Bottle Houses of PEI

In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary on July 1, we’re bringing you 150 Travelzoo Tips — one per day until July 1 — to help you explore and enjoy this great land. For tip 27, travel writer, photographer and consultant Jim Byers takes us to PEI.

There’s a lovely chapel in Cap-Egmont, PEI,  filled with beautiful light. Across the way, past the pretty pond, is a small tavern. Just a few metres away is a nice, six-gabled house with a view out the back towards the Northumberland Strait between PEI and Nova Scotia.

It sounds much like many small villages you’d find on this graceful, pretty island. But these buildings are fashioned mostly out of wine bottles. More than 25,000 of them, in fact; blue ones, clear ones, green ones and brown/amber ones.

They’re held together with cement, of course, and there are ceilings and floors. But the walls are mostly an endless series of wine bottles that shimmer and shine when the sun streaks through.

It sounds tacky. But the effect of the PEI Bottle Houses is absolutely charming.

The bottle houses were started back in 1980, the brainchild of a local fellow named Edouard Arsenault. It’s taken a long time for them to reach the stage they’re at now, but they’ve become a major tourist attraction in this small, Acadian village near Summerside.

The chapel is especially striking, with a statue of the Virgin Mary off to one side and a pretty altar made mostly of green, white and amber bottles. There are even pews you can sit in.

The gardens surrounding the buildings are equally charming; with gorgeous wildflowers and perfectly trimmed hedges and a lovely old white chair swing you can sit in while the breeze rolls in off the water.

Entry is just $7 for adults and $18 for a family.

I visited the houses for the first time last year and had a lovely hour or so wandering about. A couple of days later I was driving out to Point Prim, near the ferry to Nova Scotia on the other end of PEI, when I suddenly spotted a small sign for another set of bottle houses, called Hannah’s Bottle Village. I only had a minute to check them out or risk missing my ferry, but I found a collection of several small buildings. It didn’t seem as extensive as the ones at Cap-Egmont, but it’s interesting that a small island would have two such attractions.

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