There are 63 lighthouses on PEI according to a 2016 census with 35 still active and 7 which are privately owned. How cool would that be to live in a lighthouse! In no particular order are 10 favourites with location and a bit of history.
- West Point Lighthouse
Located at 364 Cedar Dunes Park Road in O’Leary. West Point is the tallest lighthouse at 60 feet, 8 inches and likely the most photographed. Since it was restored in 1984, it operates as a museum and Country Inn open mid-June till the end of September. Distinguished by it’s black horizontal banding. This is the only Island lighthouse that had a dumb waiter which transported oil from the first floor to the fourth floor lightroom. Due to some unusual unexplained happenings, the West Point Lighthouse had made a list of Canada’s most haunted places. So for you adventurous types, another
reason to go and check it out.
2. North Cape Lighthouse – The biggest advantage of traveling through the western portion of Prince Edward Island to the northernmost tip is that it is much less frequented by tourists. The seacoast is spectacular and the fishing towns like Tignish have lobster, never a bad thing.
North Capes historic lighthouse was built in 1866 and still warning mariners off the treacherous rock reef at its base. The lighthouse is located on a narrow peninsula jutting northeast into the sea and exposed to the elements. View the fabulous natural rock reef, walk along the beach at low tide, and check out the hundreds of inukshuks that have been built by previous visitors or build one yourself. Fenced in and not the most attractive of lighthouses but the location is stunning. Today the lighthouse is almost dwarfed by the giant telecommunications tower adjacent to the lighthouse, as well as the giant windmills at the Atlantic Wind Test Site.
3. Cape Bear Lighthouse – 42 Black Brook Road, Cape Bear. Cape Bear is located on the southeastern tip of Prince Edward Island. The coast consists of generally rugged red sandstone cliffs and small secluded beaches. Its high banks offer a good location for viewing seal. The Cape Bear Lighthouse has been in existence since 1881. The lighthouse is a square three story tower with a warning beacon on top. It has gabled windows at each level on three sides of the structure and is open to the public. The Cape Bear Lighthouse is operated by a volunteer non-profit group, the Northumberland Community Development Corporation. It is open to the public during the summer months. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower to learn about the lighthouse and area. One of the highlights of the museum is a re-created telegraph office.
claim to fame – received distress signal from the Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912.
Painting on the right is by James Charles who gave me permission to post. Prints are available from the artist. Click on photo to visit his website.
4. Panmure Island lighthouse – Octagonal in shape Panmure was the first wooden lighthouse on PEI – built in 1853 on Route 347 – 62 Lighthouse Road, Montague – In 1984 the Panmure Head lighthouse was recognized as a heritage site and the light was automated in 1985 when the lighthouse keeper retired. In 2013 it received Official Designation as a Heritage Site. In December of 2015 the Panmure Island Lighthouse Association, a community volunteer non-profit group, took over ownership of the lighthouse. The beach, during the summer season has bathroom facilities and a little ice cream shack. It’s incredibly picturesque and not at all crowded.
5. Wood Islands Lighthouse – 173 Lighthouse Rd, Wood Islands. Built in 1875-76, the Wood Islands Lighthouse is a well preserved three storey tower clad in cedar shingles with an adjoining one and one half storey keeper’s residence. Great place to check out while you are waiting for the ferry to Nova Scotia. There is plenty of space to sit and relax and enjoy the view. Interactive displays on rum running, sea glass, fishing, knot tying, audio interviews with lighthouse keepers, and a climb to the top of the light for some fantastic photo ops but be forewarned as the stairs are rather steep.
In 1984 the bottom floor of the tower was renovated when a generator and fog alarm equipment were installed. Recognized as federal heritage building in 1992, it was moved inland 70 m (230 feet) in 2009 because of erosion.
In 1998, the Wood Islands and Area Development Cooperation opened the lighthouse to the public. Visitors will find a gift shop in the lighthouse along with a period bedroom, kitchen, and keeper’s quarters. It also houses a collection relating to the history of the Norththumberland Ferry Service. On September 25, 2013, the lighthouse was awarded a Provincial Designated Heritage Place plaque and certificate.
