Lighthouses fascinate us. There is romance in these coastal beacons, manned by solitary keepers, that light the way for ships at sea though starless nights and winter gales. Travel to PEI was only possible by boat, from the earliest years of European settlement. Right up to the building of the Confederation Bridge in 1997 PEI was visited by ferries running to Woods Island in eastern PEI, and Borden Carleton in western PEI. Lighthouses were vital along the coasts.
Many lighthouse keepers were colourful characters. Sometimes generation after generation followed in the family tradition, as a son and then grandson took over the job. What must life have been like for those who guarded our shores. Such a heavy burden and lonely lifestyle for those responsible for the lives of the sailors navigating the waters around our crinkled capes and shores.
Prince Edward Island’s lighthouses played a vital role in the life and economy of the newly settled land. As Islanders, we were dependent on the gifts the sea gave us. Fishing and shipbuilding were two of the most important industries in the early days of colonization. The only means of transportation to and from the Island were by boat and ferry. The sea is changeable and as it gives life, it takes it away too. The waters all around the Island are testament to sunken ships.
Our lighthouses also tell a story with their architecture. You will notice two distinctive architectural styles: the colonial or “first-generation” structures were built before 1873. They were wooden, octagonal structures constructed when timber was abundant in this province. Our second-generation lighthouses tend to be gable-roofed structures with the addition of keepers’ houses.
Are you are a budding enthusiast or a self proclaimed “lighthouse lover” ? The fifteen lighthouses located on the North Cape Coastal Drive are sure to invite, educate, and take you to places otherwise unseen. Follow the links below and plan your trip of discovery to see just how enchanting these towering lights can be!