Holman's Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

Holman's Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

Help create a hotel for birds!

Holman's Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

Holman's Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

The City of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, was developed along the shores of Bedeque Bay — a safe, sheltered harbour for a historic ship building industry.

Within this harbour sits Holman's Island: a 90-acre (36-hectare) island paradise and the site of PEI's first hotel resort (built in 1872). After a fire destroyed the hotel in 1904, the island was abandoned. Over time it has naturally reverted into a sanctuary for birds and wildlife living in and around Bedeque Bay.

The current owners have chosen to work with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to conserve Holman's Island in perpetuity. To help this project succeed, they have generously donated towards the long-term care of the land.

The clock is ticking!

To contribute to this important and historical project or learn how you can help other projects we are doing on Prince Edward Island, please contact Faith Flemming at 1-877-231-4400 or faith.flemming@natureconservancy.ca.

Or, visit our donation page.

Holman's Island at a glance

Today, migrating shorebirds frequent the salt marshes on the island. Mature forests provide ideal habitat for nesting birds and other wildlife. The shorebirds even make use of the remnant structure of the old hotel, earning this picturesque place its reputation as a hotel for birds.

Protected by Bedeque Bay's sheltered waters and located just 600 metres from PEI's closest point, Holman's Island is enjoyed by humans and wildlife alike.

At the lowest tide of the summer, Holman's Island is accessible by foot, and is an easy destination for paddlers seeking adventure. You can spend a day looking for geocaches, hunting for the remnants of the Island Park Hotel or walking through the ancient forests that escaped mainland deforestation.

Bring your binoculars, since Holman's Island is located within the internationally recognized Bedeque Bay Important Bird Area. At-risk birds such as willet and red knot feed and rest in the salt marshes on the island. Atlantic brant and Canada geese stage in the calm surrounding waters.

Small mammals like hare and squirrels abound in the lush undergrowth, while forest birds fill the air with their songs.

Conservation values

  • Holman's Island is important habitat for foraging and migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, including red knot, willet, Atlantic brant and Canada geese.
  • Offshore islands are important wilderness areas because they are some of the last remaining examples of undisturbed habitat in Prince Edward Island.
  • Ninety-four percent of all offshore island habitat in PEI is undisturbed. This makes offshore islands important habitat to conserve and an important priority for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, as the islands provide crucial nesting and foraging habitat for wildlife and birds.
  • Holman's Island contains mature Acadian forest, which is increasingly rare in PEI and provides habitat for 184 significant plant and animal species.
  • Holman's Island is an important part of Prince Edward Island's cultural and natural history.

Threats

Like all offshore islands in PEI, it is possible to develop on the land. If Holman's Island is conserved and protected by Nature Conservancy of Canada, its perpetual conservation is ensured regardless of today's development regulations, or future regulation changes that could occur.

Our vision for Holman's Island

Offshore islands have been a target for conservation in PEI since the publication of the International Biological Program in 1972. Out of the 19 offshore islands in PEI, 10 have been completely protected, with ongoing efforts to five protect others. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has assisted with the protection of nine of the protected offshore islands.

Once conserved, Holman's Island will become a nature reserve for the City of Summerside, providing recreation opportunities for generations to come. Day trips to the island will provide children with opportunities to learn how to paddle a kayak or navigate natural landscapes as they search for geocaches, all while learning the importance of maintaining natural areas.

Historical significance

Holman's Island has gone through many names throughout history, including Ile de Bedec, Indian Island, Flynn's Island and Pope's Island. Although Samuel Holland intended Prince County's main township to be located on the shores of Malpeque Bay (even going as far as designating a specific lot called Princetown), Bedeque Bay became the location of choice.

The bay was first settled by American Loyalists who migrated around its shores. This eventually led to the settlement of Green's Shore, today's Summerside.

Shipbuilding brought the first real boom to the blossoming town, and soon businessmen moved to the area to begin their trade. James Holman, a native New Brunswicker, became one of the foremost businessmen of Prince Edward Island during the mid-1800s. He is best known for his establishment of the Island Park Hotel on Holman's Island, and his brother Robert is best known for the Holman's Department Store — a staple in Downtown Summerside until the 1980s.

Holman's Island became an important part of the Holman family legacy and local economy, as visitors and locals alike delighted at the chance for a steamboat ride over to its shores. Entertainment at the Island Park Hotel included bowling alleys, billiards, trails through the woodlands, fishing, and yachting. It was the site of the birth of Prince Edward Island's resort industry.

Supporter Spotlight

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