Photo by Krista MacRae
History of the Lighthouse
Built in 1845, the Point Prim lighthouse is the first and oldest lighthouse on Prince Edward Island and one of only a few round brick lighthouses in Canada.
In the early 19th century, sea trade between Canada and Europe increased rapidly and so did shipwrecks and disasters at sea. As Charlottetown grew it required more merchandise and as shipping traffic increased, so did the number of shipwrecks along our shores.
The demand for a guiding beacon into Charlottetown Harbor peaked in 1841, when the colony’s General Assembly was petitioned by concerned merchants and ship owners.
There was great debate about where the Lighthouse should be built. Lieutenant Governor Charles Fitz Roy wrote letters to captains of the Royal Navy requesting their opinion. Finally it was agreed that the best place for general use in navigating the Northumberland Strait, would be Point Prim.
It took 3 years for the Assembly to agree upon and appropriate the proper funding and location for a lighthouse. Finally in 1844, an advisory committee, submitted a report, recommending a tower, 60 feet in height.
At that time, the prominent architect Isaac Smith, who had designed Government House and would later design Province House, drew up the plans for the lighthouse tower.On March 31, 1845, a committee appointed by the House of Assembly, of 22 men travelled 16 miles over the ice in 10 horse drawn sleighs for the purpose of surveying the site for the intended lighthouse.
The group, led by William Douse local MPP and agent for Lord Selkirk, included architect Isaac Smith and the land surveyor L.W. Gall. The Point Prim acreage was owned by the Earl of Selkirk. It was his Lordship’s wish to donate this 9 acre property to the Colony for the prestigious Point Prim Lighthouse.
For more info about Isaac Smith click here.