Description of Historic Place
Located on a point of land jutting into Hillsborough Bay and the Northumberland Strait, the Point Prim lighthouse stands as the oldest lighthouse in Prince Edward Island. The shingled round structure is painted white and capped by a red lantern.
The Point Prim Lighthouse is valued as the oldest lighthouse in the province; for its association with local architect, Isaac Smith (1793-1853); its construction materials and method, and for its contribution to community of Point Prim.
As a major hazard on the sailing route to the entrance of Charlottetown Harbour, there had long been discussion of erecting a lighthouse on Point Prim. Finally, in 1845, it became a reality. The land for the tower was donated by the sixth Lord Selkirk, whose father was perhaps the most benevolent of the Island's proprietorial landowners. Isaac Smith, who had designed the Lieutenant Governor's residence in 1834 and would go on to design Province House in 1847, supplied the plan for the lighthouse.
Originally, he submitted a proposal for a wooden tower, but the Legislative Assembly believed a brick structure would better stand up to the elements. Smith revised his plans. Tenders were called on May 2, 1845 with Richard Walsh winning the contract. By December 4, 1845, the work was completed and the beacon was shining out over the Strait. However, within two years, it became necessary to enclose the brick tower with wooden shingles. The brickwork can still be seen on the interior today. Point Prim Lighthouse became automated on March 10, 1969.
As a reminder of the once crucial maritime trade in the province and as a testimony to the skill of Isaac Smith, the Point Prim Lighthouse stands impressively today. It has become a scenic destination for locals and visitors alike.
Source: Heritage Division, PEI Dept of Tourism & Culture, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4320-20/P5
See also: Marianne Morrow, "The Builder: Isaac Smith and Early Island Architecture," in the Island Magazine, Number 18, Fall/Winter 1985
The following character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of the Point Prim Lighthouse:
- The four storey height of the round lighthouse which has a wide base which narrows at the top
- The iron lantern enclosed in glass and painted red with a railed observation deck
- The brick construction of the lighthouse sheathed in wooden shingles and painted white
- The supporting brackets under the lantern
- The multi-paned windows in the tower
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the lighthouse at Point Prim with its dramatic sea vistas and red clay shoreline both combining to enhance the maritime heritage of the lighthouse