Seacow Head Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Fernwood, Prince Edward Island
Seacow Head Lighthouse, PEI (© Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Pêche et Océans Canada)
Seacow Head Lighthouse, PEI
(© Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Pêche et Océans Canada)
Address : 198 Lighthouse Roach, Fernwood, Prince Edward Island

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2022-06-15
  • 1864 to 1864 (Construction)
  • 1865 to 1865 (Established)

Description of Historic Place

Seacow Head Lighthouse is located at the entrance to Bedeque Bay and the Summerside Harbour. One of the oldest standing lighthouses in the Maritimes, the tapered, octagonal lighthouse measures 18.3 metres (60 feet) in height and was named after the walruses that were once abundant in the region. The lighthouse serves as both a harbour light and a secondary coastal light to guide mariners through the narrowest passage of the Northumberland Strait.

Heritage Value

Seacow Head Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.

a Historical values
Seacow Head Lighthouse is an excellent example of the theme of Canada’s pre-Confederation efforts to expand aids to navigation along the Northumberland Strait. The lighthouse was vital as the fishery and shipbuilding industry in Summerside flourished. It also served the increased steamship traffic coming into the port at Summerside and later the ferry running between P.E.I and New Brunswick. Today the lighthouse continues to serve mariners and the oyster farms that dot the waters of Bedeque Bay.

b Architectural values
Seacow Head Lighthouse is a very good example of a pre-Confederation built lighttower in Prince Edward Island. It is an elegant and well-proportioned tapered structure, featuring a flared, moulded cornice, a well detailed polygonal lantern and pedimented windows and door.

The lighthouse’s simple, heavy timber construction is a reflection of both economy and simplicity, and is typical of lighttowers constructed in the Maritimes before Confederation. It is painted in the Canadian Coast Guard’s traditional red and white colours, with a white tower and red details such as the lantern, gallery railing and window and door surrounds.

c Community values
Seacow Island Lighthouse reinforces the maritime character of the region. It sits low on the shoreline of the province’s famous red, clay soil banks, and is surrounded almost entirely by farmland.

The lighthouse has been featured prominently in various Canadian television productions and contributes to the region’s tourism industry. It remains a cherished symbol of the local community.

d Related buildings
No related buildings are included in the designation.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Seacow Head Lighthouse should be respected:
its intact, as-built structural form, distinctive height, profile, and balanced proportions; its tapered, octagonal, timber structure with wood shingled cladding; the flared cornice supporting a multi-sided lantern; the pedimented windows with their original ‘six over six’ configuration, as well as the pedimented door; its distinctive and traditional colour scheme with a white tower and red detailing on lantern, gallery railing, window and door surrounds, and; its visual prominence in relation to the water and the landscape.