Prince Edward County News countylive.ca

The original Point Petre Lighthouse, circa 1965, before it was demolished by the federal government in 1970, despite objections from the local community. Demolitions continue at the Point Petre site in 2022. On the Point Petre Heritage Tour, participants will explore all elements of the lighthouse complex – existing structures and lost structures. Photo by Lloyd Thompson. Courtesy of Queen’s University Archives, V054-6-10

Prince Edward County’s six remaining lighthouses bear witness to the region’s past maritime history. Once part of a series of 14 lighthouses built on the county shores between 1828 and 1967 to protect sailors from the treacherous storms of Lake Ontario, the six surviving sites face an uncertain future.

On Saturday, October 15, the Prince Edward County branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario is hosting an exclusive behind-the-fence tour of one of these six sites – the Point Petre Lighthouse property, which faces an immediate threat .

The Point Petre Lighthouse Keeper’s Mansion was recently demolished without warning, despite repeated assurances over the past decade from government officials that the site was eligible for protection under the federal Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. adopted in 2008.

Point Petre’s first lighthouse was built in 1832 and remained in use until 1967 when the current red and white striped tower was built.

Three years later, the original limestone lighthouse was blown up despite protests from several county community groups. The recent demolition of the keeper’s house leaves only the lighthouse and the navigation beacon building still intact… for the moment.

The future of the remaining six iconic lighthouses is a key priority for the ACO PEC, whose mission is to encourage the conservation and reuse of architecturally, historically and culturally significant structures, neighborhoods and landscapes, to inspire and benefit Ontarians.

It was Marc Seguin, a member of the ACO PEC executive and leader of the upcoming tour, who first observed that the Point Petre lighthouse keeper’s residence had been demolished without notice, then contacted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to learn that the beacon navigation vessel is also slated for demolition.

In discussions with Parks Canada officials, the ACO PEC learned that the Point Petre Lighthouse no longer qualifies for heritage protection under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.

“The Point Petre Lighthouse Complex is of great cultural significance to the community and should be preserved for future public access and adaptive reuse,” said COA President Liz Driver. “The ACO PEC calls on the federal government to stop further demolitions and keep the site. It’s time for protection. The public is increasingly interested in the particular qualities of the South Shore of the county. The provincial government is in the process of establishing a south shore conservation reserve, and an initiative is underway to establish a national marine conservation area along the south shore.

Other lighthouses in the county are also at risk. The fate of the lighthouses at Scotch Bonnet (1856), Salmon Point (1871), Prince Edward Point (1881), Main Duck Island (1914) and False Duck Island (1965) is also unknown. Although the Scotch Bonnet Lighthouse actually has a heritage designation, the Canadian Wildlife Service refused to stabilize the ruin in violation of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.

Part of the challenge in ensuring protection is the number of federal agencies involved in managing these properties, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Canadian Coast Guard.

In 2016, Parks Canada spent $200,000 to stabilize Prince Edward Point Lighthouse (also known locally as Point Traverse), but there are no other plans to conserve the site. Others, like the Salmon Point Lighthouse, are privately owned, but Driver says its owners have staunchly refused all offers to help restore the site and have actively resisted county council attempts. of Prince Edward to give the lighthouse a heritage designation. All of the county’s lighthouses have deteriorated badly over decades of neglect and will need substantial restoration if they are to be preserved.

“Lighthouses contributed directly to the development of Canada, as well as the construction of canals, ports and roads in the 1800s,” explains Seguin, the author of the book In Search of a Lighthouse, documenting the history of these unique historic sites. “By the start of the 20th century, a total of 48 lighthouses and light towers had been built along the northeast shores of Lake Ontario. Today, in 2022, only nine of these heritage structures still survive in this region, including six in Prince Edward County. These are the last remnants of our rapidly disappearing marine heritage. It is essential that we ensure that these heritage properties are preserved to tell this past story.

Seguin’s tour of the Point Petre Lighthouse property is scheduled for Saturday, October 15 from 2-4 p.m. Tickets are $25/person and are limited to 30 people.

The event includes an exclusive tour of the lighthouse site, a lighthouse guide and refreshments at a nearby heritage barn. Click here to buy tickets.

To learn more about the event and the work of ACO PEC, visit the website or contact:

Marc Seguin
Email: lighthouses@ontariohistory.ca

Liz Driver, President, ACO PEC
Email: aco_pec@acontario.ca