Lighting the Way: New Brunswick, Lighthouses, Navigation, and the Sea, 1785-1867

Lighting the Way: New Brunswick  Lighthouses, Navigation, and the Sea, 1785-1867

Lighting the Way: New Brunswick Lighthouses, Navigation, and the Sea, 1785-1867

(Fredericton, NB – January 10, 2023) – The fascinating history of New Brunswick’s historic lighthouses will be the focus of historian Zachary Tingley’s presentation in the upcoming York-Sunbury Historical Society’s Virtual Speaker Series.

This FREE ZOOM presentation will take place at 7 pm, Thursday, January 19, 2023 and all are welcome to attend. Please contact the Fredericton Region Museum at for the ZOOM link.

In 1785 the city of Saint John was established by a Royal Charter which reserved Partridge Island as a place upon which a light would be sited for the “safe navigation of the said harbour”. It was during this same year that New Brunswick’s capital moved to Fredericton. This provided a central hub for a government that had interests and responsibilities on continental British North America, in the waters of the Bay of Fundy, along the Northumberland Strait and out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. New Brunswick’s continental borders were porous and contested at best, and jurisdictional control over the fisheries in the Bay of Fundy, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence missed the enforcement that was needed to guarantee internationally ratified agreements. Yet, the New Brunswick House of Assembly worked to secure safe navigation across the regions marine space. The construction of Partidge Island lighthouse, following the move of the province’s capital city, marked the beginning of New Brunswick’s lighthouse system.

Partridge Island lighthouse, constructed in 1791, was the first lighthouse that was raised by New Brunswick for the safety of security of marine navigation. 1791 marked the beginning of a continuous expansion of settler trade networks that marked the growth of the province and fostered a sense of moral responsibility for safe navigation in the House of Assembly. These networks would come to extend into the Atlantic, via the Bay of Fundy, and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. With the conclusion of the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, a renewed focus was put on the safety of mariners as trade levels began to increase in the region generally. This even included going outside of clear lines of provincial jurisdiction to enhance regional marine safety. Between 1786 and 1867, New Brunswick oversaw the construction of eighteen different lighthouses. Of the eighteen lights, five of these were inter-provincial lighthouses.

Zachary Tingley is a PhD candidate in UNB’s History Department. He is currently researching and writing his dissertation on the challenges of maritime safety in the marine commons of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Zachary is building upon his previous work which focused on New Brunswick’s built system of colonial lighthouses in the Bay of Fundy, and New Brunswick’s involvement in the construction of 5 regional inter-provincial lighthouses.

For further information please contact:

Melynda Jarratt, Executive Director
Fredericton Region Museum