There are few places in which more care is required in navigation than in Northumberland Strait, which is 160 miles in length; and which, at Cape Tormentine, the narrowest part, is but 7 miles from shore to shore.
John Page, Chief Engineer of Public Works for the Dominion of Canada, visited Cape Tormentine during the summer of 1868 to select a site for a lighthouse to guide mariners through this treacherous section of Northumberland Strait. Three locations were considered: 1) Indian Point, the eastern extremity of Cape Tormentine, 2) Cape Jourimain, situated a few miles west of Cape Tormentine, and 3) a point between the first two options. Cape Jourimain was found to be the most eligible position, and a wooden lighthouse was constructed there in 1869.
Year-round steamer service to Prince Edward Island from Pictou, Nova Scotia was initiated by the Northern Light in 1876, but the vessel was often icebound for weeks at a time during the winter. The Stanley replaced the Northern Light in 1888, and after the Minto was added to the island service in 1897, the Stanley initiated winter service between Cape Tormentine and Summerside in 1902. Finally, in 1917, ferry terminals were completed at Cape Tormentine and Borden-Carleton on Prince Edward Island, and the railcar ferry Prince Edward Island began serving this short route. Though originally designed to carry only railcars, an automobile deck was later added to the Prince Edward Island, which remained in service until 1969. Besides this ferry, another ten vessels serviced this route through the years.
The Cape Tormentine Pier Range Lights were established in 1902 to guide the Stanley on its wintertime runs, and in 1917, a second set of range lights, known as the Cape Tormentine Entrance Range Lights, were constructed. These two sets of range lights worked together to guide vessels from Northumberland Strait to the ferry terminal at Cape Tormentine. Mariners would first use the Cape Tormentine Pier Range to steer toward the pierhead, and when this range intersected with the Cape Tormentine Entrance Range, they would follow the latter range to safely pass between the ferry pier and an offshore breakwater built to protect the ferry landing.
The front and back towers of the Cape Tormentine Entrance Range were both enclosed, square, pyramidal, wooden towers, topped by square wooden lanterns. The front tower was 7.9 metres (26 feet) tall, and the back tower, situated 303 metres (331 yards) from the front light, was 12.8 metres (42 feet) tall. Both towers were painted white.
In 1955, another set of range lights was built on Indian Point, just east of the ferry landing at Cape Tormentine. Dana Allen served as keeper of the Indian Point Range from 1955 until the lights were electrified in 1962.
After the completion of the Confederation Bridge in 1997, ferry service between Cape Tormentine and Prince Edward Island ceased. The Cape Tormentine Pier Range Lights were discontinued at that time, but the Cape Tormentine Entrance Range Lights and Indian Point Range Lights remained in service until the following year.