Advertisement

Beloved cottage destroyed amid 4 incidents of suspected arson on P.E.I. this weekend

Charred rubble is all that remained from Joanne Cook's cottage on Sunday. (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)
Charred rubble is all that remained from Joanne Cook's cottage on Sunday. (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)

Joanne Cook will always remember the parties, the lobster boils, and just sitting on the deck with her favourite book at her family cottage in Stanhope, P.E.I.

But those memories will be all that she has now. The cottage burned to the ground Saturday.

It was one of four incidents in northern Queens County over the weekend that RCMP are investigating as suspected arson.

"It was just a little 24 by 24 box, but it was our 24 by 24 box and we loved it," Cook said on Sunday.

"There are things that I'm going to miss desperately. My great-grandparents had a set of hand-tinted photos of the Island that dated back probably to the 1890s or 1900s and they were all there and they're gone."

The other three cases of suspected arson involve two cottages in the Donaldston area Friday night and a lifeguard building at Stanhope Beach Sunday morning.

Another incident in Scotchford, where a homeowner reported suspicious burn marks around the resident, is being investigated as an attempted arson.

Cook lives in Halifax and spent many summers at her cottage in Stanhope.
Cook lives in Halifax and spent many summers at her cottage in Stanhope.

Cook lives in Halifax and spent many summers at her cottage in Stanhope. (Joanne Cook/Facebook)

Scott Ferris, senior communications adviser for RCMP on P.E.I., said the nature of the incidents points to arson. There are no suspects at this time.

Ferris said numerous resources are involved in the investigation, including the major crime unit, forensic identification services, the canine unit and the fire marshal's office.

"There's many scenes that we're dealing with here, five scenes currently, so there's a lot of investigation still happening."

The cottage on MacMillan Lane was in Cook's family for about 40 years. (Submitted by Joanne Cook)

Ferris said there is no indication the public should be overly worried, but he suggested cottage owners secure all windows and doors and consider additional security measures such as dead bolts, window bars and security cameras.

"Many folks here on the Island, of course, we rely on our neighbours, and so making sure if you got neighbours that they can help keep an eye on your property or report anything, that's always a good thing, too."

It was her friends and neighbours who first alerted Cook to the fire. The cottage on MacMillan Lane had been in Cook's family for about 40 years. It was well used by her children and extended family.

The fires were about 16 kilometres apart.
The fires were about 16 kilometres apart.

The suspicious fires were about 16 kilometres apart. (Google Maps)

Cook's grandparents lived on P.E.I. She resides in Halifax and would spend every summer at the cottage.

"All I would have to do would be to say to my dog in Halifax, 'You want to go to the cottage,' and I think she would be putting yourself in the back seat of the car."

The cottage was shut down for the winter after another busy summer. It was cherished by everyone in her family, Cook said.

"I remember how relieved we were when [post-tropical storm] Fiona hit and we lost two beautiful big trees in front, but they fell, one on either side of the cottage, and we thought we were so lucky. We thought we dodged a bullet. I guess the bullet just sort of did a few loops around the island and came back last night."

Cook says she lost some belongings with sentimental value in the fire.
Cook says she lost some belongings with sentimental value in the fire.

Cook says she lost some belongings with sentimental value in the fire. (Submitted by Joanne Cook)

Cook said the insurance company has been helpful, but she's not sure what the future holds at this point.

She said she is feeling a range of emotions, from grief to nostalgia to "fury."

"For some jerk to destroy all that just for a few moments of howling pleasure as they watched it burn. It's unfathomable. I am beyond angry."