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School Community of Little Sands

by Vanessa
Introduction
Businesses
Developments
Ministers and Churches
Acknowledgements

Introduction

The community of Little Sands is located in 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.

Businesses

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.

threshing crew

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.

Developments

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 farm machinery.

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. MacDonald.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Mary MacPherson-Dugas and Neil McNeil for providing me with the information and pictures for this research on Little Sands.

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pawprints