Digest>Archives> May 1999

North America's Most Endangered Lighthouse



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The Grand Harbour Lighthouse rests magnificently ...
Photo by: Shirley Cook

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The 1976 Ground-Hog Day Storm destroyed the ...
Photo by: Chip Lomax

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Henry McLaughlin was the first man to serve as ...

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This photo shows the dramatic deterioration of ...
Photo by: Peter Cunningham

Mr. Errol Rainess, who owns the island where the Grand Harbour Lighthouse is located, has agreed to match any funds, dollar for dollar that the American Lighthouse Foundation can raise to save the lighthouse. In other words, if you send in $20, Mr. Rainess will match it with $20. This offer is good for 60 days only! Mr. Rainess lives thousands of miles from the island where the lighthouse is located and saw the lighthouse and island several weeks ago for the first time.

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The view from the tower of Grand Harbour ...
Photo by: Chip Lomax

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The Grand Harbour Lighthouse, Grand Manan, New ...

It is believed that the rest of the structure can be saved, but the work must be done this summer if the lighthouse is to last through next winter.

We need your help now to save the Grand Harbour Lighthouse. Time is running out.

All donations will receive a certificate of thanks and donations of $500 or more will be inscribed on a plaque at the lighthouse. Send your donation to:

American Lighthouse Foundation

Grand Harbour Fund

PO Box 889

Wells, Maine 04090 USA.

A petition by the vessel owners of Canada's, Grand Manan Island, led to the Canadian Government's decision to build a lighthouse on what was known to many as Ross Island.

The contract to build the lighthouse was awarded to Brouser Construction Co with their winning bid of $1050. They hired George and Charles Short, master shipbuilding brothers, to built the lighthouse.

Named the Grand Harbour Light, it was first lit on October 10, 1879, by veteran keeper Henry McLaughlin. McLaughlin was born in 1821, the son of Daniel McLaughlin who was a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo.

McLaughlin got his first lighthouse job at the famous Gannet Rock Lighthouse in 1843 and stayed at "The Rock" for 10 years. From there he went to Head Harbour Light (referred to by some as East Quoddy Light) on Campobello Island and stayed there until 1879 when he took the appointment to the Grand Harbour Lighthouse.

In 1881, his daughter, Hannah, became the bride of John A Tucker. The couple had the first and only wedding to ever be held at the Grand Harbour Lighthouse.

After an amazing 40 years as a Lighthouse Keeper, McLaughlin retired in 1883 and went to live on a farm he had purchased on Campobello Island.

The second keeper was a Mr. Robinson who served until he was replaced in 1883 by Mark Daggett Jr., who served until his death at the lighthouse in February 1900. The next keeper was Sidney Guptill who served until 1903, when he resigned to build a large fish plant in Kennebec, Maine.

In 1902, Minnie Ganong, a pretty young teacher from St. John, New Brunswick, arrived at the island to take charge of a tiny school. However, her teaching career was short lived. She fell in love with a local young man and on December 30, 1903, she became the bride of Lloyd Dakin. Their new residence - Grand Harbour Lighthouse.

For the next eleven years, with a small family and a little Spaniel dog and a small boat they called "Sanpan," they enjoyed a wonderful life on the island. Mr. Dakin would take his family around the island on picnics, beach-combing, and just enjoying the magnificent scenery that the island had to offer. In later years, Mr. Dakin would reminisce about life as lighthouse keeper there saying those were great years, "I loved it on Grand Harbour Light - the happiest times of my life."

The next keeper was Harry McDowell who took command on June 3rd, 1914. He must have loved it there, for he stayed on for thirty-four years. His first child, Elliot, and his last child, Alice were born at the lighthouse.

In 1948, Howard Ingalls and his family moved into the lighthouse. He left in 1954, to fill a vacancy at Machias Seal Island Lighthouse, on an island shrouded in controversy surrounding a dispute on whether it was part of the United States or Canada. That dispute remains unsettled to this day.

Although he didn't know it at the time, in 1954, Percy Harvey became the last keeper to be assigned to Grand Harbour Light.

On government orders, the lighthouse was abandoned on August 1, 1963, and the Harvey family moved out. The lighthouse had been replaced by a light on Ingalls Head Breakwater.

Severely damaged in the Gound-hog Day Gale of February 2, 1976; it still stands - a gutted out shell of its wonderful past.

As one wanders around the property, one wonders how the lighthouse is still standing. Perhaps it is refusing to give up. Perhaps it is still hoping that someone will come forward at the last minute to save it.

Off to one side of the lighthouse is a rock engraved with professional tools and lettering that reads, "George Short 1875." Perhaps there is some type of meaning here-to remind us that he built the lighthouse to always be here-but will it?

This story appeared in the May 1999 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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