Seals, Governor's Island, Prince Edward Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

Seals, Governor's Island, Prince Edward Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

Governors Island

Governors Island, Prince Edward Island (Photo by NCC)

Governors Island, Prince Edward Island (Photo by NCC)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has successfully protected a historic site in Prince Edward Island, Governors Island, which many groups had targeted for conservation for more than 40 years.

In February 2012, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced it had purchased the 84-acre (34-hectare) site for conservation. Located in Hillsborough Bay, Governors Island covers mostly wooded areas with some wetlands.
The property contains some of the oldest geological formations in PEI, which are similar to those on the Nova Scotia coast provide evidence that PEI used to be a part of the mainland.

Governors Island has a rich human history. It was one of the first parcels of Canadian land ever held by a woman. The first governor of PEI, then known as St. John's Island, granted Governor's Island to his alleged mistress, Susanna Torriano, in 1774.

Governors Island was once proposed as the site of a religious camp for followers of American evangelist Billy Graham that was never built.

The first offshore oil well ever drilled in North America is located near Governor's Island.

The acquisition was profiled CBC News' “The National” as a result of its interesting historical and cultural background.

Conservation values

  • Governors Island is a nesting site for double-crested cormorants and one of the largest blue heron colonies.
  • The island contains geological formations similar to Nova Scotia’s coast, which are found nowhere else on PEI and provide proof the province used to be part of the mainland.
  • All of PEI's offshore islands are important for waterfowl and other species and are necessary for the movement of certain colonies of birds and for shallow water feeding sites.


Early in the fall of 2012, NCC held the first ever day-long stewardship outing on Governors Island.

Volunteers of all ages came out on a Thursday in August to do their part in securing the perimeter of a well. Volunteers also helped staff to erect a fence, cleaned out two old abandoned camper trailers and dozens of beer bottles, posted NCC signs and cleared the beach of marine debris.

In fact, it was on the beach where the enthusiastic group of 19 volunteers uncovered pretty much everything, including a kitchen sink!

The unique event was an opportunity for volunteers to help NCC care for the island, while visiting a remote place many have never experienced.

After initial media interviews with The Charlottetown Guardian and CBC Radio, NCC received a great response from prospective volunteers wishing to register.

Due to the strong interest, the overflow of people put NCC in a bit of a pinch: how to transport such a large volume of participants? But thanks to the generosity of NCC Atlantic Board Member Tim Banks and PEI's Department of Natural Resources, three additional boats were loaned to help transport volunteers and journalists to the site and to help remove marine debris from along the beach.


Climate change and severe weather are a concern in the area. Since this is an island with relatively soft sandstone substrate, like other coastal locations, this area has increased risk due to global warming and sea-level rise.

Pollution is also a threat in the area. Litter is washed ashore from fishing as well as litter discarded by recreational users in Hillsborough Bay.


NCC wishes to acknowledge and thank the project donors, including: the Government of Canada, under the Natural Areas Conservation Program, PEI Ministry of the Environment, NCC’s PEI leadership donors Fred and Shirley Hyndman, Dr. Regis and Joan Duffy, Tim Banks and Carrie McNabb and Maritime Electric and Amalgamated Dairies Ltd.

Our vision for Governors Island

NCC is closely monitoring Governors Island. We will undertake more efforts to clear garbage and debris from the area to help sustain habitat for the Great Blue Heron colony. We will also enhance the community support and understanding of the colonial nesting birds and promote community participation in conservation.

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