Point Prim Lighthouse

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Point Prim Lighthouse - The Island's Oldest Lighthouse

Point Prim Lighthouse Road

(Above image - 'The Road to Point Prim Lighthouse' ©StoppenLook)
First day of operation:  December 4, 1845

Point Prim Lighthouse is located at the tip of a very long penninsula that juts out into Northumberland Strait - almost a beeline over water, past Rocky Point to Charlottetown. Hence it was a perfect location for guiding, among others, those ships on the old Pictou-Charlottetown run. Not only is it the oldest lighthouse on the Island but, according to the sign out front, it is the only round brick lighthouse in Canada!

I would like to share with you part of an article that I found in the Charlottetown Guardian dated Monday February 9, 1948 that was written by Mr. Hedley Ross in 1904. Mr. Ross, a native of Stanley Bridge, is lamenting that the 'fireside tales' he is so fond of are falling by the wayside and in danger of being lost, so has put together some notes from a conversation he had with a Mr. Dougald Henry...

"...Of this number, is Mr. Dougald Henry, born 1817, who will accordingly be 87 years of age on June 19. His trade being that of a blacksmith for about fifty years, he pounded an anvil in different sections of the Island and for most of the time in the village of Stanley Bridge, where on the banks of the lovely river he set up his roof tree in view of an expanse of land and water, whose charming combinations made a bit of scenery as picturesque as that which hangs in the great galleries of the world. The following notes were gleaned from, Mr. Henry in the way of conversation:

'I left the land of my birth, Malpeque, 64 years ago and came to Cavendish, where at that time ship building was carried on by Alexander and James Simpson. They used to launch from their yard two vessels a Summer. My brother was their blacksmith. I went to learn the trade with him and was there five years. From Cavendish I returned to Malpeque where I finished out my trade. My next move was to Winsloe Road, after that to Charlottetown to work for a man named Charles C. Davis. This was about the year 1846. I worked for ten months in Charlottetown, part of the time with Thomas Robertson. That was the time the old Colonial Building was built. Pierce Lacey and I made the iron door and the vault that went with it.'

Point Prim Light

'While I was with Robertson, he had the job of buidling the Point Prim lighthouse. I was one of those sent out there to put up the lantern. This would be about the first lighthouse on the Island. There was none then in Malpeque, New London, Rustico, Georgetown, Souris or Summerside. On Governor's Island there was a spar light on which they used to hoist the lantern by hand. That same year we mounted the bouys, that is hooped them and made ready for placing. There were nine of us working in the blacksmith shop. We had five fires going.'

The article then goes into more detail of his working days in Stanley Bridge and thereabouts but I'll leave that for another day :)

There are two wonderful sites that I would direct you to for further architectural/historical details. The first one, Point Prim, PE from Lighthouse Friends.com gives a detailed narrative of the history of this lighthouse. The second one, Point Prim Lighthouse, from the PEI Lighthouse Society, gives a lot of the building's construction stats along with detailed descriptions of the light-keepers. Both are well worth a visit!

 

 

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