6. Sea Cow Head Lighthouse – 198 Lighthouse Road, Bedeque, PEI
–photo reprinted with permission of the photographer Stephen Des Roches. Please click on photo to visit his website.
Built in 1864, this octagonal wooden lighthouse has seen better days. What it does have going for it is great views of the Confederation bridge, it is very close to Summerside, and has nice looking cliffs nearby. On the downside, the Lighthouse paint is peeling off and the parking area is just a circle of red dirt.
Automated in 1959, Seacow Head Lighthouse has been recognized as a heritage of Prince Edward Island place since October 2012. Managed by the Canadian Coast Guard. Mr. M.P. O’Raneghan, keeper of the Seacow Head light, was notable for his long tenure. He was appointed to Seacow Head on 21 April 1873 and served there at least 42 years.
The lighthouse appeared in several episodes of the television series Road to Avonlea
7. Point Prim Lighthouse– Point Prim Lighthouse has guided vessels through the southeastern entrance to Hillsborough Bay at the outer approach to Charlottetown Harbour since 1845 and is located at 2147 Point Prim Road, Belfast standing 18.2 m. tall. It is one of only a few circular brick lighthouses in Canada. The harsh weather took a toll on the brick and it had to be shingled just two years after construction. Automated in 1969. In 2017 – With nearly $400,000 in federal funding, P.E.I.’s oldest lighthouse underwent a much needed makeover and now has washrooms. The parking lot was expanded and an open-air pavilion built for hosting events. The upgrades also included stonework along the shoreline to address erosion. It is about 1/2 an hour drive from Charlottetown. Open daily from 10 am – 6 pm in season. Both the chowder house across the street and the bottle house down the road are worth a stop. The lighthouse is leased by the Belfast Development Corporation and operated by the Point Prim/ Mount Buchans’ Women’s Institute. One of the interesting artefacts on display is an old fashioned fog alarm that is still in working order.
8. Souris Lighthouse – 134 Breakwater St., Souris. Built in 1880, Souris East Lighthouse is a white and red square tapered wood constructed tower on the cliff of Knight Point overlooking the town of Souris. The Souris East light station was the last of the 76 on the island to be automated. On June 18, 1991, keeper Francis McIntosh was officially replaced by technology. This is the only lighthouse where you can actually go outside on the top observation deck. Beautiful views of the town and the ferry going in or out, wonderful photo opportunity but again as in most lighthouses the stairs are rather tricky and steep. The Lighthouse contains a large sea glass interpretative display about the history and formation of sea glass. Run by the Souris Harbour Authority.
9. East Point Lighthouse built in 1866 – At the end of Lighthouse Road in Elmira. It 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. The most spectacular part of the convergence takes place at high tide for great photo ops. The lighthouse is well preserved and there is a small gift shop and cafe/bar adjacent, serving great local beer and plenty of parking. Many visitors come to the site to view the spectacular scenery and tour the lighthouse during the summer months. The Friends of Elmira, a local non-profit group, operate the lighthouse during the summer.
10. Indian Head Lighthouse – Indian Head Lighthouse in Summerside was built in 1881. Because of the small landmass it had to sit on, it was built with a keeper’s residence on the ground floor with its light jutting out of the roof of its octagonal structure. Despite the fact that there was a residence, none of the keepers who manned the light ever lived there full-time. Most rowed or sailed back and forth to the light every day. In 1997, the lighthouse was decommissioned when Confederation Bridge opened to traffic.
In recent decades, a helicopter has typically been used to access the lighthouse when maintenance or repairs are required. Still fully operational but not really accessible though if you wait till low tide you can walk out over the boulders to the lighthouse. Not a beach walk for sure. Plans are afoot for the City of Summerside to take ownership of the lighthouse and promote as a tourist attraction for the City.
LIGHTHOUSES TO MAKE THE NATIONAL HERITAGE LIST ARE:
1. Brighton Front Range in Charlottetown.
2. Cape Bear in Murray Harbour.
3. Cape Tryon Lighthouse in Park Corner.
4. Covehead Harbour Light.
5. Northport Rear Range.
6. Panmure Head Lighthouse.
7. Point Prim Lighthouse.