! Wood Islands Lighthouse - HISTORY

“Like stepping back in history” — Enza & Tony Pacheco
Richmondhill, ON

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HISTORY OF THE WOOD ISLANDS LIGHTHOUSE

The Wood Islands Lighthouse was founded in 1876 to aid marine traffic in the Northumberland Strait between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as well as fishing boats in and around the harbour. It is the second oldest lighthouse, with an attached dwelling and tower of this style, on Prince Edward Island.

The Wood Islands Lighthouse was constructed after Prince Edward Island Lighthouses came under the control of the Federal Department of Marine and Fisheries. It has the distinction of being one of the last two lights where the light keeper and his family lived right in the lighthouse. During the session of 1874, Parliament allotted $6,000 for its construction. Archibald MacKay of Moncton signed a contract to build the lighthouse for a mere $3,000 but made little progress and eventually abandoned the work. Donald MacMillan (or Donald "D" as he was known in the community) was a master carpenter who was hired to complete the project. His parents, Donald MacMillan and Mary Shaw, immigrated from Scotland in 1806 on the ship Spencer. Donald took a keen interest in seeing this project to completion. For many years previously, he would place a kerosene lantern (he was the first person to have one in Wood Islands) in an upper window of his home that overlooked the Northumberland Strait in order to assist anyone in these waters.

The wooden-shingled lighthouse is similar to Cape Egmont on the western end of the Island. The lighthouse has pediment windows that enhance the tower, along with a flared cornice and wooden lantern balustrade. The attached dwelling is very simple and has seen a few changes over the years. An additional window and a shed was added to the west elevation. The shed roof on the northern most wing elevation was changed to a gable roof sometime after 1914. In 1958, the dwelling and tower were electrified with the light changing from fixed to a flashing light. In 1989, the light became automated and one of the last to be manned. A small balcony was added for the fog alarm but later removed along with the fog alarm in 2000.

In 1984, the bottom floor of the tower was renovated when a generator and fog alarm equipment were installed. The room was dry-walled, a steel door installed, switching equipment mounted on the walls and some windows changed to accommodate ventilators. A fire alarm was also installed.

Today this Lighthouse is an Interpretive Museum with 10-plus themed rooms featuring historical displays from the Rum-Running era to the Burning/Phantom Ship. A must for Lighthouse Lovers!

To learn more about the lighthouse and its history please visit this historic structure.