Stanhope Historical Society
Current Contact: Louis Watts, President
"Preserving the Past For the Sake of the Future"
The Stanhope Historical Society in Prince Edward Island plays an active role in promoting the history of the Stanhope-Covehead area and that of the Province more generally. The motto cited above represents its underlying purpose, and for over 14 years it has worked enthusiastically to that end.
The Society's membership is about 140 persons and it meets four times a year at Stanhope Place, overlooking Covehead Bay. At each meeting members are entertained by guest speakers on a wide variety of topics of a historical nature. Stanhope Place is an old school house, and nearby is Stanhope Beach, which lies in the PEI National Park. This was the site of the landing of the first British (Scots) settlers to the island in 1770. At that time it was known as St John’s Island, following the French period when it was Ile St Jean.
The picture (at left) shows Stanhope Beach today. The settlers arrived on the sailing ship the Falmouth from Greenock, Scotland and were literally left on the sand with their few belongings.
The society does not restrict its interest to the history of its own area. During the past year the Society listened to Joyce Paynter, a Charlottetown resident who recounted her life story as a war bride from England; Doug Murray, a local expert on the history of the Post Office service on PEI; Ellen Cudmore, who detailed the history of the PEI Rural Beautification Society, and Wayne MacKinnon, who discussed his recent book concerning Premier Alex Campbell’s years in office during the 1970’s. Since its inception the society has played host to 56 meetings, each of which covered a special topic.
The Society feels that there is a resurgence in interest by Islanders in their history. But the stories of the past need to be told in an interesting and entertaining way to sustain that interest. By so doing the Society hopes to further raise understanding of places of significance like Stanhope-Covehead, which it feels has a special place in the history of this small province, and Canada more generally.The survival of these pioneers is an amazing story and still to this day some of their descendents live in the Stanhope-Covehead area. A cairn was erected in Stanhope in 1970 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of their arrival.
The Society was constituted in its present form in 1992 as an expansion of the History Committee of the Stanhope Women’s Institute. Its Charter members were Marjorie MacLauchlan, Shirley Lawson, Margaret Power, Joyce MacLauchlan, Mary Shaw, Margaret Allan, Evelyn Simpson, Thelma Douglas, Noreen Shaw, Jean Quick, Edith Marshall and Beth Ellis. This group was responsible for the publication of the book Stanhope, Sands of Time, in 1984, which documents the history of the community and its families.
The Present Executive of the Society is:
President - Louis Watts