History of the Schafner Point (Port Royal) Lighthouse
Built in 1885, the Schafner Point Lighthouse in Port Royal is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the Annapolis Basin, and played a key role in the development of fishing and trade. It is located less than one kilometer from Parks Canada Habitation, believed to be the site of the first European settlement in Canada. Prior to electrification, the light was operated by keeper Lloyd Shafner, whose house was in nearby Karsdale.
A new lighthouse has been erected on Shafner’s Point, on the north side of the Annapolis River, in the County of Annapolis, and was put in operation on the 24th September. The work was done by Mr. John Wagstaff, of Annapolis, under contract, for the sum of $900. The light is fixed white, elevated 55 feet above high water, and should be visible 11 miles. The building is a square wooden tower, painted white, and surmounted by an iron lantern, painted red, and measures 43 feet from base to vane. The illuminating apparatus consists of a small size dioptric lens. The light is intended for the guidance of vessels navigating the Annapolis River, and especially to indicate the position of Goat Island Shoals. -from the Annual Report of the Department of Marine for 1885
The Schafner Point Lighthouse is still a working light today, guiding boats through the tidal waters of the narrow navigation channel around Goat Island. Until 2015 it was owned and maintained by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In the 2010s the federal government began to divest itself of lighthouses, and Schafner Point Lighthouse, though not decommissioned as a navigational light, was offered to any non-profit group that was willing to be its steward.
The Annapolis Heritage Society was awarded ownership in 2015. During the course of reshingling the structure in 2019, it was found that there was extensive wood rot in the corner posts and and other maintenance issues. Annapolis Heritage Society decided not to go ahead with the needed repairs, and eventually local residents grouped together to take some action to save the lighthouse.
In September 2022, the Port Royal Lighthouse Association (PRLA) was founded and acquired ownership of the lighthouse property in hopes of restoring this historic building. By May of 2023, the group had raised over $120,000 through grassroots fundraising, local business sponsorships, a matching funds grant from Parks CA, and grants from the Municipality of the County of Annapolis, and Nova Soctia Heritage Trust. The renovation began in late July of 2023, and was completed by early November that same year.
The Association’s sole purpose is to maintain the lighthouse and grounds. To support ongoing maintenance of the Schafner Point Lighthouse click here to donate today.
Vintage postcard of Granville Road with Port Royal lighthouse in the background.