Practical Information About PEI

This page is devoted to an overview of Prince Edward Island and Canada in general. It should be of particular use to anyone who is new to the Island, or is visiting Canada itself for the first time.

With many thanks to the 2012 conference in Edinburgh, who originated this page concept in such a useful fashion that we just had to do one too.


Covering nearly 10 million square kilometres and bathed by the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, Canada is made up of ten provinces (of which PEI is the smallest) and three territories.


Canada is both a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the head of its government. The seat of the federal government is in Ottawa, Ontario.

The government of the province of Prince Edward Island is based in Charlottetown. It is responsible for the management of (among other things), education, healthcare, transportation, and law enforcement below the federal level.


  • Canada: 34,900,000
  • PEI: 140, 204
  • Charlottetown: 34, 562


Canada has two official languages: English and French. English is the most widely used language in most provinces, including Prince Edward Island. The province of Quebec is the sole province with French as its official language; the province of New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province. English speakers will get by just fine in Charlottetown.


The currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar. See the Bank of Canada for up to date conversion to a variety of international currencies. US dollars are widely accepted by businesses in Charlottetown.

The smallest Canadian denomination available as a paper bill is the $5. One and two dollar denominations are available as coins (called the loonie and the toonie respectively, because that's how we roll).

Canadian coins

UPDATE: As of February 4th, 2013, Canadian businesses started phasing out the penny, so you can expect to find your transactions rounded up or down to the nearest nickel. In other words, no more coins with maple leaves on them, and all prices are rounded to the nearest beaver. Sailboats, caribou, loons, and polar bears remain in circulation.


Different banks have different opening hours but the majority are open Monday (9am-5pm) to Saturday (often morning only).

Canadian ATMs and most merchants operate on the Interac system. ATM access is ubiquitous, but some ATMs will charge a service fee above and beyond any fee charged by your own bank for use of an out-of-network ATM. Most major credit cards are also accepted at local businesses.


Canadian electrical supply and wall sockets are the same as those found in the United States (110 Volts and 60 Hertz), so some European electrical devices may require converters and/or plug adapters.

Emergency Services

The telephone number for emergency services across Canada is 911. The same number is used to access Police, Ambulance or Fire services.

Smoking in Public Places

Most Canadian provinces have some form of restriction on smoking in public places. In PEI, the Smoke-free Places Act bans smoking in virtually all public places.


Sales tax in PEI is nominally set at 15%, but effectively 15.5% due to the 10% Provincial Sales Tax being levied on top of the 5% federal Good and Services Tax.


Tipping is always optional, but if you're inclined to do as the locals do, then the standard is 15-20% for restaurants, 10-20% for taxis, and a few dollars per day for the chambermaid at your hotel (can left at the end of your stay). If you really want to pass for a local, leave a few small coins behind when you get your coffee at Tim Horton's.


PEI has countless beautiful beaches that can be enjoyed during your stay. Swimming in not recommended in the water off of Charlottetown, it is best to visit a nearby beach such a Tea-Hill or Brackeley (both a 15 minute drive away). Please be aware of all posted information found at any of the Island’s beaches. Some areas are better for swimming as some beaches will have marked warnings for undertows or riptides. Always be cautious when swimming. Also, when visiting beaches and parks, please do not venture onto our sand dunes! These dunes are home to wildlife and protect our Island from erosion.

Liquor Stores

The province controls all retail liquor sales. Liquor (outside of restaurants) can only be purchased from provincial liquor stores during regular business hours and is not available in grocery or convenience stores.


The climate on Prince Edward Island is milder than the Canadian mainland because the warm waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence surround it. The average temperature for July is 19C (67F).

Summers are warm, but rarely humid. Daytime temperatures are usually in the 20s (70s) and can go as high as 32 degrees C. (90 degree F). Summer days and evenings have a refreshing breeze. July and August are the warmest and driest months.

Useful Links

Tons of information about things to see and do from Tourism PEI
Official website of the Government of Canada
Official website of the Government of Prince Edward Island
Exchange rates from the Bank of Canada
Up-to-date weather info from Environment Canada
Official website for the Charlottetown Airport