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. Dr. Henry Brougham Hillcoat purchased the property in 1854 and advertised a warning to trespassers or those carrying off wood or hauling seaweed from the property. By 1858 Hillcoat had returned to the United Kingdom where he drowned attempting to save one of his children in waters at Port Talbot. 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.
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.
By 1875 the house had acquired the name “Redcliffe House” and in that year was advertised for sale by Bayfield’s lawyer son Edward but it does not appear to have changed hands at that time. Following Admiral Bayfield’s death in 1885 the house was offered for sale by auction and was described as follows:
That valuable seaside house, Redcliffe, and premises, with about 3 1/2 acres of land attached, magnificently situated at Keppoch, at the entrance of Charlottetown Harbor, commanding an extensive sea view, and at the same time, within easy reach of the city, being only two miles from the steam ferry Southport.
The house has a southern aspect, is large and commodious, substantially built of the best materials. It has a drawing room and dining room with folding doors, eight bedrooms, large kitchen and cellar, coach house, stables, &c., with every convenience for a gentleman’s family, and with a small outlay could be suitably arranged for a Summer Hotel. A never-failing spring of pure cold water within fifteen yards of the house.
For purity of atmosphere, soft and balmy sea breezes, deliciens sea bathing , excellent mackerel, trout and lobster fishing, &c., this Seaside residence cannot be surpassed in any part of Canada.
It 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 remodeled 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 “Hacker 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 himself 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 Whitney 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.
It 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.
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.
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