Holman's Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)
Holman’s Island is a 90-acre (36-hectare) island that sits in Bedeque Bay, within a stone’s throw from the city of Summerside's wharf. Unlike many of PEI’s offshore islands, Holman’s Island was never used as a homestead, so much of its original forest has remained intact. It remains home to a significant Acadian hardwood forest stand, including mature examples of American beech, sugar maple and yellow birch.
Although a homestead was never established here, it was the home to PEI’s first resort hotel. James L. Holman erected the Island Park Hotel in 1873, which consisted of 125 lavish rooms. Though he hoped to draw in a crowd of upperclassmen, the mosquito populations had a different idea in mind. The hotel inevitably didn’t make enough money and closed in 1877. A few decades later, in 1904, the abandoned lot burned down leaving nothing but the indented foundation to be explored today.
Holman’s Island now serves as an Important Bird Area, especially for migratory waterfowl. Great blue heron colonies have been known to gather along the shores of the island, while swallow and kingfisher live in the cliffbanks. A real treat arrives in early fall when red knot frequent the island for feeding and staging grounds.
Mourning cloak butterfly and striped hairstreak butterfly populations also exist in the forest on the island. These sensitive species are otherwise rare on PEI, which makes their secluded home on Holman’s Island all the more precious. Turn over a few logs and you may even be lucky enough to spot one of PEI’s four salamander species, the red-backed salamander.