West Point Lighthouse Beckons You Inn
Yes, You Really Are Staying in a Lighthouse Inn!
Fall asleep & awaken to the sound of waves. Open the curtains and take in the spectacular sunrise water view, then step out onto your private walk-out deck and glance up to your left. Yes, it’s true, that is a lighthouse you are looking at ~ because you are staying at West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum.
Late Night Arrival & Straight to the Top!
Now, let me back up a day and share how this all began. We were up early on an adventure to the North Cape Coastal Region of Prince Edward Island. My mother-in-law was along for the journey, as she grew up in the area and we had plans to visit Birch Hill, where her childhood homestead was & where her family roots were deep.
Once we crossed the Confederation Bridge, we took our time, stopping here & there along the way to take in beautiful sights & views. In Summerside, we had lunch, then we continued on to The Bottle Houses, which had been on my ‘must do’ list for quite some time. After a couple hours there, we crossed over to Birch Hill to explore my M-I-L Harriet’s birthplace. Time flew by while she reminisced sharing childhood memories as I soaked up the visions of her as a young PEI girl. We ventured into Tyne Valley for dinner when we realized how late it was getting, then as the sun was setting, we jumped into our car and navigated country roads once more to head to our West Point accommodations.
A green glow in the sky, led us in the very last leg of our journey and there she was ~ PEI’s tallest & most recognizable lighthouse - all 67 feet & 8 majestic inches of her. West Point Lighthouse stood proud in her iconic black & white stripes as she was signalling boats to safety. As we pulled our suitcases up to the door, there was Carol Livingstone a.k.a. “Mrs. Lighthouse”. This local celebrity historian, who lives in the area, had come over to greet us. I had made contact with her to hopefully meet and here she was! Once through the door, Scott Smith, the friendly Lighthouse General Manager and Lighthouse Innkeeper, smiled warmly from behind the reception desk and welcomed us to West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum. We had made it!
It was all quite exciting, and after a quick chat, and suitcase drop off in our room (good ole Lucky 13), Harriet and I explored the first floor parlour of the Lighthouse with Carol then made arrangements to meet up with her in the next morning for a full day together. After she left, Scott asked me if I would like to climb to the top of the 70+ steps to see the beacon up close, and in no time, I was there, pausing on each landing for a breath & a glimpse of the lighthouse museum artifacts, that I knew I would explore in more depth the next day. But “Wow!” was all I could think as I took it all in ~“Wow!”
Back down in our room, Harriet & I got comfy, made some tea and peeked at our nighttime view of the Northumberland Straight. We settled in and sipped tea & enjoyed one of the complementary Cavendish Cream chocolates thoughtfully left for us. We giggled in delight over our North Cape Coastal Region adventure so far and the ambiance we were enjoying staying in West Point Lighthouse Inn. This was special. It was going to be a trip we would not soon forget. I could just feel it.
This 4-Star Inn & designated PEI heritage place is an ideal getaway for anyone wanting to step back from the hustle & bustle of daily life to unplug and enjoy the little things in life (which we all know are really the big things after all). When I first awoke and stepped outside onto our private deck, I took a deep breath of sea air and noticed a boat, no a ship, off in the distance. While I gazed in wonder at the striking beauty of the lighthouse towering to the left of me, something else caught my eye below. I glanced down just in time to see a beautiful red fox scamper by the front of our deck only to disappear into the tall dune grass. I recalled the one we saw last night in the dark on our last turn too. “Pinch yourself,” I thought. “This is real! This is West Point Lighthouse Inn!” “Now, get dressed quickly,” I silently ordered myself, “I can smell coffee brewing and breakfast is almost ready in the common room. I’ve got things to do, people to meet and places to go.”
Exploring West Point Lighthouse Parlour, Museum & Living Quarters
There is no doubt that West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum is special. Carol & Scott will testify to that. Their real life experiences and special memories brought it to life for me. They both were the most gracious of hosts taking time to share all they knew & loved about this unique tourism destination. After breakfast, I explored every floor of the lighthouse, all the way to the very top again, but this time I crawled out the small hatch with ‘Lighthouse Carol’ (which she is also referred to as) and was in awe of in the incredible views.
