected to the place in a way I never expected and now the gravitational pull of the Island runs strong.

So Plan #2 is to stay.

I’ve lived on PEI longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and when I speak of “home” here is what I’m talking about.

I’ll never be “from here,” of course. But the importance of that has receded into the background, and I do truly feel like I belong here.

Thank you to everyone who’s smoothed the path for us over all these years: friends, colleagues, co-conspirators.

And thank you to Catherine who, when I phoned her from the payphone in the Confederation Centre Public Library and told her that I’d been offered a job on the Island, and had suggested I could start work in two weeks, didn’t leave me on the spot. Prince Edward Island is the great adventure of our lives together, and I couldn’t have–wouldn’t have wanted to have–done it without her.


Ton Zijlstra's picture
Ton Zijlstra on March 15, 2018 - 12:47 Permalink

We're currently in the inverse situation I think. Moving house after many, in my case 28, in Enschede. As a student I felt like a temporary lodger, but then found a job, then the Fire Works disaster made us realise how connected to the city we'd become, bought a house, but now have left. Our daughter will never know the city we both have lived longest in. It will likely be a long while until we feel a similar connection to our new home town, irrespective of how happy I am we moved and how I enjoy our new house, while for our little one it will come natural. After moving I noticed how some of the people we knew in Enschede, we only knew because they and us had been part of the local scenery for such a long time. Less a matter of knowing each other, more a matter of recognizing each others place and connection in the city's fabric of life. I realize that may never become that way in our new town.

John Boylan's picture
John Boylan on March 15, 2018 - 12:52 Permalink

Perhaps a new designation is called for: the Islander From Away. Regardless, Islanders of all stripes are lucky to have had you, Catherine and Oliver call this place home.

Andrew's picture
Andrew on March 15, 2018 - 13:32 Permalink

As you wrote, you'll never "be from here", but I can say, as someone who is, that you contribute much more to the community than the majority of people who are from here. I've been reading your blog since you started blogging. I don't think I can remember one instance where you did not offer a solution to an issue you felt the need to write about. That alone is offering far much more than many who just seem to bicker and complain about everything.

The Island is lucky to have you and your family here.

Joan Sinclair's picture
Joan Sinclair on March 15, 2018 - 18:35 Permalink

and we're darn lucky to have you.

Sue Williams 's picture
Sue Williams on March 15, 2018 - 19:04 Permalink

PEI is a better place with you, Catherine and Oliver here. Happy 25th!

Randy F McDonald's picture
Randy F McDonald on March 15, 2018 - 21:49 Permalink

The Islanders who disdain people from away, who think they do not belong and cannot belong, are fools. Anyone who choose to move to a community and join in its life, never mind anyone who makes such notable contributions, belongs as much as any fool who can claim nth-generation ancestry. The Island is all the better for having you.

laurent beaulieu's picture
laurent beaulieu on March 16, 2018 - 16:30 Permalink

Congratulations Peter and Family for this anniversary.

jypsy's picture
jypsy on March 17, 2018 - 17:05 Permalink

..and I remember meeting you, not too long after that, in a crowded little back room at the Craft Council's shop... We've only met a handful of times but you've been out there, (and here...) on an edge of my life, for 25 years now. Nice. Cheers to you All!