A Gentleman’s Residence at Keppoch

Bayfield House c. 1895 with the bare headland of Blockhouse Point and Holland Cove in the background

Bayfield House c. 1895 with the bare headland of Blockhouse Point and Holland Cove in the background

Even amidst the collection of low, one story cottages that now surround it, and somewhat screened as is by trees, the building still stands out as a landmark when viewed from Hillsborough Bay. Partially because of its landmark status the Bayfield House is listed on the Canadian Register of Heritage Properties. It is an unassuming building, At two and half stories the house is large when compared to its bungalow neighbours, but not overly domineering.  It must have been much more striking when first built because early photos show it standing alone in the field overlooking Keppoch Beach.  The building has remained. It is the neighbours that have changed.

Keppoch was originally a farming district. The name comes from Keppoch, Airsaig,in Scotland and had been used by James Duncan for “Keppoch House” his residence looking out over the bay. A Dr. H.B. Hillcoat purchased the property in 1854 and advertised a warning to trespassers or those carrying off wood or hauling seaweed from the property. The property was later owned by William Walsh and contained 240 acres when it was offered for sale in 1905 after his death. In addition to farming the property was the site of a summer resort eventually becoming the Keppoch Beach Hotel.

Larned002

Detail of Keppoch from Meacham’s 1880 Atlas of Prince Edward Island

Slightly to the west, and closer to the shore, just beside the brook running to a shallow cove a house was built (probably in the late 1860s) for Henry Wolsey Bayfield who had purchased the property in 1866 when he retired. That house still stands on the site today. Bayfield was an Admiral and had responsibility for the early hydrographic surveys and charting of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The house gradually acquired neighbours as the convenience of the shore so close to Charlottetown meant that more and more townsfolk and visitors from out of province removed to Keppoch for the summer, especially after the opening of the Hillsborough Bridge made travel from Charlottetown easier.

Following Bayfield’s death in 1885 the house was acquired by the Robertson family who operated it as a summer resort until 1909 when it underwent a major change, becoming a family summer cottage. The purchaser was Charles Pierpont Larned, a well-heeled attorney from Detroit Michigan.  He was reported to have remodelled the house from top to bottom “introducing many improvements.” These included turning one of the ground floor rooms into a billiard room. He also connected his new house and a number of the other summer residences by a telephone line to Charlottetown.

Included in his plans was the building of a pier for his gasoline launch. The boat itself was shipped from the Detroit Launch and Power Company and arrived in July of 1909. The powerboat company was shortly to change its name to the Hacker Boat Company and became one of the leading builders of powerful mahogany speed boats under the name “Hackler Craft.”  The company still operates and produces high-quality launches today. Larned’s 30 foot boat boasted a top speed of 12 miles per hour from its 20 hp engine.  He was very much a gentleman of leisure who appears to have avoided tinkering with the boat for in 1911 he was advertising a three-month job for a reliable man experienced in gasoline boats to take care of the craft. Keppoch is not well suited as a place to keep a boat and it is doubtful if the promised wharf was ever built. In 1913 the boat was offered for sale – a splendid sea boat complete with cushions, chairs, folding anchor, and life preservers – “Will sell at a bargain.”

Larned’s interests extended beyond the law. He was one of the founders of the Detroit Player’s Club and an active supporter of, and participant in, amateur theatrics. His wife, Lillie Whitney Larned was daughter of the owner of the Whitley Opera House in Detroit and was herself one of the founders of the Theatre Arts Club. Lillie Larned entertained frequently at Keppoch and often performed monologues at social gatherings  as she did at a Parlor Concert at Government House in 1911 and in a benefit performance in aid of the Anti-Tuberculosis Society at the Charlottetown Opera House in 1913.

Larned001It all came to an end in 1918. Pleading “pressure of business” C.P. Larned put the property up for sale in May of that year. Described by the Guardian as “the finest summer residence in  the Maritime Provinces” the house changed hands in September.

Bayfield001

Detail of Keppoch from Cummins 1928 Atlas of PEI. The Bayfield property is not named but can be seen to the east of the brook.

The new owner was the Rev. Julian Clifford Jaynes of West Newton Massachusetts, a Unitarian minister. He and his family had been summer visitors to the Island for more than twenty years, often staying in Malpeque. It is likely the billiard room was converted to other purposes. Jaynes did not have much opportunity to enjoy his new summer house as he died in 1922. The following year his widow offered the house for sale and in 1924 called for tenders for the property. However it did not find a buyer and Mrs. Jaynes and her children continued to be part of the summer colony at Keppoch for decades. The family was aware of the historic importance of the place and following the death of the last of the immediate members of the Jaynes family in 1996  it passed to the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation who placed covenants on the site to ensure its preservation before returning the property to private ownership.

Bayfield House in Keppoch seen from Trout Point. ca. 1950

Bayfield House in Keppoch seen from Trout Point. ca. 1950

Rev. Jayne’s son, Julian Jaynes Jr., who spent his summers at Keppoch, was an intellectual who was a member of the faculty of Princeton University. He developed a controversial theory of consciousness published in 1976 as “The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” which enjoyed unusual popularity at the time. A recent article on Jaynes life and ideas and present thinking regarding the theory can be found here

Detail from aerial photo of Keppoch in 1935. Bayfield House is in the centre of the photo just to the east of the Pollywog Pond.

Detail from aerial photo of Keppoch in 1935. Bayfield House is in the centre of the photo just to the east of the Pollywog Pond.

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3 thoughts on “A Gentleman’s Residence at Keppoch

  1. Islander

    I’d be interested to know what covenants were placed on the site by the Heritage Foundation? I know the land was divided and another large house and garage were built next to it, and I haven’t seen any real maintenance done on the original house. I doubt that’s what Mrs. Jaynes really wanted…

    Reply
    1. Keppoch Cottager

      I do not know all the covenants but one was that the exterior look had to be maintained. As a long time summer visitor to Middle/Center Keppoch, I can say that the new owner, a PEI resident, has done extensive work on the outside and is even restoring most of the inside to it previous look, except the kitchen and bathrooms which have been modernized. The land was not sub-divided, but both parcels visible in the 1928 atlas between the Chas V Stewart and W W Owen properties were owned by the Jaynes family in 1996. The smaller property was not of historical interest and was sold separately with the new owner building the new house and garage.

      Reply
  2. Marjorie (Downe) Toews

    Charles Stewart and his wife, Georgie (Mutch), were the last owners to farm what is now known as West Keppoch and upon whose land had existed a sanitarium overlooking the entrance to Charlottetown Harbour. As a grand niece of Georgie, who spent many summers with her in Keppoch, I have had the pleasure of visiting the Jaynes’ summer home with her in what was referred to as Middle Keppoch, and heard the story of the Jaynes’ disastrous effort to winter over one year, much to their great discomfort. Although the house itself is a lovely large structure beautifully situated, it was the Jaynes family with their antiques and gracious manners that made it the premier summer home in the area. Alex, a hunchback, (does anyone remember his family name?) looked after the Jaynes’ property, cutting the grass, making repairs, etc. and, with push mower in tow, would make his way over the field to cut the grass of the Stewart property. Marjorie (Downe) Toews

    Reply

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