The Panmure Island Lighthouse Association was formed in 1996 to save this local, historic landmark. It started with a handful of dedicated local volunteers whose mission was to save the lighthouse from demolition, achieve ownership of the building and work to restore the structure and raise the funds to maintain the property for future generations.
The Panmure Island Lighthouse Association (PILA) is comprised of a volunteer Board of Directors and a membership of almost 200 people, whose $ 10/year membership dues help fund our restoration efforts. The majority of the hands-on work is accomplished by the dozen or so dedicated local volunteers.
In 2013, the lighthouse was recognized by the Prince Edward Island Heritage Association., ensuring that it would not be torn down. In December of 2015, the Federal Government transferred ownership to the Association. Part of the transfer of ownership included one time only grant to be used exclusively for capital improvements to the lighthouse. Like most lighthouses on PEI, the Panmure Island lighthouse required repair work from a decade of neglect, including carpentry work inside and out, metal work on the lantern, outside improvements, window repair and painting.
The local volunteers have taken on many of the tasks involved in the restoration of the building, the improvements to the grounds and the work of volunteering in the giftshop , as well as other fundraising events, so that this landmark lighthouse will continue to shine.
In November of 2016, the restoration efforts of our volunteers were recognized by the Voluntary Resource Council of PEI. This was the very first time a “group” rather than an individual has been recognized by VRC. The Voluntary Resource Council was founded to strengthen communication and cooperation amongst the voluntary sector on P.E.I, and to provide services and information to various volunteer groups. In addition to the award, PILA was presented with a box of 100 various Spring Bulbs from Vessey’s Seeds. Less than a week later, 3 volunteers planted the bulbs along the recently completed fence line. We hope that our early season lighthouse visitors will enjoy this beautiful display of colour.
In February of 2017, the PILA volunteer group was awarded a special Heritage Award in recognition of its work in restoring the Panmure Island Lighthouse.
The PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation Heritage Awards are presented each year to individuals or groups in recognition of architecture, writing, architectural preservation, genealogy and general heritage activities.
It is a real honour to be recognized for the work that our volunteers do and the countless hours that they put in. We are so very grateful to each of every one of them for countless jobs that they do, both large and small, that have made this wonderful old lighthouse come alive again. We could never have accomplished this large undertaken without them.
Heart-felt thanks to you all. We offer a very special thanks to our volunteers who serve on the Board of Directors, and to you who get your hands dirty (literally) and do all those never ending jobs to keep our Lighthouse glowing.
The community of Panmure Island is located in Southern Kings County in eastern Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada. This area is approximately 15km southeast of the town of Montague, and 45km southeast of Charlottetown, the Island’s capital city and birthplace of Confederation.
Like many other parts of Prince Edward Island, Panmure Island has mild weather. The daytime temperatures are comfortable and moderate; from the onset of spring to the end of summer, they usually range from 8 to 30 degrees Celsius; from autumn to winter’s end, temperatures normally range from 8 to -10 degrees Celsius.
TRANSPORTATION AND TRAVEL
The first settlers on Panmure Island were the Mi’kmaq who came over in the summer from Nova Scotia. In the early 1800’s, Andrew MacDonald of Scotland bought all of Panmure Island, and then divided it into lots to sell.
There used to be a sandbar connecting Panmure Island to the rest of Prince Edward Island, where the residents travelled to and fro on their horse and buggy. In 1930, a causeway was built. In the early 1900’s, roads were built on Panmure Island; shortly thereafter, people began using cars for travel.
Residents of Georgetown used to travel by boat to Panmure Island to attend the Roman Catholic Church, until it was torn down in 1837. Lumber was then hauled to Georgetown across the ice in the Georgetown Harbour to build a new church. The people of Panmure Island therefore had to travel to Georgetown to attend church.
A post office had operated from 1907 to 1916, but it no longer exists. The school on Panmure Island was built in 1897. There were no school buses then, so students had to walk to and from school. It closed in the late 1960’s when it was converted into a community center.
In 1853, the first octagonal lighthouse was built on Panmure Island. Workers had to keep the kerosene lantern constantly lit; the fog horn was run by steam boilers. When electricity came, the lighthouse became automated, and the fog alarm was moved to a nearby home.
There have been many rumors about the existence of de Roma Glass Factory Works on Panmure Island in the early 1700’s; however, there is no conclusive evidence. During the 1890’s and the early 1900’s, a large fur company operated a fox ranch consisting of about 1000 to 1500 foxes. Neil Campbell was one of the caretakers during this period. A post office had operated from 1907 to 1916, but it no longer exists.
In the late 1920’s, a lobster factory located at the end of the causeway was owned by William Martell from Georgetown, and employed many local residents. The pump pipe casing can still be seen at low tide today. The tides have eroded the land so much that the property where the factory was located is now ocean!
The main sources of employment in the 1950’s were farming and fishing. The wharf on Panmure Island was built around that time by a man named Joe French who built it himself within a ten year period. Today it’s still called Joe French’s Wharf. There are no longer any fishermen on Panmure Island; only a few small farmers remain. Today most of the residents travel to Montague or Charlottetown to work, or are retired.
I would like to thank my father, Gary Campbell, and my grandparents, Neil and Pauline Campbell for giving me information and photos about Panmure Island.
Author: Stacie Campbell
Note: Special thanks to Stacie Campbell who wrote this as school project while a student attending Southern Kings Consolidated School in Montague. Stacie’s dad, Gary Campbell, was affectionately known as the “Mayor of Panmure Island” and is greatly missed since his death in 2016.