Cape Bear Lighthouse


Status: Decomissioned - Open
GPS Coordinates: 46 00 10.7 N 62 27 36.4 W
FHBRO Number: 90-107
LOL number: 971
Date Built: 1881

Electrification and De-staffing Dates: Electrification in 1960 De-staffed in 1960 Decomissioned in 2011
Nominal Range: 12 nautical miles
Focal Height: 22.6 meters 74 ft
Light: was Flashing yellow light
Flash Pattern: was Flash 2 seconds was Eclipse 4 seconds
Tower height: 12.2 meters   40 ft

Driving Directions:

Points East Coastal DrivePEI MAPE -14

From Highway 4 east of Woods Islands, go east on Route 18 (Cape Bear Road) to the southeast part of the cape and continue east on Black Brook Road a short distance where you will find the Cape Bear Lighthouse down a short road to your right.

* The Cape Bear Lighthouse is open daily mid-June to mid-September from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Call (902) 962-2917 for more information.


Description:

The Cape Bear Lighthouse is a typical  second generation lighthouse design. It is almost identical to the Cape Egmont Lighthouse built in 1883 in western Prince Edward Island.

This lighthouse stands 12.2m ( 40') high. The vertical alignment of the door and windows makes it look taller than it actually is. There are pediments over the door and windows. It boasts an attractive classical cornice supporting the lantern deck, which has a metal railing. A gift shop is located at the lower level of the tower.

An addition has been added to the lighthouse tower to house the Marconi Telegraph Station collection. The interior of the tower and the museum are covered with wide tongue and groove cedar boards.

There is a large deck extending across the front side of the lighthouse and museum.


Historic Data:

A light was established here in 1865. The lighthouse was built in 1881.

The lighthouse originally had an attached one and a half storey dwelling.However, that was not large enough for one keeper's large family.  In 1898 it was enlarged by 6.4meters (21feet).

In 1946, Wesley Coles, a house hauler from Prince County, was hired to move the lighthouse. The moving was done by horse and capstan. The family remained in the house as it was moved.

When Ewart Keeping retired in 1960, following automation of the station, the dwelling was moved a quarter of a mile up the road, where it served for a time as a cabin for overnight guests. The Lighthouse had always been a popular place for locals and visitors so this was quite fitting.

The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Station,established by the Dominion Government, was built adjacent to the lighthouse at its original site in 1906. It broadcast in code to the icebreakers, the S.S. Minto and Stanley.  It was one of seven stations established by the Department of Marine and Fisheries in 1905-06. The 165 foot pole was erected by  Hedley Penny, using a horse operated capstan and a sheer pole to erect and secure the three piece unit.

In April 14,1912 it received the first distress signal in Canada from the sinking Titanic.

*Photo from a Guardian article about Cape Bear.

A similar station at Cape Race in Newfoundland was in communication with the Titanic, but at that time Newfoundland was not a part of Canada. The Cape Bear Marconi Station ceased operations in 1922. The building that housed the station was sold to Robert Glover in 1929. The structure now serves as a family home in nearby Guernsey Cove.

The Lighthouse was open year round from 1943-45 to aid the  British Commonwealth Training School at the military bases in Mount Pleasant and Summerside, Prince Edward Island.  

During the Second World War, the Cape Bear Lighthouse proved useful for  spotting German U-boats that neared the coast. Several were seen along the shore but disappeared while being tracked.

In 1998, the Cape Bear Lighthouse was leased to the newly formed Northumberland Community Development Corporation, which renovated the tower, added the Marconi Museum, and opened the complex to the public.

In September of 2009, Northumberland Community Development Corporation was in discussions with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans over the need to move the Cape Bear Lighthouse, as the nearby shoreline was being lost at the rate of roughly one metre per year. The  Development Corporation planned to take ownership of the lighthouse and relocate it to a 32-hectare parcel of land called Bill of the Cape, which has a spectacular view and more parking space to accommodate tour buses. Since 2009 land adjacent to the lighthouse has been  donated by the Nicolle family. The current plan is to move the lighthouse to this location in the fall of 2013.

After surveying commercial fishermen and recreational boaters regarding the need for a light at Cape Bear, the Coast Guard decided to replace the Cape Bear Lighthouse with a light on a metal tower.

A new square, skeletal tower was erected near the lighthouse in May of 2011 and now serves as the official Cape Bear Light.

There is a display room using period artifacts including the original desk used at this station. Visitors can listen to a tape re-enacting Thomas Bartlet 's reaction when he received the S.O.S.message from the Titanic.


Keepers:

Thomas H. Munn          1881 – Sept. 1893

Mrs. Margaret Munn     Oct 1893 – Dec. 1893  After his first wife died, Thomas married Margaret MacKay. They had a daughter, Joanna, who was born at the lighthouse, and a son, John Thomas. Family history says that Thomas Munn fell from the lantern and was bed ridden for three years before he passed away in 1893. His wife Margaret and his son John tended the light during his illness and for a short period of time following his death.

John T. Munn                 1894 – 1896

William Harris                1896 – 1905

M. Luther Jordan           1905 - 1912

Hiram Hyde                    1912 - 1924

Clarence R. White         1924 – 1925

Margaret "Peg" ( Nee Richards) White When her husband died of TB in the fall, Peg looked after the lighthouse through the winter until Keeping took over in 1926.

Ewart Keeping                1926 – 1959


Current Owners/ Operators:

It is currently operated by the Northumberland Development Corporation. 


Special Events/Activities:

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

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

There was no representative at the presentation.


Other:

www.peisland.com/visit/capebear/cpbear.html

* The Cape Bear Lighthouse is open daily mid-June to mid-September from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Call (902) 962-2917 for more information.

Last Updated: November 17, 2013