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Point Prim Lighthouse – Points East Coastal Drive
When the fathers of confederation gathered in Charlottetown to first talk about confederation in 1864, the Point Prim Lighthouse had already been lighting the way for steamships coming into Northumberland Strait for over 19 years! Built in 1864 after being petitioned by the Prince Edward Island Steam Navigation company to help the company secure the government’s lucrative mail contract by operating a steam boat between the Island and the mainland.
Read the story behind the politics of building Point Prim and how the current day Point Prim Lighthouse Society connected confederation and the lighthouse to secure funds to restore the lighthouse--- PEI History Guy
It is a majestic lighthouse: still in operation with a beacon, the first and oldest lighthouse on PEI and its only brick lighthouse and only one of several lighthouses in Canada that are round brick.
The lighthouse was awarded heritage protection by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in 2015 and divested to a volunteer community group, Point Prim Lighthouse Society Incorporated. So many of PEI’s lighthouses are left alone on PEI’s shores and fields, Point. Prim Lighthouse is incredibility well maintained and lovingly restored including newly painted, a reinforced seawall, open air pavilion and expanded parking. It is a joy to visit and well worth the climb to the top. Artifacts to see as you climb the steep staircase to each level and finally reach the top to see the beacon light and the views at a height of 60 ft.
On our visit, we talked with the supervisor of the lighthouse Steven Taran, who is an excellent spokesman for the group and obviously proud of the society’s accomplishments. He told us how many of the volunteers are descents of lighthouse keepers
I’m not a big gift shop visitor, but if you visit the lighthouse, take the time to visit the gift shop. Beautiful stain glass, pottery, carpentry and yarns all created by local artisans, living within about 15 km of the lighthouse. If you have the time you can visit the artists and see what else they have you might like.
Point Prim, a proud lighthouse which has stood protecting mariners for over 170 years and a proud volunteer society which can take it into its future.
Another one of PEI’s charming lighthouse (there are 63 on the island, some active and some private). And like all the lighthouses that attract visitors this one is also unique in that it is the oldest wooden lighthouse and the first octagonal lighthouse built on PEI. Built in 1853 it stands guard over Cardigan Bay guiding with its still active light.
This lighthouse is open to visitors with 4 levels, each staircase getting narrower as you climb to the top. Each level houses artifacts including information on the lenses used in the lighthouse and information on the lighthouse keepers.
This is one of the luckier lighthouses as some on the island have fallen into disrepair and seemingly abandoned. Ownership for the lighthouse was taken over in December 2015 by the volunteer Panmure Island Lighthouse Association. Since then it has been lovingly restored with a fresh coat of paint, fences, parking lot and the main floor, that used to house the lighthouse's generator, ripped apart to remove asbestos and reveal the wooden timbers behind the walls.
Our tour guide was the daughter of the last lighthouse keeper and she pointed out to us the hollow pillar between the 2nd and 4th floors which housed the pulley and weight system which traveled up and down the shift causing the light n the lantern to revolve. The next morning Leona explained that as a girl she earned her allowance by winding the pulley back so it was ready for the next night.
Certainly, well worth the visit and lots of information provided as well as books and other items for sale in the gift shop. One of the funding raising ideas to keep the lighthouse well maintained and providing the romance and living history of lighthouses.
The lighthouse is close and visible to our campsite at Panmure Island provincial park, camping for RV’s (2-way sites) and tents. A beautiful campsite, clean, large sites and great view of Cardigan Bay and the lighthouse. Also, fantastic sunsets. At night, I could lie in bed and out of the RV window see the beacon of Panmure Island Lighthouse as it swept over the bay. Talk about romantic PEI.
On your way to the lighthouse is the Sandbar & Grill Restaurant. We decided to treat ourselves and glad we did. The ambiance was beach casual, the menu interesting and the food great. Also, some craft beers…..
Didn’t get to stay long at the Park as the day was getting late, but we certainly want to go back and walk the wooden boardwalk that protects the dunes and the park is known for its miles of sandy beach fronting the Northumberland Strait.
As with all dunes they are fragile, but this area is unique for the abundance of Eastern White Cedar that grows in the depressions of the dunes where the wetter conditions support the growing of the cedar which helps keep the dunes protected. Other ridges of the dunes support the growing of the grey-green lichen which also covers the dunes.
The park hosts a life guard and a 2-way RV park with most sites on the water. (We didn’t stay) Down the road is the community of West Point which we would also like to return and visit. The West Point Lighthouse is a functioning lighthouse operated by a non-profit organization West Point Development Corporation. In 1982 this group of enterprising volunteers restored the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. This is now an inn with 14 bedrooms available including 2 in the functioning lighthouse itself, a rare experience for those who think to book “the tower room” a year in advance. Trails behind the lighthouse are maintained with a chance to walk among the Eastern White Cedars and stories about the fairy dell and hidden treasure.
Built in 1875 it is the tallest lighthouse on PEI standing at 69 feet and is called a “second generation” lighthouse built with square tapered towers which became common for lighthouses built after confederation. Distinguished by its black and white stripes it stands stately above the dunes, its electronic beacon flashing. There were only 2 lighthouse keepers in the history of the lighthouse being manned, one serving 50 years (1875-1925 who lit the first light and other serving 1925-1963 who retired when the lighthouse began to run electronically
For a very reasonable fee the lighthouse is also a museum and we climbed the 72 steps on 5 staircases, each staircase becoming narrower as we climbed to the tower for a fantastic view of the beacon light and the beaches and boardwalks of Cedar Dunes Provincial Park. On each floor was information on the history and artifacts of the lighthouse keepers, technology of the lights and a listing of all the lighthouses on PEI.
One of the interesting facts of his lighthouse as opposed to the many lighthouses which were isolated, West Point Lighthouse was a hub of the community to the point that the lighthouse keeper kept a spare bedroom for visitors and after several shipwrecks, it was the lighthouse keeper’s responsibility to care for the saved passengers
If you find yourself on the North Cape Coastal Drive take some time to visit this area. I know we will be returning soon to spend some more time in this beautiful peaceful area.