Find Beauty in every turn
Located along PEI's scenic North Cape Coastal drive, West Point is a small community that is the destination for visitor's seeking seclusion and beauty. Here you will find endless beach to walk on, amazing sunsets, our Lighthouse Inn and historic museum, West Point Craft shop, Lighthouse Willy's Restaurant, the West Point Marina, and Cedar Dunes Provincial Park.
Walk along the beach and our trails, go for a swim, search for sea glass. dine at Lighthouse Willy's, shop at the Point Craft shop, watch the local fisherman unload their daily catch, read some folklore and keep an eye out for the burning ship, the Sea serpent or dig for some buried treasure.
West Point has so much to offer!
We are located 99 km from the Confederation bridge, 21 km from O'leary (which holds a grocery store, liquor store, gas station and many hidden gems) 67 km from North Cape (which has some amazing views) and 74 km from Summerside.
Some Mystery and Folklore of West Point
The early settlers in West Point were from Scotland and Ireland, and they brought many of their beliefs and superstitions across the Atlantic. There was a strong belief in witches, pixies and forerunners, and supernatural explanations were often given for things they could not explain.
For example, they could not understand why there were natural pathways through the wooded dunes behind the lighthouse, so they concluded that fairies had made the paths and kept them swept clean so they could walk on them. Today in Cedar Dunes Park you can walk on the Fairy Trails created over the centuries as successive waves of sand dunes became covered with vegetation and eventually trees. Not all of the folklore can be so easily explained.
Just behind the lighthouse dwells a mystery that has tantalized more than one eager gold-digger. Legend says that a treasure was buried there many years ago. Some say it comes from one of General Wolfe’s pay ships which was wrecked on the reef. Others claim the infamous pirate, Captain Kidd, stopped here to hide some ill-gotten treasure.
According to the legend, a man named John Campbell of Enmore had a dream or vision three nights in succession. In the dream he was told to take sixteen men and seek a cove shaped like a half moon. There they would travel over the dunes and find three pine trees, blazed with a knife. They were to dig in the dark of the moon and say nothing or the treasure would disappear. He assembled his men, who eventually found the location not far from the West Point Lighthouse. They dug until someone’s shovel struck wood and a shout of elation went up. The minute the voice was heard, there was the sound of a ship hauling anchor, and the terrified men saw a fully rigged ship heading out to sea. At the same time, the sand began to pour down the hole on top of the diggers so quickly they were almost trapped. For many years people sought the treasure in vain. And this is where legend meets reality....
Bertha (Smith), Lighthouse Willie’s daughter, was born at the lighthouse and spent all her childhood summers there. When she was interviewed in 1975, she vividly recalled that some nights there would be a crowd of men staying there until it got really dark. Then they would get her brothers, Jack or Stan, to take them to the old Money Pit, as they called it, so they could dig for the treasure. Eventually the pine trees died from all the digging and the place was marked by stakes. They would dig all night, and in her words, “Mother would give them a fine big breakfast.”
There was supposed to be a curse associated with the treasure, which said that someone in the digging party would die soon after. One man who dug in the rain later died of pneumonia. It was the Curse! Another fell off a barn roof and was killed. It was the Curse! As time went on there were fewer treasure seekers. The last dig was in 1925. John Noble Ladner, a MacWilliams man, and one other man set out to get the treasure. They methodically dug a pit, and built a deep square box to keep the sand from caving in on them. While they were digging, something terrified them so badly they fled and never came back, even to get their lumber. The next year Ernest MacDonald got married and set up housekeeping about a half-mile from the lighthouse where his grandfather, Lighthouse Willie, had tended the light for fifty years. He and his brothers got the lumber and made a well box from it. Earnest died in September, 2005, at the age of 103. He said if anybody got the treasure, they never told anyone. Who knows, it might still be there, over the dunes, through the woods….Do you dare to dig in the dark of the moon?
When the first settlers arrived in the West Point area they were told by the natives that there was a huge snake that dwelt in the waters just off the Point. They were warned not to harm it. Over the past two centuries there have been numerous sightings, some as recently as 1992 and 2002.
Estimates of the length of the creature vary from 12 m to 24 m (40 to 80 feet) in length. The body is snake-like in appearance but does not have a scaly skin. One witness described it as having short dark hair, similar to a short-haired dog. It undulates through the water with only parts of the body visible. These humps or coils of the body rise out of the water so high that they are entirely out of the water. Some people have reported seeing as many as three coils. The head resembles that of a horse, rising about three feet out of the water on a slim neck.
On a summer evening in August, 1992, a Newfoundland couple and two American journalists separately watched the serpent in the waters near the lighthouse. It would go underwater for long periods of time and then resurface along the shore. The couple drew a picture which the lighthouse manager showed to people, inquiring whether there had been other sightings. It turned out at least seven other people had seen something large and unfamiliar swimming there. One Local described what he and two of his father’s fishermen saw from their boat, “It looked like a big snake with a number of humps. It was moving quickly through the water.”
The most recent report was in 2002, when a local man was riding an ATV with his grandson and great-grandson to the beach at West Cape. It was so calm that the surface of the water was like a mirror. About 300 m (1000 feet) out from the shore, they could see something sticking out of the water. At first they thought it was a log about 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter, sticking about 61 cm (2 feet) out of the water. They had to change their minds when it began to travel out to sea so fast it left quite a wake behind it. The man, who spent 43 years fishing the Northumberland Strait, had never seen anything like it.
