Grass on the shore of Boughton Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

Grass on the shore of Boughton Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

Boughton Island

Plovers and sandpiper (Photo by Douglas C. Leitch)

Plovers and sandpiper (Photo by Douglas C. Leitch)

A true treasure

Once settled and home to a thriving lobster cannery, Boughton Island has been uninhabited since World War II. Located just off Cardigan in eastern Prince Edward Island, Boughton Island is the province's third-largest island and boasts almost six kilometres of shoreline. Because it has existed without any significant development or human interference for more than 60 years, wildlife has been allowed to live and breed here.

The island is an extremely popular destination for locals and tourists who enjoy picnicking and going for walks.

Boughton Island at a glance

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) secured just over half of the 600-acre (240-hectare) island in 2007, which is located 80 kilometres east of the provincial capital of Charlottetown. Following the purchase, NCC transferred ownership of Boughton Island to the Government of Prince Edward Island. The Province now manages the entire island under the Natural Areas Protection Act, but NCC helps to maintain its natural state as the largest undisturbed island off PEI's shores.

For the past two years, NCC has organized Conservation Volunteers events here to help protect the site and its occupants.

Conservation values

  • Home to at least 49 species of birds and a diversity of habitats, including magnificent white sand beaches, spruce forest, salt marsh and freshwater ponds.
  • Osprey can be seen hunting for prey along the coast and red fox, shrew and beaver are present.
  • Great blue heron and common tern live here, in addition to nesting piping plovers (this endangered bird is at risk across Canada, with habitat disturbance being its biggest threat).
  • Bald eagles, merlins, gulls and two species of swallows are found here.
  • Loons, mergansers and scoters all use its fresh water ponds to fish.


The scarcity of land in PEI means that any opportunity to preserve a piece of the province's natural heritage must be seized. Boughton Island was mostly privately owned and had an approved large subdivision. As a result, the threat of development loomed large.

Our vision for Boughton Island

The protection of the natural environment at Boughton Island is a key priority for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which remains steadfast in wanting to ensure this jewel remains pristine for decades.

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