The Northumberland Strait is part of the Gulf of St Lawrence and separates the Canadian Provinces New Brunswick, Nova Scotia from Prince Edward Island.
It is the warmest salt water in Canada and the best place to ocean swim in Canada.
It is crossed by the Confederation Bridge; the longest bridge in the world over waters that freeze seasonally.
The legend of the burning ship dates back to the 19th century.
The origin of the ghost ship has many possible origins: the Isabella that was lost in 1868 while sailing to South Africa, the John Craig Light which wrecked off the coast of Shippigan Island and the Colbum which was lost in storm in 1838.
It’s also said to be a ship sailing for Quebec that was hit by lighting and actually did ignite and burn to the water line with a loss of all hands.
The more romantic and fanciful story is it’s a pirate ship linked to Captain Kidd.
Seeing the ship is considered to indicate there is major storm coming.
It appears as a 3 or 4 masted schooner at full sail on the straits but quickly the sails become engulfed in flames which soon reach the rest of the ship.
In 1900 some men went so far as to leave Charlottetown in a row boat in an attempt to rescue the ship’s crew before they burned to death. The ship mysteriously faded away into the mist and disappeared right before their eyes.
The ship most often appears in spring but it has appeared in every season; its even appeared to sail on the ice chocked waters of mid-winter. It also appears most often at dusk, in full darkness or just before sunrise.
The ship doesn’t appear very often but it was last seen in 2008.
We are overdue for a new sighting.
The most common non-supernatural explanation for the sightings is – the explanation always given for ghost ships (especially those aflame) – St Elmo’s Fire. This is little bursts of electricity that form on pointed objects like ship’s masts and spars before an electrical storm.
It also may be fata morgana which is a mirage caused by warm air sitting on top of cold air. This causes light rays to bend making objects seem to fly or turn upside down; it also allows ships beyond the horizon to be seen.
And finally, we simply have fog, mist and many light conditions can cause people to see strange things and then use their imaginations for the rest.
After PEI entered Confederation and became part of Canada in 1873 the new Canadian Parliament voted for the money for building this lighthouse. The lighthouse opened on May 21, 1876 with William McDonald as its first keeper.
On May 19, 1963 electricity came to West Point and the lighthouse was automated ending the need for any keepers although a caretaker did check on the light to make sure it was working properly. The caretaker was the grandson of the original keeper.
In 1983 the great-granddaughter of that same first keeper became the founding president of a corporation that leased the lighthouse from the Canadian Coast Guard. With the help of a grant from the Canadian Government they restored the lighthouse back to its glory.
On Canada’s birthday in 1984 the building re-opened as Canada’s first lighthouse and inn. Another building was added in 1987 and in 1988 a special bedroom was opened in the lighthouse itself.
In 2007 and 2009 more renovations were done and the lighthouse re-opened again in August of 2010.
The lighthouse is said to be haunted by the original keeper; William McDonald.
His apparition is seen in what used to be the keeper’s bedroom. The lights in this room often turn on or off on their own. Lights are also known to flicker in many of the other rooms too as well as other electrical disturbances.
It being a lighthouse what else would the ghost mess with?