Iconic Seacow Head Lighthouse is wrapping up renos for a new visitor experience

Seacow Head lighthouse appeared in the opening montage of the TV series Road to Avonlea, adapted from books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.  (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
Seacow Head lighthouse appeared in the opening montage of the TV series Road to Avonlea, adapted from books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

The Seacow Head lighthouse is a classic P.E.I. landmark that's been getting some upgrades, with the volunteer group in charge acknowledging there have been "a few roadblocks along the way."

Jim MacFarlane is on the board of directors with Friends of Seacow Lighthouse Inc., which took ownership of the lighthouse from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2022.

They've been looking for ways to help preserve the lighthouse because of the interest it gets from tourists and Islanders alike, as well as its connection to Prince Edward Island's history.

"There's a great interest in lighthouses all around the world, and our lighthouse [goes] back to the Anne of Green Gables days," MacFarlane said.

In the popular 1990s television series Road to Avonlea, based on the works of Anne author Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Seacow Head lighthouse was featured in the opening montage and also used as the home of sailor Gus Pike. That has helped make it a popular stop for Anne-lovers from the Island and beyond.

Jim MacFarlane's great-great-grandfather was one of the builders of the lighthouse, and his great-grandfather was the first keeper.
Jim MacFarlane's great-great-grandfather was one of the builders of the lighthouse, and his great-grandfather was the first keeper.

Jim MacFarlane's great-great-grandfather was one of the builders of the lighthouse, and his great-grandfather was the first keeper. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

The name "Seacow Head" comes from the walruses that used to be plentiful on the nearby beaches.

MacFarlane said they were planning to open the lighthouse for the season on June 24, and hold the official opening ceremony on July 10, but those dates aren't set in stone.

So far, the Friends of Seacow Lighthouse have built an outbuilding to house washrooms and either a cafe or a gift shop — possibly both — but MacFarlane said getting permits can be a challenging thing.

Part of the renovations included making the lighthouse more accessible for people with mobility issues.
Part of the renovations included making the lighthouse more accessible for people with mobility issues.

Part of the renovations included making the lighthouse more accessible for people with mobility issues. (Ken Linton/CBC)

"We've run into a few roadblocks along the way. It's all new to us."

For the official opening in July, they're inviting Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry and other dignitaries, and there's even supposed to be a presence from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"Somehow or other, [NATO] got involved with one of our board members, and so they're also taking part, and they're going to have a presentation right after, piggybacking on our official opening," MacFarlane said.

The view from the top of the Seacow Head lighthouse. The Friends hope to have it open to the public next summer, including displays on all four levels of the lighthouse.
The view from the top of the Seacow Head lighthouse. The Friends hope to have it open to the public next summer, including displays on all four levels of the lighthouse.

The view from the top of the Seacow Head lighthouse, taken before the renovations began. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

MacFarlane said he is excited for the public to start enjoying the lighthouse, and getting a look at its upgrades.

That includes TV monitors on the bottom floor showing feeds from cameras on the top floor, to let people see the view even if they can't climb the stairs.

"It's bringing back history," he said. "There's still a bit of work to be done, but we have done a tremendous amount of work."