UPEI faculty member to present seminar on May 24 about impact of Confederation Bridge
Dr. Laurie Brinklow, an assistant professor of Island Studies at UPEI, will give a seminar titled “The Bridge Effect: A Case Study of Prince Edward Island, Canada, with some implications for Gozo” on May 24, from 11:30 am to 1 pm ADT.
The seminar will take place in person at the University of Malta and will also be streamed live. To register for the live stream, go to https://islandstudies.com/2023/05/09/the-bridge-effect-pei-gozo-webinar/
Brinklow’s presentation tells the story of Prince Edward Island’s Confederation Bridge and its socio-cultural, economic, and political impacts since it opened on May 31, 1997. A conversation about how these lessons might apply to Malta and Gozo will follow.
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.
The idea of a permanent link joining the mainland to PEI 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 per cent in favour, 41 per cent against. Thus, the Confederation Bridge, a $1 billion 12.9-kilometre-long bridge across the Northumberland Strait, was built—the world’s longest bridge over ice-covered waters.
Brinklow is 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).