Carol’s great-grandfather William MacDonald was a lighthouse keeper here for 50 years. Electricity did not come to this part of the island until sometime in the late 50’s/early 60’s ,so as Carol shared “the West Point Lighthouse was her nightlight”. Carol also has many fond memories of the late Lighthouse Keeper Benny McIssac, a WWII veteran and father of 15, who loved kids (obviously) and welcomed Carol along with many other local youngsters when he lit the oil lamp each night. Carol added “As we walked the stairs up and down he filled them to their eyebrows with ghost stories and we just loved it!”
Carol and Scott both shared a few ‘ghost stories’ from guests’ experiences and as well from paranormal activity occurrences that have recorded here professionally on two different occasions. Scott shared that West Point Lighthouse is on Goggle’s Top 10 Spookiest Places in Canada. Lighthouse Willie, Carol’s Great Grandfather headlines most of the stories here, but there are others including a small boy, and a woman as well. Carol herself became a believer when she had a sensation of someone resting on her lap when she was sitting on her great-grandfather’s chair in the Keepers Quarters (and she was surrounded by paranormal investigators recording activity in the lighthouse at the time so there were plenty of witnesses). You certainly feel the history and can envision the life that lived here and climbed those 70+ steps night after night. Carol had me sit in the ‘haunted chair’ in the Lighthouse Keeper’s room as she shared her experience beside me in the matching chair. I have to admit I had a few goosebumps and the hair on the back of my neck perked up as she re-lived it for me but Carol reassured me, Lighthouse Willie is a friendly ghost as are the others that have been seen here.
Later on I heard about the ‘Phantom Ship’, witnessed by hundreds, that is seen in the Northumberland Straight just off these shores. Wait… I thought. I saw a ship this morning! No… it couldn’t be… could it? Well, as the story goes, a fully rigged ship, is often seen ablaze with crew jumping off to escape. Some have even heard the muted screams of the sailors. Another boat is often witnessed simultaneously heading to rescue them. Then, as suddenly as it appears, it all disappears, or so they say…
Legend of a buried treasure abounds here too. It is said, a repetitive dream led James Douglas Campbell to dig near the lighthouse, but nothing was found. Ghostly visions of a ship ablaze again has warned many treasure hunters ever since, along with voiced warnings, sinking sand for those that dare dig by the light of the moon, and mysterious deaths (thought to be due to curses) are also are common stories told around here.
And if that isn’t enough to intrigue you, there’s a story about a 60 - 80 foot long sea serpent swimming the waters near West Point. First told by Mi’kmaq to European settlers, but even as late as the summer of 1992, there were nine documented reports of people witnessing it. I decided to stick to walking the beach only, after that tale just in case…
A Walking Encyclopedia of PEI Lighthouse History
Carol walked me through the impressive lighthouse artifacts, displays, exhibits, and memorabilia in the museum ~ one of the island’s most extensive and complete collections. She shared the stories of Lighthouse Keepers of the past at West Point & fascinating stories from other PEI lighthouses. She has researched and visited them all and has seen and heard it all from others sharing what they know. Carol is a walking encyclopedia of PEI lighthouse history. It was an honour to spend the day with her. Hearing about the science and technology of PEI's historic maritime beacons, in an active lighthouse by the great-granddaughter of Lighthouse Willie left me awestruck. The museum is open 9:00 am until 8:30 pm daily from June - September. Lighthouse Carol is available by appointment only. She will laugh that I added this, but exploring the lighthouse with Carol is an experience all into itself. I feel blessed to have had a full day… and then some, with this incredibly knowledgeable sweet lady. Carol is passionate about Prince Edward Island’s lighthouses and the necessity of keeping them open to the public and a vibrant hub of the local community. If you want to hear about it, she is more than happy to share. Enjoy this snippet below…
Keeping the Light On
The West Point Lighthouse was built in 1875 & began operating in 1876 until the last Lighthouse Keeper retired in 1963. Electricity now runs the lantern. Dedicated Western PEI volunteers, including Lighthouse Carol, worked tirelessly in the 80’s to develop something to preserve West Point’s important lighthouse history and to create a community hub for viable employment for women in the area, and they did just that.
If You Build It They Will Come
The building that joined the lighthouse has been through many transformations over the years to become what it is today. Carol described the evolution from the humble sleeping quarters for family to the first kitchen & simple chowder room and 3 room Inn to what it is now - 11 rooms with breathtaking views and walkout decks, along with a reception area, a kitchen, an office, and a common living and dining area with a breakfast buffet offering every morning.
