To this day, if you drive around the western shore of Prince Edward Island during the summer and early fall, you will see the impact the Irish Moss industry has had on the communities that make up that part of the province. You would be certain to see half-ton trucks equipped with high sideboards for hauling moss as well as several moss processing plants plants, a namesake café and the wharves where the moss is unloaded from the boats. You might also see moss drying on people’s driveways and lawns and if you are fortunate you might see large, powerful horses in the shallow waters raking in the moss .

The impact of the Irish Moss industry on western P.E.I. becomes obvious as soon as you begin to talk to the people of the area or even listen to some of the local music. Island icon, Stompin’ Tom Connors expresses the area’s feelings toward the industry when he writes “You can hear the roar from the Tignish Shore, There’s moss in Skinner’s Pond.&rdq Read More

To this day, if you drive around the western shore of Prince Edward Island during the summer and early fall, you will see the impact the Irish Moss industry has had on the communities that make up that part of the province. You would be certain to see half-ton trucks equipped with high sideboards for hauling moss as well as several moss processing plants plants, a namesake café and the wharves where the moss is unloaded from the boats. You might also see moss drying on people’s driveways and lawns and if you are fortunate you might see large, powerful horses in the shallow waters raking in the moss .

The impact of the Irish Moss industry on western P.E.I. becomes obvious as soon as you begin to talk to the people of the area or even listen to some of the local music. Island icon, Stompin’ Tom Connors expresses the area’s feelings toward the industry when he writes “You can hear the roar from the Tignish Shore, There’s moss in Skinner’s Pond.” The Island entertainer talks about the discovery of moss in his home community in Western, P.E.I. in his “Song of the Irish Moss.”


© Community Museum Association of Prince Edward Island, 2005. All rights reserved.

Plants such as this in Miminegash provide many jobs in West Prince.

Irish Moss Interpretive Centre

© Irish Moss Interpretive Centre


Interviewing one lady from Miminegash, P.E.I., we were told that at one time, a couple of decades ago, everyone in the community was involved in mossing. Even as small children, they would go to the shore after a storm and gather small bread bags full to sell to the moss plants for the few cents that it was worth. During the peak of the industry in the 1970s many people across the Island shared similar experiences. People from the western tip of the province, to Rustico and as far as North Lake, which is near the eastern tip, would harvest moss after storms and make a reasonable living at it. For the most part, the moss industry is gone in other parts of the province but the industry and the way of life are holding on in the far west of Island. Even in decline, the moss industry still brought $1 million into the economy of Prince Edward Island in 2000. This is a far cry from the many millions earned in the past but it still leaves a large impact on the lives of the people in the local communities. Ther Read More
Interviewing one lady from Miminegash, P.E.I., we were told that at one time, a couple of decades ago, everyone in the community was involved in mossing. Even as small children, they would go to the shore after a storm and gather small bread bags full to sell to the moss plants for the few cents that it was worth. During the peak of the industry in the 1970s many people across the Island shared similar experiences. People from the western tip of the province, to Rustico and as far as North Lake, which is near the eastern tip, would harvest moss after storms and make a reasonable living at it. For the most part, the moss industry is gone in other parts of the province but the industry and the way of life are holding on in the far west of Island. Even in decline, the moss industry still brought $1 million into the economy of Prince Edward Island in 2000. This is a far cry from the many millions earned in the past but it still leaves a large impact on the lives of the people in the local communities. There are many social implications of the Irish Moss industry and they are not all as localized as the way of life of the mossers who use the product to make their living. Some of the impacts are more global in nature.

© Community Museum Association of Prince Edward Island, 2005. All rights reserved.

The Seaweed Pie Café in Miminegash, PEI

Community Museums Association of Prince Edward Island.

© Community Museum Association of Prince Edward Island, 2005. All rights reserved.


The most obvious of the global impacts of Irish Moss is the versatility and many uses of the product that is extracted from the plant, known as carrageenan. This extract has no calories, is tasteless, colourless and odorless, so it can be added to products without changing the taste or the caloric intake. It is used by producers of beverages such as beer and wine to keep the liquid clear. It is used in products such as toothpaste, and insect repellents to hold the other ingredients together and for the same reason in shampoos, water-based paints and cosmetics. The largest and best known use for Carrageenan is within the dairy industry. In fact nearly 90% of the extract on the market is consumed by this sector for use in products such as chocolate milk and pudding. The product also has the sought after property of preventing large ice crystal from forming, making it an integral ingredient in ice cream.

There are so many products that we use every day that contain this e Read More

The most obvious of the global impacts of Irish Moss is the versatility and many uses of the product that is extracted from the plant, known as carrageenan. This extract has no calories, is tasteless, colourless and odorless, so it can be added to products without changing the taste or the caloric intake. It is used by producers of beverages such as beer and wine to keep the liquid clear. It is used in products such as toothpaste, and insect repellents to hold the other ingredients together and for the same reason in shampoos, water-based paints and cosmetics. The largest and best known use for Carrageenan is within the dairy industry. In fact nearly 90% of the extract on the market is consumed by this sector for use in products such as chocolate milk and pudding. The product also has the sought after property of preventing large ice crystal from forming, making it an integral ingredient in ice cream.

There are so many products that we use every day that contain this extract and the list may expand to pharmaceuticals in the near future. There has been a connection made between Irish Moss and the progress of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It appears that Irish Moss slows the progress of the deadly disease that plagues much of the world. As a result, there is obviously a new found interest in the small underwater plant. So far, the industry is not aware of any government initiatives to attempt to replenish the depleted moss beds off western P.E.I. Hopefully the connection will be investigated further and the impact on the Island’s industry will be positive and a way of life that is slowly slipping away will be restored on the west coast of Prince Edward Island.


© Community Museum Association of Prince Edward Island, 2005. All rights reserved.

Products that use Carrageenan for a variety of reasons.

Irish Moss Interpretive Centre

© Irish Moss Interpretive Centre


Irish Moss (Chondrus Crispus)

Barry King

© Barry King


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • explain the local importance of the Irish Moss industry;
  • recognize the major impact of the Irish Moss industry in PEI.

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