Panmure Island Lighthouse gets make-over as community takes over

The Panmure Island Lighthouse has a fresh new look, thanks to the community group that has taken over the light and given the entire site a make-over.

'To be part of restoring it has been a real honour'

It cost between $20,000 - $25,000 to paint the Panmure Island Lighthouse. (Nancy Russell/CBC)
The red and white paint on the Panmure Island Lighthouse glistens in the summer sunshine as visitors and locals stop by to check out the lighthouse's fresh new look.

"They just can't imagine how beautiful it is and what a wonderful, wonderful job has been done on it," said Sam Gallant, volunteer and board member with the Panmure Island Lighthouse Association.

"Just amazing," added Gallant. "It's been a lot of work but just looking at it now makes it all worth while." 

Community group takes over

The new look for the lighthouse has been in the works for more than four years, when the federal government decommissioned 40 P.E.I. lighthouses.
Painting the lighthouse was one of the priorities when the association officially took over the site. (Sam and Roger Gallant)
Ownership of the Panmure light was officially transferred in December 2015.
"For us it has been just such a labour of love," said Gallant.

At the time of the transfer, the association received a one-time grant of about $80,000.

With that money in hand, the volunteer board sat down to come up with a checklist that they completed earlier this week with the final touches of paint.

Renovations inside and out

The painting of the lighthouse alone cost between $20,000 - $25,000. "The painters were very entertaining and the visitors really loved seeing them," said Jackie Brown, volunteer and manager of the gift shop.

Visitors enjoyed watching the painters as they worked on the lighthouse. (Sam and Roger Gallant)
"It gave them a really unique experience — not just seeing a lighthouse — and the oldest wooden lighthouse on P.E.I., but actually seeing what it takes to maintain a lighthouse," added Brown.

The main floor, that used to house the lighthouse's generator, had to be ripped apart to remove asbestos and reveal the wooden timbers behind the walls.

"It was a pretty substantial effort because as you can see there's been a lot of work done other than the painting of the lighthouse," said Roger Gallant, another member of the lighthouse association.

"We had to do the fences, we re-did the parking lot, there's been a huge amount of work done on the ground floor of the lighthouse itself so many people have been involved," added Gallant.

Funding the upkeep

Now the group is looking for ways to maintain the lighthouse and continue the renovations on the upper levels of the building.

Jackie Brown (right) says it has been an honour to be part of restoring the lighthouse. The gift shop will help fund the future upkeep of the building. (Nancy Russell/CBC)
The main floor of the lighthouse has been turned into a gift shop. The association also charges admission, there is a used "beach book" sale, as well as memberships, including a $100 lifetime membership.

"This is a heritage property, it's been here since 1853," explained Gallant. "It means a lot to people around here, these were fishing communities around here in the past and it's still an operating lighthouse so it was rather important for everyone to try to save it and I'm glad we managed to do it."

Panmure Lighthouse in 2015 before the new paint job. (CBC)
For Jackie Brown, the renovations to the lighthouse mark a new era.

"To be part of restoring it has been a real honour," she said. "It's amazing what a few people can do."