- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.