Last week the Canadian Cartographic Association held its annual meeting here in Charlottetown. By way of a delightful cartographic coincidence, I made the acquaintance of the program chair, Roger Wheate, from the University of Northern British Columbia, and over the weekend I got a chance to spend some time out and about with Roger.
This morning, after he returned to Prince George, Roger sent me an intriguing photo, wondering whether I knew what the symbol represented:
But what of the “sunshine over upper case A with an line over top of it” symbol?
I searched online in vain.
I looked in the Prince Edward Island Visitors Guide for clues.
I phoned 1-800-565-7421, but the friendly agent there had no idea.
As a last resort, I sought out Hubert MacIsaac, Compliance Signage Officer with the province’s tourism department. Hubert, it turns out, is one of the friendliest public servants you’ll ever meet.
And after I emailed him Roger’s photo he quickly got back to me with this helpful signage key:
It turns out that Roger had encountered the symbol for “Day Adventure,” the symbolic representation of which confounds me: is it a happy picnic table person enjoying the sun, having an adventure in daylight?
As near as I can tell, using Google Image Search as my guide, this symbol is unique to Prince Edward Island – perhaps unique to eastern Prince Edward Island.
And it is not alone in its mysterious quality.
Referencing the chart above, one wonders why the symbol for “Farm Market” (№ 55) is of a lobster and a fish trapped inside a cabin.
Or why № 32, Botanical Garden, presumably an outdoor attraction, is represented by a flower inside a house.
Would tourists from away, in search of a bottle of slivovice, know that the symbol of the stylized “PEILCC” (№ 46) means “liquor store”?
Are their really that many “Iron Works” (№ 54) on the Island that a symbol needs to be dedicated to them? And can you really hold an anvil in your hand like that?
And wouldn’t symbol № 64, “Distillery,” be more appropriate for symbolizing time travel?
Symbols are useful when they transcend language and allow for quicker communication than words allow; if Roger, an experienced cartographic expert, couldn’t deduce the meaning, then perhaps it’s time for a change?