Early Roads Edit

Early roads on the Island, and in particular in the extremities, were rough and informal for many years. Many roads began simply as footpaths and later horse riding paths, before developing into something which may be considered to be a 'road'.

The first known reference to government oversight of roads in the area was made in 1806, when the government provided price estimates as to the cost of constructing roads which would be in 'good condition', namely ten feet wide.

Further mention of roads is made in 1820, when the following rules for road overseers was put forth by the government: "No placing ropes across road when working. No illegally stopping travellers to obtain rum. The overseer is to cause to be removed all fences, swinging gates, bars or other obstructions placed in the road at the expense of the offending party, causing him to be fined forty shillings.[1]"

As laughable as these rules may seem, they were certainly reasonable at the time. In fact, in those early days, the government did not necessarily yet own the property upon which they sought to construct roads. This was still privately owned property, and it was only by gentleman's agreement that one was able to pass through to where they were going. In many places, especially those properties that led to the water, cattle and livestock was able to wander freely to drink, and so when travelling, whether by horse or by car, one was met with a large number of fences and obstacles along the way, such as the excerpt above mentions.

The First Car Edit

Townshend reports that there are quite a number of people who claimed to have been the first in Souris with a car. Among those claimants are "Doc Smallwood with a 490 Chevrolet, Erskine P. Stavert (bank manager) who got into an impromptu race with Bill Pope's horse and Arthur McQuaid who was waylaid by a blacksmith with a sledge hammer"[1]. For reference, the Chevrolet 490 series was manufactured between 1915 to 1922. It is also noted that Morley Acorn was one of the first in the area to own a car[2].

Morley Acorn Car Gown Brae

Morley Acorn's car, pictured here at the Gowan Brae bridge.

As for who exactly was first, we will never know. On that note however, the following story is recorded regarding Arthur McQuaid's car: "Finlay McLeod said it took four hours to drive Art McQuaid's new Briscoe car up from Charlottetown in the rain. They drove on a "road closed" day with a special Government permit for that day. At Marshfield, a blacksmith with a sledge hammer came out to meet them but, shown the permit, allowed them to pass"[1].

A "road closed" day was day on which no cars were permitted to travel on Island roads. This sort of rule was implemented in the hopes of striking a balance between the needs of those who owned a car and the needs of those who were still using horses, as the horses were dreadfully afraid of the cars (for an extensive look at the early history of cars on Prince Edward Island, consult the references below for "The Island Meets the Auto")[3].

An extensive look at the laws and rules as they pertain to cars in the early days of Island motoring history may be found here[3], however, Souris too implemented laws which were intended to address the rising issue of car usage in the area. Souris Town Council was responsible for traffic rules within the town, and in a 1920 bylaw it included cars in its traffic laws. According to Townshend, the 1920 bylaws stated that "cars were to drive at seven and a half miles an hour on the left side of the road"[1].

The McKay Car Edit

The progenitors of the McKay car, an early Nova Scotia car manufacturer, trace their working origins to Souris at the turn of the 20th century. Townshend reference, also. (McKay Car)

Monday May 6, 1929: "The first car of the season passe through Rollo Bay en route to Souris"

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Townshend, Adele. Ten Farms Become a Town. Town of Souris, PEI. 1986. Print.
  2. Acorn, Morley S. Online Exhibits - Morley S. Acorn, Photographer. Online Exhibits, Government of Prince Edward Island. Web. 6 January 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Stewart, Deborah. The Island Meets the Auto. The Island Magazine. 1978. Print.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.