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Tracadie Harbour, PE  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Tracadie Harbour Lighthouse

Spacious Tracadie Bay is located just east of Prince Edward Island National Park on the island’s north shore and is protected by lengthy sandspits. As will be seen, the entrance to the bay migrates due to forces of nature, making it difficult to mark with lights.

In March 1852, Henry Palmer, the Consular Agent for the United States on Prince Edward Island, sent a letter to the island’s Lieutenant Governor suggesting that owners of U.S. fishing vessels would be willing to contribute toward the construction of lights to mark the entrance to the harbours at Tracadie and Malpeque:

Owing to the very many and melancholy disasters that occurred on the North Coast of this Island, during the gale last autumn, many of the owners of vessels, and others interested, have intimated to me their willingness to contribute towards the erection of Harbor Lights at the entrance of Malpec and Tracadie harbors…Your Excellency is aware that the number of our fishing vessels is rapidly increasing, and that every encouragement and facility should be afforded them. That Harbor Lights, at the entrance of the two harbors above mentioned, would be of very great advantage to all vessels thus employed – as at present, in every instance of a sudden gale from the North, during dark nights and thick weather, the fishing vessels are obliged to leave the fishing ground, and run for shelter round either the North Cape or East Point, and thereby lose considerable time in regaining the fishing ground each time. I have heard it observed by fishermen, that nearly one-third of their time is thus lost, whereas if Harbor Lights were erected at the above-mentioned harbors, this necessity would in a great measure be obviated.

A pair of day beacons equipped with small lanterns were established at the entrance to Tracadie Bay in the 1860s, and then in 1877, open, square, framework towers, separated by 230 yards, were erected. These new red lights were placed in operation in the spring, and a few months later they had to be relocated as the entrance channel had shifted. In 1890, the lights from the towers were discontinued due to the formation of sandbanks in the alignment of the range, and two temporary lights, consisting of lanterns hoisted on masts, were established on the western side of the harbour. Mariners were warned that as the channel was intricate and liable to change in any storm, strangers should not attempt to enter the harbour if drawing more than five feet.

At the opening of navigation in 1894, a new tower was used to display the inner or back range light as the former tower had become unsafe due to dry rot. This new square, enclosed tower stood twenty-eight feet tall. James Hendrahan built the new tower for $220, and the old tower was offered at public auction. When the highest bid turned out to be only $4.50, the tower was withdrawn from the auction and sold to Keeper Michael Ready, who had been looking after the lights since 1868, for $8. A gale on October 11, 1900 upset the rear tower, and a red light hoisted on a mast had to be used until the tower was put back in place.

Around 1923, a pole replaced the enclosed tower as a means to display the rear light. Tracadie Harbour Range Lights remained in operation through at least 1955, but today, a series of lighted buoys are used to mark the entrance to the harbour.

Keepers: Michael Ready (1868 – 1901), John W. McDonald (1901 – 1911), W.A. McDonald (1911 – at least 1931).


  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine, various years.

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