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In 1880, the Canadian Parliament appropriated $2000 for the construction of a lighthouse at Cape Bear. John Whalen was awarded the contract and completed the lighthouse for $1374.00 on land purchased from Thomas Munn for $75.00. The original lantern and lighting apparatus cost $1,044 and were shipped to the island in seventeen cases.

The wooden, tapered tower is 12.4 metres (40.7 feet) in height from base to vane and is square in design. The elevated terrain on which the lighthouse stands contributes to the light's focal plane of 22.6 metres (74.1 feet).

This beacon originally housed a revolving red catoptric light (similar to the figure on the left) that produced a bright flash every thirty seconds and could be seen from a distance of twelve miles.

Lighthouse Keepers:

1st Lighthouse Keeper  - Thomas H. Munn (1881 – Sept. 1893) who received an annual salary of $300. Keeper Munn, according to family tradition, fell from the lantern in 1890 and was bedridden for three years before he passed away in 1893. During this period, his wife Mrs. M. Munn (Oct – Dec. 1893) and his son John T. Munn (1894 – 1896), cared for the light. Thomas married Janet Emery (1848 -1871). After her death, he remarried to Margaret MacKay (1843 - 1912). They had a daughter, Joanna (born at the lighthouse) and a son, John Thomas.

2nd  Lighthouse Keeper - William Harris (1896 – 1905)

William Harris and his wife, Annie (nee Jorden) had several children. His family resided at the Lighthouse while he was its keeper. William died at the age of 57.

3rd  Lighthouse Keeper -  Martin Luther Jorden (1905 - 1912)

 Martin Luther married Ada Beck and they had several children, including one set of twins.The family lived at the lighthouse.

4th Lighthouse Keeper - Hiram Hyde (1912 - 1924) of Murray Harbour and when he passed away his body was laid out in the base of the tower.

5th Lighthouse Keeper - Clarence R. White (1924 – 1926), a veteran of World War I

Clarence White was married to Margaret (Peg) Richards and they had 3 children. Their son, Gordon died as a child and Clarence died of Tuberculosis shortly before his son, Gordon's death.

The federal Government advertised the Lightkeeper position in 1926…

Paying between $600 to $900 per year

6th Lighthouse Keeper - Ewert Allen Keeping (1926 – 1959)

After World War I Ewart went out west where land was being offered to those coming home from the war. His future bride, Florence, went west and they were married there in 1919. They had 9 children. Ewart taught school in British Columbia and Alberta until it was suggested to him to apply for the lighthouse keeper job  back home in Prince Edward Island.

Electricity reached the station in 1960, the same year that Keeper Ewart A. Keeping retired. Following automation of the station, the dwelling was moved a quarter of a mile up the road in 1963, where it served for a time as a cabin for overnight guests.

During World War II the Lighthouse proved useful for spotting German U-boats that neared the coast. Several were seen along the shore, but disappeared while being tracked.

As a result of coastal erosion, the lighthouse had to be relocated in 1946 and was again moved to it’s current position in 2015.


The Lighthouse some time during the first decade of the 20th century

Light keeper Martin Luther Jorden, is in the foreground, looking out over Northumberland Strait with binoculars. 

This may have been the occasion when two young men went adrift on an ice field off the coast, during an early spring hunting expedition!

The History of the Lighthouse……

Photo by Michael Harwood