The search for razor clams on Prince Edward Island

Before we started on our trip, some of our friends told us about their successful clamming experience at Prince Edward Island. Just before we reached the island, I watched Youtube videos of people pouring salt over holes in the sand and catching the long razor clams that get coaxed out. I couldn’t wait to do the same. We discussed ways of preparing our clam harvest with our limited cooking tools while driving across The Confederation Bridge. Completed in 1997, It’s a 13km (8 mile) long bridge connecting land travellers between Prince Edward Island to the rest of Canada. It’s the most expensive 12 minute drive in the country at a cost of $1.3 billion. After arriving on the island, we stopped by the visitor centre to get a map, ask about things to see and do, and most importantly, where we could find these razor clams.

After crossing the bridge, we found ourselves in the centre of the Red Sands Shore area. The iron rich soil, good rainfall, and distinct seasons provide the right conditions for growing potatoes. It’s hard to believe that this island, which also happens to be Canada’s smallest province, is home to 25% of all potatoes grown in the country. Here is a view from Canoe Cove.
We searched on the red sand beaches for keyhole shaped openings, signs of razor clam life underneath. No clams were found.

We made our way into Charlottetown, the capital of P.E.I. and stopped at Receiver Coffee, The Brass Shop, to get a cortado and chai latte. They make sourdough bread and pastries on site, as well as roast their coffee at this location. We took advantage of the quiet, open space to journal and plan our next few days.

Since we turned up empty handed after our first few clam digging attempts, we headed to Claddagh Oyster House to enjoy their happy hour $1 oyster deal! We ordered a dozen P.E.I. Malpeque oysters, they were sweet, a little briny and very fresh.

After our happy hour dinner, we walked around downtown Charlotttetown, spent some time in a bookstore and drove to the nearest Walmart parking lot for the evening. There was only one other RV camper here, the most quiet overnight parking lot so far.

Charlottetown Farmers’ Market

On Saturday, October 21st, 2017, we woke up feeling quite hungry (happy hour oysters are not that filling) and headed to the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. It was bustling with lots of lines for every vendor. It was as if the entire town had shown up to do their weekly shopping here. We filled up on cabbage rolls from Grandma Jaworski’s, a shiitake mushroom fougasse, crab cakes, chowder, and more oysters. It was very satisfying, this was one of the best farmers’ markets we had visited so far on our trip. This was also where we tasted the most sweet and flavourful hazelnuts grown on the island, from Bill and Elizabeth Glen.

We replenished our bread reserves with a spelt loaf, shiitake fougasse that had more mushroom than bread in a bite, and a hearty loaf of volkenbrot (seeded rye bread). These were all sourdough breads from Angel’s Bread.
We walked by Gallant’s Shellfish & Seafood, a seafood stand selling hot food and take-away items. I overheard a customer rave about their crab cakes . I was hungry and it was an inexpensive snack ($3.5 per crab cake) so I bought one to try. It was so good, packed full of crab meat and lightly breaded and seared, we got another one, as well as a cup of seafood chowder. This chowder was loaded with mouthfuls of scallops, fish, muscles, clams and maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a cube of potato. They also had a tiny standing oyster bar with a few varieties, all from P.E.I. We ate a few oysters on the spot, each type different in their flavour, texture, and sweetness. Next time, I will order the whole menu.

Northern and Eastern Shore of PEI

It started to rain by the time we finished our shopping so we decided to explore the Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place and delay our clam digging ventures. Anne of Green Gables is fictional story written by L.M. Montgomery who grew up in Cavendish (North of Red Sands Shore), P.E.I. We learned about life during the Victorian-era, explored the childhood home of L.M. Montgomery and read about her life. After spending some time at the Green Gables Heritage Place, we headed East on the Rue du Golf Shore Parkway. It’s a very scenic drive with many white sand beaches. We stopped a few times to look for clams and take in the scenery. No clams. We drove to the very Eastern point of P.E.I. marked by the East Point Lighthouse which was unfortunately closed for the season.

We continued our drive around the island and stopped by a secluded beach at the end of Anselm MacDonald Rd near Souris to look for more clams. A lot of beautiful sea glass can be found in the area and we and met a local who kindly gifted us her nicest find of the day. No clams.
It was a very gloomy day with occasional bursts of sun and light rain.

Along the road, we saw many signs about the singing sands of Basin Head Beach. Curiosity brought us to the white sanded beach to check for singing. We experienced absolutely no singing and found no clams either. What we did find was a gusty wind and light rain that looked like it was about to get worse. We quickly found a small hut and decided to cooked the rest of our spätzle for dinner here.

We were both feeling wind blown and disappointed with our failed clam digging mission. I suppose we were warned that it was the end of season. It was a cold night in the car, our car frosted over by dawn and we woke up ready to explore the next province.

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