Description of Historic Place
This early home is located in the rural community of Little Sands near the Northumberland Strait. It was constructed in the Island Ell style. It features a gable roofline with paired eave brackets on the gable ends of the front and side elevations. The back elevation is less decorative. A verandah on the front elevation features gingerbread trim and conceals a bay window. Several windows on the first floor have dentillated hood moulding.
The house is valued for its historical association with Duncan Munn, a successful merchant, miller, and lobster packer in Little Sands; for its Island Ell architectural style; and for its contribution to the community.
Duncan Munn (1820-1903) was born in Wood Islands, PEI. His father, Angus Munn (1774-1837) emigrated to PEI from Oban, Scotland on the vessel "Spencer" in 1806. Angus established himself as a successful miller, operating a sawmill, flour mill, and carding mill. He also was a merchant, farmer, and packer of salt fish and dried fish. When he passed away, Duncan, although only a teenager, assumed control of his father's many businesses.
In 1856, Duncan married Eliza Brehaut (1824-1920) of White Sands, PEI. In 1862, he moved to this house in Little Sands. It is believed the house was constructed at some point in the decade before his marriage.
An engraving of the property in Meacham's 1880 Atlas shows that it originally had a low pitched roof with three upper bays and a flat roof ell extending on the side. The verandah is shown as is the bay window which both still exist today. Iron cresting appears on the roof, but this has since been removed. Today, the roofline is a steeply pitched gable on both the main house and the ell extension.
The engraving also shows the extensive business operated by Munn at the time. Cattle graze behind the house, his store can be seen further up the road on the right flying a flag. In the background, his lobster cannery is shown with a vessel docked near a wharf. Munn was one of the first to establish a lobster cannery in the area. His Arts and Crafts style lobster label, likely designed by the notable Island artist, Robert Harris, dates from 1879. It noted that his lobster "will keep in any climate" and is "ready for immediate use."
The business lasted until 1893 when Duncan and Eliza moved to British Columbia to be near three of their five sons. Angus was the collector of customs in New Westminster, Daniel operated a salmon cannery, and Henry was on the staff of the Columbian newspaper in Vancouver.
John Cairns, who was also engaged in the lobster packing business, purchased the property from Duncan Munn. He would later sell it to Malcolm MacLean who was a noted monument stone cutter. One of his stones is that of Mary Douglas, the only daughter of Lord Selkirk, who rests in St. John's Presbyterian cemetery in Belfast.
The home remains in the MacLean family today. The foundation of the former lobster cannery is still present on the property.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Tourism and Culture, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/K5
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the Island sandstone foundation with cement repairs
- the wood frame and two-and-one-half storey massing
- the Island ell configuration
- the gable roofline
- the paired bracket decoration in the eaves of the gables
- the brick chimneys
- the rectangular windows and bay window
- the dentil decoration in the window and door caps of the first storey
- the verandah of the front elevation with gingerbread decoration