The following is excerpted from the Prince Edward Island Lighthouse Society's "Lighthouses of Prince Edward Island" brochure. Many thanks to the Society for sharing this with us.
The first mode of transportation for early settlers was the sea. Lighthouses were as important to them in their trade and commerce, particularly in shipbuilding, as the railway was after Confederation. Many colonial or "first-generation" lighthouses – those built before 1873 – are octagonal shaped, and were constructed when timber was abundant in this province.
The "second- generation" lighthouses, those built after 1873, are square tapered. Some of the largest timber had to be imported from New Brunswick as the Island timber supply had been depleted by the shipbuilding industry. Each lighthouse had its individual day markings and distinguishing flash patterns.