The Keeper's Quarters and the Tower Room are located within the historic West Point Lighthouse Museum and can also be enjoyed. I can honestly say, all the rooms are fabulous and give you the feeling of being in the midst of something very special. I think the comfort & views are actually best in the attached inn versus staying in one of the two lighthouse rooms. I was disappointed I couldn’t get one of those rooms (which are booked 6 months in advance), but what I realized is that you have all the comforts of home in the attached Lighthouse Inn with a view to die for, and it’s all connected to the original Lighthouse, so as they say… it’s all good!
Fairy Trails, Boardwalk & Cedar Dunes Provincial Park
You can walk and beach comb for days here. The beaches really seem to go on forever in both directions. There are also walking trails that are said to be ‘made by fairies’ as they exist year after year despite no one maintaining them. A 1,500 metre boardwalk is also on site and the Cedar Dunes Provincial Park, a marina, a seafood restaurant, an ice cream take out and a craft shop are all within a short jaunt. Staying at West Point Lighthouse Inn is magical & mystical. Come to explore or come to do little to nothing and simply unwind. You will be glad you came either way.
North Cape Coastal Drive
North Cape Coastal Drive has magnificent cliffs, beautiful red sand beaches, and sweeping vistas. Carol took us to a few of her favourite spots just north of the lighthouse. The sunsets are truly something to behold here.
Not Your Everyday Chapel, House & Tavern
Ever think about being wed in a chapel made of bottles? A few couples have ‘tied the knot’ here thanks to the dedicated years of work of retired Cape-Egmont Lighthouse Keeper Édouard Arsenault. Édouard had the vision to create the three buildings that are now known as ‘The Bottles Houses’. He gathered bottles from “local dance halls, the legion, restaurants, and of course… the dump.”
The Six-Gabled House was his first venture, built in 1980 using approximately 12,000 bottles. The Tavern, they say is a reflection of Édouard’s fun-loving, sense of humour. Surrounded by lovely flower gardens, trees and a pond, this is a sight to see. Bottle tree sculptures and an amazing wood carving of a woman’s face adorn gardens. There is a lovely gift shop, an Acadian vegetable garden and a replica of the very lighthouse Édouard cared for as well.
There is no doubt, this creative and industrious man, who passed before the Tavern was completed, is at peace. My guess is that his spirit is not far from the oasis he first created. All three buildings have been re-constructed from 1992-1998 due to movement in the buildings & damages incurred. However, Édouard’s dream lives on and this tranquil setting and tourist attraction sees thousands of visitors every year, so that’s a pretty nice legacy to leave behind.
The Best ‘Dam Burger’ in PEI
Backwoods Burger serves up the best ‘Dam Burger’ in Tyne Valley! Seriously, that is what it is called (the place & the burger). This craft beer cookhouse serves up locally-sourced food in a vibrant, fun atmosphere.
I had the famous ‘Dam Burger’ & Harriet enjoyed her beer-battered haddock dish.. It was a great spot with friendly service & lots of character. The rustic decor is fun from hanging cheese grater lights & a bicycle dangling from the rafters to walls filled with retro memorabilia. We enjoyed a great supper here, our first night. Do check them out.
Mill River Resort
If my husband were with me, I know where he would be! Mill River Golf Course is one of the finest on the island and it boasts “wide rolling fairways, well bunkered greens, subtle elevation changes, and numerous lakes and streams making each hole a new challenge and pleasure to play.” The 4-Star Mill River Resort also has an 81 room hotel and a lovely dining room. Carol, Harriet & I all thoroughly enjoyed our fine dining experience here. The food & wine was superb. I had the Salmon Pad Thai and it was divine.
Go West …
This is my first time exploring PEI’s Western side beyond Summerside. Now that I have had a small taste of what I have been missing, I will be planning a return trip to experience much more of the North Cape Coastal Drive next year. For more information on this beautiful side of PEI click the link below.
West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum has an ambiance that embraces you & wraps you up in down home hospitality. Lighthouse Innkeeper Scott & Lighthouse Carol have a lot to do with this. I hope that this ‘down home’ friendly feel never changes. This is a recipe that works!
The Inn was a perfect spot to unplug, relax and be immersed in wonder. This designated heritage place, is an ideal location to stay while exploring all that mother nature has to offer on this spectacular side of Prince Edward Island.
This post was sponsored by West Point Lighthouse Inn & The Bottle Houses; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.