- Ministers and Churches
The community of Little Sands is
Southern Kings County in eastern
Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada. This area is
approximately 10km east of the town of Montague, and 40km east of Charlottetown, the Island's
capital city and birthplace of Confederation. Little Sands is three miles in
length, and is located along the shore of the Northumberland Strait. The
community is south of Hopefield, east of High Bank, and west of Wood Islands.
Like other parts of Prince Edward Island, Little Sands 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 settlement of Little Sands was quite small with a few
buildings in the early 1900's. The second wharf and the Little
Sands lighthouse were built in 1913; the original wharf was abandoned after
this. The second wharf was also abandoned by commercial fishermen around
1950; however, independent fishermen continued to use it for about thirty
years more before it was demolished. The Little Sands school, located across
from Malcolm MacLean's property is now an old dilapidated building.
Duncan Munn owned a lobster factory from 1873 until 1892. Melbourne
operated it from 1892 until 1926. McCrae had a factory on the first
property coming from Wood Islands. In the early 1920's, Norman MacLeod built
a factory at the Little Sands wharf. Two of its former employees are still living
today, Hastings MacLeod who is in his 90's and residing at River View
Manor, and Arnette Nicolle who celebrated his 100th birthday last February.
In the early 1870's, Duncan Munn also had a store in Little Sands, and
John MacPhee operated a store on the land once owned by Linward Thompson.
Lockie Thompson owned a store that was west of the Little Sands school, on
the land presently owned by Harry Buell. Ken Ferguson's store was situated
across the road from Harry Buell's property. Rolley McPherson and Company
owned a store called Rolley Mack; Monty MacKenzie operated this store from
1939 until 1947. Archie Munn and Mr. and Mrs. Carleton Hume also operated
stores in Little Sands around this time.
A saw and grist mill was operated by Robert Dixon around the year 1850.
He also owned plenty of woodland. The dam which once powered the mill
is still in existence. Another dam was established on the property of John
Currie. John hauled large stones from as far away as Iris, with horse and
sleigh. He stocked the dam with rainbow trout before the turn of the century; this
likely was one of the first tourist attractions in Little Sands.
Little Sands, like all communities has changed because of
development. The first road was built close to the shore, and a few of the
homesteads may still be seen. Later, the road was moved further away from
the shore, where it presently is. Lord Selkirk used a chain which is
sixty-six feet long to determine the width of Little Sands from the
shoreline past the Little Sands cemetery. Blue Road was opened in the 1890's.
The residents of Little Sands travelled on these roads by horse and wagon.
They also used horses for pulling sleighs, ploughs, spreaders, and other
Without electricity, almost every task was difficult. Women saved
all the fat and grease for making soap by hand. When cattle were butchered,
the fat was saved for candle making. Women also had the responsibilities
of baking, spinning, and weaving.
In the early days, it was an obligation to help your neighbour; if
someone in the community was down on his luck, the whole neighbourhood would
gather to help them out. A "frolic" or "bee" would be
organized for such chores as chopping wood, building houses and barns,
stumping and quilting.
In 1832, Little Sands cemetery which was used as a burial ground for
Little Sands, High Bank, Wood Islands, Mount Vernon, Greek River, and
Peters Road was built, and is still used today.
Ministers and Churches
Dr. James MacGregor is said to be the first Presbyterian minister
to visit the Island. Because Little Sands and Wood Islands are the nearest
points to Pictou, Nova Scotia, Dr. MacGregor often stopped here. In
the year 1823, Rev. John MacLennan, a minister of the Church of Scotland
was ordained and settled in Belfast. He had charge of Belfast, Wood Islands,
Little Sands, Murray Harbour, Valleyfield, and other settlements in the
area. Rev. MacLennan was followed by Rev. William MacLaren. In 1857, Mr.
Donald McNeil was inducted as pastor of the congregation. The only church
the residents of this area had was located on the Dixon property. This
building is now being used as a barn in Little Sands.
During Rev. McNeil's ministry, two new churches were built, one at
Little Sands, and the other at Wood Islands. Rev. John Sutherland succeeded
Rev. McNeil on March 11, 1874. He ministered to the
congregation until 1881, when he resigned and moved to Australia. The next
minister was Rev. Malcolm Campbell of Cape Breton, who ministered from January 3, 1884 until November 11, 1890.
After 1890, Little Sands was combined with Murray River to form a new
pastoral charge. On May 3, 1892, Rev. Ewen Gillis began his ministry. Every second
Sunday, in each section, he would preach a service in Gaelic. During his
ministry, two new churches were established, one at Murray River and the
other at Little Sands which opened in 1898 under the direction of Daniel
J. MacLean of High Bank.
In May 1903, Mr. Gillis resigned. Between 1903 and 1921, the pulpit was
occupied by the Reverends MacPhee, McNeil, and Sweet, followed by Rev. M.D.
Thanks to Mary MacPherson-Dugas and Neil McNeil for providing me with
the information and pictures for this research on Little Sands.