Whale Cove Cottages are located overlooking Whale Cove Harbour in the community of North Head, Grand Manan. The entrance to the cottages is as mystical as the setting. Hidden on Whistle Road there is the side road called the Whale Cove Cottage Road. Down a tree lined drive you come to an open area overlooking the cove with the cottages nestled in the centre of a small clearing. The designation includes a main farmhouse and three cottages.
Whale Cove Cottages on Grand Manan Island are designated a Local Historic Place for being a unique place that is open for the public to escape by stepping back into history in this gentle rustic setting. Each Cottage was originally used as a farm building. The main house was built in 1816. The other cottages were built in 1840.
These cottages, originally a cooper settler’s farmstead, were rescued from deterioration in 1900-1902 by four industrious ladies from Boston. Miss Sarah Jacobus, Barbara Adams, Miss Marie Felix, and Miss Alice Coney purchased the property and worked at renovating the existing buildings into the Whale Cove Cottages.
The original buildings were a barn, cooper shop, main house, and guest house. At first there were no plumbing of any sort, no electric lights, no radio and no telephone. These names have stayed with the buildings except for the guest house which became known as Orchardside Cottage due to the apple orchard in its front yard.
Today, the main house has a public dining hall. The barn was replaced by a cottage built in 1920. It was to this location that the famous author Willa Cather would escape in her early years of spending summers on Grand Manan. She later had her own cottage a short distance from Whale Cove Cottages.
Willa worked on A Lost Lady during her first visit to Grand Manan, when in 1922 she and life companion Edith Lewis rented Orchardside, one of the Whale Cove Cottages, where they returned for a number of years until in 1927 they had their own cottage built nearby.
The famous author wrote only one story about the island, “Before Breakfast”, from The Old Beauty and Others, 1948, which directly describes her cottage and familiar trails.
Yet it is hard to imagine that she was not influenced indirectly by the atmosphere and landscape of the island; and indeed, in Willa Cather Living, Edith Lewis writes that it was on the island that Willa found the beauty, solitude and natural rhythms of tide and wind necessary for her imagination to roam freely.
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