As legends go, lighthouses are rife with the paranormal. I guess it's not surprising due to their very nature. The lighthouse keeper's job was more or less to prevent death but in the process spent his working life usually in isolation sometimes miles from the nearest community. Of course, there are exceptions to this such as Gibraltar Point in Toronto but even then, the life of a keeper was still more or less married to ensuring his important lamp stayed lit and kept the vessels they protected from harm. It's little wonder that these beautiful and 'romantic' places have almost as much ghostly history as theatres!
Of course, sometimes, it's not the keeper or a member of his family that haunts and in the case of the Cove Islands Lighthouse at the entrance of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, it's the captain of a stricken vessel that is said to haunt, and help, the keepers of this light.
On October 22nd, 1881, the 118-ton schooner, Regina was making it's way through the area of the light when it was caught in a gale. The hull split and she was taking on water. The crew felt she was doomed but the Captain, Amos Tripp, felt he could ground her on a nearby sand-bar and preserve the boat and it's cargo.
His crew, with some foresight, realized that this wasn't the case and took to the boats leaving Captain Tripp alone on the Regina, trying to head her to safety alone.
The crew were right and the Regina sank to the bottom taking the brave but foolhardy Captain Tripp with her. His body washed up on shore not too long after and was buried on Cove Island without ceremony or apparently a coffin... instead, wrapped in a sail.
Lighthouse keepers have reported that unseen help has been of assistance keeping the light going and even doing odd chores around the light. There have even been, according to Frederick Stonehouse's book, Haunted Lakes, sightings of a shadowy figure on the beaches of the island that have been thought to be the venerable captain himself!
According to Stonehouse as well, one keeper who neglected his duty and who let the light flicker out while sleeping had to attribute the light coming back to life when it shouldn't have to Captain Tripp's assistance. Stonehouse even semi-pokes fun that local legend has Tripp stopping by to play a game of cards with the keepers on occasion.
We have received two reports from the islands ourselves... One of a 'strange, being watched' while passing the islands and a possible sighting of the shadowy figure. Both these people seemed to know of the legend of Captain Tripp and attributed their sighting to this helpful Captain.
Navigational information and some pictures of the light are available by Clicking Here.
We would love to know more about the lighthouse and possibly Captain Tripp... Perhaps you can help us with some history or perhaps your own experience... If so, please
and let us know. Your anonymity and privacy are assured.
Two submissions from our readers - Both Wishing To Remain Anonymous
Haunted Lakes by Frederick Stonehouse - Lake superior Port Cities Inc., October 1997
Ontario's West Coast: Cove Islands