Timeline

Lighthouse Land Survey

January 18, 1866

Lighthouse Land Survey

The land was donated by Alexander Beaton in exchange for a job as the first lighthouse keeper. Roderick Campbell was asked to survey the land in 1866 before construction of the lighthouse began.  

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East Point Lighthouse Constructed

January 11, 1867

East Point Lighthouse Constructed

It was commonly held in the 19th century that the coast of Prince Edward Island Lighthouse suffered from inadequate lighting. The East Point Light was completed in 1867 for an allotted 750 British Pounds by the PEI Legislative Assembly. Light keeper dwelling was built at the same time. The light was the 10th constructed on Prince Edward Island. The tower and keeper’s cottage were erected by William McDonald.  

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First Lighthouse Keeper

January 18, 1867

First Lighthouse Keeper

Alexander Beaton was a farmer; he farmed his homestead on the south side of the Lighthouse road. He was the first lighthouse keeper at the East Point Lighthouse. This was a political appointment. The lighthouse was located on his farm. He also served as postmaster until the post office was moved to the home of his cousin, James Angus. Alex could be arrogant and haughty. He could also be witty. It has been said that while in Charlottetown he wen to the government office dealing with lighthouses. An official there asked him, “Do you belong to East Point?” He replied, “No, East Point belongs to me!” Unperturbed the man continued, “Are you the keeper of the light?” He quickly replied, “No, the light keeps me”. His family, the Beaton’s, owned a great deal of East Point. Alex owed “The Point” itself. The lighthouse provided his source of income.

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Wreck of the HMS Phoenix

September 12, 1882

Wreck of the HMS Phoenix

Although there have been countless shipwrecks at East point over the centuries, the wreck of the British warship “The Phoenix” is significant since it necessitated the move of the Lighthouse. On September 12, 1882 the ship struck the reef in a heavy storm, and was too badly damaged to be salvaged. Due to the quick work of some locals her guns and some other equipment were saved.Roughly 400 officers and sailors were on board with no loss of life, and were warmly welcomed by the community where they spent the winter. When the British government investigated the wreck, blame was placed on the captain. In his defense, it was found that he could clearly see the lighthouse at East Point, but it was farther inland than it appeared. Unavoidably, it struck the reef. The next year, the lighthouse was lifted and moved closer to the Point, where it lined up with the Admiralty charts. The story goes that a local lady was about to give birth, and unable to locate the midwife, her husband found the surgeon from “The Phoenix” who safely delivered a baby girl. Instead of payment he said, “Just name her after the ship.” So her parents named her Mary Ellen Phoenix MacDonald, and she lived in the community all her life.

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Fog Alarm Building

February 1, 1885

Fog Alarm Building

Fog Alarm building was constructed in 1885. It was a one story structure with a T-shaped plan. Foghorns sprouted from the hipped roof of the “leg” of the T. The foghorns were diaphones invented in Canada which produced a loud “blast” followed by a “grunt”. It used compressed air generated by a steam, gas, or oil engine housed in the same building. The foghorn operated on 30lbs of compressed air per blast.

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Lighthouse Move

July 1, 1885

Lighthouse Move

The first move of the East Point Lighthouse occurred in the summer of 1885. It was done on weighs (used to move ships) with capstan and horses by Bernard Creamer in response to the wreck of the HMS Phoenix. The navigational charts had the lighthouse on the tip of “The Point” when in fact the lighthouse was 1/2 mile inland. Picture of Bernard Creamer:

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Laughlan MacDonald

January 1, 1897

Laughlan MacDonald

Laughlan MacDonald takes over as keeper of the light in 1897. He serves in the position for 14 years until 1911 when he is succeeded by Angus MacIntyre. Born 1844 in East Point to Lieutenant Col. (Big) Ronald and Catherine MacDonald, Laughlan grew on the 600 acre MacDonald property better known as Prospect Hill with his 2 brothers and a sister. He married Teresa MacLean in 1876 and had 2 children of his own. Laughlan taught school for several years and farmed. He served in high positions for a number of organizations such as the Provincial Dairy Association, the Cheese Board of Trade for PEI, and the East Point Farmers Institute. In 1873 Lauchlan served in the Legislative Council. He was then elected to the Legislative Assembly in a by-election on December 16, 1875.  Laughlan was re-elected 1876 and 1879.   Laughlan was invloved in many personal and business activities. Although he was a physically strong man he probably overextended himself. He was not a businessman. He may have run the cheese factory he managed at one time into the ground. He may even have been too frugal (even for a Scottish man) and too strict with his children. However, he did accomplish more in his lifetime than most other men. He was poor in money when he died but not in accomplishments. Teresa, he wife, died on March 19, 19116. He himself died in 1928 at the age of 84.

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Telephones Introduced

February 1, 1907

Telephones were introduced to East Point in 1907. The first telephone office was in the home of Helen Stewart. The first telephones at East Point were at Lauchlan MacDonald’s and at Beatons.

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Lighthouse Move

February 1, 1908

East Point Lighthouse was moved a second time. This time the move was to accommodate the expansion of the foghorn building and address possible erosion worries.

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Angus MacIntyre

February 1, 1912

Angus MacIntyre took over as lighthouse keeper in 1912 from Lauchlan MacDonald. He served for 14years as the keeper before passing it on to his son Stewart.

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Stewart MacIntyre

February 1, 1926

Stewart MacIntyre

Stewart MacIntyre took over as keeper in 1926 from his father Angus. He served 30 years as the keeper.

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Harry Harris

February 1, 1961

Harry Harris

Harry was a man of deep faith, who loved his family and his work, and who truly believed that where he lived and worked was heaven on earth. In summer he enjoyed cutting grass and maintaining the Light, as it allowed him to appreciate his surroundings. Not so much in winter, as the severe and unpredictable weather at East Point could move in fast, and being storm stayed for days was a real possibility. Harry was well known in his community as a jack of all trades, and he had a talent for fixing almost anything that was broken. Neighbors were always welcome to drop by with a project, and Harry would love to take it apart, repair it like new, and would never accept a penny of payment. He took great pride in his work, and the East Point  Light Station was in tip top shape when Harry Harris was on duty. The Harris family are direct descendents of survivors of the shipwreck “The Santo Domingo” which foundered off East Point in 1822. It seems obvious that the ocean played an important part in the Harris lineage then and now, as it continues today with members of the family active in careers in the fishing industry and in the Canadian Coast Guard.

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Electricity

February 1, 1970

Rural electrification came to the area in the early 1970’s. Around the same time area residents of East Point fought off an attempt to put in place a National Park at East Point.

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