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The province’s oldest lighthouse is getting some tender, loving care just in time for its 175th anniversary.
The Point Prim Lighthouse Society has been giving its namesake lighthouse a touchup ahead of what was supposed to be a big celebration this summer.
Then the pandemic hit and the big party was postponed until 2021.
“It lit the way to Charlottetown (for the past century-plus)," said society chairman Vic Douse.
“It was here before Confederation and it was very important for the safety of (vessels) when Charlottetown was big with merchants."
All of the metal stanchions have been replaced and workers added new railings around the top of the lighthouse.
Grandview Welding Ltd. in Belfast did the work.
The lighthouse will also be painted this year, a process that takes place about every five years.
Douse said keeping the lighthouse, which draws thousands of tourists each year, sustainable is extremely important to the community.
John Krolilkowski, a nearby tourism operator who also handles all maintenance work for the lighthouse, said it’s a source of passion for him.
“We’ve had tourists here even in the winter time. People still walk the grounds even after the gates are locked," Krolilkowski said, adding that he also replaced all of the windows at the top of the structure.
Douse said most of the people on board for the society are descendants of former lighthouse keepers and have a vested interest in seeing it maintained.
“It’s a familiar obligation to many of us to maintain this in perpetuity," Douse said.
Krolilkowski likes to hit people with interesting facts about the lighthouse, like how there was a nine-acre potato farm next to it. There is no evidence of that farm today. It was washed away by the Northumberland Strait long ago.
Following are some facts about the Point Prim Lighthouse:
- Built in 1845, it is the oldest lighthouse on P.E.I.
- It is one of only three round brick lighthouses in Canada
- It was built to aid navigation along the Northumberland Strait, particularly into the Charlottetown harbour
- Designated a provincial heritage site
- Designated under the National Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
- Designed by architect Isaac Smith, who also designed Province House
- The Point Prim Lighthouse Society was incorporated in 2011
Also gone is the original revolving light. It sits in the former lighthouse keeper’s cottage, now the gift shop, right next door. The original light had a range double that of the one that shines today.
Douse said the anniversary party will go ahead next summer and will feature a picnic, free barbecue and music.
Like so many other tourism operations across the province, Douse knows business will be down this year.
“The cruise industry is a very large part of our day-to-day operations," he said.
“We would have two to three buses a day come ... and they’re good buyers (at the gift shop)."