Lighthouses & History on Grand Manan, NB

Grand Manan LIGHTHOUSES and Their Keepers

Page Updated 16 Feb 2002
Contributed by Karen Small
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The need of lighthouses at Grand Manan was evidenced early on by the vast amount of shipping and commerce plying the Bay of Fundy. Many of the ships found a watery grave among the rocks and craigs of our rugged coastline.

                Swallowtail Light 

Swallowtail Light was built at the northern end of Grand Manan Island in 1860. Swallow-Tail Head is a fan-shaped peninsula, surrounded by wave-worn cliffs, and swept by gales from every quarter. On it’s outer point is a lighthouse which holds a fixed light, visible for 17 miles, extending 148 ft.above the sea.

In 1871 Johnathon Kent was appointed keeper with an annual salary of $4001 George Dalzell was keeper of Swallowtail from 1893-1912.

Long Eddy Light

March 12,1862 the Sarah Sloan was wrecked a short distance from where the Lord Ashburton met her doom in Jan.1857.
“......such lamentable loss of life, not to speak of property which must have been very  heavy, awakened the Government to the necessity of using what means it could toward preventing the recurrence of similar disasters. As there was a lighthouse at Swallowtail, it was considered best to erect a fog whistle at or as near as possible to the place at North Head, Grand Manan where those dreadful shipwrecks occurred. Consequently, Long’s Eddy appeared the most suitable location...”2

Long Eddy Whistle was built in 1860. It was a steam whistle, invented by Robert Foulis who had installed one the previous year at Partridge Island. The lighthouse was built in 1873 on land owned by James Tatton. Mr George T. Tatton was the first
keeper, appointed in Oct 16,1886. His salary was $550 yearly3.

Other keepers at Long Eddy include James Tatton, George Tatton, Clayton Small, Willard Parker, Barry Bagley, Percy Harvey.

    Duck Island Light 

Duck Island Light was built in 1965.  Duck Island Fog Alarm was erected in 1856. One of the earliest keepers was John Sinclaire. In 1881 a petition, signed by more than two-thirds of the people on the island, was sent to Ottawa to have a fog whistle placed on Duck Island and some years later the government built a steam fog whistle.This was replaced some years later by a gasoline engine and air compressor to keep in line with the government policy of exchanging gasoline engines for steam engines4. Keeper, Samuel G.Dinsmore was appointed June 5, 1886.His annual salary  was $5005.A new light and dwelling houses were constructed in ____.  Some  keepers at Duck Island were:  Abraham Burnham, Chick Stanley, Clayton Small, Water Griffin, Percy Harvey, Douglas Daggett, Lawrence Benson, Hartley Wilson, Forrest Wilcox, Bernard Russell, Donald Denton, Rex Ingersoll, Jack Russell, Barry Bagley, John Harris and  Herbert Trecartin. Some of these were head keeper while others were assistant  keepers.

Grand Harbour Light 

The lighthouse at Grand Harbour was erected in 1879, on land formerly granted to Moses Gerrish in 1783 and was known as Harbour Island. Today we recogonize it as Ross Island, so named after Thomas Ross, another early settler. This lighthouse was constructed by Brouser Construction at a cost of $1050. The person responsible for the actual building was Charles Short, a former shipbuilder from St.Andrews,NB.6  It was first lit on Oct 10,1879.

Harry McDowell was appointed light keeper June 3,1914 and he served the longest, a period of 34 years. The salary when he started was$540 per year plus $25 extra for cranking the horn. Some other lightkeepers who worked at Ross Island were:  Fred Martin, Mark Daggett, Sidney Guptill, Lloyd Dakin, Vernon McDowell, Howard Ingalls 1948-1954, Percy Harvey 1956-1960. The lighthouse was abandoned Aug.1,1963, being replaced by a light at Ingalls Head breakwater.

      Gannet Rock Light 

Gannet Rock Light was built in 1831,by John Purvis.7It was 66' above water. The Legislature appropriated $5,000. for the lighthouse in 1830 and torturous labor began on it that same year.8 An entry in the journal of the New Brunswick legislature dated Feb.27,1832, reads as follows: “To Allan Otty, the sum of $100. For his services in superintending the erection of the lantern in the lighthouse at Gannet Rock and attending to the lighting of the same in the month of December last”.9 The signal was “cotton powder bombs” which exploded every 20 minutes. CaptainThomas Lamb was the first keeper and lit the light for the first time Christmas Eve 1831.He remained from 1831-1835 when he transferred to Quaco.10

Other keepers at Gannet Rock include:  E.G.Miller- McNutt-1837,drowned 11, Jonathon Kent 1837-1843, Henry McLaughlin 1843-1853, Walter McLaughlin 1853-1880, Oliver Kent 1886-1898, Lincoln Harvey 1898-1904, Coleman Dalzell 1906-1910, Sidney Tatton 1910-1912, Allan Wilson 1912-1920, Arthur Wilson 1920-1929,  Donald Wilson 1922- 1944,  William C.Russell 1938, Garfield Wilson 1944-1945, Bernard Deveau 1949- , Ralph Maker 1949, Lawrence Benson 1963-1966, Donald Daggett 1971-1974, Donald Denton 1975-1982, Ashton Fleet &  Sydney Guptill 1981-1989, Barry Bagley 1988-1996,  Chris Mills 1991-1992, Addison Naves, Merlin Green, Larry Daggett, Allan Bradbury,  Forrest Wilcox, Frank Linton, Frank Tucker, Hayward Forsythe, Ed Cossaboom, have also served their time at Gannet Rock light. There may well be more who served on the “rock” who are unknown at present.

Added 16 Feb 2002:  I have made inquiry as to how this date(Dec 24th) has been taken as gospel
when in fact it is incorrect, no one can come up with a reasonable answer.

The Weekly Observer     Saint John, Tuesday, December 27, 1831
"The Gannet Rock Light was lighted on the 20th inst., displaying a Standard brilliant red light."

The New Brunswick Courier    Saint John, Saturday, December 24, 1831
"The Gannet Rock Light was lighted on the 20th instant, displaying a standard brilliant red light. - The bearings and distances of the different headlands in the vicinity, and of the Grand Manan ledges, will be given next week."

I have made inquiry as to how this date(Dec 24th) has been taken as gospel when in fact it is incorrect and no one can come with a reason.      /s Karen Small

1    Dept. of Marine and Fisheries
2    Old Stuff, Geo. Russell, Saint Croix Courier
3    Dept. of Marine and Fisheries
4    Old Stuff, G. Russell
5    Dept. of Marine and Fisheries 1903
6    In-laws, Outlaws, Kin Folk, 27 Apr 1988
7    History of the Isles and Inlets of the Bay of Fundy, Lorimer
8    Marty Klinkenberg Interview
9    Sands of Time, L.K. Ingersoll
10    Vanishing Lights, C. Mills
11    Graham's Funeral records

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