The History of Lighthouses
Published June 8, 2021 | Source : « Les phares de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard », Prince Edward Island Lighthouse Society
Categories: Attractions & Sightseeing
Today, the historic and iconic lighthouses that once guided sailors can guide your east coast adventure. Lighthouses have become a destination for coastal wanderers; places where you can go to catch a stellar sunset, rock hop along the shore and soak up a bit of history. Before you go, here’s a short guide to light the way.
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.
West Point - Height: 20.6 metres
West Point Lighthouse, constructed in 1875, was the first of the second generation lighthouses on Prince Edward Island. The reconstructed gable-roofed lighthouse keeper's house with lean-to storage provides an example common among lighthouses of this style. Combining distinctive architecture, folklore, shipwrecks, and dramatic scenery on the western entrance of the Northumberland Strait, the West Point Lighthouse began a second career as a lighthouse museum, country inn, restaurant and craft shop in 1984.
Visit the West Point Lighthouse Museum.
Victoria Range Light - Height: 10.7 metres
Victoria, once one of the Island's busiest seaports, has the only Island range light which houses two different lights. Built in 1879, it serves as both Leard's Front Range and the Palmer's Back Range. The Victoria Seaport Museum, opened in 1990, houses a collection of photographs outlining the development of the seaport and the history of former keepers.
Wood Islands - Height: 15.2 metres
This lighthouse, which began operation in 1876 to aid Marine traffic in the Northumberland Strait and fishing boats in and around Wood Islands, has an attached six-room, two-storey dwelling for the keeper and his family. It is adjacent to the Northumberland Ferries Limited docks, is open daily for tours and houses a nautical craft shop and the Fishery and Coast Guard Museum.
Cape Bear - Height: 12.4 metres
The Cape Bear lighthouse was built in 1881 and houses one of seven Marconi Wireless Stations established by Marine and Fisheries in 1905-06. It was here that Thomas Bartlett heard the first distress signal from the Titanic as it sank off Newfoundland. Today, a museum stands on the original site of the Marconi Station
Point Prim - Height: 18.2 metres
Built in 1846, Point Prim is Prince Edward Island's oldest lighthouse and marks the entrance to Hillsborough Bay, at the outer approaches to Charlottetown Harbour on the southern side of the Island. Point Prim is one of the few lighthouses of brick constructed in Canada. Though now covered with wooden shingles, the brick construction may be viewed from the interior.
Visit the Point Prim Lighthouse.
Panmure Head - Height: 17.6 metres
The Panmure Head Lighthouse on Panmure Island, at the southwest extremity of Cardigan Bay, was built in 1853 and marks the entrance to Georgetown Harbour.
Panmure Head boasts one of the first fog alarms in the area and has safely guided many schooners, steamers and years of fishing traffic.
East Point - Height: 19.5 metres
East Point Lighthouse is situated on the extreme eastern end of Prince Edward Island where the mighty tides of the St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait meet to create a show of nature's force. As one of the Island's itinerant lighthouses, the East Point Lighthouse has been moved several times due to poor positioning of the light and continuing erosion of the coastline. Today, the old fog alarm building houses crafts and an interpretive centre.
Visit the East Point Lighthouse and Welcome Centre.
Souris Historic Lighthouse
Built in 1880, Souris East Lighthouse is a wood-constructed tower on Knight Point overlooking the town of Souris. You can climb to the lantern room, walk out to the balcony and discover the panoramic seascape views of the harbour and town of Souris.
Visit the Souris Historic Lighthouse.
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View More Historic Lighthouse Images
The PEI Public Archives and Records Office maintains an online image library of historic lighthouses dating from 1913 to 1923.
Image: Point Prim Lighthouse and Fog Alarm, circa 1920 (PARO Acc. 3466/HF 77.239)