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The Lighthouses

a pastel sketch of a square white lighthouse on a large square base. At the edge of the base are workers and a person fishing, and in the foreground a sailboat and a rowboat with one rower

Sketch of old Cobourg lighthouse by local artist, Barry King.

Between 1842 and 1845 the east and west piers were repaired and extended, and a wooden lighthouse added to the East Pier at a cost of £137 (about $25,000 CA – 2016).  The present concrete lighthouse was built on the east pier in 1924.

Over the years, various lights and beacons were added to the long Langevin Pier on the west side of the harbour.

a black & white etching in which a small sailboat, a larger sailing vessel and a steamboat all battle the waves near a tall round structure holding a white triangular marker. Hills rise to the far left.

W. H. Bartlett’s imaginative presentation of Peter Rock light tower.


About 5.5 km west of Cobourg is Peter Rock light tower. Lighthouse keepers were responsible for both locations. As well, they were expected to ensure the operation of the fog horns, and record weather conditions and water levels, all of vital importance to mariners.

Murray Ribble was the keeper of the lighthouse from 1964 to 1980.  As reported by Northumberland News Staff Writer Vince Vergace in an interview with Murray’s mother, Murray “would work in twelve hour shifts with his assistant John MacIntyre.  He would sometimes have to head to Peter’s Rock in his boat in the fog and bad weather to make sure it was operational.  He had to do a lot of rescues and dealt with a few drownings too.”  (Aug 9, 2005).

a colour photograph showing a blue sky with the sun reflecting off many clouds and dark water. In the right foreground is a round lighthouse with red maple leaves painted around the base.

Cobourg lighthouse resplendent with maple leaves.

In 2013 the Cobourg harbour lighthouse was given a white coating that can expand and contract with temperature changes.  Some locals felt the heritage nature of the lighthouse was being compromised when town staff added red maple leaves and the town’s name on the white tower!