Similar creatures are reported in Lake Okanogan, British Columbia, Lake Utopia, New Brunswick, Lake Champlain, Vermont, and off the coast of Cape Ann in Massachusetts. The sea serpent visited Cape Ann for nearly two weeks in 1817, and returned again in 1886, according to the Harvard Linnaean Society and numerous other documents. An article in the November 1977 Yankee Magazine tells about another sighting at Cape Ann in 1975. Accounts are so alike people were plainly describing the same kind of animal. They said it looked like a huge brown snake, as large as a half-barrel, and carrying a “head like a horse or a big dog,“ over 1 m (4 feet) above the water. Behind it they saw a number of dark humps as the creature moved rapidly forward with an up-and-down motion. From the number of humps and the distance between them it was calculated the Serpent’s overall length was not less than 30.5 m (100 feet).
The Cape Anne Sea Serpent is very similar to the one seen at West Point. Those who have never seen the serpent scoff at its very existence; those who have seen it find their eyes ever turning seaward in hopes of another tantalizing glimpse of the West Point Sea Serpent.
During the first three years that the West Point Lighthouse operated as an inn, volunteers would stay overnight at the lighthouse two nights a week to give the manager time off. If there were no overnight guests there by 9:00 pm, the volunteer would go home.
One evening in the summer of 198, The Chowder Kitchen had closed earlier and the staff had gone home, so the volunteer was left by themselves. When nine o’clock came and there wasn’t a soul but her at the lighthouse she decided she might as well go home. She climbed to the top of the tower to check that all was well, and then left the lighthouse, locking the door behind her. As she got into her car, she noticed a light on in the bedroom over the veranda. She thought it was rather odd that she hadn’t noticed it when she went by the open door only moments before. At any rate, she unlocked the door, went back upstairs and turned off the light. She went back downstairs and out the door, locking it behind her. Imagine her dismay when she looked back at the Lighthouse and saw the light was back on in the upstairs bedroom! When asked later what she did then she said, “I left! I figured if there was someone in there who wanted the lights on that bad, they could darned well have them on!”
That wasn’t the last time there was a mystery with the lights. In 1987, an addition was built to the lighthouse. Within the next year or two, it became obvious that some changes needed to be made to make the kitchen layout more efficient. One evening in late winter a group of the volunteers went to look over the kitchen and see whether the architect’s drawings would work out. There had been a problem with a very high electricity bill previously because the electric heat had accidentally been left on, so when the people finished in the kitchen they turned off the lights and gathered at the front desk.
There they shut off all the power switches at the main control panel, except the one switch that controlled the navigation light at the top. Just as they were about to leave they realized that the architect’s drawings were in the kitchen, so someone took a flashlight and retrieved them. Everyone got into a car and headed for home. On the Cedar Dunes Park Road, they were stopped by a person who asked if they had seen a neighbour who was distraught with grief. They feared he might have gotten into the lighthouse with the plan to jump from the top. No one had seen him there, but it had to be checked out. One car went directly to the lighthouse, while the other sped to the nearest house to drop of someone to alert more neighbours to help in the search. When the people unlocked the lighthouse door and went in, the lights were back on in the kitchen, in spite of the fact they were turned off at the switch and the fuse box! The man they were looking for was found elsewhere, so it was not him who turned on the lights in the empty lighthouse. Was it Lighthouse Willie and Bennie reminding everyone that they were still the keepers of the light?
There have been numerous incidences of the lights being turned off or on in various rooms when no one was there. Today if it happens and someone reports it to they staff, they are usually told with a laugh, “ It’s just the old keepers, playing tricks with the lights!” After all, these two men spent 88 years sending signals with lights. What better way to remind the present day keepers that they are still watching over their old light.
The Bones That Won't Stay Buried
When the Shore Road was widened in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, there was a need for fill, so the contractors used machinery to obtain fill from a gully at the edge of the nearby capes. They were careful to take the fill from one side of the gully, because there was known to be a number of bodies buried on the other side. To their dismay, they found skeletal remains of at least three people, one of them clearly a young child. Jelly’s Funeral Home sent out young Doug Ferguson to re-bury the remains, and a cross was erected to mark their grave. However, over the years the soft sandstone capes continued to erode, so Coulson Wood and others re-buried the bones further inland a number of times over the years.
In 1993, there was a wedding on the beach and one young guest got ammunition for years of stories when she stumbled upon a skull and other skeletal parts on the shore below the cross. The bones were removed, this time to the University of Prince Edward Island where they were studied and later interred in a graveyard, far removed from the capes, so now perhaps they can rest in peace.
There are various stories as to who was buried there, but no one knows for sure. One explanation is that they were people who got sick and died on board a ship, and were taken ashore and buried at West Cape.
Another story related by Tryphosia (Smith) MacDonald to her granddaughter, Carol Livingstone, tells a more blood-thirsty explanation. She said that the old people used to say that long ago, before there were any regular settlers in that area, that sometimes ships would be lured ashore by wreckers who would place lights along the shore to what would appear to be a harbour. The wreckers would then plunder the ship. When Carol commented that they would never get away with it, because the survivors would tell, her grandmother said, “According to what the old people said, they made sure there were no survivors!”
That explanation was further reinforced by a story told to Carol by Percy MacPherson. He said that when his son Hartley had used his new heavy equipment to plough an area on the other side of the road which had never been ploughed before, they ploughed up a lot of old bones. When asked what they did then, he said, “We just kept on ploughing. We didn’t want to dig up those old stories!”
When Carol asked Coulson Wood about that story, he said that dogs and farm animals were buried there, which might explain the bones which the MacPhersons found although one would think that experienced farmers like Percy or Hartley would have known the difference, and Percy was firm in his belief that it was human bones they found.