Ruby M. Cusack
GRINDSTONES & LIGHTHOUSES
Tom Anderson donated his grindstone that had always been kept in the barn
Friday morning meant only one day of school left this week and then Saturday to do whatever we wanted to do.
to the Agricultural Museum in Sussex.
Tom remembers well the hours he spent over the years turning the handle of his father's grindstone
Dad didn’t seem excited about this being Friday. He sat at the table
looking very tired and grumbled about not being able to sleep.
I whispered to Cliff, “Dad was probably lying awake thinking up a make work project for us on Saturday.”
No sooner had the words passed my lips when he said, “Since it is going
to rain tomorrow, I am going to need the two of you to help at the
On Saturday morning, we groaned as Gramp arrived with his scythes and
cutter bars that also needed to be sharpened for the haying season.
I think doing grindstone duty was one of the most boring jobs a kid
could be asked to do. I had to stand still and let the water from a can
dribble over the wheel to keep the metal cool. Cliff had the labour part
as he turned the crank with sweat running down his brow. Dad sat on an
old milking stool, carefully running the scythe blade up and down on the
grindstone, working on the underside of the blade to produce an
upward-cutting edge. Later a final touch would be given with the
Gramp started to talk to break the monotony and told us grindstones were
cut back in 1840s at the ledges of Sandstone at Cape Maranguin. One man
could make about four hundred stones in a season. They were usually two
feet in diameter and four inches thick but different weights and sizes
The grindstone trade was also pursued on Grindstone Island and that is how the island got its name.
It has been many years since I listened to Gramp’s story. Today from the
internet, I have found out Grindstone Island was owned by Saint Ann’s
Church in Sackville. Furthermore in 1858 an Act was passed that they
lease or sell enough land for the building of a light house.
The first Keeper of Grindstone Island lighthouse, was James Clark who served until 1873.
The next Keepers were: John R. Styles (1873 – 1885), George Maurice
Russell (1885 - 1899), James R. Russell (1899 – 1912), Egbert C. Peck
(1912 – 1934), John W. Cannon (1934 - 1937), Hugh Wright (1937 - 1950),
and the last one was W. Wainwright ‘Pappy’ Weston (1950 - 1970) who
compiled a book of his life titled: “Stories About Me and People I Have
He kept a diary, as did other Keepers, with many everyday events recorded.
At http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nbpstgeo/stge5lighthousekeeper2.htm is
the reminiscences of Prescott Dines, of St. Andrews, a retired keeper
of the Green's Point light which guided vessels through L'Etete passage
through long years of service.
Lots of details on Fundy’s Cape Enrage at http://www.capeenrage.ca/images/cape/forms-and-documents/lighthouse_history.pdf which was constructed in 1840 with lamp oils and wicks.
If you have access to the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly Journals at
your library, you will find yearly information on
Today lighthouses are becoming almost as scarce as hen’s teeth but with a
bit of research, lots of information can be found that will bring back
many stories of the past.
Many a barn still holds a grindstone or two as a way of sharpening tools
or just being kept as a memory.
H. Bell with his grindstone - Picture submitted