Travel

Travel for the earliest settlers was made possible by one vehicle: the boat. The lack of roads at the time (there was no road into or out of Murray Harbour until 1806) meant that the waterways of PEI were the main thoroughfares. This had many consequences when it came to the development in the area. For one thing, it meant that people settled along the waterways, creating a pattern of settlement that spread from the epicenter of settlement (Murray Harbour and Beach Point) outward to the Northumberland strait coast (Guernsey Cove, then Little Sands, then High Bank)and into the Rivers, then finally to the inland areas of lot 64. It also meant that Murray Harbour had closer ties with communities that were easily accessed via water. In the earliest days of settlement, this meant that ties between Murray Harbour and Murray Harbour North were very important. Murray Harbour North was just a short boat ride away, which allowed the two communities to share essential people like doctors and clergy, to intermarry, and to work together in the fishery. These two communities would maintain close ties until transportation was revolutionized in the early 1900’s.    

Despite the prevalence of boats, harbours and coastlines, overland travel was still a desirable goal for most communities. The first roads on PEI were built mainly by using statute labour. This was the result of a law that ruled that every able bodied man from the ages of 16-60 had to contribute four eight hour work days per year to road building (although the wealthy could pay people to do their share!). The first road out of Murray Harbour was started by John Cambridge, who wanted overland access to his businesses there. Cambridge built about half of the 21 mile road to Vernon River himself (We really don’t know where he got the labourers, or who they were), and requested a grant from the government to finish it in 1792; the grant was denied, but residents were allowed to use their statute labour days to work on his road, and it was “finished” by 1806.39. I hesitate with the word finished because this first road was nothing like a finished road we would see today. In fact, it probably wasn't even like the most crude dirt roads on the Island today! It was really more like a path. John Brooks, who travelled it in 1824, compared it to the road to Georgetown which he described as “…. a bridle path on both sides of which the trees were blazen (marked) to guide the traveller on his way.”29. Considering the difficulty of getting the road built, and the fact that there weren’t even any horses in the community until around 1812,13. it’s no surprise that the road remained a bridle path for many, many years after.

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