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Cascumpec (Cascumpeque), PE  Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.Privately owned, no access without permission.Photogenic lighthouse or setting.   

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Cascumpec (Cascumpeque) Lighthouse

The name Cascumpec is traceable to the Mi'kmaq word kaskamkek, meaning a bold sandy shore. Various spellings of Cascumpec have been used over the years, and an attempt was made in 1966 to standardize the spelling as Cascumpeque. Lighthouse records employed Cascumpec more than Cascumpmeque.

Cascumpeque Lighthouse with iron lantern room
Photograph courtesy Canadian Coast Guard
In 1848, a Mr. Dalrymple presented to Prince Edward Island's House of Assembly the petition of John Le Cost, a mariner from Cascumpec, asking for money to help him erect a lighthouse at Cascumpec Harbour. The petition was tabled, but in 1853 a petition by “divers inhabitants” for a lighthouse to mark Cascumpec harbour seems to have had the desired effect, as the Cascumpec Lighthouse was built on Sandy Island at the entrance to the harbour and put into operation the following year.

Asa McCabe was paid for the construction of the lighthouse while Patrick (Richard) Keefe was compensated for building a dwelling for the keeper. The original Cascumpec Lighthouse displayed a fixed white light, and Prospere Gallant was appointed its first keeper.

Cascumpec Lighthouse failed to meet the expectation of mariners, so in October of 1855, Silas Barnard, Superintendent of Public Works, attempted to improve the light as described in the following report he submitted to the House of Assembly.

I went to Cascumpec, and took with me one of the Lighthouse Lamps which had been in use at the Point Prim Lighthouse, and fitted it up in the Lighthouse at Cascumpec, and instructed the Keeper how to use and clean it; the man has, however, a very poor chance to keep a good light, as the upper part of the Tower is so small that the man has no room to work at trimming the Lamp, and must remove it every time he trims or snuffs it, which should not be, as the Lamp should remain stationary, and there should be sufficient space for the keeper to pass in front of it and trim the light. The present Lamp will be better than any that has been used there heretofore, and may be used for the remainder of this season.
In the end, the tower at Cascumpec had to be replaced, and John Smallwood performed this work in 1856.

In 1874, a year after Prince Edward Island entered Confederation, the General Superintendent of Lighthouses toured the island’s lighthouses and found the Cascumpec Lighthouse and its associated dwelling “so decayed by age as to be unworthy of repairs.” Some improvements were made to the lighting apparatus that year, but a new lighthouse was recommended for the station. James Keefe constructed a new combination lighthouse and dwelling and a range light for $1,900 in 1876. The lighthouse tower stood 12.5 metres (41 feet) high, was painted white, and exhibited a white light. A companion front range tower was located 200 metres (654 feet) shoreward of the main tower and was used to indicate the channel over the bar.

The two Cascumpeque Lighthouses in 1968
Photograph courtesy Canadian Coast Guard
A gale on October 29, 1879 washed the front range light off its foundation and caused considerable damage to the tower. Storms were also taking a toll on the eastern end of Sandy Island. In 1889 and 1890, a large quantity of brush and stone protection work were placed on the island to combat erosion. Similar work had to be carried out just a few years later, and clay was brought in, laid about the foundation of the lighthouse, graded, and then seeded. Still, the lighthouse remained in a perilous position, and during the winter of 1899 it was relocated south across the harbour entrance to a more protected location 2,280 feet from its original position. The move, which cost $576.72, was performed using teams of horses and was supervised by Milton Walsh.

A set of mast lights, which had been erected on Savage Island in 1897 to guide mariners into Cascumpec Harbour were also relocated in 1899 to a position near the main Cascumpec Lighthouse that had been moved from Sandy Island. A pair of open-framework towers, with enclosed lantern rooms and with the sides facing the channel being slatted, replaced the mast lights the following year. The front tower stood 5.5 metres (18 feet) tall from base to vane, while the rear tower was 7 metres (23 feet) tall. In May of 1901, the range lights were discontinued after the channel over the bar shifted during the previous winter’s storms, and the two towers were relocated to Sandy Island where they were put into operation on July 11, 1901.

In October of 1968, a new light was put into operation near the old Cascumpec Lighthouse. This modern lighthouse consisted of a square skeleton tower topped by a lantern. Access to the tower was by a central ladder that was later enclosed with a square structure that was painted in broad red and white stripes. The new lighthouse was downgraded in 1999, and in January of 2004 the sandy area on which the lighthouse stood was so damaged by a winter storm that the light was deactivated. The metal tower was removed from the site in 2005.

When the modern tower was erected in 1968, the old Cascumpec Lighthouse was sold to Allison Owen, Howard Douglas, Lester Johnson and Cecil Delong, all of Charlottetown. The lighthouse is well maintained and for now appears to be safe from erosion.

Keepers: Prospere Gallant (1853 – 1863), William Hubbard (1864 – 1867), Asa McCabe (1867 – 1879), Mrs. Asa McCabe (1879 – 1880), John McCabe (1880 – 1894), F. J. Cahill (1894 – 1897), James C. Tuplin (1897 – 1912), D. Fraser (1912 – 1913), William H. Mallet (1913 – 1944) , Justin F. Mallett (1943 – 1944), Maurice Perry (1944), Wilfred Richard Gaudin (1944 – 1967).

References

  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, various years.
  2. Binder on the Lighthouses of Prince Edward Island, Carol Livingstone, 2002.

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