Tall ships visiting Charlottetown to mark Canada's 150th birthday
P.E.I. visit is part of a five-month, 7,000 nautical mile, trans-Atlantic race
A number of tall ships will visit Charlottetown in the summer of 2017, as part of a special sailing race organized to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada.
Anywhere from six to eight of the magnificent ships will be docked in the harbour from June 30 to July 2, says Wayne Long, Charlottetown's events development officer.
"We're very excited to be a part of this program and we're looking forward to hosting events where the roots of the country began."
The ships will have faced an incredible journey to get to Charlottetown. They are part of the Rendezvous 2017 Regatta, a trans-Atlantic race of 40 tall ships.
The vessels will set sail from Royal Greenwich, U.K. about a year from now, on April 13, 2017. They'll race across the Atlantic and back, over five months, covering 7,000 nautical miles and visiting six countries.
The ships will be sailed by about 3,000 crew, some of whom will be young people just learning the ropes through one of the event sponsors, Sail Training International.
Ship tours over the Canada Day weekend
Charlottetown is not on the race tour itself, it's a guest port, but Long said the city is very fortunate to have that opportunity.
Long expects over the four days, Islanders will be able to tour all the ships — sometimes called cathedrals of the sea.
"That's one of the highlight points for us. It's not only to have the ships sitting docked, but to engage residents and visitors and give them an opportunity to experience these unique structures."
Charlottetown plans to host a cultural festival on the waterfront at the same time, based on the theme of Confederation.
Cultural festival on waterfront
Long doesn't expect these celebrations will be as extravagant as Founders' Week in 2014, marking the commemoration of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference. That's the last time tall ships visited P.E.I., with seven docked in Charlottetown and Summerside over a weekend in late August and early September that year.
But Long said there will still be lots of celebrate. He said Charlottetown was confirmed early as a guest port for the Regatta because of the city's roots in Confederation.
"As the birthplace of Confederation we always remember the pride we have as the city where the roots of the nation all began and it's something we should be proud of, and when we can celebrate it we should all join and unite together."
'Remember the pride' of Charlottetown's role
The events in Charlottetown that Canada Day weekend will be organized with the help of Quebec City, the other event sponsor. All 40 ships will eventually sail up the St. Lawrence for a pinnacle event in Quebec City from July 18 to July 23.
"We need to remember the ships, most of the boats would have raced to North America. They're in a bit of a holding pattern as they being to make their way up the St. Lawrence River to historic Quebec for the pinnacle, world-renowned event."
Long said there will be more information to come.
"We're just working out the final details as a host port, but we're very excited," said Long. He expects details of which ships will dock here and other event information will be known in the next couple of months.