East Point Lighthouse


Status: Active - Open
GPS Coordinates: ear South shore of point 46 27 09.1N, 61 58 18.6W
FHBRO Number: 90-256
LOL number: 943
Date Built: 1866-67

Electrification and De-staffing Dates: Electrification date unknown. De-staffed-1989.
Nominal Range: 11 nautical miles
Focal Height: 27.1 meters 88'9" ft
Light: Flashing white light.
Flash Pattern: Flash 2s, Eclipse 3s. year round
Tower height: 19.5 meters   63'9" " ft

Driving Directions:

Points East Coastal Drive - PEI MAP A -16 

Take Route 16 to the northeast point of Prince Edward Island and then continue down Lighthouse Road for 2.1 km (1.3 miles) to the East Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse is open daily from mid-June through Labour Day.


Description:

Because of its location at the extreme eastern tip of the Island, there is glass all around the lantern allowing the light to be seen for 360 degrees. 

It is constructed with heavy hewn timber with a shingled exterior. It has a well-proportioned facia at the top of the tower and a cross braced wooden railing. The windows and door are topped by triangular pediments trimmed red. The interior has three landings and 67 steps. It’s the last of the Colonial lighthouses to be built on PEI.It stands 19.5m (64 feet) tall.

Visitors can climb to the top, view some lighthouse memorabelia and the meeting of the tides. They can also see the nearby wind farms.

The fog alarm building, adjacent to the lighthouse, has been converted into a cafe and gift shop. It is also painted white with a red trim.  

The third building, formerly used for storage, is currently used for washrooms.

Visitors can enjoy the picnic area located adjacent to the lighthouse.


Historic Data:

During the busy shipping years of the mid-1800’s, there was a pressing need for lighthouses, which the Island’s Colonial Government was unable to afford. James Warburton, Colonial Secretary, sent a report of the House of Assembly of Prince Edward Island dated May 12th, 1851, to the Government of Canada, which suggested Canada, the British North American colonies, the United States and even Great Britain provide “proportionate contributions” toward the construction of lighthouses at North Cape and East Point, as the lighthouses at these locations “would be of greater utility to the Shipping interests of the Countries referred to than to the similar interests of this colony.”

Petitions from area residents were presented and tabled by Prince Edward Island’s committee on lighthouses. In 1861, George Dundas, Lieutenant-Governor of Prince Edward Island wrote to the Governor General Head in Ottawa, insisting that immediate measures be taken at North Cape and East Point because of the many accidents occurring at these two locations. Dundas’ request was passed on to Public Works who suggested to the Governor to request from Prince Edward Island the likely cost of each lighthouse, and how much of the cost the province itself would look after. It was only when residents at North Cape rigged a portable lamp on a makeshift stage in 1865, that £500 was allotted for the construction of a tower at North Cape. A year later, money was allotted for the construction of a tower at East Point. W.H. Pope was paid £25 for his efforts in obtaining grants from Canada and New Brunswick to help offset the cost of construction of the East Point tower.

The East Point Lighthouse, built in 1866-67, is a major coastal light that serves all marine traffic using the Canso Strait to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The East Point Lighthouse and the lightkeeper’s dwelling were built by William MacDonald. The keeper’s cottage was also completed in 1867 with additions in 1885 and a replacement in 1923. The strong timbers have withstood the test of time for over 140 years. The lighthouse was moved twice. The tower was built about a 0.8 km (half mile) inland from its designated mark on the charts.

On September 12th, 1882, the 1,137 ton British warship, HMS Phoenix ran upon a reef off East Point. Although the blame was put on the “negligent navigation” of the Phoenix, many believed that the location of the lighthouse was the real cause of the misfortune. Charts showed the Lighthouse on a point, while, in fact, the Lighthouse had been built approximately half a mile inland. As a result, in 1885 the Lighthouse and keeper’s cottage were moved 1600 feet east, to within 200 feet of the edge of the point.

There is conflicting information about the fog alarm building. Federal Heritage Review Board Report 90-256 states that the fog alarm building was built in 1885 as a one-storey structure with a T-shaped formation. The fog horns sprouted from the hipped roof of the “leg” of the T. In 1908, an engineer’s room and 50-foot chimney were added and the T-leg of the original building was removed. Doors and windows were also altered.

Other information says that a new structure was built in 1908 at a cost of $8,000.00 and the old building was moved back and used as a storehouse. In 1908 the lighthouse was moved back 200 feet from the point so it wouldn’t interfere with the fog alarm signal. Because of erosion the fog alarm building was moved  closer to the lighthouse in 2008. It houses a gift shop and canteen. 

In the 1960s, a fog detection service balcony was added to the lighthouse and one window was converted to a doorway. The balcony was removed in 2002. The generator was removed in 2000, and the fresnel lens was replaced by a beacon of lower intensity. Other than minor changes, the tower exterior is in almost original condition. 

There have been many changes to the light station buildings. In 1923, a two-storey house was built to replace the original dwelling. An addition was made to the house in 1949-50. In 1966, two new three-bedroom dwellings for assistant keepers were completed. These have been sold but have remained in their original location. The older residence was declared surplus and removed after it partially burned in 1972. The keeper was badly burned in that incident.

