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School Community of Gaspereaux

by Ashley
Fishing Facilities
Community Services
The Steele House
Gaspereaux School


The community of Gaspereaux is located in Southern Kings County in eastern Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada. This area is approximately 20km southeast of the town of Montague, and 50km southeast of Charlottetown, the Island's capital city and birthplace of Confederation.

Like other parts of Prince Edward Island, Gaspereaux has mild weather. The daytime temperatures are comfortable and moderate; from the onset of spring to the end of summer, they usually range from 8 to 30 degrees Celsius; from autumn to winter's end, temperatures normally range from 8 to -10 degrees Celsius. The name Gaspereaux originated from the type of fish that spawn in the waters of the community. There is a great deal of history in this small area, and several landmarks.

Fishing Facilities

wharf in the 1940's

One of the well known landmarks of Gaspereaux is Wendall Graham Limited, a fish processing plant that has expanded over the years, and today is a division of Polar Foods International. The business began many years ago when one man began to keep his fishing boat in these waters. It soon developed into a fishing wharf when more and more people started to keep their boats there, and build shanties. The wharf was established as the community fish plant in 1893. At this point, it was known as Graham & MacLaren, and was under this name until 1911. From 1911 to 1926, it was renamed Graham & Steele Company; from 1926 to 1937, it was called Graham & Lanigan. Then in 1962, Wendell Graham suffered from an illness and passed away. When Wendell died, the plant was passed on to his son, Grant Graham. Grant operated the factory for 19 years, and then passed it on to his three sons, Bobby, Gordy and Lorne in 1981. The three men named it Wendell Graham 1981 Limited, which was the business name until 1998. Today, it is known as a division of Polar Foods International.

From the early 1920's to the 30's, James Hewitt operated a lobster factory below Charles Steele's property. People fished in dories at this time; with the arrival of fishing boats, the factory closed as there was no wharf in the area to provide shelter from the storms. Another lobster factory located in the field adjacent to Wendell Graham's operated in the 1950's, owned by Will Graham. When he became ill and could no longer look after the business, the factory was purchased by Wendell Graham.

There have been many changes involving the Graham factory. Over 50 years ago in the 1940's, there was a steel bridge that connected one side of the wharf to the other. It was removed many years ago, when the fishing boats started to increase in size, and could no longer sail under the bridge.

Community Services

There were four stores in Gaspereaux which sold the necessary foods for the people in the community. The oldest store was the Dunn's, then the McHerron's, the Graham's, and the MacKenzie's. Mrs. Lily Graham, known as "Mrs. Charlie" operated her store in the 1940's and 50's across from McHerron's property, but McHerron's store wasn't established at the time. In 1950, Andrew and his wife Rita began to operate the MacKenzie store, which was a part of the family home. In the 1960's, they added gas pumps to the store, and sold gas to the community. They also built an addition onto the house for the store in the late 1960's or early 70's. The McHerron's store was established in the 1960's, and closed down in 1993.

The Steele House

One of the oldest homesteads on Prince Edward Island stood in Gaspereaux. It was known as the Steele House, and was once used as a mission station during the early years of the Catholic Scots settlement by their pastor Father Angus Bernard MacEachern, Roman Catholic missionary and later first bishop of Charlottetown. Donald MacMullen who came to Prince Edward Island in 1790 with 417 other immigrants on three ships, the Lucy, the Jane, and the British Queen from Vist in the Hebrides, Scotland, settled in Gaspereaux and built the house in a Picket style of architecture in 1812. John Dan Steele married into the family and later inherited the property. Angus and Marie Steele, brother and sister were the last descendants to live in the house. They were very proud of the old homestead, saying that the house had been built over 150 years ago, and there hadn't been a nail driven through it since then. Angus was known as the local amateur veterinarian, who didn't charge anyone for his services. There were even people who came to his house to have their teeth pulled; Angus would have the job done in no time at all!

In the early days when the Roman Catholic church was being established on Prince Edward Island, the first Bishop of Charlottetown, Rev. Angus Bernard MacEachern used the Steele House during his days as a travelling mission priest. In this home, he celebrated mass, heard confessions, and ministered to the people in the local communities. In June 1967, the ninth Bishop of Charlottetown, Rev. Malcolm MacEachern came to the Steele House in Gaspereaux to stand in the footprints of his ancestor, Rev. Angus Bernard MacEachern, the first Bishop and celebrate mass. The table that he used as an altar was used for the same purpose around one hundred and forty years ago. A chalice-like cup that the pioneer bishop used in his celebrations stood on the mantle among the other cherished mementoes in the Steele House.

When the early settlements were beginning on the Island, people were too poor to have a chapel or a church; a "station" in a private home became the church. The word would spread in the community, and people within reach would assemble at the designated house on the appointed day, and have religious needs attended to there. The Steele home was used as a station before and after the chapel was built between 1814 and 1816 by Donald MacMullen on the west end of Panmure Island.

Gaspereaux School

There is much history in the Gaspereaux school which has been standing for well over one hundred years. About seventy years ago, the school was located across the road from where it is today. Now, where it used to stand, grows an acre of tall trees and bush. Today the school is in excellent condition, and is still used regularly for card plays, darts, and annual Christmas gatherings.


I would like to give special thanks to Mary Steele, May Graham and Betty Condon for giving me information on the community of Gaspereaux.

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