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The community of Naufrage, Prince Edward Island is located in Kings County, in the northeast section of the province in Lot 43.[1] The name Naufrage derives from the French word for shipwreck, naufrage, and stems from the numerous shipwrecks which occurred as early as 1719 that brought the first European population to the area.[2]

Once a booming area of industry surrounding the collection of Irish Moss, today the area is primarily known for lobster and tuna fishing, as well as a destination for tourists.

Settlement Edit

Prior to any French settlement there is evidence of Mi'Kmaq burial grounds near the present day lighthouse.

Little is known about the early days of settlement in the Naufrage area. Rossiter relates that Francois Douville was one of the known survivors of the 1719 wreck, and that he was still there in 1720 when the first French settlers arrived[1]. In 1760 a French vessel was wrecked four leagues out to sea, but a few of these people made it to shore and survived[1].

[3] After French settlement due to shipwreck, Scottish settlers arrived in 1771 and 1772, however, apart from a cemetery discovered on the west side of the harbour,[4] little remained of these earliest French peoples.[3]

Shipwrecks Edit

The name of the first French ship that brought settlers to the area is unknown today, and only its wreck date of 1719 remains. Both the Asia[5] and the Georgina were sunk in the Northumberland Strait west of Naufrage in 1939, and between November 1 and November 8, 1906, there were four vessels wrecked near or around Naufrage, with the Shipwreck Point lighthouse being in closest proximity to the wrecks.[3] The Sovinto and the Orpheus were wrecked at Priest Pond, while the Olga was sunk at Black Bush (present-day Hermanville) and the Turret Bell was sunk at Cable Head.[3]

Fishing and Industry Edit

George Paton Naufrage August 1971

George Paton worked as a fish buyer in Naufrage. 1970s.

Up until the middle of the 20th century, fishing was done a small scale up and down the northern coast of the Island, with several vessels departing from around 15 small ports which dotted the coastline.[3] At the time there were three lobster canneries located at Naufrage Harbour, and along with lobster fishermen caught, processed and cured herring, cod, mackerel, hake, haddock, and many other kinds of fish. Today the canneries have disappeared, but Naufrage remains a popular place for lobster fishing, with over 100 boats fishing out of the harbour there[3]

Shipwreck Point Lighthouse Edit

One notable feature of the Naufrage area is the Shipwreck Point Lighthouse, a beacon which is still in operation to this day. It was initially built in 1913, under the direction of the Annandale Lumber Company, at a cost of $3 213.81[2] The original building was a square, two-storey structure, which housed a fourth-order lens in its lantern room. The lower storeys provided living quarters for the lighthouse keeper, and consisted of eight rooms.[2] The structure was painted white below, while the lens room was

painted red. The first lighthouse keeper was Francis (Frank) MacKinnon.[2] The lighthouse was 11.5m tall, and displayed a white flashing light.
Naufrage Lighthouse

Shipwreck Point Lighthouse today.

In 1967 the lighthouse was moved slightly west of its original location, and the operation of the facility was automated. It now stands as an octagonal tower, at a height of 13.5m.[6] It is one of only two

concrete lighthouses on the Island.[6] This new structure went into service on 27 September 1967, and exhibits a three-second flash, followed by a two-second eclipse, a cycle which is repeated every five seconds.[2] The present day light is 86 feet from the high water mark to the center of the light. It is 38 feet from the base to vane and can be seen from all points seaward[1].

The original 1913 lighthouse remains on-site to this day, although it is privately owned now.

Rossiter offers the recollections of Maud MacDonald, daughter of Daniel O'Hanley, who was once the lighthouse keeper:

"I lived in the lighthouse for eight years. The motor for the light was run by kerosene. There was a steep stairway leading up to it. The kerosene was pumped from a room below the stairs. A boat called the Brant brought the supplies for the lighthouse once a year. They anchored off Naufrage Harbor and the smaller boats took in the casks of kerosene, the other lamps, the lamp wicks, soap, and all other necessary things for cleaning the light. The casks were rolled up from the harbor and put in an oil house, which was located by the lighthouse. It was very cold inside the lighthouse, as there was no insulation. The prism - the very top of the light had to be kept clean."[2]

Naufrage Today Edit

Today Naufrage garners much attention as a tourist attraction during the summer months. It is home to the ever-popular Shipwreck Point Cafe,[7] and under a funding grant announced in 2016 from the Government of Canada in partnership with ACOA, Naufrage received more than $76 000 to upgrade infrastructure at the harbour, including the addition of commercial kiosk (which currently is home to a small ice-cream shop), a shaded deck area which overlooks the beach, and public washrooms.[8] Furthermore, in the autumn of 2016 a renovation and expansion of the facilities at the Big Cape School was begun, providing similar amenities. As a part of this upgrade, the Red Rock Adventure Company was established, and will commence offering guided bike tours of the Naufrage area in the summer of 2017.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Rossiter, Juanita. Gone to the Bay. Accessed via UPEI. 8 March 2017. Print.
  2. Rossiter, Juanita. Gone to the Bay. Accessed via UPEI. 8 March 2017
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