The Bridge Effect: A Case Study of Prince Edward Island, Canada, with Some Implications for Gozo
Laurie Brinklow, Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island
May 24th, 2023 at, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. ADT (4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. CEST)
The idea of a permanent link joining the mainland to Prince Edward Island, on Canada’s Atlantic coast, goes back to 1887 when a Canadian Senator suggested the government lay an iron subway across the floor of the Northumberland Strait; the price tag was $5 million. A few years later, they suggested a $12 million tunnel. Neither came to fruition, but over the next century, the conversation continued until 1989, when a plebiscite was held to determine whether or not Islanders wanted a “fixed link.” The vote was close: 59% in favour, 41% against. Thus the way was paved to build the Confederation Bridge, a $1 billion 12-9-kilometre-long bridge across the Northumberland Strait. It opened on May 31, 1997, as the world’s longest bridge over ice-covered waters.
Bridging an island is often a polarizing subject: an islander can cherish the bounded flavour that an island provides or can valorize the benefits of a link―for instance, the convenience and monetary benefits of transporting people and goods on- and off-island. A permanent link might even allow an island to remain a viable place to live. This presentation tells the story of Prince Edward Island’s bridge and its socio-cultural, economic, and political impacts on the Island in the 25 years since it opened. A conversation about how these lessons might apply to Malta and Gozo will follow.
Meet the Speaker
Dr. Laurie Brinklow is an Assistant Professor of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, where she is the Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) Program and Chair of the Institute of Island Studies. A writer, editor, and former book publisher, she is a graduate of the MAIS program (2007) and has a PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Tasmania (2015). She is particularly interested in the power of place, story, and identity in creating vibrant island communities. She has published in several academic journals and books and is the author of two books of poetry, Here for the Music (Acorn, 2012) and My island’s the house I sleep in at night (Island Studies Press, 2021). She is the Government of Iceland’s Honorary Consul for Prince Edward Island and President of the International Small Island Studies Association (ISISA).