West Point Lighthouse

Prince Edward Island, Canada | C.1875

Photo Credit: Matt Stroshane

The black-and-white-striped, square-tapered, geometrically striking tower design of West Point Lighthouse reaches almost 70 feet into the sky. This postcard-perfect lighthouse is the tallest on Prince Edward Island, and prior to being converted to electricity in 1963, it reliably illuminated the Gulf of St. Lawrence for 88 years thanks to the commitment of solely two devoted keepers.

For the bulk of the 19th century, two ocean-reliant industries dominated West Point: fishing and shipbuilding. Shipyards ushered in sub-industries of lumbering, blacksmithing, and sail making. Greater ships led to larger catches, yielding a rich and fruitful fishing industry. Salted mackerel was then packed and shipped to the West Indies in exchange for sugar and rum.

Keep in mind, for the first half of the 20th century, liquor was prohibited on Prince Edward Island unless one was given a prescription from the doctor as a medical necessity. Islanders still thirsted for “grandpa’s old cough medicine”, and on the northern and eastern coasts of the Island, rum running thrived illegally.

On the other end of the Island, in the woods of West Point, the Beer Hatch was invented to brew beer underground in a pit of mash; surrounded by heated lanterns, then hidden by boards and branches. So if you were thirsty for an adult beverage circa 1925, no matter your coordinates, Prince Edward Island’s thrifty trade would serve you the perfect underground drink special, a rum shot and a beer, no prescription necessary.

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