Irish Moss

Irish Moss[i]

       Eastern Kings was a large contributor to the Irish Moss industry in the late 1960s and early in the 1970s.  Eastern PEI was described as “storm tossed,” this meant that heavy winds on the shore would blow Irish Moss inland to the beaches. Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus) is a red algae that grows along the rocky parts of the Atlantic coast.  At one time it was very abundant in Eastern PEI and is still evident in many areas of Western PEI.  An Irish Moss processing plant was opened in the fall of 1967, called PEI Seaweed.  Mr. Charles MacDonald and Mr. Richard Rose, both from the Eastern Kings, area were employed by PEI Seaweed at its peak.  The company employed 65 people between North Lake, Naufrage and Rustico.  

        The moss was collected in any way possible from the shores of Eastern PEI.  Many people would bring their families to the shore at the first sign of wind in order to start collecting.  Ronnie and Avonetta Campbell recall watching the shore for low tide in order to go down and collect the moss.  They would try to get to the shore without anyone else noticing so they would be the first to grab a truck load of the money-maker.  There were no regulations on who could harvest the moss, therefore anyone who could access the beaches did so.  Truck loads would be scooped up and taken to the processing plant at North Lake. 

         Prior to the plant being built, people would need to  sun drythe moss in order to sell it.  Once PEI Seaweed opened people were able to take truckloads of wet moss to the plant to be processed. The loaded truck was driven onto the scales to be weighed, the moss was then taken through a chemical drier, and was crushed and bagged to be shipped; a rather speedy process for the time.  Those who sold the wet moss received a quarter of the price of the sundried moss.  Many people dried the moss before selling it because it was worth more.  The peak year for the Irish Moss Industry in Eastern Kings was 1970. A gradual decline occurred after this.  

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