Saturday, May 14, 2011

More on Gannet Rock Lighthouse

This week's feature painting is Gannet Rock Lighthouse in an afternoon sou'wester.  This painting is one of my favorites, partly because I feel an attachment to the lighthouse and also because I like the open water that surrounds Gannet Rock

If you are observant, you will notice that the lighthouse is featured on the avatar for From Our Cove, and the water in the painting is featured in the banner for the blog.

But Gannet Rock is special for another reason: my great-great-grandfather, Walter B. McLaughlin, was the light keeper there for many, many years, starting as assistant keeper on April 1, 1845, and becoming head keeper on April 1,1853.  He remained there until January 1,1880, when he transferred to the newly built lighthouse at Southwest Head, on Grand Manan Island.

Walter B. McLaughlin was a thoughtful and conscientious man, well read and well respected.  He wrote daily in his journals, noting the weather and the comings and goings of sailing ships in an out of the Bay of Fundy.  When ships were wrecked among the Murr Ledges and other treacherous reefs off Grand Manan, he described what he saw from his lighthouse vantage point.  He took great pains to describe the wind direction, weather conditions and what he saw.

But other entries were tantalizing in their brevity.  His entry for Monday, May 15, 1854, simply stated: "This day a wedding on the Rock".  He lived on Gannet Rock with his wife, Clarinda, and raised children there until they were old enough to attend school on Grand Manan.

In October, 1871, along with other notes of weather and shipping, he noted "we could smell soot burning or old houses".  Over the next several days, he kept noting the smell of burning buildings, and on October 11, he noted "I am of the opinion that some large city such as New York or Boston is burnt."  When his supply boat came a week later, on October 18, he wrote: "The boat came today and brought news of the burning of Chicago and this explains the unusual odor of burning buildings we have smelt a few days past."

Indeed, I spent many enjoyable hours reading through and making notes from the daily journals of Walter B. McLaughlin, journals now housed in the Grand Manan Musuem.  And so, that's one reason why I like Gannet Rock and enjoyed painting this quintessential lighthouse in the open Bay of Fundy.

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