In October of 1770, the English brigantine ship, the 'Annabella,' set sail from Campbelltown, Scotland. Its passengers and crew were bound for the British colony of Prince Edward Island and had charted their course for the mouth of Princetown harbour, the present-day location of Malpeque (map). There were 60 families on the ship, most of whom planned to settle together on the lot owned by Colonel Robert Stewart. While the Island was only sparsely settled at the time, this band was convinced they were heading towards a better life, where all would have their share of rich farmland and be sustained by abundant fish and game. But unfortunately, fate dictated that their experience would be otherwise.
When the Annabella arrived in Malpeque harbour, the passengers all disembarked in small boats to spend the night on shore. Little did they know that they were seeing their possessions for the last time. That evening, an intense storm swelled up and roared into the harbour, breaking away the ship's anchor and wrecking the craft against the sandbars. Almost all the supplies and provisions the passengers had brought with them were lost. Only then did the passengers realize the extent of their dilemma. They were stranded in a thickly wooded wilderness, without a single village or town in sight. A bitter winter was fast approaching and the settlers found themselves without food, shelter, or proper clothing. The prospect of cold and starvation loomed ominously.
Fortunately, the more experienced French settlers and the native Migmaq came to the aid of the stranded families. The Scots soon learned how to erect temporary winter shelters, and were also taught how to gather shellfish and hunt for wild game. They managed to withstand the arduous tests of that first winter, and by the spring, were eager to begin clearing the land to plant potatoes, grain, and corn. Not only did the Annabella settlers survive, but they prospered. Today, countless residents can trace their lineage all the way back to these first British settlers in the region. After more than two hundred years, the cold still has not managed to chase them away.