Norman Peters; a local celebrity to the Rustico community. He is also known as the “Bearded Skipper” and can be found roaming around Rustico’s fisheries museum attracting tourists and locals alike. Norman is a man who could tell stories for hours and exudes pride for his community. He has been a fisherman for around 50 years and describes it as being in his heart. He has a sort of fire and fight in him that involves him in many groups to ensure the beauty and the well being of the fisheries and the community. Along with chairing the North Rustico division of the P.E.I. Fishing association and many other groups, he is an active church member with a caring and generous personality that everyone loves.
Although he has never lived in the lighthouse or has any direct relationship with it, it represents home. He described how beautiful it is to see the lighthouse gradually grow from the sea as you approach the shore, roughly about ten miles off. The lighthouse is one of the first thing you see when sailing back home which gives a sense of comfort.
When asked what he thought about the community of Rustico he responded that the people are the community. They are an interactive and involved group that all work together for the betterment of Rustico. He describes the numerous amount of community members that are volunteers as the life blood of the community. They are what make everything flow smoothly and create that sense of togetherness.
Take the time to chat with Norman the next time visiting Rustico. He can often be found at the Rustico Harbour Fisheries museum dressed with his Captain’s hat and wearing his magnetic smile!
David Hayden has been a colourful character to the Rustico community for many years. He lives only a walking distance away from the lighthouse where he once lived as a child for a short period of time. His home is a stop for many tourists and, locals alike, to chat with him and perhaps purchase one of his hand crafted wood buoys. Just during my short visit with him he had a crew of friends that were staying with him who all had some humorous stories and would make anyone feel at ease. Passing his house on the harbour road, the kaleidoscope of buoys dangling from his garage is a sight to see. All of them he has made and painted by hand and range from large in size to as tiny as ornaments or earrings.
The lighthouse, to him, has a nostalgic vibe to him. His memory as a child are vague but he had some adventurous stories as an older fellow. When he would look out the light’s window he said it was an absolutely amazing view and you could see everything. He was appalled to hear that the government would be getting rid of the lighthouses, especially this one. David believes it is a vital reason that visitors come to Rustico as tourist solely do trips to view lighthouses. The road, he thinks, has to be one of the busiest dead end roads in Canada, as the amount of people that travel that way during the summer is too much to count. He says, no one ever goes down to the harbour without taking a picture of the lighthouse.
Most of his memories of the lighthouse are positive but he did have some comical nuisances, the fog horn! He remembers that the sound would just pierce through your body and there would never be a warning as to when it would go off. Some nights while in bed, and the horn would go off, and he would jump five feet into the air off the mattress. He had quite an aversion to the fog horn. Another story he recalled was hanging out in the lighthouse with some friends while rolling a “cigarette”, the alarm startled them all and the contents they were rolling went flying everywhere and their hearts were jumping out of their chest. In his words, “..needless to say we lost a ‘cigarette’ that night”. These amusing stories bring a livelihood to the lighthouse. It portrays it as more than just a light that guided boats home but a source of entertainment to many people in Rustico.
Mary Jane Ready (Doyle) is the principal of Gulf Shore Consolidated School. She has a fondness for the lighthouse and has offered to include projects about the lighthouse, in next years curriculum, with the students. It is something to look forward to. While chatting with Mary Jane, she had a fun memory of the lighthouse as she grew up down at the harbour. She remembers at night she would rely on the light to come around so she could see her key and where to unlock her front door. Although not that long ago, there weren’t many street lamps and this made the lighthouse a source of light to the people who lived around the harbour. Again, a small story like this shows the reliance and importance the lighthouse held. It will only continue to create more stories for the locals.
Ruth Brewer; a vivacious and intelligent lady that has had a lifetime of amazing adventures. There is no shortage of story telling when with Ruth. She was lucky enough to live in the lighthouse between the late ’60s and early ’70s once it was decommissioned and rented out. She loved her stay there even though it wasn’t the ordinary place to live. The stories from her stay are plentiful with smiles and laughter. She said that the old keeper, George Pineau, would come down and hang out at the lighthouse. I was lucky enough to record my conversation with Ruth and have posted some of the transcendent stories she shared as well as descriptions of the interior of the lighthouse.
A fun and nontraditional story that Ruth had of the lighthouse was one of a ghost. She recalled one evening, after midnight, that her dog “Dippy” was acting a bit strange. He was standing by the upstairs window with his head cocked as if someone was talking to him. Dippy would tilt his head while keeping a keen eye in one direction as if staring at someone. While Ruth was trying to figure out why her dog was acting differently, all the dog’s hair suddenly stood up on end and quickly tucked his tail between his legs and ran down the stairs. She said her dog would never go back upstairs after that night.
CLICK HERE to listen to the sound clips of Ruth talking about the North Rustico Lighthouse, also, check out her photos that she kindly allowed to be posted on this website.