The first Covehead Lighthouse was built in 1967 and the present lighthouse in 1975. The square tapered lighthouse has always been fully automated and is considered a landfall light. The lighthouse was renovated in 1994 due to rotting and is now covered with pressure treated cedar siding.
The new structure was fully automated with a fog detector and fog horn and equipped with a mercury vapour filiment lamp.
The bulls-eye lens is over 100 years old. It was brought from Dalhousie, New Brunswick. The lens is made of cut prisms called bull’s eyes which concentrate the light and send it out in one direction. The bulb is changed every three to five years because it begins to blacken, but it never burns out.
There is a plaque on the side of the lighthouse describing the Yankee Gale, remembering the eighty ships and 161 men who perished in the savage 1851 storm.
The lighthouse is located within the Prince Edward Island National Park.
The following is an excerpt from the Stanhope Sands of Time (A Community History) published in 1984 by the Stanhope Women’s Institute, in association with the New Horizons Program of the Department of Health and Welfare Canada. It is a good description of the progress of Navigational Aids at Covehead Harbour:
There was not much in the way of navigational aids for the fishermen in the early days. In 1880 a member of the MacMillan family, probably Lachlan, aged 21, was appointed to keep a lantern light on Black Point, where Lorne MacMillan now lives, at a salary of $50 per annum. A right-of-way 300 feet by 20 feet from the road to the light was purchased from Mrs. John MacMillan, Lorne’s grandmother.
The two range lights installed on the Stanhope bluff in 1910 were kerosene oil headlight lanterns mounted on wooden poles. There was an agreement between the government and John J. Davies, owner of the “Cliff Hotel” for rent for the range lights and accommodation for the light keeper; this was a log house or cottage, rented in the summer, when the keeper slept in one of the barns belonging to the hotel. Alex MacMillan lit the first light, and he was the first keeper, followed by John A. Kielly, up to December, 1911, then James McCabe, who kept the lights until May, 1924 at a salary of $120 per annum. He was succeeded by George Herbert Kielly from 1924 to 1931, and Tommy McCabe, in charge from 1931 to 1936 at a salary of $150 per annum. Lloyd Bell was appointed keeper on September 5, 1936 and was paid $180 a year. At this time…one of the lights caught fire and was put out of business. It was a wild night, blew hard from the north-west on August 7, 1926; and in the winter of 1952 a light blew down in a bad storm, and was repaired by Harry Lawson. Other keepers included Angus Jarvis, Barney McCabe and Wendell Kielly.
Lloyd Bell’s status went from part-time light keeper to caretaker in June, 1959 when the kerosene lights were converted to automatic Wallace & Tiernan electric storage battery-operated green lights, mounted on two twelve foot skeleton steel towers, automatically controlled by sun switches. Lloyd Bell’s services as caretaker expired on January 1, 1967 as a result of new government policy to carry out operation and maintenance of the lights on a contract basis. As well as the range lights, there is also a large lighted buoy about a quarter mile off, and a large rotating green light in the light house near the Covehead bridge. For day navigation there are four channel buoys.
A new hand-operated fog-horn was delivered to the fishermen in May, 1965 and left in charge of Harry MacLauchlan who agreed to operate it on their behalf at no cost to the department. In 1975 an automatic fog-horn was installed in the light tower on the outside shore; and in 1969 an underground cable was laid from Stanhope Beach Inn for 1100 feet along the shore line to provide electricity to the lights.
The 1893 Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries gives the following description of the Covehead Range Lights:
The arrangement of the range lights at the entrance to this harbour has been changed. The front light is now close to the edge of the sand beach at the entrance to the harbour. It is elevated 18 feet above high water mark, and is a fixed white light, shown from a lantern hoisted on a mast 17 feet high, and visible over three miles from all points of approach. The back light is located 225 feet S.W. from the front one. It is also fixed white, elevated 25 feet above high water mark, and is visible three miles from all points of approach. The lantern is hoisted on a mast 27 feet high. The position of the light is liable to be moved to suit the changes in the channel, and only 3 feet can be depended on at low water on the bar.
TECHNICAL DETAILS FOR COVEHEAD LIGHTHOUSE:
FHBRO # Not applicable
LOL # 1051
BUILD First lighthouse built 1967. Present lighhouse built 1975
LIGHT White: flash 0.5 seconds, eclipse 4.5 seconds
FOCAL POINT 11 m (36 ft)
TOWER HEIGHT 8.2 m (27 ft)
NOMINAL RANGE 11.2 km (7 miles)
Carol Livingstone, President of the Prince Edward Island Lighthouse Society
Stanhope Sands of Time, A Community History
Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, various years