Beacons of Light - Lighthouses of Prince Edward Island Virtual Museum of Canada

Prince Edward Island’s Lady Lightkeeper

Maisie Adams was Prince Edward Island’s only female lightkeeper and Canada’s first female keeper. Her story is a fascinating one that she was always willing to share. She was born May 22, 1913, and was the youngest daughter of Hugh John and Mary Lamont of French River. In August, 1934, she married Claude Adams of Seaview.

Hugh John MacRae was the keeper of the New London Light from 1931 until he went on military leave on October 31, 1940. He was temporarily replaced for a month by his brother, Charles Earle MacRae. When Claude Adams took over as keeper on December 1, 1940, he was already ailing, and his wife Maisie assumed most of the duties of lightkeeper.

It must have been a daunting task for the twenty-nine year old woman – looking after two small children, a sick husband, a lighthouse and a range light. Robert and Gertrude were born before the couple moved to the lighthouse. Nearing the end of her third pregnancy on October 2, 1941, during their first year at the lighthouse, Harris Blakney stopped by on his mail route and noticed that Maisie was not looking well. He brought Aunt Jane, the midwife, to the house in the late afternoon. At the same time, Maisie sent her son Robert to contact the local doctor. Dr. Beer arrived at the lighthouse and delivered his first baby there at 8:35 pm during the midst of a blackout order, which were frequently given during the World War Two period to confuse enemy submarines. Dr. Beer was also the doctor who cared for Maisie’s husband Claude, who died of cancer on January 23, 1943.

After Claude’s death several men from the area went to the office of the Department of Transport and recommended that Maisie be hired as official lightkeeper. She had no other means of support and had been doing the work all along, so she was certainly capable. She kept the lighthouse for a total of fourteen years, from 1940 to 1956. She lived in the lighthouse for a year after Claude died, but later moved to a small house several kilometres from the lighthouse so that Robert would be closer to the school. She walked to the lighthouse each afternoon to light the lamp and again in the morning to put it out. The range light was further still and had to be tended as well.

Lighthouse Stories
Maisie Adams.
Maisie Adams.
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