Moved twice, its fourth order lens was removed in 2000 and replaced by a modern optic.


Keepers:

Aleaxander R. Beaton            1867 – 1871
Angus MacDonald                  1871 – 1872
Alexander R. Beaton              1872– 1897
Lauchlin MacDonald               1897 – 1908
Ronald J. MacDonald             1908 – 1912
Angus C. MacIntyre                1912 – 1926
Wilbert Stewart MacIntyre      1926 – 1957
Harry James Harris                 1957 – 1989

Harry Harris retired when the lighthouse was destaffed in 1989.

The following is a list of known assistant light keepers:

Ronald J. MacDonald
Agustus Mallard
William Aeneas Harris
William Hubert MacDonald

Norman Henry McKay
K.S. MacDonald
Joseph P. Gillis

D
onald Gillis

John Gillis
Donald Francis MacIntyre
W.A MacMillan
John Doucette


The light keeper was responsible for the overall operation of the light station which included the lighthouse, fog alarm building, three dwellings, shed(s) for oil and coal, and a radio building.

* Please note: There is inconsistent information on the lightkeepers and assistants.


Current Owners/ Operators:

The lighthouse was transferred to the Friends of Elmira in 2010.


Special Events/Activities:

Special Article:  

In response to a  newspaper request for lighthouse information in 1996, O.T.Page of Summerside Submitted the following story which occured while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force.                         

East Point Lighthouse Saves World War Two Aircrew

Night patrols over the sea can be very dull except that now and then the unusual happens. Like unexpectedly seeing a distant pin-point light the night of 6 August, 1944-a tiny occulting blink. I counted, “A thousand one, a thousand two…..”Every seven seconds a faint flicker of light…It could be a lighthouse bearing about 2 o’clock, far away on the right side of the flight path. If it was East Point Light on PEI then I was in the wrong place in the dark sky.

Four hours before, I was having a late supper in the mess at #1 GRS Summerside, chatting with my friends. The chatty mood was suddenly by a loud speaker call for experienced staff night pilots to report to Control. Down at the Flight Office I was told that one of our aircraft on patrol was missing somewhere north of Cape Breton Island. A search was to be carried out in the area, to be continued during the night.

Considerable navigation skill is required to carry out different kinds of anti-submarine patrols. One of the most difficult is a “box patrol” around a moving convoy of ships, that from time to time, makes evasive course changes. diligence is required to maintain visibility distance around the convoy while the patrolling aircraft is carried in the air mass above the convoy. Course direction and degree of lift is different in each leg of the search pattern.

The search for the missing aircraft was to be a “creeping line ahead” patrol in which an aircraft might fly, say, 10 nautical miles North, East for 25 nautical miles, North 10, then West 25 nautical miles, repeating over and over within limits of fuel supply. To make a precise angular search track over the sea, allowance must be made for wind drift and duration on each course flown.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) sergeant who was assigned for the search had probably earned his wings on overland flights. A creeping line ahead search from land on a black night, without “astro fixes” could be a bit of a challenge. Time flown during the search and fuel consumption were within the navigator’s and the pilot’s responsibility. And so the search dragged on, the aircraft black as night with no navigation or other lights showing. The dit-dah of Morse Code beat a steady a steady rhythm in my earphones. The eyes of all four crew were looking for a flare.

Some time after midnight we had broken off the search at a fuel level calculated to reach base. Having flown for a short time on the course for the base given by the navigator, a glint of a distant light caught my eye. I asked the wireless operator for a bearing on Sidney which he confirmed to be off the port(left) wing. The bearing confirmed my mental picture of our position. If we continued on the present course, the flight would probably end in a night ditching in the cold waters of the Bay of Fundy as we ran out of fuel.

I asked the navigator to confirm the source of the light and told him of the bearing on Sidney. I gave him a few minutes to review his “dead reckoning” plot.

I am sure that the East Point Lighthouse saved us from a nasty ending to an otherwise routine air search. After the navigator reported that I should stay on the course he had given, I told him I would be altering course to about ninety degrees to a westerly heading. His response was that he would take no further responsibility for navigation. I assured him it would be my pleasure to sign off his log to confirm his decision.

Thanks to the East Point Lighthouse on a very dark night, we landed safely at #1 GRS. Regrettably, the missing aircraft had crashed on Cape Breton’s rugged, rocky coast.

Special Action

The East Point Lighthouse was recognized as a heritage place under the Prince Edward Island Heritage Places Protection Act on October 3, 2012.

Special Event

On September 25th 2013, the East Point Lighthouse was awarded a Provincial Designated Heritage Place plaque and certificate from the Honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, Robert Henderson.


Left to Right:

Eric Gallent; President of the PEI Lighthouse Society, Pam Spears, Valorie Flannery and the Honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, Robert Henderson.

Photo Credit: Brian Simpson, Provincial Photographer.


Other:

A picnic area is available on site for visitors to enjoy.

Call (902) 357-2106 for more information.

Please check our website at www.eastpointlighthouse.ca

Last Updated: June 6, 2016