Some rental properties wind up with all the personality of a ham sandwich. Perhaps it's their owners' desire for low maintenance and broad appeal. In contrast, Ivy White made the coastal retreat she named Captain's Watch a one-of-a-kind tribute to the maritime traditions of Canada's Prince Edward Island. An unpaved road leads to the bay-view site on slender Point Prim peninsula, three miles from the lighthouse that guides boats bound for Charlottetown, the provincial capital.
"My ancestors came here more than 200 years ago," Ivy says. "My grandfather was keeper of the Point Prim lighthouse. From him, my mother learned all about ships and shipwrecks. My father was a farmer who also worked on the ferry to Nova Scotia and as a fisherman." Dreaming of building a getaway on her family's coastal farm, Ivy spent eight years collecting things for it, from a wood-burning stove to pillars and other architectural elements salvaged from old island homes. Her artist mother, Elinor Gillis, painted local scenes on doors and cabinet fronts. "I wanted to reflect my family's history, and the island's," Ivy says.
As she intended, Captain's Watch suggests a cozy farmhouse, complete with a front porch and Adirondack chairs painted in the bright hues of fishing buoys. The house contains a fully equipped kitchen, one bedroom, a foldout sofa in the living room, and a single-bed sleeping loft reached by a ladder, "because we didn't want to lose any floor space to stairs," Ivy explains. (A ship-style system of rope, pulleys, and a cleat lifts the ladder out of the way.) Honeymooners favor the First Mate Quarters, a romantic pavilion bedroom set in an octagonal gazebo.
Near the gazebo, a short path leads to wooden stairs that descend to a secluded, pebble-strewn beach lapped by the relatively warm water of Hillsborough Bay. "You can spot seals and, at low tide, sea stars and crabs," Ivy says. Popular pastimes include biking country roads, climbing to the top of the lighthouse, beachcombing, and clam-digging. Within a 30-minute drive lie a golf/tennis/spa resort, a winery, and the restaurants and shops of Charlottetown. At night its lights glow softly across the bay while the Milky Way glimmers in the black-velvet sky.
"There's a lot to look at," Ivy says, referring to both the landscape and the nautically appointed interiors. All of it is a testament to her strong connection with-and pride in-this pastoral province. Neither bland nor grand, Captain's Watch embodies Ivy's passion for the island. "I love sharing it with people," she says.
(published June 2006)