The waters of the beaches of the North Shore near where we were hunkered down, just east of Cavendish, were remarkably warm. Thank you global warming. And with a five-and-three-quarter-year-old Anne of Green Gables fan in tow, between the Upper Canada Village-style Avonlea, and the countless former stomping grounds of Anne’s creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery, to explore, nary a day went by were we weren’t happily exhausted by the end of each evening.
Now, the Island’s road system is actually pretty good. It’s a spider’s web network of paved two-laners that makes it easy to get from Point A to Point B fairly efficiently. And in between, the topography is gorgeous. If you’re not looking at a sandy dune beach, you’re looking at lush, fertile fields of the province's trademark produce, potatoes. But as a place to get anywhere quickly, or without an anxious moment, driving—or specifically, the drivers—on P.E.I. leave(s) a lot to be desired.
Let’s start with the tourists. Or as anyone born east of Truro says, the tore-ists.
As you may have guessed, P.E.I. is chock-a-block with those who think driving an RV will save them money, driving in that aching slow, halting, and hesitant, I-know-the-campground-is-around-here-somewhere-style, while ignoring the long line of drivers behind them, the ones who actually have a clue where they are going.
But it’s just not the tore-ists that drive like the road kill foxes that litter P.E.I. The locals have their own brand of what they call “driving,” with three signature moves that if you ever venture on the Island you need to heed.
First, whereas the rest of us treat posted speed limits it as a starting point, P.E.I. is one of the few places on the planet where the speeding limit is just that—the limit. So while the rest of the world applies 80 km/h into 100 km/h, most Islanders rarely waver over the posted speeds.
Second is a phenomenon I’ve never experienced anywhere else: Drivers exiting laneways, but waiting until the last second to do so. They either get in your lane ahead of you (obeying the speed limit—argh!!!) or merrily wave as they cut you off heading in the opposite direction.
As explained to me by an uncle, who lives here back in Ontario during the winter, but summers near Summerside, on the Northumberland Strait side of the Island, this is caused for good reason.
“Well, they want to see who’s coming down the road, to see if they know them or not.”
The third signature P.E.I. driver move is the last second turn signal. Typically, a car ahead, approaching a corner, will slow down. But wait…wait…wait…there it is, a signal, about half way through the turn. Very helpful, indeed.
And it's just not yours truly who feels this way about P.E.I. drivers.
I have a good friend who’s a native Islander. Even he admits that the driving habits of the locals and visitors can be unnerving. Having traveled the world as a marketing executive for the past three decades, he says there are two places you don’t want to drive on this globe, Cairo, Egypt, and Prince Edward Island.
So go to P.E.I. for the beaches, the friendly hospitality and the fresh seafood.
But in regards to driving on the Island, all I can say is, great roads, shame about the drivers.