Setting Day on Prince Edward Island (PEI) is a time-honoured tradition that marks the
beginning of the lobster fishing season. This annual event, held in late April/early May, sees the island's fishing communities come together to prepare and launch their boats, set their traps, and celebrate their maritime heritage. In this blog post, we'll delve into the history of Setting Day, explore its significance to the people of PEI, and offer some tips on how you can partake in the festivities.
A Brief History of Setting Day:
Lobster fishing has been a crucial part of Prince Edward Island's economy and culture for centuries. The Mi'kmaq, the Indigenous people of PEI, were the first to fish for lobsters in the region, using simple traps made from wooden frames and netting. European settlers who arrived on the island in the 18th century soon adopted this practice and developed their own techniques.
The first commercial lobster fishery on PEI began in the mid-19th century, and by the early 20th century, it had become an essential source of income for many island families. Over time, Setting Day has evolved into a symbol of the island's deep connection to the sea and the resilience of its fishing communities.
The Significance of Setting Day:
Setting Day is more than just the start of the lobster fishing season; it's a celebration of community spirit and a showcase of the island's maritime heritage. On this day, families and friends gather to support their local fishermen as they set out to sea, with well-wishes and prayers for a bountiful season.
The excitement and anticipation are palpable, as fishermen make their final preparations, checking their gear, and loading their traps onto their boats. As the boats adorned with colourful buoys set sail, spectators can catch a glimpse of a living tradition that has been passed down through generations.
How to Experience Setting Day on PEI:
Choose a picturesque harbour: PEI is home to many quaint fishing harbours, each with its unique charm. Popular spots to witness Setting Day include North Rustico, Covehead, Tignish and Victoria-by-the-Sea.
Arrive early: Setting Day starts at the crack of dawn. Be prepared to rise early and dress warmly, as the weather can be unpredictable.
Engage with the locals: Don't be shy to strike up a conversation with the fishermen or the families gathered at the harbour. They'll be more than happy to share stories and insights about their trade and the significance of Setting Day.
Sample fresh lobster: No trip to PEI would be complete without indulging in some freshly caught lobster. Many seafood shacks and restaurants offer special menus on Setting Day, featuring the catch of the day.
Explore the island: While the focus of Setting Day is the lobster fishing season, it's also an excellent opportunity to explore the picturesque landscapes, stunning beaches, and charming communities of PEI. Check out @TourismPEI's recommendations to make the most of your visit.
Setting Day on Prince Edward Island is an authentic and heartwarming celebration of the island's maritime heritage and tight-knit fishing communities. By immersing yourself in this vibrant tradition, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the island's culture, history, and the hardworking individuals who continue to carry on this cherished way of life.
Book your stay at Ye Olde Sailor to experience setting day each year!