The Intercolonial Railway of Canada built Grand Narrows Bridge, Nova Scotia’s longest railway bridge up to that time, in the late 1880s to connect Sydney with Port Hawkesbury. The bridge connects Uniacke Point on the west with Kelly Point on the east and has a swing span to permit the passage of marine traffic through the strait. Ferry service across Grand Narrows continued until 1993 when Barra Strait Bridge, carrying Route 223, was completed parallel to the railroad bridge.
The Department of Marine built a lighthouse on Uniacke Point in 1874 to guide mariners through Barra Strait. Not long after the Grand Narrows Bridge was completed in 1890, the Department of Marine decided to discontinue the light on Uniacke Point and replace it with one at Gillis Point, located roughly seven miles north of Uniacke Point.
Uniacke Point is situated at the northern entrance to Grand Narrows. In 1884, the Department of Marine decided to construct a lighthouse on Derby Point, to mark the southern entrance to Grand Narrows. The following information on this lighthouse, which was known as Pipers Cove Lighthouse and Derby Point Lighthouse, was published in 1884:
A lighthouse has been erected on the western end of Derby Point, near Piper’s Cove, in the Grand Narrows, Bras d’Or Lake, in the County of Cape Breton, and was put in operation on the 1st October. This lighthouse was erected, together with an oil store, under contract, by Mr. James MacDougall, for the sum of $718.Edward McNeil was appointed keeper of the lighthouse on August 29, 1884 at an annual salary of $100. He was followed by John C. McNeil in 1897, and then D.C. McLean in 1912.
The light is fixed red, elevated 77 feet above high-water mark, and visible 11 miles from all points seaward. The illuminating apparatus is dioptric of the sixth, order. The tower is a square wooden building, 33 feet high from the ground to the lantern vane, and is painted white. This light is to guide vessels to the Grand Narrows, on Bara Strait from the westward.
In 2020, a skeletal tower with an enclosed lower portion and a red-and-white, rectangular daymark exhibited a flashing red light on Derby Point.
Keepers: Edward Alexander McNeil (1884 – 1897), John C. McNeil (1897 – 1912), D.C. McLean (1912 – at least 1923).