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4. PEI in the 20th Century

During the first half of the 19th century, many Islanders managed to acquire title to their lands. In the north shore region, many lots had a higher proportion of resident ownership than in other parts of the Island. Lot 18 was largely freehold by 1850, as were lots 33, 34, 35, 36 and 37. The lots around St. Peters and Savage Harbour (38, 39 and 40) were purchased by the provincial government in 1854 under the terms of the first Land Purchase Act. On the other hand, there was a fair amount of tenant farming in lots 20 and 21 until the 1870's.

By the time of Confederation, about 50 percent of the lots in PEI were in freehold tenure.. The 1875 Act giving the Island government the power to force landlords to sell their holdings expedited this process. Land ownership was made possible for the former tenants by lease purchase agreements.

A higher proportion of land had been cultivated and farms tended to be more prosperous in the north shore region between Malpeque and Tracadie than east of Tracadie - though there were many individual exceptions.

Mixed farms once predominated throughout the province. Today while there are some large dairy or potato operations, specialization has been more common on other parts of PEI than in the central north shore.

The growth of tourism in the 20th century has been one of the major facts of life in the north shore region. The national park was established in the 1930's but little development took place in the park until the late 1950's and early 1960's. Even before the park, there was probably greater acceptance of tourism in the regions west of Tracadie Bay than to the east.

Only with increased leisure and greater mobility has the impact of tourism been felt acutely. For instance, until the 1950's there was only one ferry crossing from PEI to the mainland and only a few crossings were made each day. Clearly, there was a limitation on the number of tourists who could get to the Island at any one time.

Once they got here, transportation was limited. Roads were poor and the railway was slow. For several years after 1907, it was even illegal to drive a car on Island roads. In fact, it was the PEI Tourist Association which led the fight (opened by 1919) to have roadways opened to cars!

A few roads were paved in the north shore region in the late 1930's - e.g. the route from Charlottetown to Rustico. However, it wasn't until the late 1950's that paving was common in the area - about the same time that rural electrification reached the quiet north shore.

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