The days of wooden sailing ships are very much part of the heritage of Prince Edward County and of the Province of Ontario. In a very unique way and a very unique setting overlooking South Bay, Mariners Park Museum tells that story.

False Duck Lighthouse at Mariners Park Museum

On March 25, 1828 the Province passed an act granting £1000 for the erection of a "good and sufficient lighthouse on False Duck Island", the second lighthouse ever to be built on the Great Lakes. Three commissioners were appointed to supervise the construction on the eastern point of False Duck Island three miles off Point Traverse, the southeastern extremity of the County of Prince Edward.

Light house

The original tower housed the lantern, manufactured in England and incorporating a French made Fresnel lens, 62 feet above high water. The fixed white light beacon could be seen for 13 miles. Keeper James McConnell extinguished the light in the False Duck lighthouse, on November 3, 1965. The oldest marine landmark in the County of Prince Edward passed into history, replaced by a new modern lighthouse. Following its closure the iron superstructure, lantern and light were donated to the Prince Edward Historical Society to become a memorial to the County's many sailors. It was re-erected on the land now surrounding Mariners' Park Museum, Lighthouse Park, South Bay as a centennial project.

Annual Mariners’ Service, South Bay Church.

A traditional Mariners’ Service is held every year on the second Sunday of August, at 2:00 p.m. The service has been a tradition in the County since at least 1926, and is now held in South Bay Church immediately next to the Mariners’ Park Museum. The service is a memorial tribute to those sailors and fishermen who risked their life for the good of those ashore, and to pay homage to those who have passed away in the previous year.

The Nautical Heritage of Prince Edward County

Mariners’ Park Marine Museum is dedicated to the conservation and interpretation of the maritime history and nautical heritage of Prince Edward County and the Province of Ontario. This includes the history of the significant contribution that the residents of Prince Edward County have made to the development of commerce on the Great Lakes.

Its mandate is to help visitors rediscover their rich maritime heritage and the pioneering spirit of the early settlers who enabled commerce to develop in this new country. It does this by preserving tangible evidence of the lives of those that sailed the lakes or seas, or, as fishermen, sought to wrest a living from the nearby waters. The museum portrays how local families’ lives and their work were affected by the waters around the County.

A very competent staff has created an outstanding educational display of our maritime heritage. Many hundreds of nautical artifacts of early vessels of the Great Lakes, both sail and steam, papers, photographs, vessel models, early motors, various types of engines, deck houses, early birch bark canoes and more are on display. All this is in an uncrowded park setting, overlooking South Bay. Nearby Point Traverse is North America's most important dive site, where there are more than fifty shipwrecks, almost within sight of the Museum.

Prince Edward, the Island County on the north shore of Lake Ontario with a population of only 25,000, has 800 kilometres of shoreline on Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte. Within its confines can be found four provincial parks and the sites of nine lighthouses. The Bay of Quinte, which forms the northern and eastern boundaries of the County was the first highway in Upper Canada, now Ontario. In winter its frozen surface gave a level track for the teams of the pioneers for a hundred miles. In summer its reaches, coves and windings offered sheltered passage for canoes, bateaux and rafts. In the nineteenth century, the age of sail, a high percentage of the sailors and shipowners around the Great Lakes were from the County, where shipbuilding was a primary industry.

Mariners' Park Museum is something that is unique to Prince Edward County. Its indoor and outdoor exhibits are unique, not duplicated anywhere else in this province.

Mariners Park Marine Museum is located in the gentle rolling countryside overlooking South Bay, at the junction of Prince Edward County Roads 10 and 13, about halfway between the delightful hamlets of Milford and Black River.

Hours: Open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Weekends from Victoria Day to Canada Day
  • Daily from Canada Day to Labour Day
  • Weekends Labour Day to Thanksgiving

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February 18, 1999 A Stormy Weather Production