Lady Slipper Drive, named after a wild orchid, steers a 180-mile (290-km) course along the coast of western and northwestern PEI. Begin at Summerside, the narrowest point on the island. If you’re staying in or around Charlottetown, take Highway 2 west to the starting point of Lady Slipper Drive, a distance of 71 kilometres.
Prince County Map
Km 0: Summerside is a charming seaside community, filled with wood-frame houses, and a harbour that serves ocean-going vessels that take PEI’s potatoes around the world.
Km 33: Head southwest along the southern route (Route 11) to the Region Evangeline which begins at Mont-Carmel. French Acadiens settled the towns and villages around Egmont Bay in the early 1700s, and French remains the dominant language to this day. When the British expelled the Acadians from the island in 1758, many families hid in the woods to wait for more propitious times, thus salvaging an oasis of Francophone culture.
Km 38: Cap-Egmont is the home of the Acadian Pioneer Village, a re-creation of an early Acadian settlement (1800-1820) with pretty houses in bright colors that could be spotted from the sea by their fisherman owners. The town also has the only restaurant on PEI – Etoile de Mer – serving authentic Acadian dishes. Every Labor Day weekend, Acadian handicrafts, livestock and farm produce are exhibited in Abram-Village during Le Festival Acadien. A few miles farther, in the village of Miscouche, is the Acadien Museum, which has ancestral portraits of Acadian families from the last century among its array of artifacts.
Km 73: You drive through Portage between the Percival River and Foxley Bay, where this becomes the one roadway across another of the province’s narrowest points.
Km 81: A little further is Borden-Carleton, where Highway 2 continues to Mill River, a wonderful provincial park, not to mention shortcut to North Cape. You can also visit the Prince Edward Island Potato Museum in nearby O’Leary. But the Lady Slipper Drive (along Route 14) heads southwest from here, following the island’s west coast.
Km 103: The West Point Lighthouse stands on the island’s westernmost tip, a century-old wooden beacon that was finally automated in 1963, and today includes a museum, handicraft outlet, dining room and guest rooms. Only 16 of 76 lighthouses that once protected shipping along PEI’s coast still operate. Cedar Dunes Provincial Park features white sand dunes on a 2 km long beach.
Km 119: You’ll pass a big rock shaped like a giant’s armchair at Howard’s Cove. Then you’ll come upon Wolfe Point, you pass the spot where General James Wolfe landed on his way to the fateful siege of Quebec and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, after his successful siege of the Fortress of Louisbourg.
Km 153: At Skinner’s Pond, you pass the schoolhouse of country musician Stompin’ Tom Connors, which also happens to be PEI’s oldest.
Km 172: The drive along the province’s western coastline (along Route 14) provides dramatic views of the Gulf of St Lawrence. North Cape is the northernmost point on PEI, and is home to lots of wildlife at Seacow Pond.
Km 188: Head south along Lady Slipper Drive (here it follows Route 12) though Tignish passes by the monument to French explorer Jacques Cartier located in Jacques Cartier Provincial Park near the Kildare Capes. These windswept red sandstone cliffs battered by tides, especially impressed Cartier.
Km 209: The town of Alberton is known for its “fox houses, ” great manors built from the proceeds of the now-defunct silver fox pelt industry.
Km 250: The Drive then winds its way around Cascumpec Bay:, through Portage (for a short while sharing Route 2/Route 12), and then east to Tyne Valley, and the surrounding harbour towns of Bideford and Port Hill. On the Gulf of St Lawrence coastline is Green Provincial Park, where the Yeo House (built in 1864 and named after a shipping magnate) is now a museum devoted to the old shipbuilding industry an PEI. Malpeque Bay is renowned throughout North America for its oysters. These mollusks are cultivated and farmed in the sheltered bays and coves along this section of PEI’s coast. Another local marine bounty is Irish moss, a seaweed used in the emulsifying trade. Horses are still used in the harvesting process.
Km 297: Head back south toward Summerside.